Is your content share-worthy? 4 questions to ask 

Contributor Kerry Jones explains why raising eyebrows, sparking emotions and creating teachable moments are more important than counting backlinks.


Getting your content picked up by heavy-hitter publishers feels like you’ve struck the content marketing jackpot. You rolled the content creation dice in your hot little hand, threw them down the internet’s green felted table and landed the winning combination to rake in shout-outs from high-rolling digital influencers. This will undoubtedly get your piece more social shares than the latest viral cat video.

Until you realize it doesn’t.

Getting your content featured on major websites doesn’t necessarily mean it will ignite a frenzy of social media activity. After analyzing 26,000 links earned for client content marketing campaigns over the years, my team at Fractl found that just because a piece of content receives a lot of backlinks and press coverage, it does not mean it will also receive a lot of social shares (and vice versa).

This means that content marketers with goals of both link building and social sharing need to have a content promotion strategy that focuses on building high-quality links and encouraging social traction.

In this post, I’ll focus on how you can optimize your content for social sharing by incorporating the elements proven to drive online audiences to engage and share content.

Why people share on social media

The Fractl team’s recent survey on “The Motivations for Sharing on Facebook” asked 2,000 frequent sharers (people who post content more than once a day) about what they share on Facebook and why.


A share-worthy content checklist

So what does it take to create truly share-worthy content? Using the sharing motivations as a guide, here’s a handy checklist to ensure your content will drive people to share.

1. Is your content interesting?

When surveyed, a whopping 48 percent of people claimed they share content on Facebook because they think their friends will find it interesting.

Great, so what qualifies as interesting content? Your content must provide an original idea, offer something surprising or be downright newsworthy.

  • Original data cultivated through your own research makes it unique, contrary to other pieces of content that just regurgitate the same information in a different format. Dig deep into your company’s data to find new insights or a trend.
  • Surprising content grabs people’s attention with the unexpected. Never underestimate the power of a compelling hook, but then hold their attention with content that is unpredictable, or even shocking.
  • Newsworthy content doesn’t have to be an actual breaking story featured on the five o’clock news. It simply means the subject matter is relevant and touches on a hot topic. Keep an eye on what’s trending, and seize the moment when you can savvily tie your brand into a current issue.  

2. Are people passionate about your content topic?

A slightly smaller group of respondents (17 percent) shared content to express the issues they cared about. We know sharing is caring, but what really makes people care?

To figure that out, let’s first look at what people don’t care about: anything that seems self-promotional from your company. If it looks like an ad, reads like an ad or sounds like an ad for your brand, you can forget it. Because your audience will, too.

Social media continues to be oversaturated with ads and businesses trying to push their message. Only those who can think of their content as a contextual marketing engine — something that provides a service, offers knowledge or provides entertainment — will stand out from the rest.

3. Does your content hit the right emotional buttons?

Thirteen percent of people shared things to make their friends feel something. Generally, people want to share content that makes them feel good in hopes of passing along the emotional experience to others. Our study on viral emotions showed a strong correlation between positive emotions and the number of initial views a viral image received.

These 10 positive emotions were evoked most frequently and should be used to evaluate the effectiveness of your content:


4. Is your content useful?

Who doesn’t love when something invokes that “aha!” moment? Eleven percent of the people surveyed said they share content they believe their friends will find useful.

This should come as no surprise. There is a reason why the eye-catching Tasty by BuzzFeed recipe videos are some of the most shared content on Facebook. Because whether or not people actually attempt to make the simplified, sped-up, easy-as-pie recipes featured in these short videos, they feel as though they are learning something new.

Whether it’s something as small as a new recipe or an earth-shattering post explaining how the new common core math works, find a way to create teachable moments, and position your brand as an expert.

In a world where smartphones allow anyone to create or report breaking news, it’s a constant struggle to push out content that is more interesting, more newsworthy or more entertaining than the rest.

Remember to stay current, push the envelope, and formulate content that encompasses at least one of these motivational characteristics to make it share-worthy.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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