Does your content struggle to get social shares?
Even if you get plenty of visitors to your website and have share buttons wherever required — they spend a moment or two and then leave. Like nothing happened.
That’s not supposed to happen, right?
We are not spending time/effort writing content only to get it ignored. We want engagement — in the form of comments, shares, sign-ups and eventually, more sales.
The good news is that we can systematically improve the user experience and engagement using share triggers.
What is a Share Trigger?
A share trigger is a psychologically-backed principle that encourages people to share and engage with your website.
More share triggers simply mean more social interaction and traffic. More traffic means more people liking and linking to your content, which leads to your content getting ranked better.
Here are 15 share triggers that you can strategically place in your content to make people like and share your content.
Let’s dive in!
1. Spend Extra Time to Write a Strong Introduction that Sticks to the Reader
I know an easy (and commonly seen) technique to get more social shares on your post. But, before I talk about it:
It is important to have a great title and a featured image that generates interest and gets someone to read your article. But, you know, that’s not enough to get social shares.
You want a strong introduction that:
- introduces the problem,
- promises a solution, and
- draws attention to read further.
A good introduction is to the point and it relates to the visitor. If you are not able to catch someone’s attention in the first few lines, then there’s a problem.
Let’s take a look at Tim Soulo’s post about email conversion rate:
He introduces in just 3 steps:
- He quickly grabs attention in the first line by asking about case studies. Because everyone loves case studies.
- Then he offers more benefit by writing “What can be more valuable than that?”
- He then talks about sharing some actionable tactics.
Another example on Brian Dean’s post about SEO tips:
Using only 52 words, he jumps straight to the point by writing what he’s going to talk about in the post. No doubt, this post got tons of shares.
You see, the goal is not to write big blocks of boring text. Instead, the goal of an introduction is, unquestionably, to introduce.
2. Improve the Flow of Reading
“Here’s the deal:”
“The best part?”
“Here’s the catch:”
“But, why it works?”
These little phrases ease the flow of reading experience. They work so well because they trigger the reader’s mind, makes him curious about your next statement.
Brian Dean, as he uses them a lot in his posts.
And this one:
Or just ask a quick simple question that might arise while reading the content. And then answer it.
3. Use Sense of Humour to Make Your Posts Entertaining
Who doesn’t like a sense of humour?
Everybody loves being around funny and interesting people. The same is true for website content and blog posts.
I’m not saying, that you have to go crazy like – “Once upon a time, there was an elephant and an ant. The ant said to the elephant...and yada yada!”
Use light-hearted humour that does not (or at least tries to) offend anyone.
Here are some things I keep in mind:
- I am not a comedian. Or trying to be one.
- Being strategic: Use humour in specific places like intro, outro, titles, etc. Not just everywhere.
- No long humour: As I said, nobody wants to read lazy stories and get distracted. Sprinkle it a few times and you are done.
- Don’t distract readers: Stay focused on the main topic and limit your humour.
He is not offending anyone in particular and there are no long paragraphs just to get a joke across.
4. Get Emotional – the Important Share Trigger
Content that elicits the emotions “awe”, “surprise” or “anger” is more likely to go viral, says a study.
Let’s see it in action:
In his post about The Power of Doing Nothing at All, Aytekin Tank states an interesting fact that great people make time for doing nothing.
Here’s another post about free tools that people generally overlook using. This post has the “surprise” factor as it includes some of the tools that are overlooked and can be very helpful as well.
The feeling of “awe” happens when you provide lots of surprising content in a single post.
Even making some people angry does the job. They still share it regardless to show anger which, after all, triggers social sharing.
5. Get Better At The Art of Storytelling
Going back to the example I just shared about doing nothing at all, Ayetkin begins with an interesting Crocodile story:
An interesting story that fits perfectly in the context and introduces what the article is all about. This is great to drive more interest and to look more authentic in the eyes of the reader.
Ramit Sethi loves talking about his early and family stories in his posts:
Share a life experience, case study, or someone else’s story. It doesn’t have to be too long because your purpose is to solve problems not be a storyteller.
It is not necessary, but a great way to make things interesting. You can always find great real-life experiences on Reddit, forums, and even blog comments.
Avoid copying. Write those stories in your own language and link back the original source.
Pro tip: Use “you”, “I” and “we” in the text. The post is not written by a robot, after all.
6. Use Open Loops to Seduce Your Readers
We, humans, like our questions being answered. You must have noticed this in TV shows:
As the episode is about to end, they turn the story in a way that they leave us with questions in our mind.Out of curiosity, to find the answers, we watch the next episode.
This is called Zeigarnik Effect. When you do this, you make someone stick to your content to find the thing that you have left unanswered.
Enough talking. How to do that?
There are three basic steps to do that:
Step 1: Open the loop (create the curiosity, ask questions).
Step 2: Talk about something else for a while (multiply that curiosity level).
Step 3: Close the loop (answer the question, if you want to).
Simple as that.
Let me show an example from a forum:
Here’s the deal:
The thing must be irresistible enough for them to stick around for a while. Otherwise, make it irresistible by using cheesy words.
You can do this to drive more conversions. Like in Tim’s post, he asks readers to download a bonus three times in a single post:
And, the third time:
7. Ease of Reading – Another Important Share Trigger
Let’s talk about this one fast (the previous one took too long).
“Make your content easily scan-able to make your writing more pleasurable and easy to read.”
How to do that?
Use plenty of headings
Because it helps in breaking the text and making it more structured.
Make list posts
Because they usually do better than other kinds of content.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Maximum of 3 sentences per paragraph
- Keep the sentences short
- Use easy/familiar words (that you use while talking to someone)
- Avoid passive voice
- Further, break the content using bulleted and/or numbered lists
- Bold the text
- Italicise the text
- Use block quotes style for quotes
- Big paragraphs, long sentences
- Difficult, less-popular words
- Spending time with jerks (tip for life)
8. Write Insanely Practical & Actionable Content
Remember: the purpose of getting people to read your content, is to help them solve their problems.
The reader would not be happy and satisfied until you provide the solution completely. Don’t leave him hanging and force to do another Google search.
Remember: It’s always better to link to your other post if you don’t want to explain everything in a single post.
If you want people to stay around on your website, make it insanely practical. Be specific and write a step-by-step solution.
To solve their problems, use:
- illustrations, and
Every step you talk about must have a practical solution that they can do right away or start doing it.
If they found the solution(s) they were looking for, your post is more likely to get shared. Simple as that.
9. Publish Long Content to Add More Share Triggers
Ever heard “content is king?”
This is true, but I want to modify it. Because nowadays…
“Long content is the king.”
For SEO, user experience or whatever, longer content gets more shared and ranked better.
Google ranks content with more than 2400 words as the first three results, according to serpIQ.
So, I would recommend you to write at least 1,500 words long content to have higher chances of getting ranked and boost shares.
10. Use Research Data to Add Credibility
Yes, you read the title.
The best part?
It builds trust in the reader’s mind, which means you are not just blowing off words. Instead, you can add a research metric or study results, wherever you think is possible.
That is why infographics get so many shares because they have so much of research data.
However, it is not that difficult to find research data.
Do a search
Sometimes, you can find studies by just doing a Google search. Use keywords “research” or “study” along with your target keywords.
What to avoid and what to add
You will sometimes find them on news sites like CNN. But, I would suggest that you look for the original research link(s) mentioned, then link that in your post.
Link websites like Wikipedia for definitions or when you are introducing a person/company. However, you can find a lot of great resources on a Wikipedia page below in the “References” and “External links” section.
Avoid the opinion based sites like Thought Catalogue. Also, avoid forums (including Reddit), unless you want to share somebody’s story.
Link only to reputable, authentic sites, .edu sites, or sites that claim that they did the research and found the results.
11. Your Website Design Must Walk The Talk
You see, people like good-looking people, places and things for a reason. A website is no different. You’d obviously trust a good looking website instead of a 1990-ish looking website.
Your site should look good enough to make someone feel good, even on mobile phones.
How to do that?
Get a good-looking theme or get one custom coded
Or if you can’t buy one, go for a free theme with a minimal design. Minimal designs are easy on the eyes and liked by most people.
You know what else is liked by people?
A custom-coded theme for your brand, which includes a specific set of colours, fonts, style, and combinations that would be everywhere. Website, social media posts, books, etc., they all follow your brand theme.
12. Use Images to Drive More Shares
People love images. More images = more shares.
Because they are more compelling than plain text. That’s another reason why infographics do so well.
According to Skyword research, the content that contains at least one image gets 94% more views on social media. So, don’t hesitate to add a bunch of cool images in your post.
If you are adding photographs, use high-resolution ones. It’s always best to use photographs clicked from a good camera and by a good photographer.
Avoid cheesy stock images. The ones that look staged/fake.
On top of that, you can make your content more compelling by adding:
They make content more consumable as they break down the content (which is sweet while reading continuously).
13. Add More Visual Content to Make Your Posts More Compelling
If you’ve been following so far, I can say that you’ve done a pretty good job. However, you can take it to the next level by adding other types of media.
People love infographics. Although they are costlier to design, it’s worth the effort. Infographic with a unique angle gets shared like wildfire.
People love watching videos, as they are an easier way of consuming content as compared to text.
You can add mini-videos covering a single topic in a full post, the way Ramit does in his guides:
Many people (including me) understand better by listening to the audio version of a post.
So, why not have it?
You can do it yourself, the way Mark Manson does in his posts:
14. High Share Count on a Post is the Golden Proof
Let’s say you are going to buy clothes and there are two shops in front of you.
- A shop with only 3-4 people inside
- A shop with 30-40 people inside
Which one of them would you end up going to? Obviously, the second one.
There must be something about the second shop that there are so many people inside, right? Maybe good quality clothes, or discounted prices, or anything.
The same is true for a blog post.
Social shares are like a social proof for your post. It’s the other way of saying, “Wow. There are so many shares. I think I should read it.”
Try to get more shares as soon/much as you can to increase its chances of getting shared and more importantly, getting it
Here’s what you can do to improve the situation:
- Ask your friends to share.
- Send your post to your email list.
- Share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
- Stumble it.
- Share on Reddit.
As soon as you get some shares, you can reach out to influencers and get your post linked and shared again with their massive following.
15. Sometimes, All You Have to Do Is Ask
The way people do it doesn’t always work. People include a summary of the post and then end it right there.
Include a call-to-action at the end of your post. Make the ending personalized and ask readers to drop a comment or a share the article.
Also, avoid the generic “leave a comment”. Instead, be specific and ask a question that your readers would not hesitate to comment.
If you are able to engage with your readers, you can easily make them share your post.
Oh, by the way, did you notice, I opened a loop about this topic in the first tip?
Connecting The Dots
I believe, using share triggers is an art and you can leverage their power to get more social shares. They are great
Now that you know these techniques, get started by writing great introductions. Then apply other ones and then, maybe the next viral post is yours.
Now, tell me — which method from all mentioned in the post you liked the most?