The blueprint of shareable content

Is there a formula? The short answer is no, but there certainly are attributes that increase the potential for stories to be shared.

Creating content that gets spread around the internet is content marketing gold. It’s brand visibility you cannot buy because it just happens and is out of your control. Forbes.com contributor Jason DeMers sums up the ultimate purpose of creating content that gets shared; ‘If you can get your users to share your content regularly, or in high enough volume, you’ll gain access to potential new followers, earn referral traffic, gain permanent links that boost your domain authority and increase your website’s potential to rank higher in Google searches.’

One extensive study by SEO specialists Moz and content analysts BuzzSumo found that videos, quizzes and list-based articles generate more shares because they are easy to digest (they do, however, garner fewer links). And that articles of 1000 words and longer enjoy more shares and links than their shorter counterparts (as elaborated in The value of long-form content in your online marketing strategy), with ‘outlier’ posts enjoying disproportionately more shares, suggesting you’ll do well to produce a smaller quantity of stand-out articles than many mediocre ones.

What will create a buzz?
There is some psychology behind why people share content. We tend to reach out to others when we engage with texts that are useful, entertaining, surprising and inspiring. Think about ‘life hacks’, for example. If those tips and tricks make our lives easier, then we want others to benefit too, especially if they save time and money. Anything that entertains or amuses us and makes us feel good is equally shareworthy, as are topics that pique our curiosity or encourage us to think creatively. There is a natural tendency to pass on the good stuff.

Positive emotional responses like joy and excitement play a key role in the desire to share posts and other stories. But other energetic feelings like anxiety and surprise are also likely to do the same. Take, for instance, the recent flood of Facebook posts stating that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal plan to play a charity match in Cape Town next year. The idea that the two tennis icons will be playing to the largest audience ever, and this on South African soil, is very exciting. Content that contains surprising news or information engages us immediately, makes us stop what we’re doing, shifts our perspective, and then almost in an attempt to verify what we’re reading and/or update our friends and family, we’re impelled to share it, this also applies for content with surprising aspects or outcomes.

Always remember your purpose
Shareable content is great for keeping your brand top of mind, making it memorable. It should always serve to teach, entertain and inspire. If you’re a traditional company, contrarian or outlier content may not be right for you. Evoke emotions, but don’t alarm or harm in the process, and make use of the practical forms that garner the most shares, such as short, detail-rich pieces, long-form features, videos, infographics and interactive content like quizzes.

Ultimately, knowing your customers’ preference and delivering quality, targeted content that fulfils their needs, informs them, answers their questions or entertains them, is what is likely to prompt them to share their experience with others. A content agency can help you navigate this challenge. Get in touch to see how we can help.

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