If you aren’t developing content that your audience cares enough about to share, then you aren’t doing it right. Here's how to give it legs.
Creating content is one thing. Creating content that your audience actually gets excited about and organically shares is an entirely different thing.
And if you aren’t developing content that your audience cares about, then you certainly aren’t maximizing your time or financial investment.
The Value of Shared Content
Generally speaking, there are two major purposes for developing online content: the SEO benefits and the organic marketing benefits. In years past, before the surge of social media, most content was created for the search engines. This content was largely poor quality, since it was heavily stuffed with keywords and very technical in nature.
As Facebook, Twitter, and other content sharing social platforms have grown, the search engines have simultaneously become more adept at rewarding semantic content that’s original, valuable and actionable. As a result, marketers have shifted a lot of their attention toward creating content that’s actually worth something to readers. In other words, content that’s highly shareable.
The value of shareable content is that it’s largely hands-off. You can create the content, blast it out through a few channels, and then rely on followers to read, share, and repeat. As content gets shared, the web pages, articles, landing pages, and blog posts get bumped up in the search rankings. It’s a beautiful cycle that allows for maximum return.
Why People Share Content
In order to create shareable content, it can be helpful to understand the backstory. Why do people love sharing content with others on social media? Well, despite what some may think, the primary reason is that people like to be useful to others.
A 2013 study determined that the temporoparietal junction, or TPJ, is the portion of the brain that actually lights up during fMRI brain scans when people are first exposed to new ideas that they later recommend. We intrinsically desire to bring value and entertainment to others.
Bu that’s not all. Other reasons we share content include: to define ourselves, to grow and nourish our relationships, for self-fulfillment, and to get the word out about causes or brands. As a marketer, understanding these innate human characteristics can be helpful.
Helpful Tips for Creating Shareworthy Content
We all understand that shareworthy content is valuable. The biggest issue most marketers struggle with is how to create content that followers are genuinely excited about sharing. While we don’t have a secret formula for “going viral,” there are some things that successful content marketers typically suggest.
1. Write for a Specific Persona
Do you have content marketing personas for each of your various customers or readers? If not, your entire strategy is likely flawed. How can you write relevant content that your readers want to share if you aren’t targeting that content at your readers?
“Without personas, you may only be guessing what content your audience wants,” says Jodi Harris at Content Marketing Institute, “which means you are more likely to revert to creating content around what you know best (your products and company) instead of around the information your audience is actively seeking.”
Most businesses have anywhere between two and five different buyer personas. In order to turn these into content marketing personas, you have to think about aspects such as:
- How does the customer access online content?
- Who does the customer spend time with?
- What pain points does the customer have?
- What role of the buying cycle is the customer in?
- What frustrates the customer most?
- Who does the customer trust?
You’ll end up asking yourself dozens of other questions, but these should get you pointed in a positive direction. Once you have personas in place, you can then begin developing super targeted content.
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2. Use Compelling Visuals
The Internet is becoming increasingly visual. The brain processes visual content much better than text and customers find it much easier to look at content that’s accompanied by compelling visuals. If you’re still using boring posts with nothing to break up your monotonous paragraphs, something is out of whack. Here are some examples of companies that do a good job of producing visual content:
- Park West Gallery. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the world’s largest art dealer understands the power of visuals. In addition to maintaining an onsite blog presence, Park West Gallery does a phenomenal job creating video content and sharing it on their popular YouTube channel. During a time where many brands are still ignoring video, Park West Gallery gets it right.
- Styling You. This fashion blog does what very few bloggers are able to accomplish: create quality content that’s also visually stunning. Every post on the site is accompanied with fantastic visuals that make the content extremely shareable.
- Creative Bloq. It’s easy to get caught up in using stock photos. They’re free and easy to find. However, they do very little to add value to your content marketing. Creative Bloq shows that there are plenty of alternatives to stale stock photos. They find, edit, and use compelling images for each post.
People like visuals, so make sure you’re using images, video, and graphics to increase the shareability of your content.
3. Come Up With Unique and Controversial Topics
Nobody wants to share safe content. Is there anything fun about sharing an article about why apples are good for you? For most folks, the answer would be, no. But a lot of people would share an article about how eating three apples a week can help you save $100. While this is an absurd example, it’s true nonetheless. People share controversial content, not safe content.
The easiest way to come up with unique and controversial topics is to take a counter argument stance on trending topics. Find a current newsworthy topic that’s getting a lot of press, and then take the opposite stance. You’ll end up intriguing some people and alarming others. As they say, any press is good press. This is certainly true when it comes to content that gets shared on social media.
4. Focus on Titles and Headlines
The titles and headlines you choose for your content are almost as important as the content itself. Sadly, most people don’t have a long enough attention span to read an entire article that’s 1,000-plus words. However, they’ll always read the headline. Furthermore, the headline, in addition to the accompanying image, is the only thing that pops up on social newsfeeds.
There are plenty of strategies for creating shareworthy content, but the best tip is to make things emotional. According to this study, posts with a higher emotional value get more shares across the board. The reason is that emotional language creates a response inside of us that heightens our senses and encourages us to act.
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Move Beyond Boring Content
If you’re still developing content that nobody reads, you’re probably taking the wrong approach. In all likelihood, you’re still attempting to develop content for the search engines, not your readers.
In order to create content that’s shareable, move beyond boring, technical speak and evolve your strategy to be modern and engaging. Keep these tips in mind and spend time identifying effective ways to transform your approach. Your audience will love it and your brand will benefit.