In this cut-throat competitive marketing world, “content” is not enough. The focus needs to shift from creating great content to putting it on fire.
The secret to great writing is great reading material. The test for great reading material is its ‘shareability’ and comments.
Writing today is however fun with technology enabling engagement thereby aiding mutual growth. The online world thrives on shares – the more the better. In this article, I share my learnings as a publisher and content evangelist on what makes a content piece go viral.
The golden rule is to play it like a game – You need to go two steps further. Your direct audience just becomes a channel. You do not write for your audience but for your audience’s audience – user generated content gone minimal! Like a follow through on your swing in golf, it is self-sustaining and effortless. You don’t waste people’s time. You get retweets, shares, forwards and what have you.
All writing therefore needs to pass through a self-replication index test. Does it lend itself to the share-worthiness test of easy copying. What is true for human genes is true for human memes. You have to appeal to the re-tweeter’s need to appear funny or intelligent or informed or whatever. The power of content is what the reader imagines about the content.
What makes stuff share-worthy is relevancy, timeliness and interest quotient of content. Everything flows from there. Relevancy needs to address speaking to personal interest, addressing a broad demographic and telling a story of change. Every great story is a story of change. Sounding enthusiastic helps and so does using quotations which are succinctly stated and perfectly contained ideas. A great quote can convey a complex concept in just a few words, and in an age of information-overload, this is extremely useful obviously – to cut through.
Other things help too– the platform, your network, right headline, perfect photograph, etc
Purists can lament the art v/s content debate – original thought v/s an inspired copy-paste patchwork with list of hyperlinks or hashtags, lasting v/s momentary appeal, niche v/s mass, quality v/s quantity, etc.
Writing creatively has to be for personal satisfaction but coloring it right for search engines needs to be developed as a skill.
Tell a story therefore but don’t tell it too prose!
Those who succeed – the best of them – are able to achieve a healthy balance between both. In short, what sells may be more of commercial movie than art.