According to studies conducted by Content Marketing Institute, “Producing engaging content has been a perennial top challenge over the last five years.”
So, what makes for engaging content? And how can you ensure that the content you’re developing is worth sharing?
Well, the rules surrounding share-worthy content tend to vary depending on your audience, but at the core, there are a few things that you can do to increase the likelihood of success. I bet you’re wondering what those are. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are five things you need to know to start crafting share-worth content today.
Understand the Motivations of Sharing
The motivation behind why people share is the starting point for great content. Without a deep understanding of what motivates people to share an article with their colleagues, peers, or friends, your content will be fruitless.
The New York Times conducted a study called The Psychology of Sharing, where they looked at the motivations behind why we share. Here are the five primary motivations behind sharing that this must-read study identified.
To Bring Value or Entertainment To Others. There are tons of ways to bring value to people in the content you develop. Your goal here is to develop something that is so helpful or entertaining that they’ll share it with their friends. As an example, Bevel, a razor brand, writes blog posts about maintaining sideburns or hair gel.
To Define Ourselves to Others. The study found that 68% of people share content with the intent of informing others about the things they cared about and who they were as a person.
An example of this in action was the “Be Like Bill” meme that went viral. The application allowed you to upload your name and gender to receive a witty or snarky message that could be shared. Here’s an example:
In January, the page generated more than 1.5M likes.
Whether it’s a photo from the weekend or an article about the benefits of coffee, a lot of what we share is meant to nurture relationship with others. For marketers, crafting content that can help facilitate the growth and nourishment of relationship can drive meaningful results.
Self-Fulfillment. We all want to be better or feel better. If you didn’t want to be better, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post right now. So how can we use this insight to craft better stories? Help your audience be better or feel better by spreading a story that is sure to generate engagement online.
The study found that participants wanted to pass along information to see how their friends and colleagues would react, suggesting that it made them feel valuable. In addition, 69% of people expressed that they wanted to share information because it allowed them to feel more involved in the world.
To Get the Word Out About Causes or Brands. When people found out that their peers were dumping ice on their heads to raise awareness for a disease, they started to listen.
In fact, they not only listened, they shared videos with funny reactions and even took part on their own. Sure, people want to look good in front of their friends and family, but they also want to help. If you can create a brand or associate your brand with a cause worth talking about, people will take notice.
Research Your Target Audience
Now that you know what goes into sharing, what’s next?
For starters, you can use Facebook Analytics to get a snapshot of their demographics. You’re going to visit Business Manager, select Insights, and then click “People” on the left hand side. This will take you to a snapshot where you can learn about the demographics of your actual audience.
Once you have this insight, it’s time to go a bit deeper, using tools that can help analyze your actual followers. SimplyMeasured offers a free Twitter follower analysis tool that will show you insights around your Twitter followers.
Simply connect your Twitter account, and they’ll do the rest. It will give you data surrounding the most popular keywords used in your followers’ bios.
From this analysis, I can clearly see that more than 20% of my audience is interested in social media, digital marketing, and more. The report also shows me which topics are the most popular, according to Klout:
With this information, I know the type of content I should be creating should be focused around digital marketing. My next step is going to be figuring out what type of content surrounding these topics is more likely to be shared.
To do this, I’ll use BuzzSumo to uncover insights surrounding what articles are the most shared. Since I now know that my audience is interested in marketing content, I’m going to use “Digital Marketing” as a keyword to uncover relevant articles, infographics, and blog posts:
From here, I can dig deeper into the content and find out what it was about these articles that helped each of them generate more than 10k shares on Twitter.
Create a Captivating Headline
Now that you know how to find the topic, it’s important to start thinking about a headline for your content. Regardless of whether you’re creating an infographic or a blog post, the headline for your content is one of the most important factors for creating a share-worthy piece of content.
If your headline isn’t interesting or compelling, who’s going to click it? In a world where content is primarily being found through social media and our connections, it’s more important than ever to craft titles worth clicking.
When I’m looking for inspiration for unique content headlines, I rely on tools like Crate to give me insights surrounding what content is trending on different topics:
From this, I gain inspiration from headlines that others have written to craft my own. I start by building a variety of possible headlines. I create a list of different titles using a variety of different formats until I find one that I actually like. For example, when I was writing this post, I bounced around titles like these:
What Everyone Needs To Know When Creating Viral Content
Five Steps To Creating Content That Will Get Thousands Of Shares
What Every Content Creator Needs To About Creating Great Content
I came to the conclusion that How To Craft Share-Worthy Content In Five Easy Steps was the best option for this post, as it seemed the most click-friendly.
Deliver Over-the-Top Value
Inspiring users to click a headline is one thing; getting them to actually see it as valuable is another. The content you consume after clicking is the most important piece of the puzzle, because it’s what has the ability to determine whether a post generates shares or goes flat.
Think about it. We’ve all opened a link that we thought was interesting or going to add value to our lives but ultimately stopped reading half way through.
The content you develop needs to deliver over-the-top value. You need to invest time and energy into the creation of your content so that it’s content worth sharing. This means finding third-party quotes, scientific studies, infographics, slideshare presentations, and anything that can help make your resource a must-read.
You can take your content a step further by including templates that are available for download. Brian Dean of Backlino uses these quite frequently; here’s an example:
Brian is one of my favorite marketing bloggers, and he’s frequently creating valuable content for his audience. He does this by going above and beyond when it comes to the details. For example, when describing a technique, he goes into step-by-step specifics surrounding different tactics that make these resources a clear how-to that can be bookmarked and returned to over time.
So there you have it. Four steps that will help you create content worth sharing.
These steps will help you create content that drives shares and is spread amongst offices and social networks. I’ve gone into detail in this post because we’re living in an age where more content is being developed than ever before. Brands are struggling to stand out from the clutter, and with these tips, I’m sure that you’ll be able to differentiate from the noise.
Remember: understand the psychology of sharing, know the specifics surrounding your audience, craft a compelling headline, and invest time in creating highly-valuable content.
Take these steps, and I’m sure you’ll succeed. What are you waiting for?
Get to it!
P.S. Need help putting together your super sharing plan? Download Simply Measured’s 2016 Social Marketing Planning Guide below.
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Ross is passionate about technology, the future, good people, good coffee, and storytelling. He writes about a wide range of topics, including the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, along with the lessons he's learned over the last few years.
Ross is the founder of Foundation (content consulting & creation), Hustle & Grind (subscription service for entrepreneurs), and Crate (content marketing software – beta).
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