5 secrets to content success
Views, likes and shares are the things that every content creator dreams of. But they don’t just happen. Successful content production isn’t just splurging words on a page or whipping up an infographic and pushing it out into the wider world – it’s a finely tuned process that needs a strategy behind it from the word go. And only by implementing this strategy can content creators engage consumers and drive profitable action for brands, giving clients return on their investment. As far as generating high engagement and shares goes, there are some tricks in particular that are sure to help make content stand out.
When you’ve got the opportunity to grab consumers with a range of content types, take it. Content success comes from having a healthy mix of content, from long-form editorial and listicles to visual snacks such as videos and GIFs – whatever will best reinforce the brand and appeal to its target audience. Few of us are interested in reading a 5,000-word essay during our lunch breaks – even if it’s the best 5,000 words we’ll ever read. According to research by BuzzSumo, long-form editorial no more than 2,000 words long is the most shared type of content – however, this content must engage consumers instantly. This is where traditional journalistic standards are relevant to online media, with attention-grabbing headlines and intros, combined with standout photography, necessary to keep consumers interested beyond the intro. BuzzSumo has also found that having more than one image in each piece of long-form content will result in more shares on Facebook and Twitter, and that infographics are also widely shared on platforms such as Pinterest where visuals are everything. So don’t be afraid to try something new.
It’s simple, really: know what you’re talking about. Authority is one of the most important factors in producing successful content, with articles and videos produced by brands who’ve established a meaningful connection with consumers more likely to be shared than content with little or no authority. BuzzSumo has found that articles that come from a reliable source, or adhere to proper journalistic guidelines and include features such as a byline, writer bio and professional design, will go on to have a much wider reach. Then there’s the content itself – if it’s well written and well researched, with assertions backed up by quotes from trusted sources, people will feel happier about sharing it with their friends. And don’t underestimate the influencer effect, either – if you can get just one well-known (and relevant) blogger to tweet your content, then your potential for success is much higher.
3. Make it relevant to your readers
Whether it’s which 90s pop band people should have belonged to or what piece of tech they should buy next, people love to read content that will tell them something new or funny about themselves that they can then share with their mates. This isn’t necessarily about narcissism, according to BuzzFeed’s editorial director Jack Shepherd. He says, ‘Sharing something about yourself is often a statement about what you believe in, what causes or values you align yourself with, and what, in particular, you love and identify with.’ Appealing to people’s emotions in a positive way is a great way to win them over; make them laugh, cry (happy tears, of course) or feel impressed, and they’ll be more inclined to share this experience with others.
4. Think strategically
While the content you’re creating should be excellent in its own right, being mindful of certain things will help to boost its reach. For instance, be sensitive regarding word length – too short, and the content won’t be deemed worth sharing; too long, and most people will find it too boring to finish. While BuzzSumo found that longer form content generally did better than short-form content due to less competition, it also suggested that articles should be a maximum of 2,000 words and that 10 is the magic number for listicles. Think about things such as what time of day your content is most likely to get views from your target audience (BuzzSumo revealed that Tuesday was the best day for racking up social shares), or whether user-generated content will work for a particular brand. Meanwhile, implementing meta tags offers a way for lazier consumers to share content with a tap. The image below illustrates what a difference it makes to add a Facebook thumbnail to content.
5. Make content useful
Never underestimate the value of helpful, evergreen content. This is the kind of content people search for, from videos on how to knit to holiday destination guides. It doesn’t have the same restrictions as other content regarding time, meaning it will always have a place online. What’s more, Jonah Berger, assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business, says that practical, useful content inspiring action is actually one of the most shared types. We’re always looking for ways to better our own lives, so when we see articles on how to sleep better or come across how-to baking videos, we commit to them and share what we’ve learnt with others.