6 Tips for Creating Content That Spreads Naturally

We’ve all been there — you hit publish on a blog post and expect the social shares, page views, and agreeable comments to start rolling in. But sometimes you get pure silence (or crickets 🦗) in response.

Using social media and content to market your business isn't a new concept, so doing the bare minimum won't cut it.

Don't believe me? Think about how often content is shared across the web — for instance, there are over 2.45 billion Facebook users and over 500 million Tweets shared per day on Twitter — and that's only two of the several popular social platforms. Needless to say, there's a lot of content everywhere ... and as a result, a ton of noise.

It takes more than simply publishing content to stand out among your target audience and competitors. To prepare you for success from the get-go, here are six ways to cut through all of that noise and make sure your content comes out on top every time — no additional marketing effort required.

6 Ways to Create Content That Markets Itself

Follow these tips to ensure your business's content stands out, spreads naturally, and markets itself among your target audience, buyer personas, leads, and customers.

1) Don't try something new.

Wait. What?

Seriously. There's no reason you'd need to start from scratch with a completely new content approach every time you create blog.

You already have content that's getting discovered on its own — so, learn from those efforts. (Remember, sometimes you can simply work smart rather than hard.)

Review your analytics and look for the posts that are generating the most views, shares, and leads, to determine how you can replicate that success.

Here at Shareaholic, for instance, we use our Top Content report to identify our blog's sweet spots; HubSpot does something similar with their Blog Analytics.

From there, we create a blog editorial calendar with topics that will help us replicate past successes — whether it's due to a post's format, subject matter, title, author, or something else entirely.

2) Surprise people.

… Or make them happy, sad, afraid, angry, even disgusted!

Why? Because, in content, there's a strong relationship between virality and emotion.

While I'm sure disgust or anger aren't really the kinds of reactions you want associated with your brand, that's not exactly the point here. The lesson is that content will be able to market itself if it provokes a strong emotional reaction with the audience. After they consume your content, they'll feel like they have to share it with others so they have the opportunity to feel the same emotion.

Consider what type of content you've read or created that provoked an action, and use this idea to create some seriously emotion-provoking content for your business.

3) Nail your headline.

Shareaholic studied 200,000 publisher websites in October, 2012 and learned that 27.27% of those websites' traffic came from social media referrals.

Meaning, when content is shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms, there's a huge opportunity for it to be discovered by others, as well.

How can you increase the likelihood someone will click a link to your content when a shared link flows down a person's social stream?

Well, what makes you click on a particular link you see shared on social media? Chances are, it's a great headline that catches your attention and earns your click — no matter the subject, a great headline will help a piece of content spread further.

So ... what makes a great headline? It's similar to writing a great subject line for email marketing. Think about these four U's in regards to your subject lines and headlines:

  • Useful: Why is the blog post valuable?
  • Ultra-specific: What can I expect to learn from the blog post?
  • Unique: Why is this blog post compelling and unique?
  • Urgent: Why should I read this now?

Be sure to incorporate all four of these qualities in every headline that you write so your audience will want to share your content across social media.

4) Show don't tell.

Today's social media platforms reward visual content. This should be a major element of your content strategy, especially since visuals are proven to increase shares and engagement.

Whether it's unique photos, graphic design content, or branding visuals that you share via blog, site page, email, social media, etc., visuals will help you increase conversions while offering an engaging and appealing presentation of your content.

Not to mention, these days you don't need to be a designer to create and share professional-looking visuals. In fact, there are plenty of design tools on the market for people with any level of design knowledge.

5) Enable your blog to market your content.

More social media referral traffic coming to your site means more new visitors arriving via that content for the very first time.

However, that also means these new visitors don't know much about you yet — you need to capture their interest and gain their trust before they're ready to become evangelists of your content, too.

Consider how you can use your blog's real estate to improve the presentation of your content and offer further content recommendations that will earn new visitors' attention and loyalty.

For example, a personalized content-recommendations tool, like Shareaholic Recommendations, suggests additional articles at the bottom of every post. The tool contextually tailors recommendations to increase page views, time-on-site, and engagement.

This might also be known as "Related Articles", similar to what HubSpot offers at the very bottom of blog posts:

related blog articles example

Source

In addition to recommendation widgets, there are, of course, the social follow and sharing buttons and modules that every single blog should have.

It's critical that you make it easy for readers to share your content on social media, and get access to more of your great content from following you on social media.

I mean, have you every tried to tweet an article that didn't have a tweet button? It's a total pain: 1) copy a URL, 2) open another tab, 3) go to a link shortener, 4) paste that link, 5) click the shorten button, 6) copy that link, 7) go to their Twitter account, 8) paste that link in there, 9) look up the Twitter handle of the publisher, 10) and then add custom copy for the tweet.

I'm exhausted just typing it out. Make life easier on your readers, and they'll do a lot of the marketing of your content for you.

Finally, make sure you're making blog subscription easy. Your blog should have a customized CTA so people can choose to "Subscribe" and receive email alerts when you publish new content.

What better way to drive email traffic to your content without lifting a finger (except for the finger you use to press "Publish", of course) than growing a giant base of blog subscribers?

6) Don't forget about search engine optimization (SEO).

Every time you publish a blog post, you create a new page on your site that's being indexed in the search engine results page (SERP). At that point, Google is marketing your content for you. For free. Forever.

The act of blogging alone inherently helps you market your content — but if you pay attention to SEO, you can make self-marketing content even stronger than it already is. That means you should be including keyword research in your content strategy and optimizing your blog content to surface more frequently SERPs.

And you know what? It totally works, too — the blog content that speaks to people's needs (particularly needs that express themselves in long-tail keyword phrases that you write blog posts around) will continue to drive traffic month after month — new traffic that has the potential to convert into qualified leads. All because you wrote (or updated) and optimized a blog post months, or even years, ago!

Editor's note: This post was originally published in December, 2012 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.



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