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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:

  • Timelines
  • Statistics
  • Flowcharts
  • Comparisons
  • Lists

Infographics can work in almost any discipline. For example, SOS Politics uses them to discuss complex topics from the world of British politics in an engaging and easy-to-digest manner.   

There are also a number of data-visualization tools that you can use such as Tableau and Datawrapper.  Both are incredibly flexible and versatile and allow you to create striking charts, graphs, and more.

Whatever you decide, it’s a good idea to mix up the kinds of visualization that you use. If you don’t inject some variety, you run the risk of boring your audience. For more tips on data-visualization, check out this post by Jessica Malnik of Databox.

How can you use AI to create shareable content? 

AI can be a great tool to create shareable content. For example, Ameya Dusane of Spiceworks points out that it can help you personalize your content. He cites a luxury brand that used AI to refine their messaging by incorporating language that fostered an emotional connection with the brand. It can also improve the overall quality of your content–Andrew Holland of Search Engine Land notes that you can ask ChatGPT to give you a list of the best content on a given topic. While many of the items on the list won’t actually exist, the results can provide you with valuable inspiration. 

The bottom line is that AI can help you produce content that’s better and more appealing to your audience. For more tips on using AI to produce shareable content, check out this article by Kontak.

Why are social media sharing buttons essential?

Social media is a great way to make sure your content is reaching the right audience. By including sharing buttons in each piece of your content, you make it easy for your readers to spread your content within their networks. Most content-management systems make it easy for you to add them, though there are also third-party tools that you can use, such as:

The advantage to using tools such as these is that they might offer you more customization options than the ones your CMS provides. They can also offer additional capabilities, such as sharing buttons for email.

There’s some debate among experts regarding the optimal location for sharing buttons. Some say they should go at the top of the content, others at the bottom. There are even folks who think they should be dynamic and follow you down the page as you read. Kristi Hines of Search Engine Journal offers a good overview of all the various options.

Why should you care about shareability?

Your content can be impeccably written and perfectly optimized for search engines, but chances are it won’t reach the largest audience if it isn’t the sort of thing people want to share with their friends and relations. But if you take the time to craft interesting content that’s enriched with visual aids and enhanced by social media sharing buttons, it’ll help ensure that people are engaging with your content for years to come.

If you’d like more information on how to maximize your content’s reach, why not check out “Content arbitrage: a strategy for audience engagement”?