You might not be a celebrity, the president of the U.S., or a prominent scholar. But your voice matters. Every time you share a piece of content you tell your network and the public that it’s worth their time to take a look. Your “share” is a form of advocacy and is extremely valuable to businesses and brands trying to cut through the noise.
“The most credible advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust,” says the marketing research firm, Nielsen. According to their study, more than 83% of respondents said they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. However, trust isn’t just reserved for our inner circle. In fact, 66% said they are likely to trust consumer opinions posted online outside of their immediate network.
So, how do you create content that will be shared, and work towards building awareness and trust in new networks? We’ve outlined some of the best practices that will help you craft shareable content.
1. Create awesome content
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the minimum threshold for getting people to share your content is getting them to like your content. If your content doesn’t entertain, inform, or inspire, no one is going to give your content a second glance. Make sure your content is well-researched and well-written. It also doesn’t hurt to harness the power of storytelling. Use anecdotes to create compelling content that connects with your audience.
2. Use visuals
It seems obvious but…use images! Visual content is quickly consumed (and even makes our brains happy). More importantly, visual content gets 94% more total views and is 40X more likely to be shared on social networks!
It also helps if your content is aesthetically pleasing. According to Entrepreneur, organizing your content so that it’s easily scannable and has a clear eye path will increase engagement. This means avoiding big blocks of text and using eye-catching visuals to capture attention.
Home Depot leverages the power of visual content to showcase DIY projects and inspire their audience to take on a simple project. Here, the brand uses Instagram to not only promote their products, but also highlight what you can do with them. Home Depot uses visuals to communicate an idea quickly and in an aesthetically pleasing format! Instead of a huge block of text, they use an image to deliver something useful, empowering, and inspiring – and thereby very shareable!
3. Start a discussion
People love to give you their two cents. Sometimes the best way to generate shares and activity is to simply ask for feedback. According to Forbes, “62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer.” This demographic expects brands to ask for their input, and 42% said they are interested in helping companies develop future products and services. Additionally,
studies reveal that customers who engage with companies on social media are likely to spend between 20% and 40% more money with those companies than other customers.
Get your audience involved by asking them to share their opinions, advice, and input.
For example, Frito-Lays is known for using social media to crowdsource information and collect feedback from their audience. They routinely check in with their followers for input on future chip flavours and campaigns. This type of engagement fuels sharing and generates engagement and greater awareness.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask
Unless you tell people you’ve created some cool content, how will they know it’s there? Our news feeds operate faster than a treadmill in overdrive, so there’s no way to keep up with all of the interesting content flowing through the bandwidth of the Internet. Promote your own content to your followers and subscribers—social media, e-newsletters, you name it—and don’t be ashamed to ask them to share something important. For example, in directing visitors from its website to its YouTube channel, the World Wildlife Fund immediately puts people on the spot by asking them to confirm a subscription to its video channel. Sure, this is a CTA—but it’s targeted at the people WWF thinks are most likely to engage over the long haul, since they’re arriving from the website. This creates the potential for more sharing in the long-term.
5. Create An Incentive
One surefire technique to earn shares is to create an incentive. People are driven by rewards so tap into this psychological phenomenon and use it to your advantage when creating micro content. Find a way to entice your audience to share your Tweet or Instagram photo in exchange for a reward. This might be in the form of a contest that encourages your audience to generate content or use a specific hashtag. National Geographic’s “Wanderlust” contest tapped into the power of their social media community. They asked users to “capture glimpses of the unforgettable people, places, and experiences that have impacted their lives from their travels around the world” and share these images on Instagram with the hashtag #WanderlustContest. Participants had the chance to win a National Geographic Photo Expedition to Yosemite National Park.
6. Tap Into Our Sense of Altruism
According to the New York Times Customer Insight Group report, 84% of respondents said they share content because “it is a way to support causes or issues they care about.” Social media is a form of self-expression, and you can tap into your audience’s desire to showcase the causes that have meaning for them.
For example, Walmart recently announced a partnership with Feeding America. They pledged to donate 10 meals for every instance of the hashtag #FightHunger. The post received 2,100 shares and rewarded the audience for their “share” by donating money to a good cause on their behalf.
There are a lot of reasons why a Tweet or Facebook post might go viral. Maybe it made someone laugh during a tough day at work, maybe it was a useful article, or perhaps it was simply a really cute puppy. Whatever the reason, you can work towards making your content share-worthy by putting these five actionable tips into practice.
If you’re looking for more strategies to create engaging content, check out our Audience Engagement Playbook for expert advice from digital media experts at BuzzFeed, CNET, and Fast Company.
Nate Birt is a multimedia journalist, social media enthusiast and copy editor with experience at a variety of print and digital publications, and a Contributing Editor to the Visual.ly Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @natebirt.