Paying for content distribution can help you build an audience and connect with customers you may not have reached before. However, there is more to marketing success than getting your content on the right channels and platforms. In order for native advertising and content marketing to be effective, your content needs to inspire readers to click-through and share it so that it reaches more and more people.
Going viral isn't easy, and it won't happen with every piece of content, but there are things you can do to make sure that your content attracts more clicks than your competitors. Here's our breakdown for creating the sort of "clickable content" your company needs to thrive:
Modern marketing starts a conversation; you should make sure that your content does the same. Traditional marketing "advertised," while social media has made the whole thing more, well, "social." Your would-be customers expect interactions and content that resonates with their unique needs, not the needs of your company. For instance, if your company makes tents, your most clickable content will likely focus on advice for tent maintenance, information on what type of tent is needed for which terrain and the best places to camp in your area. It will not be an article about the unique features of your tents.
2. Emotional Angle
Viral content tends to be emotional as well. It creates a sense of urgency or provokes an emotional response. How many times have you seen ads that say "Don't Buy a Tent Without Reading This First" or "5 Things You Should Never Do"? You see them so often because they work. A 2010 study by Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman found support for this phenomenon. They found content that is positive (i.e., amusing, surprising) or negative is shared more than content that has a low emotional response, like sad news or bland facts. "Consistent with the notion that people share content to entertain others, surprising and interesting content is highly viral. Similarly, consistent with the notion that people share to inform others, or boost their mood, practically useful and positive content is more viral," explains Berger and Milkman. "These effects are all consistent with the idea that people may share valuable content to help others, generate reciprocity or boost their reputation (e.g., show they know entertaining or useful things)."
3. Valuable Research
That's not to say that you shouldn't share research or facts. A lot of unique data is equally valuable, especially if the results go against conventional thinking. Take Social Triggers for example. They wrote an article called "The 'Content Is King' Myth Debunked." It has almost 250 comments and was shared extensively because it featured research with surprising results.
4. Controversial or Unconventional
You can also create clickable content by taking a controversial or unconventional stance. "Over 90 percent of B2B companies do content marketing - but 90 percent of that content marketing is redundant crap, e.g. 5 Ways to Do Blah Blah the Same Way as Everyone Else," explains Wordstream. "Content marketing doesn't work if nobody cares... [but] when you say something counter to received wisdom, people pay attention."
Your content needs to be compelling, too. This means that it answers a question. For instance, when Buzzsumo looked at the top trigrams for Facebook, they found that over half of the top titles were list-type posts (i.e., X Things Only). Other popular entries included photos (i.e., X Pictures That), quizzes (i.e., Can We Guess), and warnings (i.e., X Things You Should Never Do). Why? Because this style of article is compelling and invokes curiosity.
6. Platform Relevant
It is important that your content fits your platform as well. A visual platform like Pinterest or Instagram does really well with visual content, while Facebook or LinkedIn are perfect for starting a discussion. Twitter, on the other hand, is more up to the minute. This makes the platform better suited to news-oriented or news-adjacent posts. For instance, you could publish content that fits with trending hashtags.
7. A Great Headline
A great headline is also a necessity. The best ones are short (most search engines cut off the characters they show after 65 characters) and clear. They explain the article, provide an emotion (be it an adjective or a controversial stance) and provide a promise for reading it, like "Write Irresistibly Clickable Headlines Like BuzzFeed." According to Social Media Today, "more people read headlines than read articles, at a margin of 4 to 1," and it is not unusual for someone to share an article based on the headline alone. Quicksprout reports that 80 percent of people will read the headline, and most only read the first and last three words.
Lastly, no matter how well your content fills the right needs, has the right tone and is written with the right headline, it has to be written well. Make sure your content answers the 5 W's (Who, What, Where, When, Why) and is free from grammatical errors. Otherwise, your readers may walk away feeling cheated and unappreciated.
In a world of social media and paid advertising, creating clickable content is the key to getting the word out about your company. When your posts go viral, it doesn't matter whether the article is on your products and services, your awesome management team, or some effort your company is making in the community -- people are interested. Over time, you develop brand recognition and acquire goodwill, as long as your posts are catchy enough to gain traction.