How to create shareable content and capitalize on hot topics

How to create shareable content and capitalize on hot topics

8 minute read

How to create shareable content and capitalize on hot topics

8 minute read

How to create shareable content and capitalize on hot topics

Nia Gyant

GatherContent Contributor, Writer
Digital marketing isn’t getting any easier. The SERPs are more competitive, social media algorithms are more finicky, and advertising is more expensive.

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More than ever, you need a safety net built into your content strategy. Prioritizing the creation of top-tier shareable is a smart place to start.

Now, we all know the basic best practices for increasing shareability. These include:

  • Using tools like BuzzSumo to spot trending topics
  • Writing in-depth, long-form content
  • Using social share buttons or calls-to-action (CTAs)

But, beyond that, content quality plays a massive role in making content more shareable.

Raise the bar of content quality to create more shareable content

Here are six things you can do to produce great content that’s worth sharing.

1. Teach something unexpected

Shareable content 101 encourages competitor research, keyword research, and FAQ analysis to generate content ideas. But what you don’t hear as much about is covering unexpected topics.

Writing for a demographic that’s unfamiliar to some degree with your industry or solutions? If so, they don’t know what they don’t know. This gives you a prime opportunity to:

  • Establish yourself as an authority by introducing important topics they hadn’t thought of
  • Stand out by covering more than the usual topics

There are three keys to doing this well.

  1. Choose often-overlooked topics that are important for your audience to know about. If a topic is uncommon or has low search volume because it’s only slightly relevant to your audience, don’t waste your resources.
  2. Cover the topics thoroughly. People need to see how the info connects to what they do know and how the newfound knowledge benefits them.
  3. Make it interesting. A lot of unpopular topics are such because they’re dry and boring compared to other topics. So work twice as hard to make these topics just as engaging as your other content.

2. Tailor the message to be a perfect fit

A lot of content is surface-level in terms of being tailored for a specific audience. It doesn’t:

  • Show a deep understanding of the needs, challenges, or goals of the audience
  • Zoom in enough to make the content relevant to and actionable for the subsets of the audience who need it most
  • Use examples that mirror or relate to the experiences and interests of the audience

Often, the only difference between pieces on the same topic is the label (e.g. “content design tips for small businesses). The info itself isn’t significantly different.

So, deeply integrate what you know about (the most relevant part of ) your audience into each piece. GatherContent makes this easy to do. It allows you to embed resources like buyer personas into your editing environment for easy access as you write.

Embedded Resources in GatherContent
Make it super easy for writers to find the writing resources they need to stay on track with audience needs and style guidelines. It will save you time in the long run.

You’ll also have an advantage if you use examples your target audience is already familiar with. Or that they can understand based on their existing knowledge and past experience.

That means using examples from within their industry or their niches of interest. Don’t default to showcasing role models from your industry. Or settle for highlighting Amazon and Apple and the same big brands everyone always does.

3. Share a controversial opinion or take a new angle

Shake things up by stating a controversial opinion or coming at a familiar topic from a fresh angle. Yes, this has its risks. If your opinion isn’t well-thought-out, for example, you could rack up shares for the wrong reasons. You'd attract negative attention to your business.

But what if you share a thoughtful stance? One with personal experiences, expert insights, or data to back up your claims? You can earn hundreds or even thousands of shares. Even better, you can position yourself as an industry thought leader or influencer.

4. Bring in your and your team’s experiences

Often, competitors can cover the same content topics just as well as you. They can earn backlinks just as powerful as yours. They can put just as much work into distribution.

What competitors can’t copy (at least not legally) are your experiences.

Often, competitors can cover the same content topics just as well as you. They can get backlinks just as powerful as yours. They can put just as much work into distribution.

What competitors can’t copy are your experiences.

Even if others have had similar experiences, no one can share them the way you can. No one can explain the lessons you and your team learned from them like you can. So keep a list of stories handy and add to it often so that you can pull relevant ones into content when needed.

And make it easy for team members to jump in and share their experiences. For example, GatherContent gives all contributors visibility into what’s being created. You can take advantage of collaboration features such as commenting and real-time updates when others make edits.

GatherContent Collaboration Features
Bring in your team to collaborate in real-time when you need personal experiences added to an item you've drafted.

5. Collaborate with subject matter experts

A word of caution with regard to the last point: don’t become too self-reliant. Yes, your experiences add unique value that can make your content shareable. But they generally shouldn’t be your only source of truth.

You’ll have more credibility in the eyes of your audience if you team up with other pros. Having subject matter experts (SMEs) back up your message can boost your reputation. And any fresh insights they share will make your content that much more valuable for your target audience. But the benefits don’t stop there.

"Not only do SMEs bring added insight to any conversation, but they typically have large, engaged audiences. If you can get an SME to comment and share your article, you're reaching a much wider audience, and it happens organically. It's an easy and affordable way to level up your content and help with distribution."
Ashley R. Cummings
Freelance Writer
Pro tip: To boost reach even more, create roundups that feature comments from many experts. More SMEs quoted can mean greater reach if they and their audiences share it.

6. Discover something groundbreaking

Speaking of building credibility, it’s easy to pull stats and research from existing sources. But going the extra mile to do original research can really pay off, as we’ll see in one of the examples to come.

Consider:

  • Conducting a small survey to gather information from vetted experts
  • Conducting a large survey with many respondents to create a comprehensive research report
  • Duplicating an old test to get new data
  • A/B testing a hypothesis and sharing the results
  • Reviewing and analyzing patterns across information you already have in bulk (e.g. customer data)

Even a small research project that backs up one key claim can set your content apart and earn you a higher number of shares.  

Shareable content examples (and why they’re shareable)

Let’s see some of the tips above in action and see proof that they work.

Search Engine Journal

SEJ’s post The Complete List of Google Penalties and How to Recover is a popular one. On Facebook alone, it has racked up over 1,700 shares.

SEJ Shareable Content Example
Facebook shares of a popular Search Engine Journal blog post

Part of the reason it's so shareable is because it meets the needs of SEJ’s audience well. It doesn't give a sample of available info. It is a complete list of penalties, making it the ultimate source for webmasters. And it addresses its audience's challenges by giving step-by-step fixes for each penalty. Its strength is specificity.

Superpath

One of Superpath's most shared pieces of content is the annual Content Marketing Salary Report. Content & Community Manager, Cierra Loflin said, “This past year, over 300 people replied with their salaries!

Superpath Annual Content Marketing Salary Report
A snippet of data from Superpath’s original research report

This piece has brought in over 5,870 pageviews during the last few months and has 208 backlinks from sites like Mint, Kajabi, and Building Remotely. It was also mentioned in the Marketing Brew newsletter. Although this piece of content took considerably more effort than the typical blog post, it went a long way in making it more shareable.”

And besides backlinks, we can only imagine how many times it’s been shared across social media channels. It's evidence that original research is an effective way to promote audience-driven distribution.  

Everyone Hates Marketers

How to Convince People to Buy (Without Being Pushy) is one of the most popular Everyone Hates Marketers posts. It’s been shared over 100 times on Facebook and likely many more times via other social networks and email.  

Everyone Hates Marketers Shareable Content Example
Facebook shares of an Everyone Hates Marketers blog post

This piece is shareable for a couple of reasons. One, it asserts that you actually can’t convince people to buy; you can only help them convince themselves. This digs down to a deeper level of psychology than the majority of content on the same topic. It goes beyond the usual surface-level narrative.

Two, it’s based on an interview with and concepts from a subject matter expert. This makes the content more trustworthy. And that trust is necessary for readers to feel comfortable sharing this piece or any other.

Shareability can hinge on your content creation workflow

We can’t discuss why people share content or how to encourage them without also mentioning timeliness. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you took the time to get your content in tip-top shape but missed the wave of interest in your topic?

If your content creation workflow leaves no room for covering time-sensitive subjects, this is a real possibility. Here are some tips for preventing bottlenecks and capitalizing on hot topics.

1. Define roles clearly

Even for evergreen topics, your team needs to be clear on who will be responsible for what and when. Lay out who’s in charge of:

  • Managing the editorial calendar
  • Prepping project briefs
  • Content writing
  • Editing
  • Creating complementary visuals
  • Reviewing and approving drafts
  • Distribution

And determine at what points each team member will pass the torch to another. Or when multiple people should be involved to deliver high-quality content efficiently.

Good to Know: GatherContent allows you to build custom content workflows and assign each stage to the right people. There’ll never be a question about the next steps or who’s doing what!

If everyone is clear on these details before a time-sensitive opportunity comes up, you’ll be able to move faster when one does.

2. Get your priorities straight

Not every new or trending topic is worth creating content on. Why not?

"If the content is time sensitive, you’ll probably have to switch most people's attention and effort over to having it produced and distributed."
Graham Girty
Growth Marketing Manager, Rasgo

The potential ROI has to be worth diverting resources from the other items on your editorial calendar. So, based on your content marketing strategy and goals, create criteria to help you prioritize.

Learn More: How an editorial calendar can help you be more user-focused

3. Use templates

Without templates, it’s harder to maintain quality standards, and takes longer to produce content. You can’t afford to have these struggles—both of which impact performance. Especially not when there’s time pressure.

The solution? Reusable frameworks for different types of content such as SEO blog posts, case studies, and tutorials. GatherContent’s Content Templates feature makes this easy to do. It enables your team to put out content in a timely manner without compromising on quality.

GatherContent Content Templates
Content Templates help you create consistent content quickly

4. Check in regularly

Even though everyone should know their role and be ready to do their part, communication is still key.

"If the content is time sensitive, you’ll probably have to switch most people's attention and effort over to having it produced and distributed."
Graham Girty
Growth Marketing Manager, Rasgo

Keeping in touch is key for efficient content production. As is not having to juggle several communication channels.

Good to Know: With GatherContent, content creation and collaboration go hand-in-hand. Everyone who needs access to the content has it and can give feedback in real time.

Give people incentives to share your content

Superior content quality and timeliness are crucial for creating shareable marketing content. So marketers’ top priorities must include:

  • Reinforcing already-established credibility
  • Exploring ways to make content more impactful and valuable
  • Maintaining consistency (even when under time pressure)

But that can be a tall order, especially if you’re aiming to scale.

That’s why it’s helpful to have a tool that streamlines the process of creating high-stakes marketing content.

Check out some ways GatherContent can free you up to focus on content quality and take it for a free 14-day test run!

More than ever, you need a safety net built into your content strategy. Prioritizing the creation of top-tier shareable is a smart place to start.

Now, we all know the basic best practices for increasing shareability. These include:

  • Using tools like BuzzSumo to spot trending topics
  • Writing in-depth, long-form content
  • Using social share buttons or calls-to-action (CTAs)

But, beyond that, content quality plays a massive role in making content more shareable.

Raise the bar of content quality to create more shareable content

Here are six things you can do to produce great content that’s worth sharing.

1. Teach something unexpected

Shareable content 101 encourages competitor research, keyword research, and FAQ analysis to generate content ideas. But what you don’t hear as much about is covering unexpected topics.

Writing for a demographic that’s unfamiliar to some degree with your industry or solutions? If so, they don’t know what they don’t know. This gives you a prime opportunity to:

  • Establish yourself as an authority by introducing important topics they hadn’t thought of
  • Stand out by covering more than the usual topics

There are three keys to doing this well.

  1. Choose often-overlooked topics that are important for your audience to know about. If a topic is uncommon or has low search volume because it’s only slightly relevant to your audience, don’t waste your resources.
  2. Cover the topics thoroughly. People need to see how the info connects to what they do know and how the newfound knowledge benefits them.
  3. Make it interesting. A lot of unpopular topics are such because they’re dry and boring compared to other topics. So work twice as hard to make these topics just as engaging as your other content.

2. Tailor the message to be a perfect fit

A lot of content is surface-level in terms of being tailored for a specific audience. It doesn’t:

  • Show a deep understanding of the needs, challenges, or goals of the audience
  • Zoom in enough to make the content relevant to and actionable for the subsets of the audience who need it most
  • Use examples that mirror or relate to the experiences and interests of the audience

Often, the only difference between pieces on the same topic is the label (e.g. “content design tips for small businesses). The info itself isn’t significantly different.

So, deeply integrate what you know about (the most relevant part of ) your audience into each piece. GatherContent makes this easy to do. It allows you to embed resources like buyer personas into your editing environment for easy access as you write.

Embedded Resources in GatherContent
Make it super easy for writers to find the writing resources they need to stay on track with audience needs and style guidelines. It will save you time in the long run.

You’ll also have an advantage if you use examples your target audience is already familiar with. Or that they can understand based on their existing knowledge and past experience.

That means using examples from within their industry or their niches of interest. Don’t default to showcasing role models from your industry. Or settle for highlighting Amazon and Apple and the same big brands everyone always does.

3. Share a controversial opinion or take a new angle

Shake things up by stating a controversial opinion or coming at a familiar topic from a fresh angle. Yes, this has its risks. If your opinion isn’t well-thought-out, for example, you could rack up shares for the wrong reasons. You'd attract negative attention to your business.

But what if you share a thoughtful stance? One with personal experiences, expert insights, or data to back up your claims? You can earn hundreds or even thousands of shares. Even better, you can position yourself as an industry thought leader or influencer.

4. Bring in your and your team’s experiences

Often, competitors can cover the same content topics just as well as you. They can earn backlinks just as powerful as yours. They can put just as much work into distribution.

What competitors can’t copy (at least not legally) are your experiences.

Often, competitors can cover the same content topics just as well as you. They can get backlinks just as powerful as yours. They can put just as much work into distribution.

What competitors can’t copy are your experiences.

Even if others have had similar experiences, no one can share them the way you can. No one can explain the lessons you and your team learned from them like you can. So keep a list of stories handy and add to it often so that you can pull relevant ones into content when needed.

And make it easy for team members to jump in and share their experiences. For example, GatherContent gives all contributors visibility into what’s being created. You can take advantage of collaboration features such as commenting and real-time updates when others make edits.

GatherContent Collaboration Features
Bring in your team to collaborate in real-time when you need personal experiences added to an item you've drafted.

5. Collaborate with subject matter experts

A word of caution with regard to the last point: don’t become too self-reliant. Yes, your experiences add unique value that can make your content shareable. But they generally shouldn’t be your only source of truth.

You’ll have more credibility in the eyes of your audience if you team up with other pros. Having subject matter experts (SMEs) back up your message can boost your reputation. And any fresh insights they share will make your content that much more valuable for your target audience. But the benefits don’t stop there.

"Not only do SMEs bring added insight to any conversation, but they typically have large, engaged audiences. If you can get an SME to comment and share your article, you're reaching a much wider audience, and it happens organically. It's an easy and affordable way to level up your content and help with distribution."
Ashley R. Cummings
Freelance Writer
Pro tip: To boost reach even more, create roundups that feature comments from many experts. More SMEs quoted can mean greater reach if they and their audiences share it.

6. Discover something groundbreaking

Speaking of building credibility, it’s easy to pull stats and research from existing sources. But going the extra mile to do original research can really pay off, as we’ll see in one of the examples to come.

Consider:

  • Conducting a small survey to gather information from vetted experts
  • Conducting a large survey with many respondents to create a comprehensive research report
  • Duplicating an old test to get new data
  • A/B testing a hypothesis and sharing the results
  • Reviewing and analyzing patterns across information you already have in bulk (e.g. customer data)

Even a small research project that backs up one key claim can set your content apart and earn you a higher number of shares.  

Shareable content examples (and why they’re shareable)

Let’s see some of the tips above in action and see proof that they work.

Search Engine Journal

SEJ’s post The Complete List of Google Penalties and How to Recover is a popular one. On Facebook alone, it has racked up over 1,700 shares.

SEJ Shareable Content Example
Facebook shares of a popular Search Engine Journal blog post

Part of the reason it's so shareable is because it meets the needs of SEJ’s audience well. It doesn't give a sample of available info. It is a complete list of penalties, making it the ultimate source for webmasters. And it addresses its audience's challenges by giving step-by-step fixes for each penalty. Its strength is specificity.

Superpath

One of Superpath's most shared pieces of content is the annual Content Marketing Salary Report. Content & Community Manager, Cierra Loflin said, “This past year, over 300 people replied with their salaries!

Superpath Annual Content Marketing Salary Report
A snippet of data from Superpath’s original research report

This piece has brought in over 5,870 pageviews during the last few months and has 208 backlinks from sites like Mint, Kajabi, and Building Remotely. It was also mentioned in the Marketing Brew newsletter. Although this piece of content took considerably more effort than the typical blog post, it went a long way in making it more shareable.”

And besides backlinks, we can only imagine how many times it’s been shared across social media channels. It's evidence that original research is an effective way to promote audience-driven distribution.  

Everyone Hates Marketers

How to Convince People to Buy (Without Being Pushy) is one of the most popular Everyone Hates Marketers posts. It’s been shared over 100 times on Facebook and likely many more times via other social networks and email.  

Everyone Hates Marketers Shareable Content Example
Facebook shares of an Everyone Hates Marketers blog post

This piece is shareable for a couple of reasons. One, it asserts that you actually can’t convince people to buy; you can only help them convince themselves. This digs down to a deeper level of psychology than the majority of content on the same topic. It goes beyond the usual surface-level narrative.

Two, it’s based on an interview with and concepts from a subject matter expert. This makes the content more trustworthy. And that trust is necessary for readers to feel comfortable sharing this piece or any other.

Shareability can hinge on your content creation workflow

We can’t discuss why people share content or how to encourage them without also mentioning timeliness. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you took the time to get your content in tip-top shape but missed the wave of interest in your topic?

If your content creation workflow leaves no room for covering time-sensitive subjects, this is a real possibility. Here are some tips for preventing bottlenecks and capitalizing on hot topics.

1. Define roles clearly

Even for evergreen topics, your team needs to be clear on who will be responsible for what and when. Lay out who’s in charge of:

  • Managing the editorial calendar
  • Prepping project briefs
  • Content writing
  • Editing
  • Creating complementary visuals
  • Reviewing and approving drafts
  • Distribution

And determine at what points each team member will pass the torch to another. Or when multiple people should be involved to deliver high-quality content efficiently.

Good to Know: GatherContent allows you to build custom content workflows and assign each stage to the right people. There’ll never be a question about the next steps or who’s doing what!

If everyone is clear on these details before a time-sensitive opportunity comes up, you’ll be able to move faster when one does.

2. Get your priorities straight

Not every new or trending topic is worth creating content on. Why not?

"If the content is time sensitive, you’ll probably have to switch most people's attention and effort over to having it produced and distributed."
Graham Girty
Growth Marketing Manager, Rasgo

The potential ROI has to be worth diverting resources from the other items on your editorial calendar. So, based on your content marketing strategy and goals, create criteria to help you prioritize.

Learn More: How an editorial calendar can help you be more user-focused

3. Use templates

Without templates, it’s harder to maintain quality standards, and takes longer to produce content. You can’t afford to have these struggles—both of which impact performance. Especially not when there’s time pressure.

The solution? Reusable frameworks for different types of content such as SEO blog posts, case studies, and tutorials. GatherContent’s Content Templates feature makes this easy to do. It enables your team to put out content in a timely manner without compromising on quality.

GatherContent Content Templates
Content Templates help you create consistent content quickly

4. Check in regularly

Even though everyone should know their role and be ready to do their part, communication is still key.

"If the content is time sensitive, you’ll probably have to switch most people's attention and effort over to having it produced and distributed."
Graham Girty
Growth Marketing Manager, Rasgo

Keeping in touch is key for efficient content production. As is not having to juggle several communication channels.

Good to Know: With GatherContent, content creation and collaboration go hand-in-hand. Everyone who needs access to the content has it and can give feedback in real time.

Give people incentives to share your content

Superior content quality and timeliness are crucial for creating shareable marketing content. So marketers’ top priorities must include:

  • Reinforcing already-established credibility
  • Exploring ways to make content more impactful and valuable
  • Maintaining consistency (even when under time pressure)

But that can be a tall order, especially if you’re aiming to scale.

That’s why it’s helpful to have a tool that streamlines the process of creating high-stakes marketing content.

Check out some ways GatherContent can free you up to focus on content quality and take it for a free 14-day test run!

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