9 Tips for Creating Content that Gets Shared

9 Tips for Creating Content that Gets Shared

You already know that content is important. Smart marketers are using quality content to build brand awareness and drive traffic to their sites. Many content creators dream of their content going viral.

Here are 9 tips for creating content that gets shared. 

#1. Identify and understand your target audience

Before you begin writing, take a moment to identify your target audience. It is difficult to get people to share your content if they don’t care about it, so figure out who your target audience is and cater your content to them. All you need to do is ask some basic questions. 

Who: Are you targeting stay-at-home moms, college students, retired couples, teenage girls, marketing professionals, engineers, musicians, or scientists?

What: What does your target audience need? Create something that will help them.

When: When is your target audience online? Publish with those times in mind.

Where: Where do they live, work, and play? Someone who lives in Paris doesn’t need a list of Calgary’s best restaurants.

Why: Why is your audience online? Are they looking for specific information, socialization, entertainment, or validation?

How: How does your target audience experience the internet? Are they using a computer, or do they do most of their browsing on a smart phone? Make sure your content is compatible.

#2. Craft a headline that demands attention

First impressions are essential. It doesn’t matter how good your content is if no one bothers to read it. There are many different ways to write an engaging headline, but here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Include a promise in your title: Everything You Need to Know about Star Wars
  • Numbers let your reader know what to expect: 7 Reasons 80’s Kids Love Star Wars
  • Ask questions to stimulate curiosity: Which Star Wars Character is Your Soul Mate?
  • The Ever Popular “How To” article: How to Become a Jedi

 #3. Be original

The internet is infinite, so the odds are high that someone else out there has already written about the topic you have chosen. What can you add to the conversation? Maybe you have a distinct voice, a funny perspective, or a unique example—whatever it is, bring something original to the table.

#4. Don’t be afraid to make it long

Don’t believe those people who say that younger generations are lazy and have no attention span. Younger people value their time and won’t stick around if you waste it, but if you are providing high-quality, engaging content, you can make it long and detailed. Websites like Hyperbole and a Half and The Oatmeal frequently post long-form stories and young people are still tuning in.

In fact, some studies have shown that longer, in-depth content is shared more often than shorter pieces. Trends are moving away from short, quick-hit posts and toward long-form, magazine-style stories that provide an immersive experience.

#5. Evoke emotions

When people respond to something emotionally, they are often compelled to share it. Jonah Berger and Katie Milkman co-authored a paper called “What Makes Online Content Go Viral?” They shared a lot of interesting insights, but the biggest take-away was probably that content that evokes “high-arousal emotions” is more likely to go viral. The study specifically cited emotions like awe, anger, and anxiety.

They also found that content that aroused positive emotions was shared more than content that evoked negative feelings.

#6. Pay attention to trends

Use current trends and recent news events as inspiration when you are creating content. This makes it easier to think of new ideas, and using trending topics and current events means that you have a built-in audience who is already interested in your content.

#7. Add visuals

People process visual content faster than text. Visual content is also more engaging and more memorable. Smart businesses are incorporating more visual content into their work. Gifs and infographics are increasingly popular. Twitter added Vine for looping videos. Facebook recently made images bigger.

Websites like stockfootage.com or istockphoto.com provide royalty free stock videos and images that look professional, so if you don’t have the skills or equipment to create your own visual content, you still have affordable options.

#8. Make it useful

Content that recognizes and solves problems is also more likely to be shared. Although an article about fixing your bathroom sink may not seem very interesting, it is a common problem many people have to deal with. If someone finds your content helpful, they will share it with others who face the same problem.

If you run a business that sells clothes, write a blog post with ideas about how to accessorize an outfit. If you sell compost, share an infographic with the best times of the year to plant a garden. If you sell craft supplies, share a video that demonstrates how to make your own wreath or decorative pillow case.

Give your customers content that helps them use your product or service, and they might just share it with friends.

#9. Make information accessible

There is a LOT of information online. When people are reading online, they skim the page to see if the content they need is there. If a reader doesn’t find what they are looking for at your site, they will move on quickly. Here are a few tips for making information accessible:

  • Use headings and sub headings to clearly identify your topics.
  • Use lists to make information easy to organize.
  • Write short paragraphs. Shoot for 3-4 sentences.
  • Use straightforward language. Your vast vocabulary may be impressive, but that doesn’t make it accessible to the average reader.
  • Use images to illustrate your points.
  • Create an infographic to explain complicated data and statistics. Infographics like the one in this post are easier to understand and more fun to read.
  • Use white space. Giant blocks of text are intimidating, and it is difficult for readers to quickly identify the information they want in long passages.

Creating content that people want to share is hard work, but it will pay off when the traffic to your website hits a new high. Use these tips to create high quality content that your users will be compelled to share.

Guest author: Michael David is a freelance blogger who loves learning about technology, online trends, and marketing.

 

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Comments

  • http://www.elanawinfrey.com/ Elana Winfrey

    Jeff, #8 is particularly helpful for me. I’m putting out content, but want to make sure I’m writing it from the perspective of ‘how is this post going to help someone dealing with a problem right now, solve that problem RIGHT NOW?’ Can’t say I’ve been doing that each time. Much has been about being informative, which is not the same as solving a ‘right now’ problem. Thanks for this!

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Yes, if you can put yourself in your readers shoes and help them solve problems then you are well on your way!

      • http://www.elanawinfrey.com/ Elana Winfrey

        I definitely CAN. I’m a therapist for peete’s sake :-) I think that asking myself two questions, when reviewing the draft “what problem did I just address?” “How did I address that problem with an applicable solution?” Then revise, if the answers aren’t clear (for the reader). In the content That will help tremendously.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    Images are an excellent way to attract readers to your content. Whether they are funny, dramatic or eye-catching, make sure they are consistent with your business or brand look and feel.

  • Nitoy Gonzales

    Awesome stuff…

  • http://www.linkworxseo.com/ Link Worx Seo

    As usual great stuff man. Keep it coming.

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Great post, Michael. I love your advice about not being afraid to write long form content. While many people’s attention spans are getting shorter, readers will certainly go for quality over short quantity any day. I find myself sharing more compelling, well-written content than short reads.

    • Michael David

      Thanks Sarah!

  • http://www.gtminsights.com NancyHurley

    Great tips! I agree #1 should in fact be #1…understanding the target audience is critical in all messaging activity. Knowing what your customer cares about and what the “wins” are for them will help you create content they really care about. It is surprising how often some marketers/organizations miss analyzing the audience first.

  • saeedyasir

    As always Keep it coming Jeff! The problem with me is that I an unable to make a content long and I fear that If I do so, I might deviate from the original topic to something that is more irrelevant and useless to the original topic. Any ideas how can I overcome this fear?

  • Michael David

    Thanks! I agree.

  • Michael David

    Good catch. :)

  • Angeline Plesek

    Jeff: Thanks for the great post! Love numbers 1 & 2–I couldn’t agree more!

  • http://affimity.com Pav Bel

    Thank You Jeff….