You are in the process of creating a new blog post and have just finished the Hercules job of crafting a catchy headline.
But you don’t dare at all to celebrate that. Somewhere deep inside you know the worst is still to come:
The creation of the content behind your awesome headline!
If that content is not good enough to make enough people comment and share it, all your work will count for nothing.
No engagement means no traffic means no profits. Uggh.
Feel the pressure of content creation? Believe it.
Engagement is not only what your blog needs to grow. It’s also what you need to keep going.
No one can bear to write for an echoless ghost town over weeks or even months without breaking down in motivation, belief, and consistency sooner or later.
That’s why I want to crack the code of shareworthy content with you today. But first, I want to help you define how much viral you need to generate enough buzz for your blog posts.
Small hint: Your content can be very successful with far less shares, actually hundreds of thousands of less shares than Justin Biber or Kim Kardashian score with. Just to take some pressure away from you:)
What dimensions of viral content are relevant to you?
When we think of viral, we think of huge figures.
Viral has conquered the entire online industry.
It even made it to join the elite selection of power words that make headlines far more click-worthy (Okay, I confess myself guilty here;)
But how many shares turn your content into viral content?
Depending on what level viral effects happen, they can show tremendously different amounts of shares.
The universal viral refers to shares that can easily amount to a million or more. Adele’s “Hello” is a good example for that. It’s where sharing happens beyond niche borders.
The niche-specific viral refers to shares within a particular niche (or group of very much related niches). It comes with way smaller dimensions. Here, more than 500 shares already are tremendously good.
This post is entirely about the niche-specific viral. It refers not to the universal audience but to people only in your niche and how to make them share your posts a 500 times or more!
What people do you want to share your content?
What a stupid question, you might think. It’s our readers, our audience that we want to share our content!
Yes, your audience is a very important group of multipliers.
But there is another group that’s even more vital to get your content shared, especially when you are not an authority blog yet. This group is made of influencers in your niche.
It’s a mistake many of us (including me) have made. Writing with only your future customers in mind. And hoping they will someday find all the posts you dedicated to them.
But that’s insanely naive, since more than 152 million(!) other blogs are competing for your future customers attention every day too…
The best way to get out of that overseen melting pot of desperate passive bloggers is to start taking action for the promotion of your content from day one.
And the most effective strategy to promote your content is giving influencers within your niche undeniable reasons to share your posts.
What reasons that are, other than excellent unique content, I will reveal later in this post.
For now, just get familiar with the thought that your content always has to appeal to one more target group (influencers!) than your original audience.
It’s the share of some influencers that can cause the critical extra exposure in front of your (main) audience to shift your blog from overseen to well-noticed.
What’s the secret behind shareworthy content?
This refers to your main target group as well as to your new influencer targets:
All of them prefer to share content that makes them look likable and smart.
Your content needs to be uplifting for everyone who shares it.
Knowing where to find excellent resources and referring to them (through shares) increases people’s level of perceived expertise.
These shares say “Look what a goldmine of information I have found again!” and “I know all the leaders in our industry, here is another epic content Diamond of them I quickly share with you!”
And influencers just love to share what others (you!) share about them. They know that promoting themselves is only half as valuable as someone recommending them.
So UPLIFTING is the universal name of the viral game here!
Again, uplifting is about content that makes the sharers appeal likeable and smart.
Likeable is very much driven by the emotions good content can elicit. And smart mainly comes from the excellent quality of the content.
If you manage to combine both, emotional triggers with excellent quality, you’ve got the ultimate mixture to make your posts go viral.
Let’s start with the emotional ingredients your content needs!
It starts early on with bedtime stories and accompanies us throughout our entire life – humankind is conditioned to listening to and (more importantly) learning from stories.
Use compelling storytelling in your content! Arrange that stories around the pressing problems your audience has, starting with the problem, ending with the relieving solution you can offer.
Tell your own stories that your visitors can highly resonate with. Share your failures in an authentic way.
If you take people on a journey, if you speak in colorful examples, open loops and build anticipation, people are much more likely to stick with your content.
Anatomize the problems of your audience
Trust me, the problems of your readers are your door-opener to their attention.
People search for content that addresses their very individual problems. That’s how they detect you as potentially relevant, which turns into definitely relevant if you also deliver the solution to the particular problem.
Tom Southern calls this the problem-solution content method in his excellent post about the secret to writing blog posts people want to read at Be A Better Blogger.
As a result, you need to find out as much as you can about all the pain points your visitors have. All these troubles are your foundation to build content that is not only highly helpful but also highly in demand.
Help your readers to identify you as one of them
Today’s incredibly huge oversupply of help in the blogosphere puts help seekers in a very comfortable position.
They have no choice but to cherry pick only the most promising solutions.
And they know that the best and most trustworthy help comes from those who have first-hand experience with the problems behind the solutions they offer.
If you only speak of problems and solutions in an abstract way, people don’t trust you. They expect you to have a lack of personal experience and therefore they think you are not qualified to offer proper help.
They don’t feel you being one of them.
But you are one of them! You’ve got that first-hand struggles that you finally mastered.
You know exactly how it feels to have the pain points your audience is suffering from.
And it’s your true, first-hand empathy that drives your actions to share your mastery with those still lost in those particular problems.
You are the best choice to help your readers! You just need to proof that by sharing your own experiences, your own failures, and desperations.
All you want is to meet your audience at eye level and tell them “Hey, I know exactly how you feel, I’ve been there too, here’s how to fix it!”
Speak to a person, not to a group!
I confess myself guilty, I speak about audiences, visitors and readers all the time!
After all, all our efforts are dedicated to the groups of people we want to visit our blogs to come back for more. And it’s okay to think in those groups.
But, the moment you start planning and creating a new post, you should ban any kind of groups from your thoughts.
Instead, all your preparation and writing should be dedicated to one very special person – your ideal customer.
Make your writing a one-on-one conversation with your ideal reader. Make it a very individual chat in a cafe with someone you care about, rather than giving a speech in front of a large group of people.
The reason why I stress this one-on-one conversation so much is its crucial impact on people’s engagement with your content.
If you speak to a person directly and relate to its very individual problems, the reader connects with you and your help like you are a custom made suit.
If you speak to an entire group with your content, you can’t get that specific. You have to stay on a broader level to treat all equally and avoid preferring someone in particular.
Unfortunately, this mass appeal approach is widely spread in content creation.
Adam Connell has put the spotlight on this dilemma (and how to fix that) in his very worth reading post about how to stop your posts from failing to gain traction.
So, whatever content you produce, always have a single person, and it’s very specific situation in mind for your “conversation”!
Be an entertainer
Don’t underestimate the entertaining part of content consumption. A lot of that already comes from your strong and authentic story telling and your conversational writing style.
Relevant anecdotes (even if at your own expenses) are a great way to make your readers experience with your content more diverting.
Just aim your content to be like a nice book read. That also has lots of pages, but its entertaining style makes the reader come back to read every single one of them.
Use call to action
All you want is your readers to take action with the content you provide for them.
Consuming helpful content is not enough. People need to execute your advice to actually benefit from it.
That’s why you need to be a cheerleader throughout your content. Push people forward and motivate them to apply the learnings of your content right away.
The results they gain from this execution will build that strong and lasting relationship you want with them.
Show people that you really want to start a conversation with them about their own situation.
Ask them to share their story/struggles/questions in the comments. Leave no comment unanswered.
And don’t forget about the multiplier role of each of your visitors. The highly engaging experience with your excellent content is a perfect basis to ask your readers for the share of your posts.
As you can see, there is quite a lot you can do on the emotional level to engage people with your content!
If you combine these emotional triggers with a mind-blowing quality of your content, you will turn your readers into raving fans that simply can’t resist the share buttons!
So let’s see what you need to take care of on the quality level!
Outperform the given sources
Let’s face it: whatever topic you decide to write about, chances are, there have been people (many people!) writing about that before.
Your blog will end dried out if you try to invent completely new topics. Our world (and the internet) is too old to find unspoilt territories!
So to get your readers attention, you have to write about given topics, but in a different way.
In essence, content creation today turns more and more into smart content curation.
You need to deliver some highly relevant and useful extra information to the given content.
This extra can happen by coming from a different angle. Or by creating a resource that is much more comprehensive than all the given ones.
Maybe your extra is a collection of practical examples or an in-depth case study no one else has offered about your subject yet.
Mee-too content is what you have to avoid by all means.
Therefore, don’t just start writing about a subject you like. Do your research first to see where your sweet spot for some very useful extra information can be.
Buzzsumo is a great tool to find content ideas:
You just plug in a topic to see what posts about that topic got shared the most. Check out these most shared posts to see if you could add some helpful value to these given sources with your post.
Stick to successful content types
There are several proven content types you should use to help people digest your information in a perfect way.
Here are some of the most successful types:
- How to
- Case Study
Some of them, like how-to’s or lists, are pretty overused. Nonetheless, they still work great.
I’ve run a small analysis in Buzzsumo for you about what main content types got shared the most in the past 12 months (data based on 25 of the most successful blogs in the “blogs about blogging” niche). Here are the results:
But, choosing a successful content type doesn’t automatically lead to a surefire success. You always have to charge that type with your very unique angle, your irresistible package of extra information, to make it stand out.
Just another how-to or list post with no added value is nothing but a waste of your time. No one will read that.
Your goal always should be to create pillar content.
Yaro Starak was the one who coined the phrase “pillar article” years ago. Yaro says that it’s not the format or length but the outcome of an article that turns it into pillar content.
It’s about content that delivers that special extra help, extra insights or extra angle to the reader. This over-delivering in value triggers the visitor’s engagement with your content.
This strong engagement then again activates your reader’s interaction with your content. Which finally results in the desired outcome of an amazing buzz in comments, shares, and backlinks, all leading to incredible evergreen traffic.
In his post about pillar articles in today’s new media world Yaro shows some great examples for what kind of content can survive in a noisy blogosphere today.
Make your content shareworthy for influencers
Yes, finally your second target group comes into play, the influencers in your niche!
You have to write for them too. But in a different way than you create your content for your ideal customer.
Writing for influencers means involving them in your content. Or more precisely, incorporating their resources in your posts.
Why would you do that?
Well, referring to a great relevant resource of a leader in your industry definitely has some uplifting effects on your post. But that’s only a nice side effect.
The main intention behind referring to influencers is spreading the word for them. Influencers appreciate people like you acting as their multiplier.
Many of them even reward you with a share of your content in return. And that’s exactly where a huge boost of your exposure in front of highly relevant large audiences can start out.
It’s all about building relationships with these influential authorities. Share their content, comment on their blogs, give them credits for everything you’ve already learned from them.
All of those activities build a perfect breeding ground to create content that influencers will love to share with their audience.
That could be, for instance, a post about how using the influencers Facebook strategy increased your traffic by 100%.
Another great option is to interview them or to make an expert round-up on a particular question with several influencers in one post.
For more inspiration, Robin Geuens has put together some smart ideas on how to get top bloggers to share your content in his post on ProBlogger.
But remember, all these ideas are based on existing relationships. Which are best built by giving and giving and again a bit more giving… without asking for something in return.
Don’t ask what’s in for you in the first place! You’ll be surprised how much people give back to you if you stick to your true-helper attitude.
Watch the length of your content
I really need to come to an end with this post; it turns out to be a bit lengthy! (**But I want everything vital about viral content covered here!**)
The length of your posts matters. Gone are the days where 300 to 500-word posts have created big buzz.
Here is another analysis I performed in Buzzsumo for you about average shares by content length (data again refers to 25 of the most popular bloggers in the blogging about blogging niche):
Yepp, a 2,000 words or more is not a bad idea. And it correlates quite well with the strategy to always add some extra juice to the given content of other blogs.
But making long posts just for the reason to have it long is not a good strategy. Don’t use more words than needed to say what you want to say. It won’t make your readers stay til the end.
Make it easy to digest
These are all the little things to make your content much more appealing with only little effort:
- choose a readable font, font size and line spacing
- stick to small paragraphs throughout all of your content
- use simple and easy to understand language
- include imagery, bulleted lists, and boxes to give people’s eyes a break and make your posts less text-heavy
Ah, and another one, cause I still see that around here and there: Always use black (or dark) text on white space. It’s such a pain when you try to read something interesting, but the poor combination of inverted text on a colorful background simply makes everything blurred…
Make it easy to share
Imagine you managed to get your first busy influencer wanting to share your content and then it fails simply because your share function is not working on mobile devices…
Yes, it was very embarrassing for me, and since then I am shareable on all devices!
In best case, you offer the share option on top and below of your posts.
And there is another nice tool to trigger your readers share. With TweetDis you can turn catchy phrases into tweetable quotes.
A great and very handy tool that can bring you in some real good extra shares followed by extra traffic!
Anything else that matters?
No Promotion, no success. Regardless how excellent, unique, value adding and influencer appealing your content may be.
The creation of your irresistible post is only half of the work.
The rest is marketing it:
- share it on social media
- send it to your email list
- write an email to every influencer you referred to so they can check it out
- keep on helping influencers on a regular basis
If you do this over and over again with every piece of your content, the influencers echoes sum up.
There will be those who not only share you on their social media channels but also on their email list. Some of them even link back to you or ask you for a guest post.
And one day you’ll might be flying high on the fact that one (or more) of your idols even started a joint venture with you.
You’ve got everything at your hands to get started with creating viral content so don’t hold back and do it. Practicing it is the only way to become good at it!
And leave me a comment below, would love to hear how you do with your content creation!
To your happy viral echoes,