shr_Sharable-Content-CMX.jpgEvery marketer’s dream is to see their content being shared around the world–going viral.

That fleeting “15 minutes of fame” doesn’t apply if your content is passed from person-to-person, website-to-website, and mobile-to-mobile; you become immortal.

Is there magic to creating highly sharable content? What propels content–an image, video, blog—from ordinary to extraordinary? Is it just dumb luck (sometimes) or can a social media marketing plan INTEND to be highly sharable and structured with that end in mind?

Marketing for the masses

“With content marketing you can literally have access to billions of people in an instant with a well-written blog entry or post about any topic that’s valuable to that audience.” – Rich Tehrani

Start from the position that anything you create has the ability to “go viral;” it just has to strike the right nerve. Some pieces of content can be tailored to a universal trait/quirk that people possess. Content marketing builds on the premise of writing for a specific target audience, but that doesn’t mean you write with limited expectations or scope. Expect that your content will do great things. The potential is certainly there:

  • High conductivity is what organizations should be asking of their content—is this highly conductive content? – Russell Sparkman
  • Your customers are going to share your content with all their friends and family members and they’ll be doing some of the marketing for you. – Jon Wuebben
  • You have to figure out what you’re going to be putting up there that’s going to get people excited about it and want to help you spread your message. – JD Lasica

Purposeful Content

Highly sharable content has commonalities regardless of the form it takes. The following characteristics are all typical of the content that gets shared throughout social networks, whether in text form, video, SlideShare, podcast or images. Determine a strategy for each piece of content you create.

  • A value experience – Does the content add value for the user? Is your content informative, useful, instructive or entertaining? You need to understand what your audience values, as these are the things they will be willing to share with friends and family.
  • An emotional experience – Does the content make people laugh, cry, sigh, or even get mad? Strong emotions elicit response and a desire to share those feelings with others. Great stories can be amazing, funny, dramatic, fascinating or ridiculous. (How many times have you clicked “share” while still chuckling or wiping tears over what you just read?) The more compelling the content, the more likely it will be shared among people across multiple networks.
  • A disruptive experience – Does the content rock their world with ideas or concepts that challenge their long held beliefs or understanding? A startling new idea can generate conversation and network sharing, as well as provide fodder for conversation around the water cooler. People talking about you offline will translate into people talking and sharing online.
  • A community experience – Share something that is universal or unifying. Show what others are doing or saying and invite participation. No one likes to be left out of the latest experience or adventure, especially if all their friends are doing it. (Age-old argument that makes parents cringe and marketers smile.)
  • A time sensitive experience – If you’re writing about a current event, get your content out in a timely manner. Newsjacking or tying to current events should only be done if the subject is of interest or concern to your audience and relative to your business, not random and unconnected. Beware of negative new events, unless handled carefully these can backfire.

Highly Effective Content

The greatest idea in the world can be lost if the presentation is poor. Excellent substance may win out over poor quality sometimes, but your content should always be the best you can produce; respecting your audience and making you look good.

Anita Renfro, author and performer of The Mom Song, reportedly remarked, “If I’d known how many people were going to see my video, I’d have dressed better.” Since she uploaded The Mom Song on YouTube in September 2007, it’s had 9,621,019 views as of July 2013.

  • Start with a great attention-getting title for your blog, video, YouTube, ebook, etc. Funny, catchy, or controversial will invoke curiosity, inviting people to click and engage your content. However, then your content needs to live up to its title. Don’t bait and switch, it disappoints people and reduces your credibility.
  • Make sharing your content easy. Have share buttons for each of your social media accounts so broadcasting is quick. Reduce the number of clicks required to download an ebook, white paper, video or podcast. A failed attempt can cool the ardor of sharing so be sure if it’s clicked, it’s a go.
  • Have a call to action. You’ve got people’s attention–now engage them a bit more. Make the experience interactive by requesting they share, comment or live chat. Offer a premium or free download for an email address. Interaction should be obvious, but do not pop up and interrupt what they’ve come for.
  • Have a strong internet presence. In addition to your website, create and show your content on more than one social media channel so that audiences have a better opportunity of finding your content and ultimately sharing it. After people hear their friends talking about a must-read article or video to watch, chances are they are going search for it. Make your title easy to remember with the keywords you are trying to convey. Tag your content for maximum search results and rank.

Sharing is good

Growing up, we were all taught to share. Sharing is a good thing, it’s what friends do. In the world of social media marketing, it’s vital.

Having an engaged and authentic relationship with your audience will ensure you create the types of content they want to see, read and hear. By being tuned in to their needs, issues and concerns, you can provide valuable, relevant, emotion-driven content that your online community will want to share.

Tackle your content production as you would any big project—one piece at a time.
Step 4 - Produce - Content Marketing Lifecycle

  • Knowing the types of content you will NOT produce is just as important as knowing what you will produce.
  • If your target audience isn’t active on a particular social media or content destination, do you really need to be producing content for that platform?
  • All content you create & publish should have information about how to reach you.
Join the Conversation:

  • From the five types of content experiences (value, emotional, disruptive, community, time sensitive), what generates the most shares for you?
  • What analytics do you have in place to be able to track shares, retweets, etc.?
  • Did you actually watch The Mom Song to see what millions of other people have already seen?

Related Articles: