9 ways anyone can create sharable content

Regardless of your industry or expertise, you can create content your audience will want to share if you follow a few, basic rules.

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

Here are nine 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 use the Internet? Do they use a computer or browse on a smartphone? 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 80s 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 odds are high that someone else has already written about the topic you have chosen. What can you add to the conversation? Maybe you have a distinct voice, funny perspective, or 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 provide 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. Some are moving away from short, quick-hit posts and toward long-form, magazine-style stories.

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?” The biggest takeaway 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 create content. This makes it easier to think of new ideas, and use 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 memorable. Smart businesses incorporate 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 read 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 to make 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 three to four 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.

Michael David is a freelance blogger who loves learning about technology, online trends, and marketing. A version of this article first appeared on JeffBullas.com.

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