Have you ever wondered about the factors that made content shareable? Is there a special secret, or should you just write a random post and leave everything to chance? The truth is, you can never be 100% certain that the audience will love to share the piece you’re working on. Nevertheless, there are certain features you can pay attention to, so you’ll increase the chances of getting your content shared.
In the continuation, you’ll find a list of common characteristics of popular posts, which trigger engagement.
Shareable content entertains
A research study published by the American Marketing Association analyzed thousands of articles from New York Times with the aim to define the factors that led to more shares. The researchers found that positive news had greater chances to go viral. This type of content aroused emotions such as excitement, awe, and delight. However, content that elicited anxiety, frustration, or anger also got more shares than the pieces that provoked low-arousal feelings, such as confusion and sadness.
What’s the lesson you can learn? Create content that people react to. Your pieces should always trigger high-arousal response, preferably a positive one.
Shareable content leads to social validation
We all have need for people to approve our actions and opinions; it’s called ego. This means that many people will follow the flow – they will up-vote comments that have been already liked by other people.
How can you use this inclination to make your content more shareable? Simple: add sharing buttons and make them as visible as possible. They should be present on every page that features a piece of content you want to see on social media. Then, start sharing it on your own profiles. When few readers follow the lead, they will intrigue many others to do the same with the intention to get social validation.
Quality matters a lot, but so does appearance. Even content has to look nice for people to read and share it. You need to organize your piece in an easily-scannable way that doesn’t confuse the reader. Avoid huge chunks of text, since they look overwhelming. Design is also important. The colors and visual elements should be harmonious, so they won’t distract the reader from the text. Each piece should work well in the puzzle.
Here’s your lesson: use bullets, lists, and appealing subheadings. Opt for short paragraphs and a font that’s easy to read. Comic Sans is not the best choice.
Shareable content speaks to people’s interests
People use social media for many reasons, but one of the main ones is to connect with people who have similar interests as theirs. The content they share serves as a tool for making these connections. Through content, social media users can engage like-minded individuals and strengthen the connections they have.
There’s a key takeaway from this realization: really great content needs to speak to people’s interests. When you’re posting articles on trending topics, relate the main issues with the interests of your audience. If, for example, you maintain a blog about yoga and you want to connect it with a trending topic, you can write about the way Taylor Swift or another celebrity stretches out before showing up for a performance. That blend will inspire a discussion among your followers.
Shareable content is practical
If you observe the articles that get tons of attention on social media, you will notice they are not only interesting and fun, but they are also very informative. The New York Times published a study called The Psychology of Sharing (Editor: Unfortunately it seems the study has recently been taken down by NYT), which showed that over 90% of social media users assessed the usefulness of the piece prior to sharing it. People share content they found valuable, so they could contribute to solving other people’s problems.
If, for example, you intend to write an article on anxiety, you need to make it extremely useful for the target audience. Instead of investigating the factors that lead to such state and throwing numbers that show how many people are struggling with anxiety, you should put such information in the shade of actionable advice on how to surpass the struggles and start living an anxiety-free life. This advice should be very practical and different from what everyone else in the niche offers.
How-to content is very actionable and practical. Pay attention to the most frequently asked questions among your target audience, and think of the most useful tips that lead them to solutions. This type of content generates more organic traffic from search engines, but it also triggers people to click the share button.
Shareable content promises rewards
Marketing is all about incentives. When people are ready to read something, they ask themselves: “what will I get from it?” Incentive theory is pretty simples: people’s actions are driven by rewards.
If you want people to share your content, you should give something in return. Discounts or free eBooks are always nice incentives. You can also give the sharers access to exclusive content that’s not available for every visitor at the website. Another way to attract shares is by organizing a giveaway to random website visitors who share the post on Facebook.
Shareable content affirms causes and beliefs
When people share content on their social media profiles, they tend to choose something that defines them as individuals. They want to show who they are, what they believe in, and what they care about. When they support causes, they share content that affirms their point of view.
If you want to increase the number of shares you get, try to understand what your target audience believes in, and then create a piece that resonates with people’s personalities. If, for example, your audience consists of rock music aficionados, create a well-researched piece that shows how rock music makes the listener smarter and more attentive to details.
If you get stuck somewhere in the middle of the process of creating shareable content, remind yourself that you’re working on something that will improve the lives of the readers. Your job is to make the content as valuable and informative as possible. Then, you can leave the shares to the audience.
Back at you
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Want to explore this topic a bit more? Go check out this article for some great examples of shareable content and more recipes on how to create ones of your own.