In a world of social shares and viral content, what good is an amazing piece of content if no one sees it?
To get as many eyes on it as possible, your content needs to be shareable. Shareable content spreads across the Internet as audiences connect with a topic, idea, or story, and click to share it with their friends and followers.
If you want your content to stand out with a large number of shares, you need to answer some important questions first. Once you’ve successfully done that, you can focus on getting your target audience to hit that share button and maximize exposure through your content marketing strategy.
Is the Topic Shareable?
At the core of any piece of shareable content is a compelling topic. People share great content that ignites something in their hearts and minds. It prompts a response that makes them want to include and inform other people.
A study conducted by a team of UCLA psychologists found that people have an inherent desire to dispense information. We’re wired to share—and there are certain ideas that we’re most likely to share.
“Our study suggests that people are regularly attuned to how the things they’re seeing will be useful and interesting, not just to themselves, but to other people,” said the study’s senior author, Matthew Lieberman. “We always seem to be on the lookout for who else will find this helpful, amusing, or interesting. . .”
As Lieberman notes, shareable content ideas are helpful, amusing, or interesting. They’re topics that resonate with us so much that we think others will appreciate them, too. To create these types of ideas, create content that is:
- Emotional: Strikes a chord with audiences and makes them feel something.
- Tied to identity: Makes it easy for readers to feel connected and see themselves in the content.
- Trending: Related to hot topics and the latest fads.
- Valuable: Provides answers, solutions, and helpful advice.
If you want to get a better idea of what successful shareable content looks like, consider using Alexa’s Content Exploration tool. By simply typing in your topic or site of choice, this tool produces a number of related articles with high social media engagement, along with where those articles are seeing high engagement.
You can click on one of these high-engagement posts to conduct preliminary research. Find out what makes them stand out in terms of shareable content. Are they providing custom infographics? Do they include expert insights? Make a list of the things that make that particular piece of content unique. You can then apply that knowledge to your own content.
The Content Exploration tool can also help you find related trending topics and how many social media shares each topic is generating on Twitter and Reddit, along with the number of articles related to that topic.
On top of that, this tool lets you find trending content and see where there may be opportunities for you to create original content with a fresh angle. If you’re seeing particularly high average engagement for the keyword “customer relationships,” for example, there could be an opportunity for you to create content around the topic of customer relationships.
Is the Headline Eye-Catching and Shareable?
Once you come up with a powerful, shareable topic, make it easy for the reader to notice your great concept right away.
Headlines are so important that they can actually trigger social sharing on their own. A study run by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute estimates that 59% of links shared on social media aren’t even clicked. People share them based on the headlines alone.
A powerful, captivating headline is essential in creating shareable content, so as you write titles:
- Show the value. Be clear about what the reader will gain or learn.
- Be specific. Detail what information is included in the content.
- Present possible results. Explain what the reader will get as a result of reading.
- Highlight lists. Show that content will be easily scannable by publishing lists.
- Include numbers. Catch a reader’s attention by sharing how many items are included in your list.
- Speak in the second person. Call out readers by using words like “you” and “your.”
- Use keywords. Include the best keywords most likely to catch your target audience’s attention.
While it might be difficult to include all of these content writing tips, do your best to incorporate at least two or three of these concepts into your headline. For help crafting the perfect headline, enter your title in CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. The tool will rate your headline and offer tips to improve it.
Aim to write headlines that will catch a reader’s attention on social networks with busy feeds. Include emotional and power words to make the reader stop and take note. No matter what social media channel you’re posting on, these types of words can be very effective.
Think about it: Would you rather read a piece with the headline “5 Vacation Spots in Europe” or “5 Secret Vacation Spots in Europe to Visit Before You Die.” The latter headline adds a sense of urgency and, in turn, encourages people to share that piece of content.
Are the Images Sized and Designed for Social Sharing?
Images and social sharing go hand-in-hand. Adding a dazzling, eye-catching graphic to your post will make it more likely to get noticed and re-shared. Buffer found that tweets with images get 150% more retweets than those that don’t have images.
To create shareable social media content, always include featured images that are sized and designed for social sites. Pair each post with a custom image for:
To see what your posts will look like on social sites, test them out using AdParlor.
While this tool is primarily used as a drawing board for social media ads, you can also use it to see what your images will look like on a variety of social media sites and device screens.
Is the Content Easy to Share?
It’s not always the content that encourages audiences to share. It also has to do with the layout and options on the website itself. It should be no surprise that shareable content is published on web pages that promote sharing.
Online audiences are less likely to share content if they have to work for it. Make it easy for them to spread your story around the web by promoting sharing options on your content pages.
- Add social sharing buttons to all of your pages, so it’s obvious and easy for readers to take action.
- Include CTAs throughout your content pages that tell audiences to share. At the end of a post, ask readers to spread the word. In the body of the content, include callouts that prompt readers to click to share.
To make it easy for your audience to share your content via Twitter, use ClickToTweet to insert noticeable and simple-to-use buttons and messages into your content.
No matter what type of content you’re producing, you should always include sharing buttons that are easy to spot. You can strategically place a share button next to an interesting stat or infographic. The goal is to present value alongside the share button.
Are You Optimizing Your Shareable Content?
When planning out your content calendar, you need to determine goals for each piece of upcoming content. These goals might be to raise brand awareness by gaining traction on social media, or generate traffic from organic search.
These goals don’t have to be mutually exclusive, however. When possible, optimize your content for SEO so new readers can discover it through search and then share it.
Use Alexa’s On-Page SEO Checker to review every page and ensure they’re optimized for your target keyword. You can also use the SEO Site Audit tool to run a complete scan of your entire site to see where you can make improvements to site security, performance, and other key SEO factors.
The SEO Site Audit tool helps you understand your site’s overall SEO health. In the example above, we can see that this site’s SEO could use some work while its reputation is still pretty great.
But remember, the focus should always be on content quality first and foremost. Using black hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing and comment spamming to boost SEO efforts can actually lower your search engine ranking, and readers will be more likely to bounce from rather than share your content.
Get Ready to Create Shareable Content
If you go through these content creation questions carefully, you can ensure all of your content is primed for both search and sharing. Keeping these best practices in mind will help you create more shareable content every time you hit publish.
To help your content gain more shares and more visibility through search engines, sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced plan. It includes more tools for SEO analysis, competitive analysis, content research, and more to help you get discovered by new audiences.
This post was originally published in January, 2018 and updated in November, 2020.