Why Shareability Is Key To Successful Consumer Content Marketing

With so much con­tent vying for the atten­tion of con­sumers, it’s essen­tial that brands cre­ate con­tent that has a high prob­a­bil­i­ty of being shared.

Andrew Smith By Andrew Smith from Escherman. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Reach­ing con­sumers with your mes­sage is one thing. Per­suad­ing them to share it is quite anoth­er. As more and more con­tent vies for the atten­tion of the con­sumer, cre­at­ing con­tent that has a high­er prob­a­bil­i­ty of being shared has become essen­tial. Are there any fac­tors that mark out high­ly share­able con­tent? What are the tools and tech­niques are avail­able to help the mar­ke­teer cre­ate more share­able con­tent?


One of the most pop­u­lar busi­ness books in recent year’s has been Chip and Dan Heath’s “Made To Stick”. The Heath broth­ers utilised copi­ous research to try to work out why cer­tain ideas and mes­sages seemed to be more mem­o­rable or “sticky” while most sim­ply nev­er gained any trac­tion at all. They even cre­at­ed a handy acronym — SUCCES — to help you remem­ber what the six key fac­tors are (in case you want to know, they are: sim­plic­i­ty, unex­pect­ed­ness, con­crete­ness, cred­i­bil­i­ty, emo­tion and sto­ries).

Although this was help­ful in work­ing out what fac­tors might make mes­sages or con­tent more mem­o­rable, it didn’t real­ly explore why cer­tain con­tent had a high­er like­li­hood of being shared. One of the Heath broth­ers’ pro­tégés (Jon­ah Berg­er) picked up the cud­gels and wrote his own book – “Con­ta­gious” – in an attempt to do for share­abli­ty what “Made To Stick” did for mem­o­ra­bil­i­ty.

6 Factors Of Shareability

Berg­er also came up with a handy acronym to explain the key fac­tors in share­abil­i­ty: STEPPS. He out­lines the fac­tors involved as fol­lows:

  • Social Cur­ren­cy: Does talk­ing about your prod­uct or idea make peo­ple look good? Can you find the inner remark­a­bil­i­ty? Lever­age game mechan­ics? Make peo­ple feel like insid­ers?
  • Trig­gers: Con­sid­er the context.What cues make peo­ple think about your prod­uct or idea? How can you grow the habi­tat and make it come to mind more often?
  • Emo­tion: Focus on feel­ings. Does talk­ing about your prod­uct or idea gen­er­ate emo­tion? How can you kin­dle the fire?
  • Pub­lic: Does your prod­uct or idea adver­tise itself? Can peo­ple see when oth­ers are using it? If not, how can you make the pri­vate pub­lic? Can you cre­ate behav­ioral residue that sticks around even after peo­ple use it?
  • Prac­ti­cal Val­ue: Does talk­ing about your prod­uct or idea help peo­ple help oth­ers? How can you high­light incred­i­ble val­ue, pack­ag­ing your knowl­edge and exper­tise into use­ful infor­ma­tion oth­ers will want to dis­sem­i­nate?
  • Sto­ries: What is your Tro­jan Horse? Is your prod­uct or idea embed­ded in a broad­er nar­ra­tive that peo­ple want to share? Is the sto­ry not only viral, but also valu­able?

Why Is Shareability So Important?

Reach is no longer enough on its own. Or more specif­i­cal­ly, the abil­i­ty to gain organ­ic reach through social media is becom­ing increas­ing­ly hard.

Sim­ply pub­lish­ing con­tent through your own social and dig­i­tal chan­nels prob­a­bly isn’t going to reach suf­fi­cient num­bers of con­sumers to gen­er­ate the sales behav­ior you seek. Yes, you can use paid-for options to improve the chances of your con­tent being seen. But again, sim­ply get­ting your con­tent in front of peo­ple isn’t enough.

Berger’s book is a good start for help­ing you think about what fac­tors should be con­sid­ered when try­ing to cre­ate share­able con­tent. But are there any tools that can pro­vide prac­ti­cal insight into what kind and type of con­tent you should be cre­at­ing to increase the like­li­hood of shar­ing?

One tool that has been gain­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty this year is Buz­zSumo. This is a tool that allows you to see what kind and type of con­tent gets shared more often – and through which social plat­forms. Depend­ing on the top­ic or sec­tor you are inter­est­ed in, Buz­zSumo can show you if video or long form text con­tent gets shared more often. Or if Twit­ter is the most pop­u­lar plat­form for shar­ing rather than Face­book, LinkedIn, Google+, or Pin­ter­est.

A whole pletho­ra of tools and tech­nolo­gies all claim to help solve the increas­ing­ly embat­tled con­sumer mar­ke­teer. But per­haps more atten­tion should be giv­en to what approach­es are more like­ly to get that all impor­tant share­abil­i­ty fac­tor.

Cre­at­ing a mem­o­rable mes­sage or piece of con­tent is only part of the bat­tle. Your con­tent needs to have share­abil­i­ty hard­wired into it. Stick and spread needs to become the mantra of today’s con­sumer mar­ke­teer.

Andrew Smith

Written by Andrew Smith

Director, Escherman

Andrew Bruce Smith is the founder and Managing Director of digital communications consultancy Escherman. With a career spanning 29 years, Andrew has implemented many successful marketing communications programmes for brands such as IBM, MySQL, and Apple. He is co-author of two best-selling social media books - Share This: a practical handbook to the biggest changes taking place in the media and its professions (Wiley 2012). And Share This Too: More Social Media Solutions for PR Professionals (Wiley 2013). Andrew is also a trainer in measurement, evaluation, social media, analytics and SEO for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), a member of the CIPR Social Media panel and a guest lecturer at the University of Leeds Business School.


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