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Here is a Method for Writing Content People Want to Share

If you’re a blogger, you want to write content that people want to share. Admit it. You do. Why else are you blogging on a public platform?

Sharing Blog ContentI recently decided to experiment. I set out to write a blog post that people will want to share with others; I set out to write the most popular blog post on this blog to date.

The result was “12 Rules to Increase Your Klout Score“.

At the time of me writing this, that post has 159 Twitter Shares, 29 Likes on Facebook, 77 Shares on LinkedIn and 28 Google+ shares. It is also the 4th most commented-on post on this blog.

Sure, these aren’t ProBlogger or CopyBlogger numbers in terms of shares. But you know what? I’m not ProBlogger or CoppyBlogger. Most people aren’t. And I think most bloggers would be more than happy to have 159 Tweets about their post. (Keep in mind that I do not know how accurate the actual stats are from the Sharebar, but that is what I’ll go with it).

So here is a break down of how I went about creating a blog post that people wanted to share:

1. Pick a Hot Topic

The first step in picking a shareable topic is to pick a hot or trending one.

I decided to go with the topic of increasing Klout score. I noticed there were a lot of people chattering about it on Twitter and thought “looks like now’s a good time to post something about it.”

Finding hot topics isn’t very hard. Here is a short list of places to find topics that are trending (I originally shared this list during my last experiment write-up here):

Twitter Search – Check out the trending topics on Twitter.
Facebook – Are your friends talking? Do they all share a common theme in their statuses? That’s how I found out about Macho.
Google Trends – Check out the hot search items on Google on a daily basis.
Digg Top News – Filter by top news, then most recent. See what’s trending right now.
Alexa – Sure the rank might be worthless, but they do show “Hot Topics” right on the front page.
Technorati – Check out the hottest blogosphere items.

The topic I picked came from Twitter. This may be why I saw an initial insurgence of Twitter shares (more so than any other network).

2. Solve a Problem

The second part of picking a shareable topic is to pick one where you can actually help people solve a problem or achieve something. In this case the post outlined how people could achieve a higher Klout score.

While cute cats may be trending on Twitter (aren’t they always trending somewhere?), they don’t make for a very good problem-solving blog post. And while, yes, a cute cat has a good chance of going viral, you’ll probably feel better about getting comments thanking you for quality information rather than comments saying “Haha, Dude! That was so funny I just dropped my bong!”

You’ll also have a lot more competition for cute cats than you will for actually helping people find valuable information (go figure!).

Speaking of which…

3. Pick a Keyword

I know you don’t want to hear this, but you should probably do a little bit of keyword research.

You can always use a free tool like Google Keyword Tool. But I prefer Market Samurai because you can get more research done faster, quickly customize filters and run some competition reports (which is always important). And, since I already own it, why not use it?

By the way, yes that’s an affiliate link. And I’m their affiliate because I love the software. Sometimes I go on there just for fun to play around with it. Plus if you buy their product you can also become an affiliate (win-win-win!). So give it a free trial now and see how you like it (no obligations!).

So when writing the post I had to decide what to focus on: “improve klout score”, “increase klout score”, etc. After doing the research I decided to go with “increase klout score” because it received more searches (and more searches is potentially more traffic!).

4. Post Slug vs Title

The post slug (that’s the part of the URL after the forward slash: www.domain.com/post-slug) should reflect your keyword. One of the marvels of WordPress is that you can have a blog post title that is different from your post slug.

For that specific post, my post slug is “increase-klout-score” because those were the keywords I wanted to focus on. The title, on the other hand, is “12 Rules to Increase Your Klout Score.”

Your post slug should be geared towards SEO, while your title should be geared more towards the reader (who wants to read a post titled “Increase Klout Score” ?). Keep in mind, however, that the title includes the keywords as well.

But that brings us to a different topic…

5. Post Title

As I mentioned in the previous section, your post title should be geared for the reader. It should prepare the reader for the journey they are about to embark on by telling them what they are going to read about.

A good place to start for some good title ideas is Brian Clark’s 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work.

I consciously used “Your” in the title to show that this post will be about helping the reader, and that the reader can benefit from it. I also told the reader how they will benefit (increased Klout score).

The post title also included the word “Rules.” While the 12 actions I listed aren’t necessarily “rules” per se (Klout won’t kick you out if you don’t do these), it displays a level of authority to introduce the post.

The fact that I included the number of “rules” in the post title is no fluke either. By telling the reader how many “rules” they have to go through before the post is over tells them that there is an end. The post is finite. It’s easier psychologically.

Which brings us to the actual content…

6. Post Content

I chose to go with a list format for the content. Like I said, it gives a dimension of finiteness (yes, that’s a word) to the post. It is also easier to read because it breaks the post up into sections.

You do not have to go with the list format, but you should still break the post up into sections that make it easier on the eye and make it easier for the reader to skim the post if they so chose. Let’s face it, most people don’t read every single word in detail, which also means you shouldn’t write essay-long paragraphs.

7. Shareability

I talked about this in the Klout post (what a coinkidink), but you need to make it easy for the reader to actually share your content if you want them to…*drum rolls*…share it.

As I say in that post:

Provide social buttons in convenient places. I have social sharing buttons before the content, after the content, and a Sharebar stalking you all the way down the page…staring at you…making you uncomfortable about not sharing (so ease your nerves by clicking it now!).

I personally use the 1-click Retweet/Share/Like plugin.

8. Mention Others

Reciprocity is often at play in the blogosphere. If you mention someone in a post, they are much more likely to tell their followers that they have just been mentioned.

Mentioning people with large followings increases the chance of your blog post getting more views, and more shares.

But don’t mention others just to mention them. Make sure it is appropriate and on-topic.

9. Utilize Your List

If you haven’t started building your e-mail list, you need to get on that ASAP. Like now. Well, maybe finish reading this post first, signup for my list (at the sidebar or end of this post), share the article with your friends, and then get to list building.

I’ve tried some free alternatives before but using a service like MailChimp or AWeber makes a world of difference (MailChimp also has a free option).

Once your post is live and ready to go share it with your email list to let them know you have this awesome new post that they probably want to read.

10. Get Social

Don’t wait for everyone else to share your post. Start the sharing process yourself. Don’t limit yourself to just Facebook and Twitter.

A very under-utilized social networking tool for bloggers is LinkedIn groups. Find groups that are related to the general topic of your blog and join them. Share the post in these groups. I had a pretty decent response from this tactic.

I also used SocialAdr to get my post bookmarked on social bookmarking sites.

11. Use a Bonus Rule

Ask people to share! The bonus rule is a good tactic because it adds a bit of humor to the fact that you are asking the reader to do something for you. But if they’ve gotten all the way through to the bonus rule, they probably enjoyed your post anyway, right?

You don’t have to implement a “bonus rule”, but you should ask the reader to share the content if you want them to (by the way, I would love it if you shared this post!).

12. Bonus (No, Not the “Bonus Rule”, an Actual Bonus!) Here’s What I Missed…

This really is a bonus for you because it is something I did not implement and only realized I should have after the fact.

It’s not too late to go back and change it now I suppose. But that would defeat the purpose of the experiment, wouldn’t it?

Using hash-tags in your post title (compliments of Paul Wolfe) can increase the reach of your blog post (at least on Twitter) by tagging it with a topic (in this case one that is popular).

So from the Klout post example…

Instead of “12 Rules to Increase Your Klout Score” I should have titled the post “12 Rules to Increase Your #Klout Score.”

Then, every time someone shared the post on Twitter, they also joined the general Twitter discussion about Klout, thus increasing the audience reach.

13. Value and Effort

You have to provide real value to your readers in order for them to reciprocate by sharing your post with their friends and followers.

They are coming to you for answers. You job is to make their life easier by answering the questions they have and shouldering all of the hard work. This takes a lot of time, research and effort. To write the most value-packed post on your blog, chances are you’re going to spend the most time.

The Result

A “shareable” post results in more traffic to your site.

For me it also resulted in more shares of older content because readers would stop by, like the post, and check out what else I had to offer. That means lower bounce rate.

Having a lot of shares also results in higher search engine rankings for your keyword. If you’re telling me that Google isn’t putting more emphasis on the social side of the internet then I’m not listening.

 

If you enjoyed this post please share it with your friends. I made it easy for you - there’s share buttons all over the place! Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog RSS updates or RSS email updates, and get your free copy of Bursting With Bloggers – the interview series – by signing up below!

 

Your Two Cents:

What is the most popular post on your blog? How many times has it been shared? Did you employ any of these tactics when you wrote that post? Did you do it consciously? Did you find it hard to replicate the success of that post? Does more shares also mean more comments?

50 Responses to Here is a Method for Writing Content People Want to Share

  1. Adrienne says:

    That’s a really great outline Eugene and from the statistics you had from your Klout post, I think you did really well. I’m very impressed. Now I just have to come up with one myself and see if I can’t come close to getting the same type of results you have.

    I appreciate you making an outline so to speak of exactly the steps we need to take. This will make things a lot easier. So, am bookmarking this post for sure and sharing the heck out of it.

    Thanks again Eugene…

    Adrienne

    • Eugene says:

      Thanks Adrienne, I’m glad you liked the post. And really appreciate the “sharing the heck out of it” :). I didn’t realize this outline was going to be so long when I sat down to write it!

  2. All-you-need article for your blog post to get viral! Great job in writing this Eugene. As I read from top to bottom, I thought the content was endless :) Every method is helpful. I also notice that the ideas are organized – from the topic, then title, to content and etc..

    Thank you so much for sharing this one!

    • Eugene says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. “Content was endless”…yeah…that’s the way I felt when I was writing this thing :).

  3. Jk Allen says:

    Hey Eugene,

    I always appreciate when people share my work. It’s a kind gesture considering people don’t have to do it.

    I’ve never written a blog for the purpose of it being shared. Nor have I paid much attention into my post’s share-ability.

    But sharing comes with a benefit; expanding the audience. We all (bloggers) want/need an audience.

    Great tips man.
    Thanks!

    • Eugene says:

      I’ve never really wrote a blog post for the purpose of it being shared before either. It was sort of a one-off experiment. Glad I did it though. Even if you don’t set out to write “shareable” posts every time I think there’s some takeaway from the experiment that can be applied to any post…like you said, audience is important for any blogger.

  4. I find that if you are in a make money blogging or internet marketing niche it will get a lot more likes, tweets, and google + then articles get in my niches, which have nothing to do with making money. I just think that internet marketers use it to make relationships with each other and share content but the people reading other types of blogs such as dog grooming, might not know to or care to share the info.

    • Eugene says:

      That’s probably true. The blogging, make money online and tech readers are a lot more savvy and share more. And if the sharing is just to build relationships, well then good :). That’s still important, right?

  5. Hi Eugene,

    I remember your post about Klout. I had to read it, and I wasn’t even using Klout, and I don’t think that I even knew what Klout was all about. The reason I wanted to read it, was because I had seen Klout mentioned everywhere. And I sort of knew that it was a hot topic – and I wanted you to explain to me what it was :)

    How much time did you spend writing it, and did you know that it was going to be that popular?

    I usually don’t spend more than 1 hour writing my blog posts, but I have thought that I should spend 3-4 hours writing a blog post, and do some detailed research, to see if it will make a huge difference (I’ve been listening to Tristan at BloggingBookshelf).

    Thanks a lot for sharing this advice.

    Jens

    • Eugene says:

      It definitely took me a while to write. The Klout post aligned more with what Tristan was talking about than most of my posts (although this one took me forever to write too :)).

      I didn’t necessarily know that it would be popular, but I had a hunch that it might be and decided to experiment to see if I was right.

  6. Benny says:

    That’s fantastic you had so many tweets and shares for that post. It’s definitely something people have been wanting to know more about.

    As for my most popular post, well it’s a post that I didn’t think would be so popular. I really liked it but had no idea it would be shared so many times. It’s my 34 Lessons in 34 Years post. Tweeted 95 times, liked on FB 163, and G+ 12.

    It was my homework to recycle a proven viral post. So that’s what I did. Manvsdebt.com did this post and it went viral. The timing was perfect cause it was my birthday. But I didn’t know my lessons would inspire so many people. I still get comments and retweets on it and I wrote almost a month ago. Today a lady wrote it made her teary eyed!

    Does more shares mean more comments? Yeah I think so because I got many people who aren’t regulars commenting on that post.

    Liking the new look here!

    • Eugene says:

      I remember that post…looks like you did a good job recycling :).

      Doesn’t it make you feel great when you get a comment like that? I got an e-mail from a reader after I posted my death-related article that was very touching.

      I’m still tinkering with the look, trying to figure out something I want to stick with. I switched over to Headway and I’m loving it!

  7. Riley says:

    This is a great list Eugene. Things are a lot easier when we know the steps. I like Market Samurai as well. It helps me avoid too broad keywords. I like the data it provides as well, it is easy to understand and provides me with enough info to decide which keyword to use.

    • Eugene says:

      Market Samurai is absolutely awesome. I seriously go on there sometime just to play around and maybe write down some ideas for future projects. It makes the research so much easier.

  8. This is an inspiring post on providing awesome contents on our blog. I have just shared it because I love what this article is all about…Thanks a lot for this :)

  9. Great tips, Eugene! I’d thought of some of these before, of course, but seeing all of them together like this there are definitely some new ideas here that I hadn’t considered before! Thanks for laying all of them out here, it was really easy to understand for a newbie like me. :)

  10. Eugene,

    Thanks for coming up with this fresh post. I’ve read dozens of these, and they all share the same hashed out obvious points.

    You shared some excellent resources I’ll need to check out for my own blog.

    Thanks and hope to be back often,

    Bryce

    • Eugene says:

      I hope you come back often as well Bryce :). I didn’t want to put the same old post out there, and the way to do that is to experiment and to write about your own experiences. I’m glad you enjoyed the post (took me forever to write! :)).

  11. SandyMc says:

    Hi Eugene, this is a great article thank you. Just as pleasing is the trail that led me to it, through at least four seemingly unrelated connections. Got to love online don’t you!

    I am going to challenge myself to do as you have done. And will report back. Perhaps all you folk commenting should do the same. It would certainly keep this post live and getting a lot more sharing.

    • Eugene says:

      Four unrelated connections lead you here? Alright! That’s what I like to hear! :)

      That challenge is actually a great idea. I hope you come back and share your experience, or at least drop a link to your post.

  12. Vernon says:

    Thank you for the tips and advices for writing some article to be shared. I really appreciate this because i’m a newbie i making this stuff.

  13. I was brought here by one of your readers who shared! How cool is that?!

    I just recycled an older post this week with no intention of making it viral, and already the site traffic has been double what I normally get – plus lots of tweets and shares on FB. It’s funny how that happens when you’re not trying. I think the key to this one was that it was a true story. Drama and emotion are definitely good ingredients to aim for.

    (By the way, I tweeted your post, too.)

    • Eugene says:

      Cool is an understatement! I love to hear that!

      That’s another good ingredient to add to the mix. Personal stories are often very popular (i.e. Benny’s birthday post from his comment).

      Thanks for tweeting it out! I appreciate the share!

  14. Eugene says:

    Hey Jonathan, thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment. I think having a method for anything is a good idea…makes things more routine. I don’t necessarily plan on aiming for having my posts shared a lot in the future (i.e. looking for trending topics to write about), but I think a lot of the other takeaways can be used in any post.

  15. James H says:

    what do you say, do you still think that the title should be controversial so that it generates immediate attention, coz i have seen most of the SEO guys indulge into this type of practice..

    • Eugene says:

      I think a title should definitely be attention grabbing. This one probably caught the attention of people trying to learn about Klout since that seemed to be a hot topic at the moment. Not sure what benefit a “controversial” title would have for SEO purposes. If you’re just focused on SEO you should base your title and slug around keywords.

  16. Great tips here man.
    WIth #12 you can actually configure the various Twitter plugins to add specific hashtags to words etc. This way you dont have to messy up the title. Another good tip with this is when a guest poster contributes, edit the Tweet to include their @twitter name so that they then get notified of RTs and take care of not only engaging your readers through that channel but it also encourages them to promote their post more – meaning more traffic for all.

    I think it really comes down to writing epic shit. I average about 400 visitors a day but the times when I have published a kick arse post has seen that go up to 1000 visits.**

    **now that I think about it, bloggers are quick. The day I post the content is the day I get the spike – then it goes back to normal quick.

    Bloggers have short attention sp… ooooh a pop up, gotta go.

    ;)

    (side note – you are NOT making me register before Commluv shows me my last ten post titles?!? Son of a .. YOU ARE?!?! Eugene Eugene Eugene. tsk tsk. ;) )

    • Eugene says:

      Those are some great tips. I haven’t thought to get that advanced with the Twitter plugins…I’ll definitely have to take a look at it.

      Bloggers are really quick aren’t they? I notice spikes on days when I post too. Quick little buggers :).

      Haha…I literally JUST updated from the old version of CommLuv and left it alone. Probably a default setting I have to change.

  17. Eugene! What’s up my broda!

    Hey man I read this post the other day but did not get a chance to comment on it because the Starbucks I was in at the time, was closing down for the day.

    (Having to do all my business running and blog reading from Starbucks since I don’t have an Internet set up at my new place yet. UVerse won;t be able to set it up for me until AUg 30th! Can you believe that!?)

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that the Klout post you wrote was definitely an great post! I think one of the other things that made this post so awesome was the fact that not many people now about Klout, yet you made the MASSIVE CLAIM or ARGUMENT that some people were even not getting hired because their KLOUT score was not high enough.

    This all tied into the kind of roll that social media has the power of playing and in an economy where there are more job hunters then there are jobs, people definitely felt compelled to share it and run to get on Klout ( i know I did. – Not because I wanted I job bus just because I wanted to know what all the buzz was about)

    Anyway, I just wanted to share this logic and reasoning with you because although you did a great job explaining the method t your madness of producing an awesome post, I think the psychology of why your post was so effective went a little deeper.

    You may have even done this subconsciously and not even noticed (or maybe you even did this on purpose, who know’s ;) ) either way, it was an awesome post!

    • Eugene says:

      Dude, don’t get me started with UVerse. It…is…AWFUL!

      I wish I could take credit for that psychology portion of it, but it must have all been subconscious :).

      I read examples of people getting turned down for jobs on Mark Schaefer’s blog and was in shock to read it.

      I felt compelled to write a post explaining how to game Klout…and I guess people felt compelled to share :).

      Thanks for stopping by as always Hector, really appreciate the support!

  18. Eugene says:

    You’re very welcome Diana :).

    Klout is pretty cool. I like being a part of it and watching my score grow. But in no way, shape, or form should that score ever be used for hiring decisions!

    Oh well…

  19. kasser says:

    good and nice info

    thank you very much for the good post

  20. What works for me is picking a controversial topic, i’ll give an example that comes to mind: the events from 9/11, and trying to bring something new to it, preferably as shocking as possible, so that people will want to share it. Usually works. If all you write about is boring topics, people won’t bother.

    You have a great method there, just a little too complex for my taste.

    • Eugene says:

      I’d be lying if I told you that I implement this method every time I wrote. FAR from it. This is more of a business model approach to writing content. Do you use the “controversy” method on a site you are making $ from?

  21. Another great article, Eugene. Definitely helps to know what kind of information people want then work from there. Also I think using controversial topics can help get people interested, it might be a bit risky but can pay off well. But most of all, an amazing content always gets shared, no matter what. Never fails, and it never will.

    • Eugene says:

      Agreed Robert, it’s all about quality. Controversy can work, but there’s only so much of it you can use. Quality is always a good default to go to.

  22. Eugene says:

    Thanks Lisa.

  23. Eugene says:

    Exactly. Make it as easy for the reader to share as possible, and they are more likely to do it.

  24. Your article really make sense. I’m satisfy by the way you brought out ideas. keep on posting!

  25. Those stuff that people want to share would be the trending and entertaining ones, and those instructional ones. About the post title: there’s one pattern that you can follow. [number] [optional adjective] [noun] [sticky message]. Here’s an example: 101 awesome ways to write blog posts.