The Science Behind Making Your Posts Shareable

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This blog post was written by Marcus Taylor, co-author of the book Get Noticed and head of social media at SEOptimise. You can follow Marcus on Twitter here.

I’ve always been fascinated watching what content gets shared by the masses and what doesn’t. I don’t believe in the myth that ‘content is king’, I also don’t believe that it’s the timing of a post, or the credibility of the author that makes or breaks a blog post’s ability to spread like wildfire. In reality, it’s the combination of these factors that intensify a blog post’s likelihood of being amplified in the blogosphere.

If content were king, then great posts wouldn’t go undiscovered every single day. If author credibility was the be all and end all, Chris Brogan would be able to post the lyrics to a Justin Bieber song on his blog and we’d all share it (Chris, please don’t test this…).

Highly shareable blog posts tend to create a compounding effect of sharing, whereby the initial people who read the post share it with their audiences, who then share it with their audiences, and so on. With this in mind, there are just two ways in that we can improve the odds of increasing a post’s ability to be shared:

  1. Increase the rate of readers who share the post
  2. Increase the initial number of readers

These two methods are obviously very broad and each contains a large number of sub-factors that can improve a blog post’s ability to be shared. Before we talk in more detail about what these sub-factors are, lets look at a very simple example:

Blog post A is shared by 1/100 readers

Blog post B is shared by 1/500 readers

In either case, you could increase the initial number of readers, which theoretically could create a compound sharing pattern. However, Blog post A will be five times more shareable than blog post B because there is a higher rate of sharing. Now lets look into how you can increase that rate.

A blog post’s ‘rate of sharing’ has a lot to do with the emotional reaction that is triggered in a reader that makes them want to pass the post along to friends. This ‘need to share’ emotion kicks in when a person feels a noticeable change in thought process or emotion.

What Impact’s a Blog Post’s Emotional Impact?

  • The uniqueness of the post
  • The timing of the post
  • The relevance of the post to the reader
  • The tone / style of the post
  • The angle & idea of the post
  • The intrigue created by the post’s headline
  • The level of trust and credibility of the post (blog design, author reputation, accuracy of statements, quality of writing).

In almost all cases, any blog post can be made more likely to be shared by making it more unique, better timed, more relevant to the probable audience, more trustworthy, more intriguing and better written.

However, a blog post can also be made more likely to be shared by increasing the scale of people initially reached.

What Impacts the Scale of Initial Exposure?

  • The connections & network the author / blog has established
  • The accessibility and ease of sharing the post
  • The budget available to reach a large audience through advertising

In other words, the larger the network of the author, the easier to share the post is, and the more money that is available to advertise the post to a large audience, the more likely a post is to be shared.


Measuring How Shareable Your Blog Post is:

There really is no way to do this accurately as ultimately it would require applying numbers to intensities of emotional reactions, but just for fun I decided to grade this post on each of the factors listed above:

 Factor  Out of 10  Reason
Uniqueness  6 It’s a new methodology, but people have been talking about how to make a post more likely to go shareable for years.
 Timing  5 There are a lot of bloggers looking to write shareable content at the moment so the timing is good, however, it would have been much more powerfully two or three years ago.
 Relevance  9 This is a website read by bloggers looking to promote blog posts and learn blogging tips.
 Tone  5 This is quite hard to self analyze, but I think the tone of the post is probably somewhere in-between good and bad J
 Idea / Angle  6 I think the idea of analysing what makes things go shareable is always a good one!
 Intrigue  4 The title of the post has some level of intrigue to it  but it could be improved.
 Trust  5 This is a well-trusted website
 Network of Author  5 My network is not huge, but with a little bit of help it should be enough to get the ball rolling.
 Ease of Sharing  8 This website is really well designed making it very easy to share content.
 Budget Available  0 I do not intend to pay to advertise this post.
 Total  51/100  

A few things worth noting about this table: first of all, there is no weighting. Everything is scored out of 10 suggesting that every aspect has equal impact, which is not true. Also, the value of doing this table is not to find out exactly what number you end up with, but to spot the areas that you personally feel could do with improvement.

In this case, I felt that the headline of the post was the weakest aspect that would limit the blog post’s likelihood to be shared.

Try it. Write a blog post, grade it on how shareable it is and then see if you can add 25% or 50% extra ‘shareability’ to it using this grading technique.

Image Credit: furiousgeorge81