By Mark Harrison
Virality and shareability are highly desirable factors in content marketing, but too often, companies put the cart before the horse and jump on gimmicks and trends rather than devising truly shareable content.
There are plenty of bots and advertising widgets devoted to projecting what we’re talking about back at us for cynical marketing purposes. That’s why we’ve got better at spotting these tactics, and more importantly, why it’s the last thing that any brand should want to imitate.
Take a look at your own social media platforms. Whether it’s a personal profile or a business page, we’re absolutely positive that you don’t share just anything that happens to pop up in front of you.
Tactics will naturally vary for personal and professional profiles, but to get you thinking about how to create consistently shareable content, we’ve compiled 23 top tips that will get you well on your way:
Check Trending Topics
Naturally, your first port of call when looking for shareable content is to look at what people are currently sharing. It’s just important to make sure that trendy, topical content isn’t the only thing you’re turning out. Most social platforms will display currently trending topics in order to drive engagement. If you’re able to quickly produce content that capitalises on these trends without becoming irrelevant after a couple of days, it’s a sure-fire way to drum up likes and shares.
Use Hashtags and Keywords
Strong keywords are essential to any post, but when it comes to shareable content, it’s handy to be able to use hashtags too. It’s all the better if you are able to use them relevantly and organically in your copy, rather than just bombing it with keywords.Jumping onto a good hashtag at the peak of its trendiness will certainly boost your reach and usually have a positive impact on your total shares as well. Don’t be afraid to be original with hashtags either. Creating your own will link your social media posts to the ongoing conversation about your brand and your content.
Show ‘em How It’s Done
We all need a bit of help from time to time, and more and more of us will find it by doing a quick online search. Highly shareable and always in demand, how-to guides allow you to take advantage of these teaching moments and increase engagement. Create a step-by-step guide related to your industry, whether it’s a recipe or a tutorial, and share it with your audience. Ideally, by passing on your knowledge, you can hope to inspire your audience to pass it on to their own followers.
People love lists – don’t they? Ideally suited for quick scanning, listicles are favoured by editors for their structure and the way in which they get discussions started. Even within your other content, lists can make your content more readable.Where the list is the object, make sure it covers the BEST of something, or the MOST of something, or a similarly eye-catching concept.
Read the Comments
While creative types sometimes advise against reading what users are saying below the line, even bad comments can be instructive in your content planning.As well as showing that you are open and responsive to feedback and criticism, this will help you to consider different perspectives. Respond directly to comments with new content and shares will surely follow.
Respond to Customer Enquiries
You can also learn from previously resolved interactions with your audience. Have a look through your sent emails folder and look for messages you have sent to your past customers.Especially handy for answering frequently asked questions, your responses to common enquiries can make highly engaging blog posts.
Review Products and Trends
Reviews of products and services are a good example of evergreen shareable content. While you should avoid writing about yourself, (you don’t want to sound too biased!) your ability to recommend useful and relevant products will help to build trust with your customers.Moreover, if there’s some innovative use of your products that your customers may not have thought of, maybe you could bring this to their attention by trying it out and writing about it. Either way, your reviews should provide a creative outlet for your brand authority.
Develop Case Studies
Storytelling is a hugely important part of creating content. If you have a particularly satisfied customer, ask their permission to develop a case study about their experience, showing the benefit of your products and services on the average person.As long as you’re telling stories, why not branch out into other perspectives? As well as writing about one of your customers, you might write about something that happened at work or get a colleague to write about a day in their working life. The more interesting it is to your users, the more shares you’ll get.
Link to Other Sites
Using relevant links to external sites, you’ll be able to capitalise upon the domain authority of other sites related to your industry and boost your visibility and shareability in the process. Whether it’s part of a list of handy resources or smartly embedded in your copy, a well-placed link is very conducive to getting lots of shares.When used properly, to support your own point with a relevant, reliable source, this is a great way to show that you know your onions while also enjoying increased traffic. Just make sure that any links open in a different browser window or tab!
Highlight One Issue
Shine a spotlight on one particular issue in relation to your industry and dedicate a post or two to addressing it.You might even plan a series of posts on this subject over the course of a week or a month, showing your authority in your field. Either way, a “spotlight of the week/month” section will motivate you to boost shares through regular content planning.
At the same time as you don’t want to review your own products and services, you shouldn’t be afraid to talk about what others are doing in your industry. The ability to praise others when they deserve it is underrated all around.Obviously, you don’t want to recommend one of your direct competitors instead and risk losing custom to them, but in real terms, your site users know they have other options. This kind of open and honest approach can be a unique selling point.
Express Controversial Opinions
In recent years, you can hardly have failed to notice how editors tend to favour controversial editorials in order to hoover up clicks. But as a counter to praise and good reviews, it’s sometimes helpful to post something that will get your users’ dander up.It’s absolutely crucial to be aware of your audience’s tastes when writing these posts. Don’t be exploitative and certainly don’t use your platform to get personal or attack anyone. It’s not about prodding outrage culture for traffic, but about starting a conversation.
Keep up with Current Events
If you’re keeping a regular blog, you may be able to take inspiration from topical subjects and current events. These don’t have to be editorial posts, nor should they be especially controversial, but where there’s a connection between the news and your business, it’s handy to write about it.For instance, if the ongoing Brexit debate affects your customers, write about how it affects them. On a more local stage, if there’s a music festival happening nearby, write about which products your customers need. Keep up to date with the news and you’ll rarely be short of ideas for content that people are already talking about and sharing.
Explore Future Trends
As well as looking at what everyone’s doing right now, you can get ahead of your competitors by considering what’s going to happen next. Anticipating incoming trends will give you a head-start on preparing popular, shareable content. It doesn’t necessarily require soothsaying either. You can always factor events like Christmas and Halloween or even informal celebrations, such as International Talk Like A Pirate Day, into your content plan.
Conduct Competitive Research
There’s nothing wrong with checking out what your competitors are doing in order to gather inspiration for your own shareable content. Identify your top competitors, investigate how their content appeals to their audience, and determine how well it’s performing. For maximum effectiveness, examine how your competitors’ strategies differ from one platform to the next. Overall, competitive research will enable you to gauge what works and what doesn’t and potentially reveal other areas in which you can experiment with your content.
Give Away Valuable Content
Hear us out on this one, but you should be giving away valuable resources that your audience will find useful. From e-books to how-to blog posts, this kind of content contributes to memorable user experience and will show your audience how open and trustworthy you are. The better your user experience, the more likely your leads and prospects are to undergo a full conversion and become customers and followers. Even if they don’t wind up making a transaction, sharing your knowledge in this way encourages prospects to share your resource with others, ultimately driving more visitors to your site.
Debunk Common Myths
Another great way to show your authority and expertise is to debunk certain common misconceptions around your industry. This will make you stand out from other companies, especially if they happen to be taking advantage of said popular myths. For instance, if you are a professional nutritionist, you will no doubt have plenty to say about the laxative effects of certain so-called “diet products”. As before, it’s not about attacking anyone personally, but about building trust with your prospects while also informing and educating them.
Have you ever noticed that a lively comment thread often boosts page views? One way to galvanise your commenters is to ask an open question and give them something to discuss and debate in the comments section, giving you valuable insight into their opinions and tastes. This tactic is great for driving comments, visits, and most importantly, shares. With the right topic for your audience, you can start a conversation that will keep users coming back to your site again and again.
Content marketing provides a terrific economy of promotion between influencers and companies. You’d be surprised how open well-known figures in your industry may be to a request for a quote or an interview for your site, in return for a link to their own web presence. This presents a great opportunity for curated content too when you are able to get several participants to respond to one particular question. Ask several people the same question and bring their distinctive takes together in one big post for you to share with your audience.
There’s a strong case for using images in your content. Much like list structure, they help to break up your content and make it more scannable, as well as enhancing its visual appeal. Whether it’s a photo you’ve taken or a good infographic, images are also really handy for sharing. An eye-catching picture will always garner more attention on a social media feed than a block of text, so make sure you’re making the most of your images within and outside of your posts.
Video is the most shared online medium by a considerable distance. Although they’re popular for many of the same reasons as images, they usually require considerably more production value, once factors like filming, editing, and sound are considered. But if you take the time to make videos, you’re tapping into a medium that’s always highly in demand. In addition to being shareable on social media and in your posts, you can simultaneously generate more content and make your video more accessible by transcribing your audio in order to generate captions and a written transcript post.
Like videos but without the pesky images, podcasts are very shareable and increasingly popular with audiences. You can adapt many of the tips we’ve already described here in order to generate episodes for a format that’s highly suited for regular posting.As a medium, audio is second only to video as the most shared type of content. It’s also considerably easier to produce and edit, without picture considerations coming into play. Moreover, your audience will be able to listen while multi-tasking, making this a highly effective and accessible form of marketing.
Finally, it’s important to give your followers a reason to share your content. Competitions and giveaways are all well and good, but it’s far more cost-effective to create valuable, innately shareable material that they just can’t resist talking about. Oh, and in practical terms, the quickest way to make shareable content is to make your content shareable, with visible buttons and links to post your content on social media platforms. For instance, ours can be found at the top of this post, if you feel inclined to pass on what you’ve learned about shareable content!