Employer Branding

How to Create Content that Gets Shared on Social Media

Sharing content is great for recruitment marketing, as it can attract industry professionals and drive traffic to your website. So how do you create content that gets shared on social media? To answer this question I’ve had a chat with Steve Rayson, co-founder of Buzzsumo, a social search tool designed to support content marketers in finding great content and understanding influence or amplification.

Have a listen to the podcast on iTunes, Soundcloud or keep reading for a transcript of our conversation.

Why should you curate great content online?

The first reason is to understand what’s great content, you have to define what you mean by that, but often we’re looking for content that resonates, that gets linked to, that gets shared a lot. I think as much only as just to understand your audience, because you need to understand what content resonates with your audience. If you’re writing content, what sort of content engages them, what content do they share?

I think the other thing is just to keep up to date with your professional area. I think all of us, it’s a bit scary at the moment, we can all become sort of obsolete faster than we ever could before. The pace of knowledge and new things coming out means that we will go to bed and we wake up sort of dumber than we went to bed as new things have been learnt in that time period. So keeping pace is really hard. So the way I look for great content is I just search for what was the most shared content in a topic this week, just so I can make sure I’m keeping pace with it, or what’s trending in the last few days.

How can you go about creating content that gets shared?

To me, I think, obviously, the heart of it is about the content itself, what’s the nature of the content? People share things if it’s interesting to other people, if they think it’s helpful to other people, or if they think it really is genuinely entertaining, sort of amusing etc, or amazing. So we know a bit about why people share, and so successful content has to hit some of those buttons, really.

lolcats don't impress b2b decision makers

I mean once you focus in on that content, then there’s all the standard things about the style in which you write it, is it really easy to read, easy to scan? They’re much more conversational style these days. But things like formats really matter as well, whether you do that as an infographic or whether you do it as a how-to post, or whether you do it as a list post or a video. Formats matter, and what we see is when we research different topics, in some topics, video works really well. In other topics it doesn’t work so well, and actually a list post works much better. Headlines really matter, in terms of driving people through to read content and things like that. So it’s worth spending time on, then crafting out your headlines.

All those things go into making a great piece of content, but a great piece of content on its own isn’t enough, really. There’s just so much content out there, people are not going to find your content. People just won’t find your content, in my view, unless you actively promote it. So you have to create content, but you have to get it promoted to get it out there and to get people to see it and share it.

promote chocolate on an elephant

What are the most common content marketing mistakes you see companies doing?

I think some people write the content and don’t think about promotion. So you have to think about promotion before you even write the post. How are you going to promote it? Why is it going to be interesting? Which forums, which people would share it? So you have to think about promotion from the very first day, I think, and that’s a big mistake I think people make.

I think the other one is that content marketing, at one level, is very straightforward, but it’s also quite hard work. I mean, what seems to be the key about content marketing is you have to produce good content consistently, and so you have to produce a lot of content on a consistent basis. You can’t just do it for two or three months like a campaign and stop, because you’ll then see traffic drop and all those sorts of things. It has to be consistent. And the people who are really good at it, the one thing they’re always good at is consistency. They’re always driving regular, good quality content, often on a weekly or a daily basis. It seems to me that people underestimate how much content you need.

Why do we need employee personalities in social marketing?

I suppose on social, and I may be atypical, I don’t know. But I typically only follow people back on Twitter or follow people on Twitter if they’ve got a face and they’re a human. I like to interact with people, really, rather than brands. I mean brands do publish stuff, and there’s obviously people behind brands, but I think there’s a very personal side of social which is about human contact, human interaction. So I think you do need to promote individuals. And I think sometimes those individuals can have as big of an impact, almost, as the brands themselves.

But those people are the personality. They come across as the people you can engage with on a very human level. So I think sometimes you see people not making use of real people to advocate on behalf of the brand. Obviously you need the brand to count, as well, but I personally think that people are just so important, really, and it’s often the people who are the real influencers, and the people that people connect with and understand. I think that you like to see people share other content, don’t you? I

What do you predict will happen over the next three years in the world of content marketing?

I think it’ll just become part of the norm that people use social. I do think we’ll see more about social as this, what I will call a content discovery layer. So yes we’ll have search engines, but we’re already having very specific types of search engines.

Facebook search is really interesting and growing, there’s a lot of power now in Facebook’s search, so you can search for stuff that’s being shared there. And interesting, there was an article out a few weeks ago saying, “I think millennial kids these days get most of their news through Facebook rather than from other sources.”

I don’t about you, but I follow whole Twitter lists of people who I think share interesting stuff. And they almost act as my newspaper, my curators. Obviously The Guardian have editors, and they curate interesting content on science and technology. But I can create my own Twitter list, or my own other list of people, of 10 people I think are really interested in, I don’t know, growth hacking, or the sharing economy. And they really become my editors.

I think this whole layer about social, how social networks work, I think we’re just seeing it develop, I’m not sure which direction it will go, but I do think we’ll see more content discovery via social, whether it’s through those peer networks or just through friends. Obviously search will remain really important if I want to find a restaurant or anything, that’s great.

Connect with Steve on Twitter @SteveRayson and learn more at the Buzzsumo blog.

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By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.