In the past two years, many large media properties have begun focusing on delivering “sharable” content — articles aimed at increasing links in social media. This is somewhat in contrast to a common strategy of the previous years: creating “searchable” content, aimed at increasing an article’s presence in search.
However, in spite of the emphasis, the technique is the same: The goal is to get audience members to spread links around the Net, but rather than focusing on a rather small coterie of bloggers and site owners whose sites have heavy impact on search, the current strategy is to expand link-building efforts to include every member of the audience.
As Facebook surpasses the billion-user mark and Twitter becomes the general public’s go-to time-filler, creating sharable content is a very pragmatic move.
So, how do you create sharable content?
NPR recently published a presentation on their philosophy of sharable content, based on their most-shared content from February 2012. The powerpoint lists a few headlines, with their defining characteristics. According to NPR, the most sharable stories fall in two main categories: news of the weird, and controversial serious news. Here are two examples:
Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides for 80 Years
This story (about a newly discovered bug) was described as Funny, Quirky, Intriguing, Strange, Unbelievable, Unexpected, and Relevant
In Reversal, Komen To Continue Funding Planned Parenthood
This, the most shared story, was characterized as Newsy, Relevant, Controversial, and Compelling
NPR’s final analysis was that lists did well, as did rich, packaged content, complete with scannable text, subheds, block quotes, links, and photos.
Above all, the most sharable content was original, exclusive content with strong headlines that evoked powerful emotions.
In a nutshell, the secret to writing sharable content is the secret to writing searchable content is the secret to writing anything.
Write with concision and clarity. Seek out the newsworthy and unusual. Don’t shy from controversy. Don’t ignore your emotions.
NPR via Slideshare (where you can view the entire PowerPoint)