Back in the good, old days you only need to write awesome content and somehow, some way traffic will appear. Ten to fifteen years ago the whole idea of “build it and they will come” actually worked. You only need to be a good writer and you can make serious money off your website. Fast forward to today, you can be the best writer in the world and you can write about topics that really touch people’s lives and add value to their lives; you can go through all sorts of hoops coming up with the very best content.
The problem is if that content doesn’t get shared chances are very high that you will not make money off your website. That’s the bottom line. That’s the harsh modern reality you have to deal with. If you are thinking of making money online through content or through online publishing initiatives, you need to listen up.
You need to focus on writing engaging content that has to jump through several hoops. First, the content has to be engaging enough for people to want to read it. Second, the content has to get people to share that material on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
Finally, that content should be so engaging that it pushes the reader further down the sales process. The sales process as any veteran online marketer knows is the know-like-trust process. For somebody to buy from you they must first trust you. However, for them to trust you they must first like your brand. In turn for them to like your brand they must first feel that they know enough about you.
Truly engaging content pushes people down the know-like-trust process. Crappy content just sits there. It’s nice to look at. There are some factoids you can pick up. It’s engaging at some level, but it really doesn’t do anything. If you are serious about making money online, your definition of engaging content must focus ultimately on conversion. If that piece of content doesn’t get you closer to the point where somebody whips out their credit card and does something to put dollars in your pocket then you’re just wasting your time with that content. You need to rewrite that content until you come up with engaging content.
You need your stuff shared
The problem with social media content is that this stuff is not going to happen automatically. Your content won’t get shared by accident. It’s not like somebody is waiting to click on that like or share button. It doesn’t happen that way. There has to be something in the content itself that engages people in a purely emotional level for them to get off the fence and share the content. The good news is that people are actually willing and eager to share your stuff. You know when somebody’s on Facebook they want to look like a hero in front of their friends. They want to be the first person in their circle of friends to come across a certain type of content. You just need to make that person’s job easier. You need to first attract the right kind of eyeballs and be exciting enough for that person to feel that they would get some sort of emotional pay off by sharing your content.
There is no such thing as viral content
I’m sorry to break this to you, but there is no such thing as viral content. While content with emotional triggers are important the content in of itself is not what makes a piece of content viral. What makes a piece of content viral is the network. In other words, if you get a piece of content in front of the eyeballs of a very influential person, chances are this content will travel much farther and wider than if you got it in front of thousands of people who have no friends online. Do you see how all this works out? It’s all about appealing to the needs of influence leaders in your niche. If you don’t play the game that way chances are your content won’t gain much traction. How do you make this happen?
Focus on viral needs
You have to remember that truly influential people have certain set of needs. The list is very long, but if I was going to boil them down to one thing. It really all boils down to looking like a hero. People will share stuff on Facebook because they feel that when they share this material it makes them look good in front of the people that they’re trying to impress. Fair enough, right? So your job is to position your content in such a way that it tells the person, in no uncertain terms, that if they share your content they would look more authoritative, they would look smarter and they would otherwise increase their social stock with the people following them or the people that they’re trying to impress.
Create a sense of emotional urgency
One of the most powerful ways to gain the attention of influence leaders consuming your content is to create a sense of emotional urgency. Appeal to fear, appeal to curiosity. Regardless of what you do there has to be a strong, palpable emotional push. If your content just lies there and basically tells the person, “Hey, this is important content but you don’t have to share it if you don’t want to”. Then your content is just going to remain flat. You need to share your content with influential social media users and pack it with emotional triggers. It’s not going to happen overnight.
Learn from social media engagement
To ensure that you figure out the social sharing emotional triggers of the influence leaders you’re sharing content with you need to engage with them. You need to figure out their hot buttons. You need to learn how they actually engage with your content by looking at your site statistics. By putting all these different data points together you can come up with an evolutionary process where you continuously fine tune your messaging and your articles until you get a lot of clicks.
Once you get a lot of clicks then you need to pay attention to how widely you get shared. Again, it’s not going to happen overnight but as long as you’re paying attention to the right data points the picture will become clear. You will be able to see how these different data points fit each other and you can craft a more effective viral content strategy.
The worst thing that you can do is to try once and assume that you’ve perfected it just because people share your stuff. That’s the wrong way to play the game. Instead you need to look at the whole picture and come up with variations of your content and see which elements play a tremendous role in how far your content goes. If you get upon one particular element that almost ensures that your materials will go viral then you need to move on to the next element and fine tune that.
At the end of the process you should be able to come up with some sort of formula where you have a high likelihood that, regardless of the content that you produce, your content will be shared by the right people. In other words, you’ve reached a point where your materials will predictably go viral in your niche.