Unpopular opinion: If your content stays on your website and does not garner share after share, you have failed.
In 2019 and beyond, the metric of your content marketing success is your ability to compel shares.
Your content might be strong. But are people excitedly distributing it across the digital space?
Let’s break down the battleground.
Love it or hate it, social media and its ability to swiftly share content has become an integral part of content marketing. In an age where people shop, socialize, play and learn online it is estimated that by 2021 the number of social media users will rise from 2.77 to 3.02 billion.
And that’s only one slice of the content marketing pie. Successful marketers will also drive shares across relevant and related blogs, helping to amass backlinks that are contextually appropriate and thematically linked.
However, getting your message out to people, and having them drive your marketing efforts through shares, relies heavily on understanding your audience and the content they crave.
You can’t approach content creation without a purpose and a plan. So once you’ve written a catchy headline that will have people clicking through to your blog post or article, how do you create content that people will climb over each other to share?
It all happens by understanding what your audience wants, creating original value, and shedding new light on problems your audience didn’t even know they had.
Here’s how you do it.
Step 1 – Know what your audience wants
As content creators, we all have ideas for posts that are tumbling around inside of us and just bursting to get out onto the page.
But does your content align with the needs of your audience? Is it the content your niche audience is looking for? Is it a topic they actually care about?
No matter how good your content is, your audience will not respond if they are not interested in it and it does not address their core problems. A little research now can save you a lot of frustration later at seeing your perfectly crafted post fail to resonate with readers.
Your goal is not to distract people from the content they want to consume but become the content they want to consume. The difference is subtle but striking.
So, how do you figure out what people want?
Start by looking at trending topics in your niche. Your greatest source of market research isn’t found in spreadsheets or white papers but in the mouths of people themselves.
Analyzing content from across the web, Buzzsumo is a handy tool that will show you trending content filtered by keyword, content type, country, or social platform among others. Use it to see what’s garnering the most shares and you’ll have an insight into the topics people care about as well as the content style.
Are the most shared articles in the form of lists? Or cheat sheets? Or ultimate guides? Your audience will vote with their fingers. So, identify what’s being shared online and start to feed that knowledge into your content creation strategy.
Bringing popular content together in one feed, Feedly can be a fantastic way to stay on top of content that is trending in your niche from across the web.
As an RSS aggregator, you not only get an overview of what is popular from the blogs you follow, but you can identify gaps in popular topics that nobody else is talking about.
✓ Google Trends
At its core, Google Trends is a platform designed to monitor trends found in Google searches and content being accessed. It lists the current most popular stories and the popularity of specific keywords, providing a river of data from past to present that you can use to identify popular topics to turn into content before they explode into the mainstream.
If a topic looks to be on the rise, you’ll be able to create content around that theme before it peaks and the market is overly saturated with similar content.
These 3 tools will give you a great headstart on the race towards irresistible content. But here’s the catch…
As 3 of the easiest and most popular sources of market research information, this is what everybody else is doing too.
As well as using these tools, you’ll need to dive deeper into the recesses of the internet to get the first-hand information you’re looking to build your content around.
If a question is repeatedly being asked in these spaces, get in on the ground floor before somebody else provides the solution to the problem. Answer these popular and widely asked questions from every conceivable angle in a blog post or article and share it with the forum or your Q&A audience.
Michael May, Social Media Manager at Paperclip Digital, has found social shares increased by 13% since adding Quora to the research process, saying “Quora is a goldmine for authentic market research. But more than that, once you’ve used it to frame your content, you can re-introduce your content back in the form of answers that drive people to view their problems from entirely new angles”.
Consider the search for ‘Content Marketing’ above.
Using these alternate perspectives you’ll be able to add multiple layers of value to your content.
- What is Content Marketing?
- Is it the best strategy?
- What are the best ways to implement it?
- Does it even work?
- Plus free Content Marketing tips
You can then complement your Quora and Reddit market research using Answer the Public.
This valuable search data visualization tool uses the keyword suggestions you would normally see during a Google search. Using Answer the Public you’ll be able to see the tens, hundreds, or even thousands of ways people are approaching the same topic.
As Google’s ranking algorithm has evolved to move from a singular keyword focus to a more nuanced and semantic approach, your approach to content must change too.
Writing from multiple angles and anticipating problems that your readers aren’t yet aware of will be at the heart of share-worthy content.
Takeaway – Research what your audience wants to know. Not just what terms they are using to frame their search queries, and use this as the basis of your share-worthy content.
Step 2 – Be original
After you have identified the content your audience is looking for, don’t simply mimic what everyone else is writing about. That content is already being shared. It’s already providing value. If you write the same thing, there is no reason for your readers to share it.
So, once you’ve found your topic and researched it from multiple angles, you’ll need to find your hook.
- What do you have to offer on your chosen subject that nobody else is talking about?
- What new perspective can you add that no one else has added before?
- What voice can you lend to the conversation that will have your audience captivated?
Originality can seem like a confronting goal, but there are many ways to make something out of nothing. One of the simplest ways to create original content is to find something that someone else in your industry has published and add your opinion to it.
Whether you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner, chances are you are an expert at something. Use your experience as the basis of your original content.
Takeaway – People love to be the first to share a new idea, solution or story. Creating original content will compel people to share.
Step 3 – Add clear value
Everybody loves to get something for nothing. But no one likes to be tricked.
Be up front and clear with the value that your audience should expect. Don’t hide it at the end of your content as an afterthought. Without explicitly stating what people will find you’ll risk losing valuable readers before your big reveal.
Front load your value by being open, honest and upfront about it. And let people salivate and look forward to consuming it.
While there is no single creative idea that will guarantee shares, here is a great starting point to help you transform your content from forgettable to fantastic.
With so many ways to add value, here are some ideas on where your energy is best focused to take advantage of content consumption trends in 2019. Use the following list as a springboard to add value to your next article or blog post.
✓ Link to resources: Don’t just link to your own content, share the love instead. Collate all the resources your readers will need to put your advice into action and they will thank you for it. In 2019 you can’t be afraid of losing traffic to another external webpage. On the contrary, the most successful marketers are those who have embraced the concept of giving away value.
✓ Infographics: Studies show that when images contain relevant information, readers will spend more time looking at them than they do reading the text on the page.
Stuck for infographics ideas? Use these 7 steps to create awesome infographics.
✓ Create a Video: If you are explaining a hands-on concept, create a video showing people how to do it. The visual learners in your audience will gain so much more from your post and be more likely to share it as a result.
Feeling low on ideas? Here’s how to create insanely successful videos for under $100.
✓ Link to similar content on your blog: If your reader has enjoyed what you had to say, chances are they will want to find out more. Make it easy for them to find on your site by linking to similar content on your blog. Always make sure the path to your goal is well-lit and unobstructed.
Takeaway – Put simply, valuable content stands out in the increasingly crowded online space. More importantly, valuable content is worth sharing in the eyes of your readers.
Step 4 – Don’t just solve a problem. Tell them why it is a problem.
We have all heard the old ‘solve a problem’ strategy behind content creation. And that is no less true now than when it was first said. But go one step further and let your readers know why they have a problem not just what their problem is. Perhaps they had never considered doing things a different way and your perspective will transform their approach.
You can use storytelling to bridge the gap between your message and the impact it can have on others. Start with a short story to let the reader know how this was a problem for you also, followed by the benefits you found from using the information you are providing.
If you have targeted your content to your niche well, people will be rushing to help their friends and followers by sharing your solution to the problem they have been struggling with. And if you’ve conducted your research thoroughly, you’ll be showing them a problem they didn’t even know they had.
Ultimately, problem-solving is more effective than simple marketing, because your readers aren’t interested in you or your business. They are interested in what you can do for them.
Takeaway – By highlighting their problems you’ll be giving them what they need to hear, not what you think they want to hear.
Step 5 – Make your content easy to read
Regardless of how relevant and helpful your content is if it is not engaging and easy to read people won’t stay around to read it. And if they are not there to read it, they won’t be there to share it.
Eight seconds is all you have to capture a reader and get them curious enough to read on, after that you are outside of the average person’s attention span.
Try these simple content tweaks next time you’re looking to streamline your content and make it easy to read.
✓ Add informative, interesting subheadings.
People skim articles before they commit to reading them. Sub-headings give an overview of the content that readers will get if they commit to reading the article. Make sure your sub-headings aren’t vague and give scanners a clear idea of what they can expect to learn more about if they stop on a certain paragraph.
✓ Include short paragraphs
A readable paragraph for online consumption is generally four to six lines in length. Any longer than that and you risk reader fatigue. With the amount of content available online, it’s these little content tweaks that can drive people away, or invite them down the page and towards that share button.
✓ Use powerful images
Feelgood stock images rarely capture the imagination. However, images of relevant people and places, infographics, ‘how-to’ graphics, and other images that impart knowledge all increase engagement and raise your likelihood of a share.
✓ Format with lists and bullet points
Bulleted and numbered lists make your content more scannable and more pleasing on the eye. It is easier for readers to find the value in your content that they are looking for if it is well organized and not hidden away in long, dry paragraphs.
Takeaway – 43% of people admit to skimming through blog posts. Writing in a way that still appeals to these readers means making your content engaging for everyone.
Step 6 – Make your content easy to share
If it takes too long or too much effort to share your content, readers are not going to do it. And if no one is going to share it, what was the point of writing the article in the first place?
Now that you’ve crafted content worthy of a share, here’s how you make the process as simple as possible.
✓ Don’t go overboard with sharing icons.
To lead with the obvious, including sharing icons is one of the simplest ways for people to share your content.
Just be smart about which social icons to include. Limit the options to 3 or 4 of the social channels your content would do well on and make sure they are visible. Too many options and readers will feel overwhelmed and not share across any of them.
✓ Include Tweetable Quotes
Tweetable quotes are another great way to add value to your content as people love to share something insightful, witty or informative before everyone else. Adding a plugin that allows you to add a ‘click to tweet’ button to a particularly well written and insightful quote within your content makes it extremely easy for your readers to share.
Quote Tweet lets your website visitors highlight and share any piece of text in your content as a quote on their own Twitter accounts, with your page URL shared too.
✔ Include a clear call to action (CTA)
Your CTA should tell people what you would like them to do. If you would like the reader to share your content, give instructions on how to do it and point out the benefits of sharing.
Your CTA should give readers a single action to take. So make it clear, concise and obvious.
Takeaway – Make sharing easy with simple share icons and a single-minded CTA. These buttons remove the barriers between your reader and the action you want them to take.
With these 6 simple steps in mind, you’ll be best placed to create content that truly connects with your readers.
To simplify a complex process, people read content to make a change in their lives.
Just like you’re reading this because you want to learn the secrets behind insanely shareable content.
Identify where your audience is and where they want to go, then let your content bridge that gap.
Do that, and you’ll get people talking and drive the shares you’re after.
Now go out there are make your content part of the conversation.
Guest author: Alexander J Porter is Head of Copy at Paperclip Digital, Sydney’s boutique agency with bold visions. He wields words to weave magic connections between brands and buyers and is constantly driven to learn more about the ways language can strike consumers like lightning. You can find him on Twitter @AJP_Marketing.