There are a lot of rules out there when it comes to writing. Everyone seems to have different opinions on what readers want and what defines “good” content. By today’s standards, good content is content that garners the most views – content that goes viral. The more shares or clicks/views a post receives the better or more important we deem it to be. Clicks are not the gatekeeper of quality, shares are.
To get content shared, I have always asked myself, “Would I share this?” If the answer is no, then I wouldn’t pursue that topic or angle. However, the more I have learned about audience insights + consumer behavior through my graduate program, the more I have decided this question may be too narrow.
Working in marketing + content creation, I have a much higher standard for what I will share on my networks. I consider the source of the article, relevancy of the topic, and if sharing that post fits within the personal brand I am trying to portray. Because I am more scrupulous than an everyday person when it comes to sharing content, I have started to consider a new question: Who might share this + why? By asking myself this question, I determine what value the content may bring + to whom. If that whom is not my target audience, I consider a new angle that might attract them.
Understanding why people share content is important to the writing process. If the content isn’t giving them a reason to share it, then it will not be successful. We Are Social says there are 5 main reasons people share content:
- To bring value or entertainment to others
- To define ourselves to others
- To grow + nourish our relationships
- To get the word out about a cause or brand
By thinking about these factors when I writing, I can create better + more meaningful content. If the article doesn’t appeal to my target demographic in one of the above ways, then I am essentially wasting my time + effort. I want to create content that matters to the audience that matters to me. There are of course many other factors to encourage shares such as distribution, partnerships, etc. but at the end of the day, if the content doesn’t speak to your audience, the views + shares will just not occur.
If you want to dive deeper into the why of sharing, I suggest you download this study on the topic by the New York Times. It makes for an interesting read.