For so many years, people have associated the word “viral” with social media.
I don’t know about you, but that word just makes me sick.
[See what I did there?]
A virus is something you catch and pass on unwillingly. You don’t want it and you don’t want to share it (hopefully)
It’s time, then, we all moved on from a word that implies illness, influenza, and inflammation, and started using a much more accurate word to describe how we want our content to flow around the Internet.
And that word is:
Shareable content is something that a person sees and then chooses to pass along to one or more people.
Shareable content has the following characteristics:
1) Platform-Based Optimization: How many times have you seen a brand clearly post a Tweet to Facebook? Or see someone WAY over-post on LinkedIn? It makes you want to NOT support their content. Shareable content is developed for the social media network it is placed on. Seems simple enough, right?
It can be! You can take the same general topic and craft different messages for each platform.
The challenge is following the platform based trends. Like how hashtags do nothing on Facebook. Or knowing that 100-115 characters in a Tweet is the “sweet-spot” for RTs.
Like a good chef knows their ingredients and tools, you need to understand what makes content as shareable as possible.
2) Ease of Understanding: The harder it is to understand a piece of content, the less likely people are to share it.
Don’t misconstrue length for ease.
A perfect example: When The Rachel Maddow Show wanted to juxtapose the demands of the Republicans during the recent government shutdown with what they got in the negotiations, her team made a long, but simple graphic.
You don’t have to read every word to understand the point they were trying to make.
This Facebook post received over 9,000 shares – significantly more than anything else they posted recently. The content was easy to understand, told a concise story, and simple to share.
Images on certain networks do play a major role in ease of understanding. A thousand words, indeed.
3) Timeliness/Relevance: While many people post to social media every day about the military, such content posted on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and other key observances are inherently more shareable.
People are looking for content to “cosign.” They may not have an original story to tell, image to share, or link ready. But they WILL share quality content they find on their social media networks.
Understanding external factors – holidays, observances, current events – can help you create highly-shareable content.
4) Fun: There is a reason the SomeEcards is such a visible brand – their cards are FUN. A little ray of sunshine in a cruel world.
If there was a Shareable Content Hall of Fame, Oreo earned their spot in the Super Bowl earlier this year with this famous post:
Something that captures imagination, gives people a laugh or a smile – these are things people want to share.
These four elements are the key to shareable content. There is no guaranteeing what content will “tip.” Something you spent weeks perfecting may fall flat, whereas a last-minute idea might strike gold. But these are the things that set your content up for success.
Now, go take some Tylenol for that viral thing and call me in the morning.