I bet you’re imaging a content masterpiece, with thousands of comments, likes and shares; it’s all over social media. It contains wonderfully crafted written content along with striking, unique imagery and graphics and it has gone viral because you were born to write fabulous, sharable content.
Regrettably, the reality is a whole lot different. You write this perfectly constructed blog post, and you wait, and you wait some more… only to discover that it’s been completely ignored. It brings in little traffic, gets 2 likes (one from each of your parents) – and as for social media shares? You can forget it.
So what did you do wrong?
Read on, and you’re bound to find your answer. So you want to create content that spreads like wildfire? Start by reviewing the tips below, and implementing them. By no means can you expect some magical traffic increase all at once – any online marketers worth their salt know that content marketing just doesn’t work that way. Generating viral content takes massive amounts of strategising and tons of hard graft – but continue to implement the below tips in each and every one of your blog posts and you will soon start to see results.
Tip One – Headlines MATTER
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent 80 cents out of your dollar.” –David Ogilvy, Confessions of an Advertising Man
Mr Ogilvy says it all, really. Human kind judge things almost instantly – it’s in our nature – so first impressions really do count. The headline of a piece is kind of like having a strong handshake in a job interview; mess it up and chances are your potential employer won’t have high expectations for the rest of the interview. You have to remember that readers need to have confidence in the headline, and if they don’t, there’s no way they’re going to read the piece.
So how do you construct the perfect headline?
If you’re writing articles for SEO purposes, then your headline is going to be displayed on Google alongside plenty of others; you need to make sure it’s catchy as hell and stands out otherwise no-one’s going to click on it.
Use numbers, capital letters, and symbols - anything visually interesting will add gumption to a headline. As for words, use the three W’s: when, why and what – instructions such as these make people think they’re going to get something out of your article. Buzz words and strong adjectives such as ‘simple, fun, free, incredible, surprising, strange, awesome’ also work well.
Tip Two – Take Inspiration from Proven Success
The basic idea here is ‘if it worked before, it’s likely going to work again’.
In order to take advantage of the so called ‘Skyscraper technique’ all you have to do is find other content with lots of likes and shares, try to recreate whatever it is that made this content so popular and then make it even better.
You can build upon the existing content and easily improve it by looking for things that it might be missing. Some easy ways to successfully progress a piece are to go more in depth than the original author did, add statistics and interesting numerical facts, make the piece more visually interesting by adding visual aids such as graphs, infographics and cartoons and finally, simply expand upon anything that you felt was poorly covered or not written about in great enough detail.
Doing these things should refresh and update a previously prosperous blogpost – making for a great new piece of original content. People have already shown interest in the topic; you have a ready-made audience! Now all you have to do is outreach it to the same audience and watch your traffic, shares, likes and links grow and grow…
Tip Three – Ensure your Content Benefits the Reader
The basic mentality of sharing is to elevate the sharer’s authority and intelligence in the eyes of his/her audience. This means people will generally share things that they feel will be useful, helpful or interesting to their social media audiences (family, friends colleagues etc.).
If you keep this in mind whilst writing content, then you’ll be more likely to something that has ‘take away value’ for your readers.
Lists and ‘how to’ articles have practical utility; they teach people how to do things, give golden nuggets of advice and are generally written in an easily digestible format. It’s no wonder therefore that they are some of the most shared articles on the internet.
Tip Four – Make it Easy to Share
Picture the scene: you’re reading a blog post that you think would interest your mates. You decide on a whim to share it to your Facebook page but then see that there’s no Facebook share button. Do you take the time to copy the link, log into your Facebook account, then paste the link and post a status update? Probably not.
The bottom line is, if you don’t have share buttons added on to the end of your blog post, then you’re losing valuable shares and therefore valuable traffic.
And don’t forget about other ways to share – people love options:
Make your images shareable
Shareaholic allows you to make your image shareable using WordPress plugins. The image shared will link back to your blog post, in turn bringing in more traffic.
Make your text tweetable
Use Clicktotweet to create easily tweetable bits of text. The click-to-tweet service will highlight quotes, summaries or any important text of your choice, allowing the reader to simply click on the highlighted text and create a tweet and a link back to your blog post!
WordPress plugins such as TweetDis are also useful for creating links back to your blog post through tweets. Famous bloggers often put tweetable quotes into their blog posts, as Michael Hyatt demonstrates below:
Going back to Tip Three and the psychology of sharing, we learnt that people share things on their social media that they think will make them appear more intelligent and authoritative in the eyes of their audience – and the same goes for tweets! If you give your readers a great, scholarly, snappy quote in your blog post and you make it easy for them to tweet it straight to their followers, then chances are they’re going to do so.
Tip 5 - Ask and you might just get!
The simplest – and most effective - piece of advice you’ll ever get:
Calls to action really work!!!
It’s actually surprising how many people fail to recognise the importance of asking for what they want - (in this case shares and likes). Ask your followers to share your post and in some cases they will do so; you have nothing to lose, after all!
As aforementioned, blogging successfully takes a lot of hard graft; you won’t be successful overnight. But keep to these tips in your next blog post, and your next blog post and the next one after that, and you might just start to see the fruits of your labour!