5 ways to write articles people actually want to share

Over the past few years, I’ve studied writers who consistently produce viral content to try to replicate their success. (And landed an 11 million page view article along the way.)

Although I don’t think there is a perfect formula for virality (there are too many elements that you can’t control), here are five principles you can follow to improve your content and dramatically increase your page views.

1. Evoke emotion

As human beings, we each have the innate desire to make deep, emotional connections with other people. Your audience isn’t going to remember boring, dull content. However, they will remember something that made them laugh or cry. Powerful narratives that help readers feel personally connected with the author make up some of the most shared articles on the Internet.

2. Provide new ideas & insight

Enough is enough. We can only see the same life hacks so many times before we want to gouge our eyes out. If an idea is overplayed online, leave it alone. Take a different approach, come up with a new idea and do something that nobody has done before. It doesn’t have to be an earth-shattering discovery. Just come up with a spin that people will find interesting.

3. Encourage arguments

Neutrality doesn’t share. Have a distinct brand, voice and personality. If there is anything that will conjure up traffic and engagement, it’s controversy. Don’t be afraid if someone disagrees with you and only delete comments if they are inappropriate. The more people engage with your content on social media, the more people will see it in their news feeds.

4. Details matter

Sweat the small stuff. Take time to write a really compelling headline and choose an image that will pop out on a news feed. People are going to scan through your article as quickly as possible to see if it’s worth their time. So get to the point quickly, keep it short and break it up into chunks. Make it easy for your reader to get the whole idea of the article within a few seconds.

5. Obsess over social media

There is an ongoing debate about who is king – content or social. My opinion is neither one is king, but they are equal on the playing field. Your social media channels need to be fed by great content to succeed, and your content team needs to learn from your followers’ comments and behaviors to create better content. It’s worth your time to analyze how well your articles do on social and create a strategy based on that knowledge.

This article was originally published on Deseret Digital Media's Innovation Wire. Click here to subscribe.