You're down with social. You've got yourself a blog, a Twitter account, and even a Facebook page. You understand that none of this works unless you're also down with content marketing, and you work hard to create excellent content so you have something to blog/tweet/Facebook about.
But, something's missing.
You publish your content and promote it through social channels, but it just sits there like the shy girl at the prom, looking at its feet, waiting - hopelessly - for an invitation to dance. It's enough to break your heart. What went wrong? The content is solid - it's factual and accurate and provides valuable information that's relevant to your audience. Why aren't they shouting it's praises to their friends and business associates?
Social is all about self-expression.
I'm not talking about the angst-ridden self-expression of your teenage years, or the guess-what-my-cat-just-ate brand of horrifyingly narcissistic social noise. I'm talking about a more subtle brand of self-expression that we all (no exceptions) engage in on the social Web. Whether we're promoting ourselves professionally, or just hanging with friends, our self-expression methods break down into four categories:
People share content that reflects their interests, BUT - and this is an important "but" - only the interests that make them look good. For instance, although I might find your post about how to get back on your feet after filing Chapter 11, it's not something I'm going to share with my network of peers and potential clients. Does your content help your audience share their interests in a positive way, or could it put them in a compromising situation?
Another way to create common ground is by highlighting an affinity with people and organizations outside your industry. Fundraising for a cause is a good example of how a brand can create additional, more personal touch-points with its audience.
The masses of the social Web love to give their two cents. Make it easy for them to do so while spreading your content. Create content that not only provides the facts, but asks a hard question and/or takes a stand on one side of an issue. If your content is wishy-washy, it will not be worth sharing. If it makes a bold statement, readers on both sides of the argument will share it so that they can voice their own opinions on the matter. Either way, you win. (Remember - there's no such thing as bad publicity.)
Brilliance by Association
Everyone likes to look smart, but not everyone has the time or resources to craft kick ass content full of brilliant insights and inspirations. If your content helps people look good, they will share it every time. If you do the heavy lifting on the content creation, your audience will handle the less arduous job of spreading it across the Web.
Last, but certainly not least, your content needs to project personality. This applies to you, B2B companies! People on the social Web are, how can I say this, social. They are real people who like to engage with other real people. Give your content a human touch through the topics you cover and the "voice" you use in your writing. Make them feel like part of your circle of friends by having real conversations, using humor, sharing semi-personal stories. Business is built on relationships and personality is often the spark that ignites new connections.
There are obviously many more ways to ensure that your content gets the link love it deserves - building your network, for instance, so that you have a loyal "tribe" of followers and friends who are ready to click "Retweet" or "Like" at the drop of a hat. But, that's why this article is called "4 Secrets" and not "THE 4 Secrets." Now I'll have something to write about next time.
What's your opinion - do you think these four tactics sum up the key elements of shareable content? What would you add to the list? What's your experience weaving these characteristics into your content?
About the Author: Jamie is a freelance strategist, teacher, and copywriter who partners with solo entrepreneurs to define and market their brands. Her specialties include brand development, social media strategy, and content marketing. Enjoy more of her posts, visit her site at Suddenly Marketing, or drop her an email.
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