As a Community Manager, I read a LOT of content on a daily basis. And yet, I'm constantly disappointed by how much of it just isn't shareable.
My rule for sharing content is simple (in fact, you probably learned it in kindergarten): Sharing is caring. I care about our community, and I want to reflect that in the quality of content that I share with them.
To put it bluntly: Curating crap means you think your audience deserves to read crap.
Think of sharing content like taking someone out to dinner. If you don't care about your date, you'll probably take them to some crappy fast food restaurant because it's quick and easy and you want to get it over with. The meal will satisfy them for about 30 mins, then they'll suffer from a sodium overdose and be left with a stomach ache all afternoon (you jerk!).
OR, you can take them to a Michelin star restaurant where the dishes are slightly more expensive, but made with care and skill. Every menu item has a recommended wine pairing to further enhance the experience. You'll treat them to something that is so much more than a hearty, satisfying meal - it's an unforgettable experience.
Your audience, which consists of your current and potential customers, deserves the Michelin star content menu, every time. With that in mind, I compiled a list of the five main reasons why I don't share content.
1. It looks ugly
The first thing I do when I click on a link is quickly scroll through to scan the length and overall readability. I check that it's easily digestible, with a good font size, paragraph breaks, and subheadings that provide some paragraph relief.
I also check for good usage of visuals. I've seen far too many blogs whereupon first glance, I can't tell if their images are graphics supporting their blog content or banner ads.
I don't know what these images are, but I know what they are not. They are not good.
Let's face it: Even if the content itself is great for my audience - well-written, backed with legitimate data, etc. - if it looks sketchy, I'm not going to share it. That would be like trying to tell someone how to become a wizard in a garbage dump - they'd be too distracted by the rotten sights and scents to fully appreciate the valuable information I'm imparting upon them.
2. I can't find the sharing buttons
Nowadays, with so many Google Chrome extensions for social media dashboards and article saving apps, sharing to a social media channel directly from a blog post is easy.
But you know what's easier? Sharing directly to social via social sharing buttons.
Social sharing buttons also serve a couple of other purposes for me:
They give me a quick idea as to how the content is already resonating with readers via the number of social shares
They make it easier for me to locate the proper Twitter handle or Facebook Page name to credit the source on social and boost engagement
Of course, if it's a great post, I'll put in the effort to share it. But that's not to say your other readers will. You've been warned.
3. It has spelling, grammar or factual errors
I understand how spelling and grammar issues slip through the cracks. Any content creator has been there, frantically trying to meet a deadline while battling tired eyes and fuzzy brain after staring at blog posts on a screen all day.
But just because I understand how it happens doesn't mean it's an excuse. Good editing takes just as much (if not more) time and effort than creating the actual content itself. A few tips for good editing:
Use a spelling/grammar plugin like Grammarly to help you self-edit
Take a break between writing and editing (sleep on it)
ALWAYS have another person (or people) edit your content
Set a standard editing process that includes a timeline
Don't rush - give yourself a good amount of time to edit
Editing isn't an afterthought, it's a vital part of the content creation process. Spelling and grammar errors are a sign of carelessness, so one of the easiest ways to show your audience you care is by editing.
4. It's lacking original thought
Audiences - regardless of what stage of the funnel they're at - are smart individuals. Their time need not be wasted with "ripoff" posts.
What is a ripoff post, you ask? A blog post that is an inferior imitation of a better blog post. I'm not saying that two blogs can't cover the same topic - in fact, I think it's a best practice to use content to continue a conversation or "hot button" issue in an industry.
But that's the thing - in order for a conversation to be continued, the content needs to contain a unique perspective.
Imagine four friends sitting at a dinner table, and their conversation about #TheDress controversy goes something like this:
Friend #1: "They've scientifically proven that the dress is blue and black."
Friend #2: "Blue and black, yes, it's been scientifically proven."
Friend #3: "Indeed, science has proven that the dress is blue and black."
Friend #4: "Blue and black is the colour of the dress, as has been proven by science."
Don't be friends number 2, 3 and 4. Bring something new to the table.
There are SO MANY WAYS to add your own unique thought leadership to a topic - interviews, questions, comparisons, lessons, predictions, stories, personal experiences, humour, rants... the list goes on. Take a risk!
5. It doesn't offer any actionable value
Perhaps the most important "share factor" of them all is, at the end of the day, whether or not the content will provide value to the reader. Does it address and explore some sort of resolution to at least one of my audience's pain points?
For example, I want you to leave this post with an answer to "What might I be doing that is causing my content to not get shared?" (and be as frustrated as I am with the hideous amount of crappy content that's being published).
Your content should answer the 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why), but also, perhaps most important, How. Not every post has to be a "How To," but every piece of content should outline how your readers can apply the topic or principle to help reach their goals. And if you don't even have an answer to that, then chances are, you need to nix that idea and take a new approach.
If you want your content to travel far and wide, it has to be created with care. Caring about the quality of your content is proof that you care about your audience. And caring is contagious - if you care, chances are myself (and other content marketers who care!) will share.
Join my crusade against crappy content. Tell me why YOU don't share content in the comments!