How many times does a marketer wonder each day:
What makes content go viral?
Will this content go viral?
A lot many times!
However, the fact of the matter is that most content doesn’t get shared! In fact, less than 1% of all created content receives more than 1,000 shares, according to CoSchedule, who analyzed over 1 million posts.
Less than 10% of posts get shared over 100 times on social media. The rest is not doing all that well. And this picture doesn’t look pretty at all.
While you can’t rely on going viral with all of your posts, aiming for that mid-range of 100-1,000 shares is a much more viable strategy.
Not only you’re more likely to get lucky and hit that 1% territory, these posts will probably lead to your most steady traffic in the long term.
But still, achieving that level of sharing means you need to be better than 90% of content marketers out there. Here’s how you can achieve it.
1. Nail the Headlines, Most People Don’t Even Read the Content
When it comes to virality, it turns out that most people don’t really read what they share. According to Chartbeat, an analytics tool that measures real-time traffic for sites like Upworthy, New York Times or Disney:
“There’s no correlation between social shares and people actually reading.”
Upworthy, the fastest growing news sites found that users who consume about 25% of an article are more likely to share than those who consume more of it.
What does that mean? It means, most people are sharing content they would like to read, not necessarily content they found to be good.
It also means that most people only read the headline. While we recommend you focus on high quality content, if your goal is virality, the headline is what you should pay the most attention to.
2. List Posts are Huge
We’re convinced that headlines are our make or break deals, now the question arises what kind of headlines should you create? To begin with, here is some data on what gets shared in terms of headline content.
Of all the headlines CoSchedule analyzed, list posts accounted for 11% of all posts reaching over 1,000 or even 100 shares. The surprising fact is that only 5% of all headlines in the study were list posts.
But why do they work? Well, there are a couple of explanations. Firstly, people are distracted; they don’t read as much. The skimmable format makes the content more attractive because you get the idea across quick.
Secondly, people like to feel they’re getting a value at relatively low cost. The fact you quantify the value makes it more apparent.
Another takeaway here is that personal headlines also perform great. Thus, you should write more posts organized as lists, using ‘you’ or ‘your’ in the headline. For example:
Headline: How to Get Media Attention
Optimized Headline: 10 Tips to Get Media Attention for Your Business
3. Optimize Your Headlines for Each Social Network
It turns out that each social network has different audience personality. however, while most marketers focus on demographics like income, age, gender or education, the words used in viral posts for each network provide an entirely new picture…
let us share the picture with you.
Here are some of the most common words used in headlines from each network.
As you can see, list posts are doing best on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as the words like ‘thing, should, and reasons’ seem to indicate the use of a list.
Pinterest and Google+ are quite home oriented while giveaways and freebie promotions seem to be doing well on Twitter.
And what about the universal social media love affair with chocolate and chicken? We’re surprised to see that too!
However, a closer look at the topics of most shared headlines reveals that over 50% are about food. Lifestyle and home account for over 30%.
Pro Tip: You can optimize your headlines with KingSumo plugin for WordPress. It lets you write several different headlines and then only shows the one that get the most clicks.
4. Make Your Content Emotionally Rich
Can you predict the popularity of a headline? It turns out, you can. And there’s even a tool for that, developed by Advanced Marketing Institute.
The Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Headline Analyzer can analyze your headline and assign an EMV score to it. The EMV score reflects the emotional value of the words in your headline.
The CoSchedule study revealed that headlines with a score above 30% perform the best in terms of virality. For comparison, the English language contains 20% of EMV words.
Another study from BuzzSumo shows the breakdown of emotions found in the most viral content.
The three most popular emotions invoked awe (25%), laughter (17%) and amusement (15%).
5. Originality is Overrated
From the point of SEO, it is absolutely important that your content is unique. However, it doesn’t have to be completely original to perform great on social media. Reinventing the wheel is an ideal obsolete since long.
Your content can be updated, repurposed, or presented with a new spin on an already published story. In fact, it’s a good idea to follow trending topics and see what’s hot at the moment.
Or even better, using a tool like Buzzsumo you find the top performing content of your competitors and simply use the same topics for your new content.
We all know the importance of images and visuals. But what about the thumbnails in shared posts?
In his great blog post, Noah Kagan analyzed Facebook and Twitter posts with at least one thumbnail vs. none and it turned out that on Facebook, posts with an image generate 3 times more likes and shares.
By the way, if you want Facebook to show a specific preview image, you need to implement this meta tag in the <head> section of your article:
<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://example.com/image.jpg” />
Different study about Twitter shows even more optimistic results. Buffer found that Tweets with images get 150% more retweets.
An interesting fact about Facebook, in particular, is that its native video by far outperforms any other content in terms of reach. According to SocialBakers analysis, you can expect a 135% increase in organic reach.
Not only it outperforms text and photo posts, a native video does much better when compared to other video content, such the one from YouTube or an Instagram cross-post.
There are plenty of widgets, we’ve been discussing in detail at this blog space, which you can and should use to boost the chances of your articles to get shared. The easier you make it for your readers to share they are to do it.
A great example is of already mentioned Upworthy, one of the fastest growing websites ever. The opportunity to share is all over their articles. The site even offers a helping hand.
Upworthy owes a lot of it’s success to exploiting reader’s psychology but they do a lot of things right. There’s a lot marketers can learn from it.
Speaking of psychology, don’t forget to show social proof, such as number of shares and actually ask people to share.
When it comes to third party widgets, a good place to start is a service called SumoMe, a set of tools to help marketers improve sharing, collect emails and grow their traffic.
But be careful. Too much clutter on your website can damage its usability and overall experience. Rather than making some drastic changes right away, you should start slow and A/B test multiple options to see what works.
Obviously, TruConversion is another tool designed to improve your traffic. We designed it to allow marketers to improve conversions without having to rely on 10 different tools.
8. Invest in Your Content With Ads
As previously noted, a very small proportion of the content created gets shared. That’s because more and more brands recognize the power of social media; consequently, the competition for visibility in the audience’s timelines has multiplied manifold.
With branded content being bombarded at them from every possible social medium, it is but natural that people develop some resistance to a lot of content consumption. In addition, the entire social media space is crowded with great content, so it’s harder to stand out.
For example, the content you share is going to reach less than 6% of your fans, according to Ogilvy. Obviously, Facebook wants you to boost your content through advertising.
It does make sense of course. While others are waiting for their content to be picked and shared, why not to get advantage and kickstart it with a paid advertising?
9. Use a Strong Call to Action
We’re bombarded with call to action everyday, everywhere. Marketers want us to ‘buy now’ or ‘sign up’ for their services. The reason is simple, it works.
According to a study conducted by Twitter, tweets that ask to retweet increased the retweet rate by an average of 311%!
The best performing Promoted Tweets were twice as likely to spell out the word ‘Retweet’ (instead of simply using ‘RT’) as the bottom performing Promoted Tweets.
According to Twitter, you should always contextualize why your Tweet is worth sharing and give people something valuable in return for their Retweet.
10. Be Creative!
Never hesitate to experiment from time to time. There are countless of examples of a brand hitting a home run with something new and creative.
For example, Dollar Shave Club created a product launch video for as little as $1,000. It ended up becoming the talk of the town!
Within a couple of days, Dollar Shave Club reached 500,000 paying customers and got approached by several VCs who ended investing over $5 million in DSC.
Pro Tip: Have a Purpose
What’s your goal in creating a highly shareable content? Sales, email collection, brand awareness or SEO?
Before you start working on your content strategy make sure you know what your goal is and how are you going to align it with your campaign and what’s the key metric to achieve it.
For example, if your goal is signups, you want to have a conversion funnel in place. If it’s brand awareness, your content should communicate your brand message clearly. Your content is the direct reflection of your purpose.
And don’t forget to measure and optimize. Remember, what gets measured gets improved.
- Most people share content before they read it.
- Headlines rule, top content marketers like Ramit Sethi spend as much as 50% of their time on finding the ideal headline.
- List posts with a personalized headline rule, yet only 5% of bloggers create them.
- Create headlines with high EMV score. Use Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) Headline Analyzer.
- Optimize your headlines for different social networks.
- Originality is overrated, use Buzzsumo to find the top performing content and repurpose it.
- Use visuals and make your posts easy to share using widgets and CTAs.
- Kickstart your content with ads.
- Be creative. Have a purpose. Measure and optimize.
Now your turn! What are some great examples of highly shareable content you got across lately? Why are they great?
What type of content are you most likely to share?
Don’t forget to put to use the social sharing buttons below!