The Step by Step Guide to Creating Content That Gets Thousands of Social Shares

The following is a guest post by Michael Akinlaby. Michael is a Content Strategist and SEO Consultant.

One of your marketing goals is to get people to talk about your business with their friends. They call it word-of-mouth marketing in the old days.

Today, we call it social sharing.

Social shares is an important marketing metric you should be watching to determine if your business is going in the right direction.

In fact, according to a study conducted by BrightLocal, digital marketers consider social shares as the most important key performance indicator (KPI) they used in measuring the success of their contents.

content-kpi

Social sharing allows your content to reach a wider audience. When people share your content, they are acting as your evangelist. They happily promote your content on your behalf for free. But people don’t share any kind of content. There is certain content they share.

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In this article, you’ll learn how to create the kind of content people love to share.

Create Long Form Contents

People are consuming more contents these days due to the increased usage of mobile devices. You might want to believe that people like reading short, bite-sized content because of their short attention spans, but you would be wrong. Several studies have shown that people love sharing long form contents.

In fact, the longer the content, the more social shares it gets.

A study conducted by Buzzsumo shows that contents with 3,000-10,000 words get more shares on social media.

content-length-means-more-social-shares

Neil Patel took 327 blog posts he has written on Quick Sprout and broke them down into two buckets. The first bucket contained blog posts that were fewer than 1,500 words. The second bucket contained blog posts that were greater than 1,500 words.

What he found was interesting:

  • Posts that were under 1,500 words, on average received 174.6 tweets and 59.3 Facebook likes.
  • Posts that were over 1,500 words, on average received 293.5 tweets and 72.7 Facebook likes.

social-sharing-quicksprout-case-study

This study shows that posts that were over 1,500 words receive, on average, 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes than posts that were under 1,500 words.

Include Attractive Images in Your Blog Posts

Photos are worth a million of likes. According to research published by eMarketer, photos accounted for 75% of content posted by Facebook pages worldwide. Photos drive the most engagement on Facebook with a whopping 87% interaction rate. No other content type receives more than 4% interaction rate.

Photos also get more retweets.

Research by the Twitter Media Blog, which analyzed the content of over 2 million tweets sent by thousands of users over the course of a month shows that adding a photo to your tweet can boost your retweets by 35%.

photo-boosts-retweets

Another study conducted by Buzzsumo shows that articles with images once every 75-100 words got double the social shares than articles with fewer images.

a-photo-once-in-75-100-words-boost-social-shares

So, before you write your article, be prepared to add a lot of images between every few paragraphs.

(See how I’m doing it in this article).

Evoke Positive Emotions In Your Content

Scientists are learning that positive emotions have a powerful effect on our brains and bodies, helping us feel, and act our best. Negative emotions are bad for our health. It’s hard to think straight when you’re sad, overwhelmed, anxious and angry.

But when you’re deep in a positive emotion, you’re more open-minded, and you’re more likely to learn and build new skills. This is because positive emotions affect your brain in ways that increase your awareness, attention, and memory.

People tend to be happier, healthier and get along well with others when they feel positive. That is why you must associate your contents with positive emotions like surprise, awe, joy, love, hope and gratitude. You must include, at least, one positive emotion in every content you create if you want more social shares.

In that same Buzzsumo study, they found that evoking positive emotions lead to more social shares.

positive-emotion-more-social-shares

As you can see from the above image, the most popular emotions are:

  • Awe (25%)
  • Laughter (17%)
  • And amusement (15%)

Write List Posts

There are different types of written content online.

There are:

  • How-to posts
  • Why posts
  • What posts
  • List posts
  • Guides

Out of these five, list posts are the most popular on the web. Only a few people would argue that they hate list posts.

For example, BuzzFeed is one of the biggest viral sites on the web. They receive over 200 million monthly unique visits.

I just visited the BuzzFeed’s homepage as I write this. I can see that most of their contents are list posts as you’ll see in the below image:

buzzfeed-like-list-posts

A few years ago, Econsultancy shared that half of their most popular 25 posts were lists.

We humans have been hardwired to tune to list. This is because, in list posts, we know what exactly to expect. No surprises. List posts are also skim-friendly and easy to read.

And the most important of all, list posts are shareworthy.

Imagine list posts like these:

  • Free Book Tells You 12 Secrets of Better Lawn Care
  • Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure?
  • 10 Ways to Beat the High Cost of Living
  • 20 Ways To Get Out Of Debt

Who wouldn’t want to read these posts and share them with their friends?

Add Mini Infographics

Mini infographics are those short informative, interesting and entertaining images you can use to spice up your content.

They’re mini because their contents are easily digestible. Sometimes, a mini infographic could be turning a quote into a graphic.

Below are some examples of mini infographics Neil Patel shared in a blog post on his personal marketing blog:

mini-infographic-increase-social-shares

And this:

min-infographic-content-readability

Mini infographics are cool because they help you re-emphasize your points through visuals. Web readers love visuals, and they like to share them on social media.

In fact, the study from Buzzsumo showed that people love to share infographics. Even more than list posts.

share-infographics-on-social-media

The use of visual is growing on the web. You should start using them in your blog posts, so you’re not left behind.

Make Your Content Look More Trustworthy

You hang out with people you trust. You may even share the advice they give you to other people you know. It’s because you trust them.

You won’t share any information you receive from them with anyone if you believe that they are not sincere.

The same thing applies to the internet. It’s even harder to trust people over the internet.

You can’t just read something written by a stranger somewhere and share it with your network.

What if the information is false? It may ruin the reputation you’ve built with your network. It’s hard to share an article from someone you haven’t read about, or heard of before.

As a content creator, publisher, or writer, you need to help first-time readers trust you and your content.

If people can’t trust you, they won’t share your content. You need to make your content look more trustworthy so it can get more social shares and spread.

How can you do that?

First, you need to have a nice web design. Bad design makes it difficult for readers to trust you before they even start reading your contents.

Take a look at these websites for example:

Endy Sleep

trustworthy-web-design-trustworthy-site

Bath Magic Inc.

ugly-web-design-not-trustworthy

Which site breeds more trust?

I’m sure that it would be hard for you to trust the second site because it’s very ugly and would make you vomit. Isn’t it? But it would be easy for you to do business with the first website. They have a nice web design that would definitely make you spend more time on their pages.

But that’s not all. It’s not just about the site design alone.

You also need to cite real data and experts in your industry.

For example, look at how I’ve cited real studies so far in this article. I even provided links to those articles. Doing that makes you trust this content more because you can easily confirm if a study or research is true.

When you back up every point you make with real data and source, your post will receive more social shares, engagement, and customers.

Here’s Neil Patel using real data to back up his point in one of his blog posts on Quick Sprout:

back-up-your-points-with-real-data

Another way to make readers trust you is to have less (or zero) ads on your site.

The rise of Adblockers shows that internet users really hate ads.

In fact, you can quickly annoy them if you have pop-up ads.

Optimize Your Social Meta Image

Your meta image is the image social users will see when they share your contents on places like Facebook and Twitter. You have to make sure your meta image is perfectly optimized for each platform.

For example, the ideal image size for Facebook is 1,200 x 628px. The ideal image for Twitter is 1024 x 512px. Ensuring that your content meets these requirements will boost your shares on these platforms.

If you use WordPress, Yoast SEO plugin is a great tool that can help you with this process.

Optimize Your Social Meta Data

Just like your meta image, your post title, and description should be perfectly optimized for social too.

Optimizing your meta data keep your content organized on various social platforms. It also helps social users know in advance what to expect from your content.

And because it makes your content looks cool on Facebook and Twitter, this also leads to more shares which would send more visitors back to your content.

Below is a nice, perfectly optimized article from Social Media Examiner:

perfectly-optimized-article-for-facebook

Add Social Sharing Buttons To Your Website

Imagine someone just finished reading your amazing content, and they want to share it with their friends on social media.

Unfortunately, there’s no social sharing button on your site to help readers share your content with their friends on Twitter and Facebook. Such readers may leave your site without sharing your content even though they wanted to.

That’s bad for the user and bad for you the site owner.

You’ve got to have social sharing buttons on your website to help users share your contents. Save them the stress of having to go to Facebook before they share your content.

BuzzFeed shows you social sharing buttons before you start reading their contents:

social-share-buttons-at-the-top-on-buzzfeed

They don’t stop there.

They show you once again right after reading their content:

more-social-share-buttons-at-the-end

Download 14 Recipes to Drive Traffic to a New Blog. Click Here.

This is one of their secrets for getting thousands of social shares on their contents.

One of your marketing goals is to get people to talk about your business with their friends. You are looking for Social Shares.



  • Alison

    Great article. Just wondered what you thought about new research on Facebook that shows images now get the lowest engagement overall, contradicting previous thinking. and that video content is more effective.

    • Bruce Bates

      I can tell you what I think even though I am not the author of this article. I think the system is rigged. Prior thinking, used to be correct. Now, its more geared at video, and surprise, its specifically geared at facebook video. Uploading and sharing a video on facebook will get your video far more views that sharing a youtube video on facebook will get.

  • http://brandvee.com/ toroktomi

    I found really interesting ways to get more shares for our downloadable guides:
    – Use shareable quotes
    – Embed share buttons (on a dedicated page or in the footer)
    – Pay with a tweet (if your reader shares your guide, then he will get something in exchange)
    – Placing share buttons on the thank you page (less efficient, but could work)

    FYI, If you would like to read more, here is the guide: http://blog.momentum.ai/increase-social-traffic-to-your-guides-and-get-more-leads

  • http://www.quora.com/Subhendu-Pattnaik Subhendu Pattnaik

    If there is one article I have read recently which is duly researched, this is it. Loved the fact hat you have quoted facts from all the credible sources – econsultancy, Buzzsumo, BrightLocal, Neil and so on. Very insightful article.