The Ultimate Guide to Creating Shareable Content: 11 Tips to Skyrocket Social Shares
Content marketing is a growing industry - there’s no doubting that. In fact, 57% of B2C marketers expect their content marketing budgets to increase in 2019.
And they’re focusing on blogging, long-form guides, and video more than ever before, according to Databox:
With all those companies plowing time and effort into producing so much content, how do you compete with them? How do you make sure content you’ve written - whether it’s a blog post, eBook, or video - is the one your target audience reads?
(Over 4 million blog posts are published each day, so it’s no small feat.)
In this guide, I’m sharing the formula to create content that attracts visitors and convinces them to share it with their own network.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Why bother with social sharing?
That’s a reasonable question to ask - especially when we’re always told to track the ROI of each piece of content we’re pushing.
Unique page views, time on site, and conversions might sit at the top of your performance watchlist, but when your content gets shared on social media, you’ll still benefit.
You raise awareness of your site.
The more eyeballs on your content, the more people become aware of you and the products or services you offer.
Every marketer wants more exposure for their brand, right?
Having highly shared content is a surefire way to attract new readers - and potentially future customers - to your site. That’s not to mention the authority you’ll build up as you become a trusted source of information in your niche or industry.
People trust content recommended by their family/friends.
Who do you trust most - mysterious, faceless people from the internet or the people you know best, like your family and friends?
I’ll bet it’s the second option.
That’s why it’ll come as no surprise to learn that the vast majority of people trust the things shared by their network, making it the most credible way of advertising.
The good news is: When people share your content, their own networks are much more likely to be tuned in and engaged in what you have to say than if you attract them with paid advertising.
Plus, earning organic social shares is much cheaper than paying for traffic!
Social shares can impact SEO
The value of social shares on SEO is a long-standing debate in the SEO world. Unsurprisingly, Google hasn’t officially cited social shares as a direct ranking factor. But there is a correlation.
A study by Cognitive SEO suggests websites that rank higher in Google have a wider social presence:
And Searchmetrics also confirms a strong correlation between lots of social shares and high organic rankings, meaning more social shares could help your site work its’ way up Google’s ranks.
11 Ways to Create Shareable Content
Fancy competing with the millions of blog posts being published, and reap the rewards of attracting tons of social shares?
Here’s how to push everyone reading your content to share it with their own network.
1. Nail your topic.
Think about it. If your topic isn’t interesting, nobody’s going to read your content. And if nobody reads it, you can bet your bottom dollar nobody’s going to share it.
The key is to find a topic that’s in demand, that’s relevant, and that people are talking about.
You can use Google Trends to check if your topic is gaining or declining in popularity. Here’s an example search for the topic “influencer marketing”:
So, what exactly should you do with that data?
Hannah Dixon, Marketing Director at Davines North America, recommends:
“Keeping an eye on the 'breakout' search terms, either by manually typing in categories your brand is within or by getting these from Google's quarterly reports for your category. It's an easy way to see who is winning with new products when trending looks or styles are becoming mainstream as people start searching for them more broadly and a good benchmark of general interest if you want to compare a few topics.
These can both be used to inform blog content, social media content and new product launches.
For example: 'unicorn hair' was a thing a while back, and if it's a good brand fit for you, you can create looks/styles and blog content around this trend - which should see more traffic to it and help people discover your brand.”
But whatever industry you’re in, you should always keep up with news, trends and research.
That could be something as simple as scanning the news every day, or more in-depth analysis, such as tracking social media mentions of your brand, services or products.
Answer The Public is a great (free) tool you can use to identify the questions people are asking about your industry or products. Just drop your keyword in the search box, and get hooked-up with a bunch of questions and prepositions related to your topic.
(These are scraped straight from Google’s auto-suggest feature, so you can be sure they have genuine search intent behind them.)
Finally, don’t ignore your existing customers. They’re actually a goldmine of content ideas.
Use customer feedback, buyer personas, and surveys to identify pain points that you can use as themes in your content.
Finally, hit up your colleagues in the sales teams. They likely hear the same feedback and questions over and over again (another hidden treasure trove when it comes to picking a content topic that’ll result in social shares).
2. Opt for list-based content.
Ah, the good ol’ listicle. Who doesn’t like a list?
Very few people, as it happens.
People love to share list-based content online. In fact, Noah Kagan from OKDork.com teamed up with the folks at Buzzsumo and discovered that lists are one of the most highly shared types of content, alongside infographics.
Breaking your content down into lists gives your reader a sense of completion. They’re expecting a set number of items as they start reading, and they can mentally tick them off as they move through the content.
Of course, each item in your list needs to be helpful, relevant, and offer something useful for the reader in order for it to be shareable.
In a nutshell: Lists aren’t just for to-dos and shopping trips. Use them in your content marketing strategy plan to boost shareability.
3. Test your headlines.
Your headline is probably the most important part of your content.
Don’t believe me?
According to legendary advertiser David Ogilvy, 5 times as many people read your headline as read the body copy.
Your headlines should be magnetic, drawing the reader in so they can’t resist reading your content.
Luckily, there’s a tool that’ll help you build a super-shareable headline.
Drop your headline into CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer tool and they’ll give you a headline score, along with some great tips for improving the overall structure, grammar, and readability.
As you can see, there’s room for improvement in the example above.
The idea is to create a headline that’s emotive, powerful, and that inspires the reader to take action.
Let’s take another shot.
Remember to use power words, and promise your readers something they can’t resist.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it a good one - and convince people to click - with a magical headline.
4. Be educational, not promotional.
Ever been to a car dealership and been pestered by an overly pushy salesperson? For many people, it’s an instant turn off.
You’re much more likely to buy from a place where the advisor is friendly and helpful, answering your questions without trying to force you into the deal, right?
The same is true when it comes to creating shareable content.
If your content is educational and useful to viewers, they’re much more likely to share it than if it’s stuffed with promotional messages.
In fact, 90% of users will assess the usefulness of the content before sharing - meaning you could be doing yourself (and your content) a disservice by using it as a product/service promotion tactic.
Consider your blog post your first meeting; don’t try and seal the deal straight away.
Instead, help your user by informing and educating them and wow-ing them with value. It’ll build trust, and as their respect for you grows, they may well begin to share your content, and perhaps even become a customer.
George, the CEO, and Co-Founder of Niffler.co, told me how he applies this concept to his marketing strategy:
“Our #1 tip is shared dynamic content that doesn't necessarily promote your company, startup or business but promotes something good like health and wealth.
For example, we recently created this calculator.
It’s been taking off on Twitter with the hashtag #quitsmokingforbtc, is also trending on Reddit in r/bitcoin, and has already made it to the Hot Page as well find its way to 10+ global crypto news sites and written about in multiple languages.”
Talk about hitting the social media jackpot.
5. Tell stories.
Everyone loves a good story, including your audience.
In fact, one study found people are more perceptive to stories than dry statistics, which is likely why playing to specific types of emotion can boost your chances of ‘going viral’ (AKA: getting more social shares).
To make your content ultra-shareable, you have to be a good storyteller.
Whether you’re sharing the story behind your company history, or putting yourself in your target customers’ shoes and explaining a frustration they share, you’ll need to craft a fantastic story that grabs their attention.
Here’s how to do that:
- Add a personal touch to ensure readers can relate to the content
- Explain how it benefits your reader by telling them what’s in it for them, rather than focusing on yourself
- Add data and real-life case studies to reaffirm your point, building trust with your reader
Take a look at how Brian Dean of Backlinko weaves personal stories into his introductions.
Notice how he’s sharing a story that’s unique to him?
Nobody can replicate that exactly (and get the same results), which means he’s giving away totally unique content. Why wouldn’t you want to share it?
Do this for your own website, and you’ll create shareable content happily ever after.
6. Don’t be afraid of length.
“Internet users have short attention spans, they don’t care for long blog posts.”
You’ve probably heard this before, right?
Well, the data tells a different story when it comes to content shareability.
Several studies, including Noah Kagan and Buzzsumo’s research we mentioned earlier, show that long-form content is shared more than shorter pieces.
The average number of shares increases in line with the word count. So don’t be afraid to dive deep with details and jam-pack each blog post with value (so long as you’re formatting it in a way that’s easy to read).
A quick word of warning: Don’t pad your content with fluff. It should be all killer and no filler, with helpful, actionable, and useful information throughout.
Manage that, and you’ll be rocking out as your share count racks up.
7. Include infographics.
Did you know that infographics are the most highly shared type of content - shared three times more than any other type of content?
It makes sense. 90% of information processed by the brain is visual, and 65% of people learn best from visual content.
People naturally love to absorb information from infographics. The only downside is that they’re expensive to create.
Or are they?
These days, you don’t need to be a graphic design whizz to churn out a high-quality infographic. Even a content marketing novice can fire up Canva, and select from a range of pre-made infographic templates.
All you need to do is drop in your data and content, personalize it with any graphics, colors, and symbols you like, and embed it into your blog post (like you would with a normal image).
Then you’re good to go!
8. Embed quotes from influencers.
When it comes to content promotion, influencers are powerful weapons to have in your arsenal.
That’s why 67% of marketers promote content with the help of influencers.
But how do you get an influencer to share your content? The answer: Quote them!
When creating content, reach out to a handful of influencers in your industry. They could be bloggers, vloggers, industry experts, or have huge social media profiles.
All you’ll need to do is ask them the question you’re answering with your content (for example: “How do you create shareable content?”), and ask them to contribute a quote for the final piece.
Then, once your content is live, drop your influencers a message or email with the link. They’ll love the recognition, and they’ll no doubt be all too happy to share with their own audiences.
An influencer needs to maintain their influence, right?
A third of Twitter audiences follow and engage with social media celebrities and influencers, so something as simple as a retweet or share from an influencer in your industry can expose you to a huge new audience. Not to mention, generate a ton of social traffic.
Alicia Ward, Digital Marketing Strategist at Flauk, seconds this strategy. She says:
“If you have created a user-gen post or round-up post of any kind, be sure to tag everyone mentioned and give them a heads up about the mention and ask them to share it beforehand.”
9. Use social plugins.
Ever see an article you like, copy the URL, open a new browser tab, login to your social media accounts, paste the URL, and share it with your friends via your feed?
Of course, you don’t. I’ll bet you only share if it’s easy to share.
It’s no different for readers of your own content, which is why you’ll need to make it easy for them by using social plugins.
Solutions like Social Warfare, Sumo, and AddThis can be installed on a WordPress site in seconds. You can choose the sharing icon position and behavior in the settings, so everything’s set for easy audience sharing.
Here’s an example from SparkPeople.
And to test whether they actually work, let’s plug the URL into Ahrefs and see how many social shares the article has.
Almost 2,000 social shares? Not a bad result.
But the best part about using social sharing plugins is that there’s no additional work required before you hit publish. Your selected options will automatically appear on each piece of content you publish, ready for your readers to click and share away.
Miranda Schultz of The Plus Life told me how sharing her own content make these buttons more effective:
“I utilize a plugin on my blog that shows the number of social shares a post has. If a reader sees that others are sharing the content, it reminds them of the idea that they can share it too.
I always ensure that I share posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest immediately after publishing so that the shares are visible on my tracker as people start to read it.”
Talk about a win-win!
10. Include Click to Tweet buttons.
As well as sharing icons, sprinkling tweetable snippets and quotes throughout your content is a great way to boost your share count.
If you’re not familiar with Click to Tweet, it’s an easy way to encourage your audience to fire out a Tweet to their networks, right from the comfort of your content.
All you need to do is sign in with your Twitter account, and enter your message into the box.
Hit “Generate New Link”, and you’ll get a shortened link you can share within your content:
You can then add this to your post, and give people an easy way to share your content with their own network.
Why not take it a step further and create an engaging graphic to beautify the message and encourage people to click and share?
Here’s Christine Sloan Stoddard explaining how to put that into practice:
“Make visual teasers for your blog posts! These should include a pull-quote from your post, plus the post title and a bit.ly or other shortened link. Then upload the teaser anywhere you'd put a photo. Think of it as a smart meme.
A well designed 640 x 640-pixel image will look great on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and just about anywhere, whether readers see it on their phones or computers.
Include a tiny bit of copy and a hot link in the photo caption. Boom!”
For WordPress users, there’s also a Click to Tweet plugin. This allows you to embed Click to Tweet buttons in your content, right from your WordPress editor:
As you can see, the output is a clean and stylish box, featuring your chosen copy or quote and a handy call-to-action encouraging people to share.
Remember: The easier it is for people to share, the more inclined they are to do so.
11. Add social sharing as a CTA.
Earlier, we talked about the importance of your headline.
Here’s another reason why that’s so important: More than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your call-to-action (CTA) copy.
So if you’ve created a magnetic headline and you want readers to share your content, don’t naively assume they’ll do it on their own accord.
Ask them outright with a call-to-action!
Include a CTA asking your readers or viewers to share your content with their social audiences, like this example from HubSpot:
It’s a simple trick to get more social shares. (And I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at how many people do it.)
Final Thoughts on Creating Share-Worthy Content
Readers, users, customers - whoever’s consuming your content - are there because you’ve attracted them in one way or another.
If you want them to remember you, and more importantly share that content you’ve slaved over, you need to delight them by making it truly shareable. And you need to make it easy for them to share.
Try the tactics in this guide on your next piece, and see your share count rise.
I can’t wait to see your content crop-up in my own social feeds!