Okay so you’ve worked hard to get your publishing cadence up to cruise control speed and you have a steady flow of content in the pipeline. This is great news for you and your team and, these days, a rare position to find yourself in. Hypothetically it should be smooth sailing from here, right? So why aren’t you getting the traction you want on your posts when you put the time and money into creating awesome, souped-up content that your customers should be going nuts over?
What to Do When You Have Enough Content But It’s Not Getting Shared
As Ryan Skinner discusses in his post “Great Content is Not Enough,” marketers and agencies are investing tons of money to create great quality content but audiences aren’t finding or sharing it. Shareability is basically the touchstone of whether or not content has value. Sharing in the B2B world can be particularly frustrating because B2B products generally aren’t inherently sexy or exciting and instilling them with that kind of marketing appeal can be challenging. Still, content marketers have succeeded in creating stellar marketing content for their brands and in getting that content widely shared – so it stands to reason that you should be able to do so too.
The first thing to consider is why your audience is sharing material. According to a New York Times study called The Psychology of Sharing:
78% of people share to stay connected
49% of people share to encourage action
68% or people share to shape their online identity
Understanding what drives your audience to share posts is at the core of producing content that they will devour. There is no foolproof formula for creating and distributing content because every industry and audience has their own unique needs. But quality posts that appeal to people on a personal, human level is the biggest part of getting content shared. Put each awesome piece of content you are ready to distribute through the following filters first:
Is it relevant to your audience?
Is it unique?
Are you expressing yourself and your brand?
Is it positive?
Does it evoke emotion?
If you’re sure that a piece of content has all these bases covered, then you’re ready to move on.
There is a lot of confusion at the moment about the relationship between SEO and content marketing. Has one replaced the other or do they work together? If they do work together, how do they fit? Content Marketing expert Neil Patel argues that SEO and CM are like PB&J – they just naturally go together. But why?
The only way to be successful in content marketing is to have SEO. There is much overlap between the two, but in order to maximize the shareability of your content you need to make sure you’re leveraging the power of each independently and together. SEO keywords should appear within your top-notch content that is written for humans. The best way to build links and employ keywords is to publish awesome content and wait for the masses to link back to it. The only way to get shares on your content is to get visibility and the only way your content is going to take off is if it has SEO features that allow it to be found.
Define Your Strategy
Ideally you should be implementing a unique strategy for every individual piece of content to maximize its reach but not all teams have the bandwidth to take on something like that. A good alternative is to at least have one strategic plan in place that you can funnel all your content through in order to make sure you’re getting the shares you need. This strategy will be different for every outlet, of course, but let’s walk through how we might execute something like this using Facebook as an example.
1. Set Your Goals
You want to get your articles shared on other people’s Facebook pages. Pretty simple, right?
2. Make Sure Your Content Passes the Test
Shareable posts have appealing words in their headlines, such as world, most and why. Stay away from snooze-worthy words like vs., apps, review and down, which have the lowest instance of shareability. Posts with images have a much higher likelihood of being shared and tend to be longer than 1,000 words but no more than 1,500. The most shareable posts are also generally viewed as helpful, upbeat and not even slightly sales-y.
3. Make Them Easy to Share
Help your audience members that want to share your post by including share buttons and widgets that make it easy to share or like with a click.
4. Show Audiences Who Else Has Shared
Make sure to display the number of shares and likes the post has already. This increases the chance of others sharing.
Go through this same process with each of the outlets you use in order to make sure that the content you are sharing is being most effectively used on each. It’s possible, especially with B2B marketing, that your audience doesn’t engage as much with Facebook and you’d be better off spending time on sites like Inbound and Growth Hackers. That segues into the final piece of the content distro puzzle: tracking.
Tracking Your Efforts
Once you have analyzed your content to make sure it’s up to snuff, optimized it for SEO purposes and created a strategy for each outlet, it’s time to sit back and watch what happens now that you’ve made your content more shareable. This is possibly the most important part of the process of getting your content shared because it will help you analyze what is working and what is holding you back. We set up Distribution Best Practices to make sure we’re following the same protocol for all of the content we’re putting out there and then we use a Distribution Tracker to keep track of how it is performing across outlets. This tells us not only which outlets in general tend to respond to our content but over time we also get to see how variations on content excel or fail and can put new strategies in place accordingly.
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Content Marketers need to understand the motivational forces that factor into shareability. People share because it makes them feel good and your strategy needs to keep that fact at the center of all your content. Only then can you use your marketing savvy to further optimize content with SEO, implement a smart distribution plan and then keep tabs on how each piece is performing so you can continue to keep audiences happy, engaged and sharing to their heart’s content.