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Over the weekend, I decided to reinstall one of my all-time favorite video games: Planescape Torment. When the game first released back in 1999, it was praised by critics, yet sales were sluggish. But almost a quarter-century later, we’re still talking about it. It regularly shows up on lists of the best video games of all time, recently received a remaster, and paved the way for a number of spiritual successors. Wizards of the Coast has even announced that they plan to reissue the campaign setting that inspired the game. Now you might be wondering what this has to do with online content creation. The answer is that it illustrates the importance of shareability. Planescape Torment should’ve faded away into obscurity, but it’s so compelling that diehard fans like me have kept the conversation going long after the official marketing efforts ended. Tapping into the power of shareability can help you make sure your content reaches its full potential.
Why is shareability important?
If you’ve been following this blog, you know it’s important to create authoritative content. But shareability can play a significant role in establishing your credibility. Simply put, the more people share your content, the easier it will be for you to become a recognized authority. A study by the Media Insight Project has shown that people are more likely to engage with content when it’s shared by people they trust. There are three factors that can contribute to your content’s shareability: interesting content, visualized data, and social media-sharing buttons.
How can I make my content interesting?
A sociologist named Murray Davis has done quite a bit of research on the subject of what makes something interesting. You can read a Cliffs Notes version of his work here, but the gist is that people are interested when something “denies an old truth, proverb, platitude, maxim, adage, saying, commonplace, etc.”
Carly Burdova of insideBE has some tips for applying Davis’s insights to marketing. For example, you might show your readers that something they think is a global phenomenon is actually a local one. This Chicago Tribune article about foods that are legal in the US but banned in other countries is a good example.
Another approach would be to show your readers how too many good things can be bad. Take product choice, for example. You might assume that having more choices is always a good thing, but in actuality, it can make us feel overwhelmed and indecisive. As a result, when Procter & Gamble reduced the number of varieties of their Head & Shoulders anti-dandruff shampoo, it actually increased their profits.
It can also be helpful to think about why people search for information. Matt Holliday of Workshop Digital suggests that your readers are likely considering three factors when searching for information:
- Can it help them act? Is it aligned with their immediate wants/needs?
- Can it help them understand? Does it help them address similar issues in the future?
- How does it make them feel? Can you make them feel accomplished, capable, or appreciated if they use your content?
Being mindful of these factors will make your content feel a lot more relevant to your readers.
Include visualized data to promote content shareability
It’s hard to overstate the importance of adding a visual element to your content. After all, 65 percent of people are visual learners. Infographics are a great way to do this. Brent Csutoras of Search Engine Journal has identified eight different types of infographics, including: