Create Content That Gets Shared and Linked To. Want to Know How?
If content is published on the internet and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound? While this question may sound like a riddle, it is a legitimate question, particularly for writers wondering why their work fails to gain critical exposure or generate momentum. While there is no secret formula to writing content that gets shared and linked to by readers, acknowledging and honoring a few key concepts can mean the difference between content that lands with a dull thud as opposed to a vibrant roar.
By first considering why a desired audience might share content, writers can predict what type of content is most likely to succeed. After all, writers aren’t producing into a void: it is important to keep in mind for whom you are writing and why. Creating content that readers want to share is all about value added–whether in the form of entertainment, information or insight.
The key to shared content isn’t a technical or brand issue; rather, it is inherently a matter of human nature: readers who share content are primarily motivated by the urge to connect with each other. By always remembering this, you can write your own happy ending to your content’s story.
Everyone Loves a Good Story
Speaking of stories, all good writing is a form of storytelling. After all, the most informative statistics are just meaningless facts and figures without a compelling, real world application.
As reported by the New York Times in 2010, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied a list of the paper’s most emailed articles. The results showed that people were most likely to share longer pieces which challenged them intellectually.
Specifically, readers sought and shared writing to which they not only responded emotionally, but in a highly specialized way: articles which inspired a sense of awe in audience members were significantly more likely to be shared. Additionally, readers preferred sharing content with positive themes, such as humorous or enlightening stories, as opposed to dark or negative ones. There is a misconception that today’s readers are spoon-fed information by the media; this research suggests the opposite: that today’s readers don’t just seek to be informed; they seek illumination.
Writers should also keep in mind that credibility matters. A good story isn’t good because its embellished or exaggerated; it’s good because it connects with its audience or conveys a universal truth.
The 21st Century Audience
This isn’t your mother’s internet. Today’s readers demand more than information; they expect on-the-go and easily digestible access to well-packaged, valuable content. In an increasingly mobile world in which everyone is connected at all times, sharable content is most likely to be found on smart phones and tablets. Additionally, rich graphics not only help make content immediately accessible, but also irresistible.
While people share content for a variety of reasons, the essence comes down to this: as humans, when we encounter something of great worth–either because it’s funny, informative, inspiring or fulfilling–it is our nature to want to pass it along. By understanding today’s savvy readers and targeting content to their expectations, writers can increase their chances of reaching the widest possible audience while delivering meaningful content that will not just get shared, but can also change the way readers perceive the world.
*Images provided by the guest author
This guest post is by Joanna Hughes
About guest author
Joanna Hughes prides herself on creating valuable content for today’s readers, on everything from fashion to finance to the importance of online reputation management.