Creating Shareable Content
The effectiveness of social media comes from its ability to tap into the most intrinsic desire among us –
the desire to share. With Concept2Completion, you’ll see there’s more to it. Concept2Completion can help you appeal to the desire to share, but appeal with precision, to make certain your content will reach the widest audience possible.
People share for different reasons. Here are the specific triggers of the human psyche that motivate one to
do so, and how you can use them.
1) Social validation. Instilled in us is a strong desire for approval. We often let this need to be
accepted dictate our actions, opinions and decisions. In a study titled Social Influence Bias: A Randomized Experiment, it was found that people were 32 percent more likely to up-vote a pre-liked comment. This need for validation makes popularity infectious. In fact, it’s safe to say that, in most cases, the popularity of something in a person’s mind is directly proportional to the popularity of that thing among a group the person identifies with.
Takeaway: Make sharing buttons clearly visible around the content you publish, and include the share count.
2) Entertainment. In a study conducted by Jonah Berger, author of the popular book Contagious, he
looked at almost 7,000 New York Times articles to assess which got shared the most. He found that
positive news was more likely to go viral. Most people like to be the “bearer of the good news” rather
than a “Debbie downer”. He also found that content that elicited high-arousal emotions such as delight,
astonishment, excitement, awe, anger, frustration or anxiety got shared more than one that evoked
low-arousal or deactivating emotions such as sadness.
Another study, conducted by Ipsos, showed that 61 percent of online sharers share interesting things; 43
percent share funny things and 29 percent share content that is unique.
Takeaway: Create reactive content. Write content that triggers positive high arousal emotions. Make
sure that your headlines evoke curiosity and awe. Include stories, as they can make any piece of content
engaging, memorable and shareable.
3) Practical value. Berger also found that the articles that were the most shared were not only interesting
and surprising, but also informative. In another study by the NYT Insight Group, it was found that 94
percent assessed the usefulness of the content to the recipient before sharing. One reason people share
is to enrich the lives of others.
Takeaway: Create “how-to” content that specifically addresses the most asked questions among
your target audience, and share tips to make a complex process/concept easier to
understand/implement. This will help generate more organic traffic from search engines as well.
4) Beliefs and causes. People are more likely to share content that will help define themselves to others. According to Berger, 68 percent of people share to show who they are and what they care about.
They share content that closely mirrors their image, with 84 percent stating that they shared to show
support to causes and issues they care about.
Takeaway: Share your content with an eye for your readers’ self-concept. For example, if
your audience consists of visual artists, creative and novel images might trigger sharing. Research your
demographics to understand their needs and desires so you can create relatable content.
5) Interest. The beauty of social media lies in the opportunity it gives the users to connect with like-
minded people. Content is a tool that helps people engage with others. By just tweeting or sharing a
piece of content, the user can rekindle an old companionship or make new connections with people
who share their interests. The NYT Insight Group says that 73 percent share to nourish
and grow relationships.
Takeaway: Share content related to trending topics in your industry or ones that might inspire
discussion or debate among users.
6) Incentive. In operant conditioning, a response is generated either to earn reinforcement or to avoid
punishment. Incentive theory proposes something similar. It states that your actions are driven by
Takeaway: When it comes to increasing sharing, incentives could include recognition for the top sharer, or
discounts or access to exclusive content. You can even give an official shout-out to your sharers, or enter
them in your next random giveaway, sweepstakes, promotions or content.
7) Aesthetics. Looks matter, even when it comes to content. You can increase engagement by organizing your content to be easily scannable, with a clear eye path. If users are presented with big blocks of text, chances are they will click out. Visual hierarchy is very important in helping people to comprehend information easily. The same goes for web design, typography, images and colors. All elements should work well together to make the whole process enjoyable.
Takeaway: Use subheads and bullets. Break big blocks of texts into smaller paragraphs. Pick a very readable font, so that people spend time absorbing the actual message rather than trying to read the words.
If you get stuck, just remember that people want to use your content to better the lives of others. You want to make that process as smooth as possible.