13 actionable tips on how to create shareable content

Raise your hand if you’ve heard some of these tips in marketing conferences:

Create unique content.
Create high-quality content.
Create content that is relevant to your audience.
Create content that informs, educates and entertains.

I’ve heard them too.

Now raise your hand if you think that the advice is often vague and doesn’t feel very actionable when going back to the office.

Hear, hear.

This blog post will serve 13 actionable tips on how to create shareable content and here you don’t need to leave with empty hands.

A few notes before I get started, though.

First, I’ll skip talking about entertaining content being shareable. Thus a viral video of your pet doing silly dance moves is shareable, but this entertaining content isn’t often aligned with your product and converting new clients. In general, getting it right is tough if the audience doesn’t know you yet.

Second, I’ll also assume that you’ve thrown away vague customer persona descriptions (see something hilarious I've thrown away) and you've used Fizzle’s audience guide to create brilliant customer stories.

Third, I’ll be touching images and videos very gently - and concentrating on long-form content. We’ve covered the ingredients of a viral live video and tips to create engaging Instagram images earlier.

Great, I think we are ready to go.

My 13 actionable tips on how to create shareable content are:

  1. Tap into the trends with Buzzsumo
  2. Debunk the myths
  3. Write a review of the products and services you use
  4. Link to third-party content and mention friends
  5. Interview your partners and clients
  6. Serve the beef at the start
  7. Share a personal story
  8.  Run social competitions
  9. Create content together with your audience
  10. Write longer stories
  11. Add images to increase shares
  12. Answer to the typical sales questions
  13. Add reaction buttons

1. Tap into the trends with Buzzsumo

I login to Buzzsumo before starting to write a new piece of content, and it’s a great tool to analyse content that has been shared within a specific topic. By analysing the most popular posts, you’ll get an idea about what themes seem to spark interactions and what has already been covered. For example, by investigating the most popular stories of “shareable content”, I noticed that quite a lot of posts seem to mix the advice on the tone of voice (style) and practical content tips. That’s how I got the idea to create a list of actionable tips and I'll let the professional writers to teach you style and grammar.

Brian Dean has created an excellent guide on how to get even more value out of Buzzsumo.

2. Debunk the myths

A compelling piece of content is debunking a myth by testing something yourself and then sharing the results. Social Media Lab blog and podcast hosted by Agorapulse, a social media management platform, is one my favourites, and I enjoyed one of their latest episodes sharing how live videos on Facebook get higher engagement than the uploaded ones.

3. Write a review of the products and services you use

Somewhat similar to debunking the myths is to share a review of the products and services you use together with your product. For us a review of social media management tools might make sense and I’m sure there are plenty of services your customers will find valuable. If possible, add some of the services provided by the people in your network to the list. Assuming your review shows them in a favourable light, they will be happy to reshare your piece of content and you can strengthen the relationship further.

4. Link to third-party content and mention friends

That leads me to the next point: link to articles of industry influencers and mention people in your network. You might think that such industry influencers don’t have the time or they wouldn’t bother to reply to your message saying that they’ve been featured in your blog post, but you might be surprised. Over the past few months I’ve contacted influencers such as Neal Schaffer and Chris Brogan via LinkedIn and started building a relationship with them. It's not a coincidence that these people are influencers: they value the relationships, and if you have something valuable to share (and you are persistent), they are likely to get back to you.

Nothing’s more powerful than getting a well-known influencer to share your content through social - or linking back to your content in a blog post.

5. Interview your partners and clients

The power of interviewing your partners and clients? In addition to authentic and unique content, you’ll have a larger group of people sharing your content on social channels and linking back to your articles. I was recently interviewed by Mailmunch about the future of email marketing with nine other experts. Assuming they all share the piece with their personal and business accounts, Mailmunch got at least 20 shares per network immediately. Not bad, eh?

6. Serve the beef at the start of the post

Those of you who have been publishing videos on social channels have learned this already: say straight-up what value your content provides. Our collective attention span is getting shorter, and we value content that is actionable and helps us to solve a problem. Start by sharing the key takeaways of the post and you’ll increase the likelihood of someone reading further and eventually sharing it with their network.

7. Share a personal story

It’s obvious that sharing a story from a personal point of view sparks more engagement than telling the same story from your company’s perspective. But even if you don't have a heartbreaking story to share, there’s a key benefit to using your name instead of talking with the company’s mouth: people like to get in touch with the author by commenting on the story or sharing the content and mentioning the author’s username on social channels. Doing the same with the company’s account just doesn’t feel that inspiring. Click to Tweet this story and chat with me.

8. Run social media competitions

We recently shared tips on how to run competitions on Facebook, and they are an effective way to increase your reach and engagement on social channels. Include a competition or challenge as part of your story to make it stand out from the massive volume of content out there. Facebook and other social media channels prioritise the content shared by our friends, and asking your customers to mention your branded hashtag or page is the medicine for the drop of engagement.

9. Create content together with your audience

Germany didn’t qualify to the finals of World Cup in Russia, but the competition to host the next tournaments is still on. DFB, the football association of Germany, is looking to host EURO 2024, and the application page has been created together with football fans. Fans are asked to share their support on social media channels with #unitedbyfootball hashtag or upload an image directly on the site. DFB is using Flockler to display social media feeds and uploaded images on their website, but also to showcase the best images on the stadiums' massive screens during live matches.

10. Write longer stories

It might come as a surprise but, according to research, longer blog posts get more shares than shorter ones. That feels slightly counterintuitive with the fact that our attention span is continuously getting shorter, but there are a few reasons why:

First, longer articles can provide more value to the reader, thus increasing the number of shares.

Second, a longer piece of content can include multiple call-to-actions and links to third-party sites. Tools like Moz track the outbound links and companies love to share content featuring their content.

Third, Google likes long-form content better and the more traffic your post receives through organic search, the more likely it’s that people are sharing it.

11. Add images to increase shares

There’s research to prove that content with images gets more shares than content without images. They stop the scrolling thumb on social channels. So here we go, haha:

Bonus tip: relaxing and reading books recommended by industry peers is a great source of content inspiration. Follow the advice on this blog post and maybe you'll have a chance to relax at the office too!

12. Answer to the typical sales questions

Have you heard a sales guys saying “I must have answered to the same questions a hundred times”?

That’s when marketers should pay attention and dig deeper. It might be something that doesn't seem so important at first but many people are thinking it and you can provide an answer. By providing a solution to a typical problem faced by your existing customers (and which you might have solved already) you’ll be reaching out to an audience similar to your current customers.

Other great sources of unanswered customer questions are live chats on your website, forums and discussion boards (I love Quora) and of course, the discussions on social media channels.

13. Add reaction buttons

You might have noticed Click to Tweet button earlier. You can use it in a text link or to create a quote and make it easy for your audience to tweet it out. Like this:

Look below at these last few sentences, and you’ll find another cool tool to increase the number of shares. React & Share enables marketers to create custom reaction buttons and a call-to-actions asking their audience to share the story on social channels. In addition to the immediate feedback if our audience would like to read more stories like this, I’ll get a bunch of data and a report to share with my team.

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