The entire digital marketing world is sold on shareable content. It is a term loosely used to address content that is shared generously by online users on their private social networking profiles. As a result of their endorsement and patronage, your content is able to reach out to new readers. It is the nirvana of every web writer and the dream of internet marketers to hit that sweet spot of content sharing.
However, it is easier said than done. The reason is that there is no formula that will tell on what to do to dish out shareable content every single time!
It can be that you have written and published several pieces of content that were widely shared across Facebook and Twitter. Even then, you will struggle to replicate that success on every single piece that you put out.
With my team at 7boats.com, I find the same issue. A fact-finding mission told me that more than writing a share-worthy content, it is important to carry out a research on what to write about. That will help you to take steps in the right direction.
Otherwise, you may write a great article and yet find no takers. On the other hand, when you know what online users are reading at the moment, you can write a post that will have takers even if the writing is not cutting-edge brilliant.
How to create shareable content
Here are some cornerstones of the shareable content research that I’m talking about.
Ride the Trend
Like the graph on the share market, there are many factors that determine what is going to trend online and what will not. A trend may crop up out of nowhere and rule the Ethernet for a couple of days. Similarly, a world news may not find itself hitting the peak of trends. You cannot dictate it or customize it. You can only follow it. Do that!
Pick out the trending topics on Twitter or Google and see if you can relate it to your line of business. Tell the netizens what they want to hear about. In between, plug in your own points! There is no better way of making your content share-worthy than pillion-riding on trends.
Gather the Data
To write compelling content, shareable content, you need data and information. You need to put across something that readers have not read anywhere. This is also important to ensure that your client (who’s paying for the job anyway!) knows what you are trying to grab attention with. To make a marketing pitch, you have to be specific.
You have to appeal to the readers. With a washed-out content that has no precise information, you cannot conquer the internet. You need to go deep into research and glean out the statistics and present them in an interesting and arresting format. Of course, dry data will rarely take you anywhere! You need to ensure that your data backs up some clarity and uniqueness of thought.
Learn your Lessons
Competition and competitors are great at teaching you lessons. You can either learn what to do from their success. Or, you can pick up what not to do from their failure! At the same time, you need to know that their brand is different from yours. You cannot blindly imitate their work and expect to succeed.
That will be self-defeating because the online audience has already seen their articles and material. The first-mover’s advantage is already gone. You have to take a different path in order to make an impression. Fish out the shared pages of your competitors. Study their writing and understand how they managed to grab attention. Read the comments of the readers to find out what they liked about the piece. That will give you some excellent pointers.
There are many tools available online that will help you find out the nitty-gritty of shareable content. For example, to find out which links have attracted the most number of hits, you can use ahrefs, Majestic and Open Site Explorer. You can check out both your own content links as well as those of your competitors.
Other tools include Buzzsumo that will help you find out specific data on individual domains, including number of social shares, average number of shares per post, etc. Buzzsumo also gets you a list of shared content within a particular domain name.
The Final Word
Without research, the digital marketing world is as good as dark for you and me! It is counter-productive to keep putting in effort without knowing if that is the right way. With the easy availability and accessibility of online tools, you can get the required data and statistics. Then why hit darts in the dark? Make use of these tools and inch closer to that content piece that will make your brand an online buzzword.
Related reading: How to create viral content?
Is Your Content Worth Sharing?
Before you daydream about going viral with your content online, ask yourself: is the content worth sharing? You have to understand that for the content to go viral online, it has to be taken up by many online users and readers. These users are not your employees or paid advertisers. They will only take up your content for sharing if they feel that it is worth their time doing so. They will also be interested in your content if it portrays them in a good light.
Tips to make your content worth sharing:
Expert Opinion Counts:
No one wants to read content that is generalized and based on vague statistics and opinions! A good example is: have you ever heard fans commenting for sports matches on TV? It is always the experts that people want to hear! That is what your content must be about: expert opinion. If you are an expert on the subject that you are writing about, you are in for a huge plus. Otherwise, you need to get an expert on board as a guest writer.
To enrich your content, you need to quote facts and figures. They pepper the writing with reality checks that users dig for. These statistics cannot be stated in a matter of fact manner. You have to quote the sources from where you are parsed the data and the numbers. The credibility of the source material rubs off on the content that you produce. You can use web links on your written material to direct interested users to the source web pages.
A content written without any facts or figures, in other words, specific details is too watered-down for anybody’s liking. You will be amazed at how online readers are hooked to specific numbers and data while being totally repelled by generalized observations. Make use of these specifics to make your content come across as more interesting and lucid.
Where your content gets published says a lot about your content itself. If you are online on credible websites with a dedicated fan following, people will definitely take your work as serious material. In fact, when you get published on reputed, elite platforms, you will build up a steady stream of loyal readers who will check out your material no matter where they get published.
Content that is worth Sharing
Writing content for online businesses is only half the job done. You need to come up with content that can be shared across platforms and forums not just by your own team, but also your readers. In fact, the more your readers share your content in their personal circles, the more effective your content marketing strategy is going to be.
The trick to be successful in content sharing is to understand what kind of content is worth sharing. If you deal with the raw material available in the same way as your competitors, you are being part of the clutter, instead of breaking away from it.
That is, in fact, your top priority: to be different. Online readers are used to reading and surfing websites by the dozens every day. They are brain-dead when it comes to online content. A quick glance is all they need to reject a web page and move on to the next one.
That is what you have to understand as a writer and capitalize on! Come up with ideas and concepts that are different from what is already available online. Such content is readily shared by online readers. You can sift through the websites in your domain of work and identify what you must ‘not’ write.
Asking for the opinions and suggestions of online readers is a great idea to draft share-worthy content. Mobilize the social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Ask your ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ about their preferences and what they would like to read from your side. You can also put up some of your content and ask for feedback.
Get these ‘real’ people into your loop to decide matters related to content. Since you will be writing for them, and many others like them, why not bring them into the ambit of decision-making about content? You can then depend upon these readers to share your content as well.
Draw your own unique opinion
A point to note here is that you have to keep testing your content and identify topics and narratives that have more takers than the others. This does not mean that you hit the rut and keep replicating content high on the ‘share’ quotient in an attempt to be successful repeatedly. That will not happen! What you have to do is draw lessons from a highly shared content and keep them in mind while writing fresh ones.
The Basics of Content Sharing
You must have read in about a zillion places about the importance of content sharing. Content sharing is all about throwing open your writing to as many online readers as possible. The aim is very simple indeed: to grab eyeballs and entice readers into visiting your website to check further details if the content is informative, or to make a purchase if that’s your objective. However, sharing content is not an easy job to do if you want to exploit maximum benefit out of it. There are three ways in which you can share content:
- By the writer: This is more of a solo show in which the writer shares content through various online tools. The advantage of going by this method of content sharing is that the writer is fully aware of the readers they are targeting. They can easily choose platforms that are better equipped to suit their purposes. Another advantage is that the writer can modify content here and there if the need arises to suit the platform that they want to share on. The flip side is that writers don’t always know all about online sharing tools and their features. So, if you are planning to work on this model, you need to teach yourself quite a bit!
- By automatic feeds: This comes across as a more effective means of content sharing. In this method, your content is automatically shared across the board by automated means the moment you publish them online. A good example of this kind of content sharing is RSS feed that goes out from blogs. The subscribers registered with your blog immediately get a copy without you having to stir a finger! The negative side of this process is that you need a wide subscriber base to effectively make an impact.
- By social media teams: The word ‘teams’ can be replaced by departments or even executives. These are social media experts who take your content and help you share it across social media networks. This works for many writers with limited social media exposure, but often does not work well because it takes a good deal of time for a social media team to read your content, mark the core points (or write a meta tag) and then draw up a gist that pulls eyes. A wiser idea is to get the meta tag or summary of the content written by the writer themselves.
Picking Influencers for Your Content
Why do you think brands spend millions to get celebrities and famous personalities on board to promote and sell their products or services? Surely, with their fat fee, these personalities only add to the cost of promotion and marketing! So how are they adding value to the brand? They are the influencers, as we call them. The term refers to people who have the power and ability to influence the opinion of others. With a superstar actor endorsing a brand of cola, the legions of fans will flock to buy it from the local stores. Sales jump up for the brand.
In the online context, the influencers are those who are experts in a particular field or domain. They can be writers, bloggers, reviewers or simply technical persons who are suited to comment authoritatively on a matter that they have expertise in.
For example, an activist of PETA who also writes a blog on animal rights is supposed to have a sizeable number of animal lovers tuning in to the blog and latching on to every word written on it. If such a personality speaks well of a brand of animal food, pet keepers will feel that this endorsement is a studied one and not a gimmick. The brand will receive a boost because the influencer, in this case the activist, will bring a number of people on board with your brand of animal food.
How to Track them Down
You don’t find an influencer worth your time and effort simply by logging into the internet and taking the first pick available! Make use of the analytics provided by Twitalyzer. It will give you the information you need, like the number of retweets or mentions that this influencer has received on the microblogging site. It is not enough to check the extent of the influencer’s influence on the online community.
You have to check how the influencer became a mover and shaker. It is because of some brilliant ideas or unparalleled experience in the field of your interest? This is will be crucial to you because when you approach these influencers with your content for a favorable nod, you will know what their expectations might be. Dishing out the wrong content to an influencer will prove dangerous!
What you Share is Important
For the influencer to put in a good word for your content, you need to figure out what you want to share through your website or blog and who the intended audience is. You must know the target audience because that will help you incorporate their tastes and preferences into your content pages. That, in turn, will help you to get influencers on your side because they will be keen to share your content as well. They will also appreciate your work. When an influencer introduces your blog or website to a circle of netizens it is not just your work that is on the line here. The influencer is taking a bet, too! Your work must respect both.
Tracking down Influencers
The time is now ripe to pick the influencers who, you feel, can make a difference to the sales graph and add leverage to your brand. There are different types of influencers online. You need tools that will get you what you want.
For example, ClearVoice is an excellent tool to find out writers with a considerable chunk of online readers. ClearVoice gives you an idea of their work, their areas of interest and what they bring to the table. You can then approach a writer who specializes in your area of work.
Another example would be Buzzsumo. The influencers you find here are ideal for content amplification or taking your blog or website to a larger group of online users. The influencers here can make your content the next buzzword on the internet and make it quite share-worthy.
You can also use tools like Followewonk which allows you to browse and sift through Twitter biographies to find the influencer that you are looking for.
The Hardcore Strategy To Choose Content Influencers
Roll out the influencer model of your content marketing in three phases:
- Enlist: Draft the list of influencers that you have on your side of the table and what each of them can potentially contribute to your brand value
- Execute: Include the influencer in the execution of your content marketing plan. That will mean allowing the influencer to make suggestions and offer opinions. If handled properly, you will learn about your field as well in the process
- Evaluate: Now is the time to figure out how the influencer has helped your content marketing drive. Evaluate the contribution of each influencer that you have enlisted
If you can pull it off, the influencer will stop being a third party in the whole scheme of things and contribute organically for the benefit and development of your brand value. It has worked well for many brands, including ours!
Why don’t you give it a try?
How to amplify your content through influencer marketing
I had written a few times about the need for content amplification on this blog. It was more about the concept of getting influencers in your domain to plug your content. It can be done through the use of retweets or simply sharing your content. Influencers in your field would be people who have a certain following among users in your line of business. When these influencers plug your content, you can be sure of getting some more eyeballs to check your work.
The problem that I am going to discuss here is, how do you get these influencers to share your content? It seems all very nice to say, “Get those influencers!” The trick is, do you know how? For example, if you have a great bit of content or even an infographic, you need to bring it to the notice of influencers. They are not going to find you out!
In this post, I have outlined a few tips to get them board.
Just Ask Them!
This is the most underrated tip of them all! You have a great content on your table. Why hesitate asking the best in your business to share it with others? After all, you believe in your work! If you feel positive that the influencer you approach will be immediately hooked to what you have to show to them, why not do it? Get them to see your content through a tweet or a Facebook nudge. You can glean their email coordinates and send over your work link.
Ask politely. Make the email or social poke worth their time. The influencers who matter place a lot of premium on valuable content. If you can hook them up, even if you are nobody or a minuscule somebody or brand, you are good to go!
Cater to Need
You need to actively follow the posts and tweets of the influencers in your domain. For example, in my area of work, digital marketing, I can follow the gurus on Twitter or Facebook. When I find that they have expressed their interest in a particular kind of content, and I happen to have one on my table right then, I can share it with them instantly.
Suppose, an influential marketing honcho tweets about some aspect of a Google update. I have an excellent infographic depicting it on my blog. I quickly share the link with a mention of the tweet that triggered it off. When the influencer finds a worthy answer to a query they posted online, they are more like to share it on their stream. We both get something out of such an arrangement. Moreover, I get into their zone and who knows, the next time around, when I ask for a plug, I may get it!
Review their Work
A cool way to grab attention of the influencers is to review their work. They blog and tweet often. You can write up something that is a review of what they have published. It can be a little difficult to get into the limelight this way. Two reasons why. One, you tend to be too effusive in praise to get that elusive mention! Two, there are too many reviews out there anyway.
You have to be doubly good to score here. But then, getting these people to share your content was never easy! You need to do something really good, set the bar really high up in order to reach their sight level.
The Final Word
Other than these tips, you can widen your networking goal with tools like FollowerWonk and Little Bird. You can also use an email finding tool like Voila Norbert and Conspire. The idea is to hunt out these influencers and get in touch with them. You should maintain contact and network with them once you get into touching distance.
Amplifying content through influencers is a huge challenge, especially for startups like 7boats. However, a couple of years into your business, when you establish your brand as a credible entity, like we have, you can have influencers interested in being associated with you or your brand. It takes quite a bit of hard work but is well worth it!