By Jonathan Gorham published May 27, 2019

7 Triggers That Make People Want to Share Your Content

Did you know you can add simple elements into your content to make it highly shareable?

They’re known as “share triggers.” And I use them in every post I publish to get hundreds of social media shares.

Even better, they’re easy to create and they work.

Even better still, you don’t need a big following or email list for share triggers to work.

All you need is to know how to use them.

In this post, I reveal my favorite share triggers and show you how to use them to instantly make more shareable content.

Keep reading.

Share trigger 1: Information gaps to spark curiosity

People have a desire to consume and share content that delivers clarity around an unknown topic, according to research conducted by Carnegie Mellon University. The study also raises the idea of information gaps – powerful motivators for people to seek clarity about a topic.

In other words, adding information gaps to your content encourages people to not only keep reading but to share your content.

Use information gaps to keep people reading and sharing your #content. @JonathanGorham_ Click To Tweet

The secret is to use information gaps to spark emotional curiosity then to make sure you satisfy it to get rewarded with more social shares. It’s super easy to do. Here’s a step-by-step formula:

Step 1: Preview something

Look at this image:

Image source

What do you notice?

I opened a powerful information gap by previewing something unknown to readers but available later in the guide.

When readers see this, they think: “Wait! There’s a trap to targeting on Facebook? I’ll keep reading to find out what it is.”

See how information gaps are simple, yet super effective at sparking curiosity?

And now for the second – and final – step.

Step 2: Give a solution

Once you make people aware of a potential gap in their knowledge, they’ll want to fill it with information that puts their curiosity to rest.

If you want to be rewarded with lots of social shares, then you need to provide a resolution that satisfies their knowledge gap.

Provide a resolution that satisfies a knowledge gap to be rewarded w/ social shares. @JonathanGorham_ Click To Tweet

TIP: Combine information gaps with content utility to get even more social media shares. (I’ll explain content utility and how to create it later.)

Here are a couple examples of information gaps:

Joe Pulizzi opens with a powerful information gap right away in his headline. You know this article is about content marketing, but you don’t know the one thing killing content marketing or why everyone is ignoring it.

Love them or hate ’em, BuzzFeed is a master at information gaps and uses them in almost every article to generate clicks, shares, and more reader engagement.

Share trigger 2: Create memorable content (zig-zag method)

It’s incredible to think that almost 2.4 million blog posts are published every day. How do you make your content stand out and get lots of social shares?

Create memorable content because it sticks in the minds of readers like glue.

But how?

There’s an easy way to do it and I’ll walk you through it right now. I call it the zig-zag method. It follows the simple idea that when everybody zigs, you zag.

Make your #content stand out. Zig when everybody zags, says @JonathanGorham_ Click To Tweet

You publish a piece of content that goes against popular opinion or you explore a popular idea from a different angle.

Don’t worry, your content doesn’t have to beat the world, it just has to zig.

Here’s an example. In the SEO industry, popular opinion says guest posting (publishing articles on third-party blogs) is a great way to generate traffic to your site, build your brand, and earn some handy backlinks.

Tim Soulo published this article about how guest posting was a bad idea. It grabbed the attention of a lot of people in the SEO space, picking up hundreds of shares and backlinks.

Tim zagged when everyone else was zigging. He questioned the consensus about guest blogging and backed his argument up with credible data. His article was memorable and unique.

TIP: If you use the zig-zag method, make sure to have credible data from a survey or free data available online. In Tim’s case, he interviewed several serial guest posters and used their responses to back up his argument.

Here’s a step-by-step formula for creating memorable content using the zig-zag method:

Step 1: Identify a popular belief/opinion/topic in your industry to write about.

Step 2: Flip that popular idea on its head.

Step 3: Check Google to make sure your unique idea hasn’t been covered a million times before (if it has, then return to the first step).

Step 4: Back your argument up with credible data. This could be through a survey, statistical data, or case studies.

TIP: Don’t overthink it, even a slight twist on a popular concept is enough to pull off this trigger.

Share trigger 3: Great content design

One of the most underrated aspects that makes people share content is good design. When people first land on your content – they have a series of subconscious micro-impressions about it. Content design:

  • Helps readers decide to stay or leave.
  • Indicates perceived value.
  • Affects their willingness to link and share it.
One of the most underrated aspects that makes people share #content is good design, says @JonathanGorham_ Click To Tweet

Here are three quick tips to instantly improve your content design:

1. Use high-quality imagery with lots of information

Easy-to-read graphs like this one work well because readers can easily see interesting data.

Image source

Infographics are another great way to boost your page design and perceived value. They also come with the bonus of being highly shareable assets.

2. Keep color changes to a minimum

Stick with two or three primary colors and make the palette consistent across your blog.

Stick w/ 2 or 3 primary colors & make the palette consistent across your blog. @JonathanGorham_ Click To Tweet

Image source

TIP: If your images use neutral colors people are more likely to share and embed them because they fit in better with their site.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: 3 Graphic Design Tips for Non-Designers

3. Design your content for skim readers

One key share trigger I haven’t mentioned yet is content length. Nobody likes to read a wall of text.

Break your content up into smaller, bite-sized chunks of information. An easy way to do this is by adding subheds and images into your content – the more, the better.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Content Readability: A Primer

Share trigger 4: Content utility

Content utility is all about creating content that gives readers practical advice. Think worksheets, step-by-step recipes, checklists, and free online tools.

Why does utility correlate strongly with shareable content?

It turns your content from just another informative blog post to something that’s super practical for the reader. The trick is to make sure your readers can follow the steps (think cooking recipes) to achieve a result.

TIP: Make the steps easy to follow and something readers can complete in five to 10 minutes; the shorter, the better.

Check out this guide on how to find your brand’s voice; it’s packed with utility content, making it useful for readers and highly shareable as a result.

Share trigger 5: Social currency

Probably the most potent share trigger, social currency works on the premise that people like sharing the good news, more specifically, news that makes them look good or reinforces their beliefs.

The most potent share trigger is #content with social currency, says @JonathanGorham_ Click To Tweet

The real secret to social currency happens when you make influencers in your industry look good. Here’s a simple three-step method for adding social currency into your content:

Step 1: Reach out to influencers in your space via email and ask them a simple question related to a topic. Don’t forget to mention you’ll link to their site.

Step 2: Incorporate influencers’ responses into your content.

Step 3: After you’ve published your article, email the influencers to let them know the post is live and ask them to share it. It can result in a tweet or post seen by thousands of their followers.

Even better, because your content sources are industry heavyweights, people will pay attention to it and are happy to reshare it too.

Share trigger 6: Content length

BuzzSumo looked at the social shares of 100 million blog posts and found that content length is a factor for creating shareable content.

#Content length is a factor for creating shareable content via @BuzzSumo. #research Click To Tweet

In other words, long-form content generally outperforms shorter content in terms of social media shares.

Image source

Why? If you think about it, it makes sense…

Long-form content is more likely to trigger awe. It could be like standing in front of Mount Everest and feeling awe because of its sheer size.

There’s more to the equation though. Long-form content generally provides more comprehensive answers to readers’ questions, which further boosts its perceived value, making it worthy of a share.

TIP: Trigger the feeling of awe by writing at least 1,500 words per blog post.

Share trigger 7: Call-to-action conclusions

When someone reaches the end of your content, they think “What do I do now?” If you’re smart, you can use this to your advantage.

Simply ask the reader to share your post or leave a comment. That’s all there is to it.

Final thought

Share triggers are great for making shareable content. Which ones will you use in your next content piece? Let me know in the comments.

Even this call to action is shareworthy content. Register for Content Marketing World by May 31 for early-bird savings. Plus, use code CMIBLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Jonathan Gorham

Jonathan Gorham is the Founder of Engine Scout Digital Marketing based in Melbourne, Australia. He oversees all aspects of his customer's digital marketing needs including content, SEO, paid search, and social media marketing. You can contact him via his website, LinkedIn or Twitter.

Other posts by Jonathan Gorham

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