Everybody knows the cliché that content is king. It’s useful to generate content to share on social media, as well as being a way to promote your businesses services and increase your SEO. But what is the point of writing it if it’s not shareable?
How do you know what content is going to have more shares? There are a few factors you can consider prior to writing your content to ensure it will achieve the maximum social promotion:
Know Your Audience
Think about your audience before you start producing any content. Undertake market research or analysis on your website to understand who will visit your website, who you’re trying to attract and ultimately who you’re writing for.
There are a few questions you can ask before embarking on any testing or writing content:
• Why and how is my content relevant to the target audience? It is important to remember that you are writing a blog for an audience, not for yourself. Always keep the audience in mind. If the content isn’t something that benefits the audience, and isn’t relevant, it’s not going to get shares.
• Why will people share this post? The content needs to be something the readers and their social media following will value and find interesting. A study by the New York Times Customer Insight Group found 94% of people assessed the usefulness of content to the recipient before sharing. People not only want to enrich their own lives, but others’ as well. If your content is not useful, it simply won’t be shared.
• Who are your leads? Know the demographics of your target audience before you start writing so you know who to appeal your content to.
What emotions are you trying to evoke? Popular online posts try to evoke some sort of emotion out of the readers. Ensure you try to trigger positive emotions rather than negative – after all, who wants to read and share content that will make them feel bad about themselves? In fact, a study conducted by Jonah Berger found people would rather share
positive news, and content that evoked emotions such as delight, astonishment, excitement and awe.
You can use the information about your target audience to generate a list of ideas and headlines, and then use online tools to test those headlines.
There is an endless amount of tools available online which will help you validate content. After all, you don’t want to spend hours writing a blog article, only to find a competitor has just published the same topic, or that no one else is interested in engaging in that topic.
These online tools will help you to narrow your list of potential ideas and headlines and ensure you produce only the best and most interesting content that will result in social promotion.
Here are a few tools worth testing your headlines on:
Businesses can use content discovery platform Outbrain to draw readers to their website. Outbrain allows you to conduct tests that are similar to A/B testing. This allows you to test the strength of different images and headlines.
By testing these, you are able to tell which is more effective for driving traffic.
Matter Solutions ran its own test to see the effectiveness of Outbrain. We tested three different images against three different headlines, with nine different variations in total. Outbrain allows users to see useful data such as impressions, clicks and click-through rate. Analysing these allows users to see which combination has the highest rates.
Unfortunately, our test wasn’t completely successful, as more money was allocated to the ninth result, meaning it had a skewed amount of impressions and clicks. To avoid this occurring, we recommend having separate campaigns with different variations.
Outbrain also works to amplify your content by seeding it onto other publishers websites. Similarly, with ads – readers click the link and you get charged a small fee. For example, the Telegraph technology news category displays “promoted stories.” This is content from other websites that has been promoted by Outbrain.
Buzzsumo will analyse how many times a URL has been linked to or shared on social media. This tool is useful to find out what the competition has already written about – you don’t want to end up with a double-up of content – as well as let you know if people are actually interested in the topic.
There are a few tools within Twitter that you can take advantage of to test your headlines and content. These include:
• Twitter Polls: sometimes the best way to find out what people think is to simply ask them. Twitter Polls allow you to ask your followers to vote in a poll for topics they’re most interested in. You can then use this data to know what content to produce.
• Twitter Chats: sort by your category of interest and see what people are writing and asking about. This allows you to see what content has already been produced and if there is a gap that you could fill.
Quora, as the website states, will give you ‘the best answer to any question’. You can use this tool to validate your content. There are a few simple steps to follow to get the most out of Quora. First, simply search for your blog topic and find a question someone has asked.
Next, write a brief answer that summarises the basic ideas behind your article. You’ll be able to use this answer to see how many views it got, how well it ranks, what other people think and if you’re on the right track. This is a quick and easy way to test ideas before writing an entire blog post on that topic.
Remember: people want to fit in and seek approval. Having our decisions influenced by the actions of others is known as social proof. This applies to content sharing as well.
In a study published on Science, researchers found people were 32% more likely to up-vote a comment that was already liked. The takeaway? Make sure you include share buttons which display the share count around the content you publish in order to promote shares.
Always keep the audience in mind when producing content, use tools to test headlines and content and you’ll know your content will be more shareable and will be able to achieve social promotion.
Ben Maden is a director at Matter Solutions, experts in digital marketing with more than 15 years of experience in SEO and web design