Does this sound familiar?
You get a great idea for a piece of content. A blog post, for example. It sounds so awesome, calling it “a piece of content” doesn’t even do it justice. This baby is ART.
You pour your heart into it. Spend all morning outlining, all afternoon writing, and all night whipping up gorgeous images that you just can’t WAIT to see plastered all over Pinterest. This puppy’s gonna blow people’s minds.
And then you post it, and…zip. Nothin’. Nada.
Maybe you get your usual little pop of traffic from your hardcore fans, but despite the typical influx of readers, nobody is SHARING it. Your hard work isn’t going to be seen by anyone new, because nobody is putting the word out about it to their friends.
Commence pulling out your hair and/or ugly-crying.
Why are people sharing content from literally everyone else in the world except you?
(I mean, they’re not, obviously, but it sure fricken’ FEELS that way sometimes, right?)
Well, turns out, there actually IS a reason for it!
A customer research division of The New York Times recently conducted a study into WHY people share things online. So every time somebody on your Facebook shares a link to the latest OMG-you’ll-never-believe-what-happened-next video, or whenever somebody tweets a link to some shocking statistics, there are reasons they do it – and those reasons are NOT always the same.
Now, you can read the full 46-page report here, but let’s be real, that’s a lot to digest. So I’m breaking down the report into what YOU need to know about why people share content – and how it can inform the type of content you CREATE.
So, how do people choose the things they want to share online?
“That’s all cool,” you might be thinking, “but so what? What do I DO with that information?”
You’ve probably heard the term “buyer persona” before, but just in case, here’s the short version:
A buyer persona is like a template of a person – in your case, one of your business’s customers. (Hint: you probably have more than one buyer persona relevant to your biz.)
Think of that persona as like a 10-second profile of a typical customer. So for example, one buyer persona for Edgar might be, “An independent entrepreneur who doesn’t want to hand her social media over to another person, but is frustrated by how much time it takes out of her day.”
Now, that’s a pretty simplified version – these things can be craaaazy in-depth, right down to where your buyer persona lives, how much money they make in a month, whether they have a family, and so on. (But you don’t really have to worry about all that stuff right now.)
Buyer personas matter because there are ALSO certain types of people, or personas, who share stuff online.
The study found that most people who share things online fall into one (or several) categories. For example, some people are altruists, who like to be seen as well-connected and reliable, and share mainly via email. Others may be careerists, who prefer to share things that make them seem intelligent and valuable to know, orhipsters, who primarily share things that reinforce their own sense of personal identity and show off their creative interests.
What you need to do is determine which personas overlap the most with your audience, and feed them the content they’re looking for.
What type of content is getting shared, and what does it say about the people sharing it?
Is it reviews? Super-detailed guides? General advice? Reflections on current events?
So for my site, for example, I keep track every quarter of which blog posts were shared the most over the past three months, and which are the most-shared blog posts of all time. That way, I can see what those posts all have in common, and make some educated guesses about why people would share them – as well as what those reasons might indicate about the types of readers who share my posts.
Ultimately, The New York Times used their study to come up with 7 factors that can help you score more shares. Drumroll, please…
Easy, right? Obviously it can get way more complicated than all that – there are a LOT of factors that go into whether or not something racks up shares. If you’re looking for a way to give yourself a little more content mojo, though, these are GREAT things to remember.
Now that you know what this New York Times study has to say, where do YOU fall in? Is there a type of content you loooove to share, or something that you might love personally but NEVER share with your friends online? I’m curious – hit me up in the comments below with your thoughts!