We live in a day of information overload with content thrown at us every way we turn. Our phones, our computers, our televisions– how do people choose what to pay attention to and what to share with their friends? Creating content that people love to share is a key to successful communication.
With such saturated communication media, it is not always easy to consistently produce fresh content that excites people enough to read and share it. However, there are simple strategies that you can incorporate into your writing process that will increase your content’s sharability and spread your message faster. You may spend time developing valuable, insightful content, but if it does not resonate with your own audience, your time was wasted.
- Listen to your audience
You may spend time developing valuable, insightful content, but if it does not resonate with your own audience, the time you have spent is wasted. Read the comments on your blog, tweets you are mentioned in, and posts on your wall to find out what people are saying about your brand. Learning what people care about gives you the ability to frame your content toward them. Additionally, you may get new relevant topic ideas based just on what people are saying!
- React fast
Pay attention to current events and pop culture and find ways to relate it back to your expertise. When you base your content on topics that already have people’s attention, you can draw that attention back to yourself. People want to seem relevant and on point, and sharing your content that relates to a hot topic can help them appear so.
When you can do this quickly and effectively, it also increases your chances of being shared because your content will be ahead of curve compared to any competitors.
This theory was proven back in January during the Grammy Awards airing. A quick-witted Arby’s employee watched Pharrell perform onstage in a big brown hat, and promptly tweeted from the Arby’s account, “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs.” This unplanned but on point tweet drew the giant Grammy audience to the Arby’s account and received 81,207 retweets and 48,188 favorites by the next morning.
- Play on emotions
Though important, you don’t always have to fixate on the value level of your content. The recent explosion of viral content has proven that emotions rule in the sharing game. Viral content almost always contains content that is funny, sad, inspiring, shocking, or just compelling in some way. It is human nature to want to share in emotional experiences with others, thus drawing people to share your content.
Emotions that your content elicits are also what end up ingrained in a person’s memory. A person is more likely to recall how they felt about something they experienced than information about the experience itself. So emotional content not only elicits sharing, but it also encourages remembering of your brand.
- Escape from the “echo chamber”
The term “echo chamber” describes a situation where beliefs are reinforced by repeated “echoes” inside a closed system, often drowning out competing views. Content that simply repeats something you’ve heard or seen multiple places has no reason to be shared.
There is no doubt that you disagree with plenty voices on the web. Don’t feel like you have to be the safe or neutral voice. Taking one side of an issue and allowing opportunity for debate gets people involved with your content and gives them an opportunity to see two sides of something really well.
- Call to action
Some of the most shareable websites, such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy, have tapped in on one very simple key to increasing shares: make it easy! Both of these websites have prominently displayed buttons for readers to pass on content to Twitter, Facebook and more with one simple click. They even go so far as reminding people to do something with the post in the text.
If making it easy and asking people to spread your content doesn’t seem to be working for you, go even further and give them a concrete reason to pass it on. Entries to giveaways, access to exclusive content, or even simple public recognition for sharing can be wonderful incentives for people to share your content.
- Make it a list
Yep, guess what you’re reading right now? If you had noticed this post and it wasn’t broken down into points and subcategories, would you have been as likely to check it out? With the explosion of information these days, lists make it easier to scan and read quickly. You’re not messing with people’s expectations, because they know exactly what they’re going to get. People only want to share what they think other people will actually read, and content in list form increases those chances.
- Pretty, please
Similarly to lists, well-designed infographics or posts with any attractive content not only grab people’s attention, but make information easier to digest and share. Not everyone has the ability to design extensive web graphics, but creating attractive content can be more straightforward than that.
Simply remembering to make an easy-to-read font choice and using clear text grouping can go a long way in attractiveness and readability of your content. And adding relevant pictures can reinforce a point and make your content more noticeable in an endless stream of tweets or comments.
- Do it again
Finally, go back to content that you have already posted and review your previous engagement metrics. What has caught your audience’s attention in the past? What got people talking? What works for them might be something completely different than what works for other audiences. It might even be some invisible combination of factors not discussed in this post, but you can analyze your content and try to capitalize on that again. Always keep an eye on your metrics, particularly engagement. Over time, this information can be built into a pretty clear picture of what gets your content shared.
All together, these strategies basically sum up to one thing: being in tune with your audience. When you understand where they are coming from, what they are paying attention to, and what they want, you can intuitively frame your content to meet their needs.