Shareability is an important quality for modern content, and it’s only going to become more important. Shareable content tends to circulate easily; once syndicated on a social platform, it gets shared from person to person and seen by thousands of new eyes without any additional effort on the part of the writer. The catch is that creating shareable content requires striking a difficult balance between a number of different qualities, all while adhering to your unique brand voice.
To get you started, here are eight qualities of content that gets the greatest number of shares. Include as many of them as you can in each of your syndicated works:
Time-appropriate content is well poised to circulate quickly. Most content marketing strategies wisely focus on evergreen content—content that stands the test of time and remains relevant for years. This is good for your onsite blog, but when you really want to make an impact and earn shares, time-sensitive content is actually better. Jump on topics that people are hyped up about, or recent news events that have been released. Your topical content will cultivate a sense of urgency and will take advantage of social trends that start to form online.
Your content also must have some sort of informational value. Think about it this way; if you read an article that regurgitates a bunch of information you already knew, would you want to share that article with your friends? Include at least one piece of information that your readers more than likely haven’t seen before. It could be an insight based on your own research or experiences, or a recent development that nobody has identified yet. Whatever it is, make sure that piece of information is also valuable and relevant for your target audience.
Originality is one of the most important qualities of shareable content. If your piece isn’t original, it isn’t going to be shared; it really is that simple. You may find it difficult to come up with an original piece, especially if you’re basing your work on a piece of news or as an addition to an existing topic. In these cases, it’s important to find an alternative way to distinguish your piece. Are you adding new information? Are you looking at the topic from a different angle? Any distinction you come up with is fine, as long as your piece stands out as being different from the rest.
Humor isn’t an absolute necessity for a piece to go viral, but it does help in most cases. If your brand is strict, conservative, and professional, you might want to use humor sparingly, but in other cases, feel free to lighten the mood of your piece and keep your readers entertained. Use casual language, pop culture references, and tongue-in-cheek jokes to build a bond with your readers and prompt them to share that experience with their friends and contacts. If you can make them laugh out loud, you’ve probably already won.
Surprises are the spice of life, and people love to be surprised on social media. What’s more, when surprised, they like to share those surprises with their friends. Include something surprising in the context of your piece—it could be a shocking piece of data, a twist ending, or just an angle that nobody would have expected. If your surprise factor is strong enough, your work will be cemented in your readers’ memories, and you’ll see a lot more shares as a result.
People have extremely short attention spans, and they’re only getting shorter. If you want to make a measurable impact and get your content shared, you’re going to have to do so in the shortest amount of space possible. Articles with thousands of words and whitepapers with elaborate details don’t get shared—listicles and short, punchy pieces do. That’s because people prefer valuable content when it can be skimmed, browsed, and generally consumed in the least amount of time possible. Cut the fluff out of your content, then cut some more.
It may seem like being informative, entertaining, and surprising is enough, but if you want to hit home, your work should also be practical. You can quote statistics on the state of mining in rural Russia, but that doesn’t affect many people in your target audience. Instead, write with a focus on practical measures your audience can take right now to make their lives better in some way. The more useful your material is, the more it will be shared.
Writing is still an important communicative medium, but if all you’ve created is a wall of text, your content probably will not be shared. There needs to be an interactive or visual component that draws readers in and engages them with the material. Infographics, short videos, and user surveys are just some of the ways you can accomplish this—use your imagination and get your readers actively involved!
Don’t be discouraged if your first piece of shareable content doesn’t make the impact you thought it would. It’s going to take practice before you nail the art of creating shareable content, and it’s going to take time before your brand builds the authority it needs to really start your efforts with a boom. Remain patient, stay committed to your art, and eventually, you’ll start churning out viral piece after viral piece.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.