When you create and publish a blog post, infographic, or other piece of content, there’s always the hope in the back of your mind that your piece will go viral, becoming a social media sensation that people just can’t help but share. It can seem that having something go viral is based more on luck than anything else, but that’s actually not true.
Getting more people to share your content has little to do with luck and everything to do with art and science. If you’ve noticed that companies similar to yours have promoted pieces that have had more shares than yours (while not offering the same level of quality), it could be that they are doing some things differently. It’s not just what you write about or how well you write about it. How much you write, the tone of your piece, and who you get to comment on or share your content all influence its popularity.
Find the Influence
Although high school is years, if not decades away for many people, the world of social media is still a big popularity contest. You don’t have to push your way into the “in” crowd online to get shares and attention on your posts. But, you do want to reach out to the proverbial “cool kids” of the internet, the influencers who have the clout to drive views, likes and retweets to your content.
Over at Kissmetrics, Mark Trueman outlines a 3-step to plan to find and reach out to influencers. Your goal here is to have them share your content, whether it’s a blog post, video or something else. He recommends that you start by finding blog posts or other content that covers a topic similar to what you are writing about. You can find similar posts by doing a Google search for the topic and the name of a popular blog in your niche.
Next, you want to find out who has linked to the post and how influential that person is. Bit.ly will not only shorten the length of a URL for you, it will also show you who else has shared the same link, where they shared it, and how many people clicked on that the link when shared.
If a few people got a lot of clicks when they shared a post similar to yours, it can be worth your time to reach out to them about sharing your own post. Keep your email note short and sweet. All you need to say is something along the lines of “Hi, I saw that you shared this post on this topic. I wrote a post on a similar topic here, that I thought you might be interested in.” Trueman notes that it can be helpful to make contact with the person before you ask for a share, such as by leaving a comment on his or her blog, but you can also try cold e-mailing people.
Look on the Bright Side
It turns out that people like to feel good when they read or look at content online. A study conducted by BuzzSumo looked at 10,000 of the most shared pieces of content on the web. As part of its analysis, the company assigned an emotion to each piece. It turned out that the pieces that caused people to feel awe, amusement or to laugh were the most likely to be shared. A quarter of the popular pieces awed people, while 17 percent made them laugh and 15 percent caused amusement. Joy was another popular emotion, at 14 percent.
On a similar note, research from Dan Zarrella, a “social media scientist,” finds that people are less likely to follow social media accounts that use a negative tone. Looking at more than 100,000 accounts, he found that the more negativity on the account, the fewer followers it had.
While you might think short and sweet pieces end up being more popular on social media, BuzzSumo’s research suggests the opposite. The longer a post or article is, the more likely people are to share it. The company’s research found that pieces with more than 3,000 words were more likely to be shared than pieces with fewer than 1,000 words.
Part of that might have to do with the fact that there isn’t much online when it comes to long-form, in-depth posts. According to BuzzSumo, there are 16 times more short-form (1,000 words or fewer) posts than there are posts with 2,000 or more words. It does require more time and effort on your part to write an article or blog post that is more than 2,000 words. But, if it ends up increasing the reach of your content, the extra effort can be well worth it in the end.
Getting more people to see your content is a worthwhile goal, especially in the competitive world of content marketing. But, remember that getting shares is just part of the process. You want to keep producing content that is high quality and that will keep people coming back for more.