Writer | Marketer | Creative

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Want to Create Shareable Content That Converts? Do This


I'm baffled.

The world I spend my days in - that many of you spend your days in - is all about creating. Creating for ourselves, sure, but more importantly creating for others.

We write articles, take pictures, film videos, build works of art, run campaigns, all with the intent of providing value for others so that they'll exchange whatever currency is relevant, be it shares, follows, referrals, or actual dollars.

But what in the world is the recipe for creating something that will be deemed valuable every time?

There's keyword audit tools, so that you can see what people are searching for (Googling) in your space, and then tailor content based on what people are searching for. In my experience, this is great for headlines, maybe a few bullet points, but really gives no indication of what people will enjoy enough to exchange their currency with you.

Headlines obviously work well for getting clicks, something catchy that instantly creates a bit of tension within the viewer. But headlines don't dictate engagement, and certainly aren't a great indicator of conversions. What converts?

You've got to create an emotion in viewers, but how? In what way? How do you create in such a way that the consumer can immediately connect with your work so that they want to share it? So that they want to post it on Facebook or email it to a coworker, saying "I can identify with this, and I want others to know about it"?

That's the million dollar question! Some days I'll create content that I feel is as good as flaming bullpoop, and it will take off. Other days, I'll release a piece that I think is fantastic, and get nothing. Perhaps I'm just terrible at this! A great case study: My biggest hit in a while has been Want to Be Successful? Emulate the Most Boring Person You Know.

From scripting the first word to publishing, I spent maybe two hours on it. I thought it was garbage. But then people began clicking on it, and "liking" it, and sharing it, and telling me how much they identified with it. Within a few days, it had taken off!

When I sat down to write that piece, of course I intended to create something great. That's what we all do! But I thought I'd failed miserably. Unintentionally, I created something that my audience could easily relate to. I could be abysmally wrong here, but in analyzing that piece, I think I know a few characteristics that helped it spread like wildfire.

The title starts with a question. Questions make people hesitate, however briefly, instead of scrolling on through the rest of their feed. It was also an obvious question. Everyone wants to be successful in their own way. Duh. But then the rest of the title is entirely unexpected.

Typically, when you see a "Be Better" headline, it calls you to do something drastic or elaborate. This did the very opposite. It told you to be boring. Now people are curious.

Want to Be Successful? is a very short piece, maybe 400 words. It's concise. I'm not having to fight for attention, because there's barely enough time to get distracted.

The article praises those who spend their free time honing their craft - whatever that craft might be. This is directly relatable for my target audience, other young professionals trying to get ahead in their careers and lives.

These same people have likely been given ridicule for being "boring." In college, for instance, I was often referred to as a hermit because I'd disappear for days to study in my room or the library. This piece offered support in favor of our side of an argument we regularly have about why we don't "get out much."

I don't know that there's any secret sauce to creating shareable content, or content that converts a viewer into a customer. There's so many variables for any piece and any audience.

People do seem to engage better with content that creates a back-and-forth or discussion in their head after only seeing the title, something that piques their curiosity. And people seem to engage well with things they can relate to.

Something that gives them value for what they're trying to do, like new information or resources to do X, while offering the comfort that their current goals, pains, or situations are okay - even good!

People naturally want to improve, and they instinctively search for things they can identify with. Shareable content that converts builds around want people already want.