So it’s the middle of the workweek, and miraculously you’ve found some time to take a breather. Avoiding the slight chance of veering too far off course, you login to your Linkedin account to get reacquainted with the latest industry trends, and before long—your interest is piqued. You’ve stumbled upon a headline: “U.S. Financial Technology Companies Raise $3.5 billion in the First Half of 2017.”[i] “Wow, that’s pretty impressive,” you think. A few minutes later, you’re silently rejoicing in your office. It turns out there’s some really good information in the article, and you’re happy you took the time to read it. So what do you do next? You share it of course, but why? Because as a thought leader in your industry, you actually enjoy gifting your network with good news and information, and if you happen to be the first to share it—that would be even better.
If you’re currently reading this blog, I’m guessing you’re no stranger to social media. In fact, you probably experience the above-described train of thought on a regular basis. For most companies, content marketing plays a pivotal role in raising brand awareness, generating leads, and engaging new customers. But it’s not just about typing up a few words or sharing a few videos; it’s about actually producing good content.
Content marketing campaigns are most successful when content curation is combined with new content development. Both content curation and new content development require the investment of precious resources to research the topic, organize the information, and develop it into great content that adds value to your readers. Still, how do you go about getting your audience to share content after you’ve gone through such great lengths to develop it?
To gain some insight on the subject, let’s take a moment to explore the psychology behind what prompts people to share information. In the realm of social media, people typically share content based on the following factors.
We believe it might be useful
Statistically speaking, only 33 percent of millenials have credit cards, and 1 in 3 have money invested the stock market.[ii] If your organization targets millenials, you might consider this valuable information in terms of building or even tweaking your marketing strategy. So after reading an article entitled, “Using Fintech to Engage Millenials,” you instinctively share it with your network, assuming they would be interested in learning this as well. By continuously sharing information that is relevant to your target audience, you’re able to convey that you’re someone who is knowledgeable about a particular subject area while also gaining the satisfaction of feeling helpful.
It sparks emotion
Without question emotion is a key to creating sharable content. When we make the decision to post or share content, we typically do so because it makes us feel something. Viral content has a tendency to evoke high-arousal emotions such as joy, awe, surprise, empathy, laughter, inspiration, or amazement. When creating content for your audience, the shareability of your content will most certainly hinge upon your organization’s ability to generate positive emotional responses from the intended audience.
We want to define or brand ourselves
Let’s be honest, social media offers us liberties that aren’t quite as easy to attain via face-to-face communication. It provides us with both the space and platform to essentially say, “This is who I am.” It allows us to present the high points of our lives and tell only the stories we wish to tell. On social media we are world-class travelers, relationship experts, foodies, models, actresses, happy couples, and successful entrepreneurs. We seek validation in likes and tend to only share content that we feel is in line with our image.
For businesses, this same concept rings true. Branding is absolutely critical to the success of your social media campaign, and the sharing of your content is heavily influenced by how much it aligns with your target audience. For instance, if your company is a leading FinTech firm in the Atlanta area that specializes in global payments, it may be beneficial to your brand to reveal that “70 percent of the $4.4 trillion in payments processed in North America go through companies in Atlanta.”[iii] Additionally, if your intended audience is comprised of potential clients, executives, and individuals who would also like to position themselves as industry experts, your post will be shared with their networks as well, thus expanding your reach even further.
So now that we have some idea of what feelings typically influence or prompt people to share information, let’s go over a few tactics for ensuring your content possesses the share factor.
Don’t Stop at “Catchy”
If your organization happens to have a knack for coming up with catchy titles and headlines, kudos and perhaps even a virtual hi-five are definitely in order here. But don’t go celebrating your success just yet. Despite being quite impressive, this accomplishment is not nearly enough to ensure quality shares. If you’re going to write a catchy headline, always make sure you have the content to back it up. When it comes to effectively engaging your audience, trust is by far the most essential component to winning them over. Your audience needs to know that your company makes good on promises, and you don’t want to break their trust by baiting them with headlines that fail to actually deliver. In other words, if your content is not valuable, it’s not share worthy.
We’re all pretty busy these days between meetings, conference calls, and juggling our daily tasks. It’s extremely important to understand that your audience may not have the time to read and sort through your content for meaning. Why not make it easy on them? You should aim to deliver information in a format that is fairly easy for your readers to digest, for example—a list. Lists are easy to scan, and provide our brains with a natural way to process information. Additionally, lists set the expectation for your readers upfront, and provide them with a roadmap of what’s to come. By utilizing lists to deliver content, you will increase the chances of your audience actually reading and engaging with your posts, and if they stick around to read and engage, they’re probably going to hit the “share” button as well.
Make it Visually Appealing
Once again, let’s remember that people typically share content that connects with them emotionally, and there’s truly no better way to wow your audience than by presenting them with content that is both informative and visually appealing. As a clear sign of the times, it’s no secret that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. In fact, today it only takes the average person eight seconds to become distracted. So how do you tackle this dilemma and increase the chances of your content being shared? Well, you can start by posting relevant visual content. Aim to get your audience’s attention in less than eight seconds by pairing text with images and incorporating infographics or videos. Posts that include visual images produce a 650 percent higher engagement than regular text posts, and with the right visual image, your share potential could be heightened almost instantly.[iv]
So, there you have it—an examination of a few of the factors that influence content sharing along with some examples for developing and creating sharable content. Can you think of other ways firms are striving to increase engagement? Share with us in the comments below.
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
[i]Gensler, Lauren. "The 10 Biggest Fintech Companies In America." Forbes. N.p., 8 Aug. 2017. Web.
[ii]Baker, Dillon. “How Finance Brands Like Goldman Sachs Use Content to Build Trust and Win Customers.”Contently. Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.
[iii]Swant, Marty. “What Cities Across America Can Learn From Atlanta’s Financial Tech Boom and How the ATL Got the Nickname 'Transaction Alley'.” Ad Week, 10 Apr. 2017. Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.
[iv]Doolittle, Emilie. “Humans are Changing – How to Adapt Your Brand.”Webdam, 2 July 2015.