Create Content That Gets More Shares On Social Media

Create Content That Gets More Shares On Social Media
Social media plays a big factor in online marketing. If you want your website to rank you need well written, engaging content. Good content is more important than an article overloaded with keywords.

Remember that.

It all boils down to two key aspects, call them your recipe for success. You need: 1) good content; and 2) social signals. In other words, people need to be reading and sharing your content.

Understand what slows a reader down

Throughout the 1930’s and 40’s there was a plethora of research on readability in the US to determine the most common reading level among the American population. The science behind these reading levels is a bit too extensive to include in this article, but the general consensus was that 8th-grade reading level was average among Americans.

In 1947 Donald Murphy conducted a study on how to make texts easier to read. He found that reducing the reading level from 9th to 6th on various articles caused a remarkable increase in people who read articles all the way through. (E.g., a 43% increase in an article about nylon and 60% increase in an article about corn).

A similar study conducted by Wilber Schramm showed that an article nine paragraphs long would lose three out of ten readers by the 5th paragraph. While a shorter story will lose only two out of ten.

To this day things have not changed much, The National Study of Adult Literacy has released  multiple studies between 1993 and 2008 which have consistently measured average literacy levels at a 7th or 8th level. One of the largest publications, Reader’s Digest (at 12 million subscribers), writes at a reading level of 9th-grade. Newspapers and online publications can range from college to 6th-grade reading levels.

How can I best engage readers?

Due to the increasing number of distractions, it is safe to assume that shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs will better hold our attention than longer ones. Overly complicated grammar and redundant sentences should be avoided as well.

Excessive punctuation is another no-no. Stick to simple commas and periods for the easiest readability. Avoid useless punctuation like semicolons. Some would argue that semicolons are useful to separate two independent clauses; I argue that the same thing can be accomplished with a period. Read that last sentence again and replace the semicolon with a period or comma. Does it read the same? Most people read semicolons the same way they would a period or comma, the only difference is that the semicolon slows them down.

There are probably about 10% of you reading this who wondered why I didn’t use a hyphen in the word semi-colon. It is one of those words that some dictionaries list with a hyphen, some without. I choose not to use the hyphen because I felt that giving it a hyphen would give the word too much unneeded attention, meaning your eyes would be drawn to it before you reached the word in the sentence. Yet another thing to be avoided in order to create better readability.

Break your reading up into easy to read chunks. As an example you can take a look at this article here. Observe how each section contains around three to four paragraphs and is clearly marked with a header.

Look at the paragraphs themselves and observe how large they are. Most are no bigger than an inch. Each paragraph break is carefully chosen depending on the flow of the subject matter. Every new idea is a new paragraph and sentence size is generally small.

This is all done for you, the reader, to reduce what’s called “fatigue in reading”, which is another factor in the science of readability. Longer paragraphs, sentences, or words you are not familiar with will increase your fatigue and cause your attention to drift. If you want readers to be engaged and share your writing, keep things short and to the point.

Encourage shares on social media with buttons and special “tricks”

You could follow every one of the tips suggested in this article to increase readability and it is likely that those that find it will read it. But if that same article has no buttons for Facebook likes, tweet mentions, and +1s – no one will share it! Your chances of someone copy and pasting your link to their feed are significantly lower than someone clicking on a like button.

Twitter is one of the best social media platforms to focus on when aiming for sharable posts. But in order to capitalize on it be sure to use it correctly. Embedding thought provoking sentences in your article as a tweetable quote can really help your readability. As readers tweet the quote, traffic will be generated to the article from twitter.

In addition to these tricks there is one more super secret method that is guaranteed to get you the most social media shares.

Social Content Locker

I decided to let you slide on having to share the post to see the rest (however, if you’ve found it helpful a share would be most appreciated).

Content lockers may not be a secret and they’re certainly not guaranteed to get you more social media shares than other methods. Used properly however, they might.

In order to use content lockers most effectively it is important to begin with an interesting title and amazing introduction. Give them a few spoon fulls, enough to make them want to read the entire article, the content locker will block the last half or so of the post. Sharing the content on social media is the only way to unlock the rest.

Just be sure that you are rewarding your readers with good content when using the content locker. Don’t do anything that will make them regret their decision and “unlike” the content. Pretty sure bribing or tricking your readers into sharing like I might have done is a punishable offense, or at least is should be.

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Post Written by
Greg Middlesworth is the owner of URLjet.

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