There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing your own content go viral. Just knowing so many people appreciate something you created is enough to make you feel all warm inside.
Unfortunately, it seems like the posts we belabor the most gain the least traction on social media and attract fewer views. Indeed, it sometimes seems like “going viral” is a completely random phenomenon.
But that isn’t necessarily the case. While it’s impossible to predict what will resonate with social media users, there are things you can do to give your post a fighting chance at being sharable. In fact, you can guarantee at least some social media traction by bearing in mind a few simple principles. The most important of these is proper packaging.
Standing Out In the Online Marketplace
Imagine yourself in a vast retail store with thousands upon thousands of products lining thousands upon thousands of shelves. As you wander through the isles, the occasional product seems to jump out at you, prompting you to pick it up and examine it more closely. Liking what you see, you put that product in your cart and continue shopping.
Why did you choose to buy that product? What made you pick it up in the first place? The answer is proper packaging. The internet is a vast marketplace of thoughts, ideas, opinions, and media.
While creating original and engaging content is certainly vital to the “going viral” process, your audience won’t ever see that content unless it’s marketed to them appealingly. So, you ask, how do I do it?
First, consider the different social networks you’ll be sharing your post at. How do they display articles and blog posts? For now, let’s focus on the biggest social network and the place you’re likely to gain the most reach: Facebook.
Facebook has a wide-post format with a landscape oriented featured image, visible meta description, and space above your post for something called a “lede.” Understanding the featured image, meta description, and lede are crucial to creating sharable posts on Facebook. Let’s examine them one by one.
Picking the Perfect Featured Image
Just like that product on the store shelves, a great featured image will jump out at a social media user and make them examine the post more closely. Especially if you use a publishing platform like WordPress, uploading and cropping a featured image is relatively easy. The tricky part is finding one that’s free to use and engaging.
First off, avoid overly generic stock photos, anything in black and white, or historical paintings—they rarely gain traction on social media. Instead, use Google’s Filter by License feature and enter relevant keywords. Try to find something unique and striking. Pictures of people often work best, but this isn’t an absolute rule. Even if you can’t find anything you like, use a free photo-editing tool like PicMonkey to make your image pop.
Crafting the Perfect Lede and Meta Description
Now that the shopper has picked up your product, they’ll examine it more closely to see if they want to take any further action. This is where the lede and the meta description come into play.
In the world of news, a lede is defined as a short introduction to an article, designed to make someone want to read more. On Facebook, a lede serves the same basic function. When you post an article, Facebook allows you to write text to go along with it. This text should be short, sweet, and entice the Facebook user to click or share.
In the past, simple ledes like “SHARE if you agree” worked wonders. Now, the popularity of these ledes are waning. However, you don’t have to write an essay here. Short and conversational ledes still work best. For example, if you’ve written a blog post about gun control, you might try something like “Please SHARE if you think it’s time to end gun violence.” Of course, you don’t always have to follow this format. Use your best judgment and think about what would make you click or share.
Moving on to the meta description, and the principle is very much the same. Meta descriptions are small bits of text that appear under your headline, intended to give a potential reader a better idea of what’s inside the article. This is your chance to really sell your work.
Resist the temptation to give too much away. You want to create a little mystery to entice the reader to click. Otherwise, they’ll simply process the information and move on. Why would they need to take any further action if they’ve already learned all they care to know?
So there you have it, some simple tips for creating highly sharable posts. Keep these in mind and you’ll be churning out engaging content like it’s nobody’s business.