Every content marketer wants their material to become more shareable. If you get more shares, your content will reach a much wider audience, generate much more attention, and ultimately yield more value for your brand. But creating an article that’s worthy of being shared is difficult; some of the best content writers in the country spend hours meticulously crafting content intended to go viral, only to have it fall flat.

So what does it really take to make something shareable?

These are the most important keys to viral success:

  1. Practical value—First, your content should be practically valuable in some way. For many niches, this means providing readers with important information, such as instructional guides, or public service announcements. For example, content with tips on how people can save money always seem to perform well. People love to share information with their friends and loved ones, so it doesn’t take much to persuade them to share.
  2. High quality—No matter how inherently valuable your topic is, if the content itself is full of errors or inaccuracies, it’s not going to get shared. “High quality” could mean any number of things, including sufficient research, intuitive organization, and aesthetically pleasing writing (as well as technical accuracy). Ideally, your work will have all of them.
  3. Visuals—Content with visuals (such as images and video) is shared far more frequently than content without visuals. It’s a good idea to embed at least one image or video into your work, even if your core content is the written article. When you attempt to syndicate the article, make sure the image is eye-catching, so it doesn’t get lost in news feeds.
  4. A surprise—Surprising content always gets shared more frequently than content that offers generic information. That surprise can take many forms; for example, you might offer a shocking statistic, or include a surprise announcement for a new product at the end of an unrelated video. The point is to catch people off guard, so they’re inclined to share that surprise with their followers.
  5. A catchy title—About 60% of people share content without ever reading the full article. Depressing as that is, you can use it to your advantage, by spending as much time crafting the title as you do the rest of your work. Catchy titles “hook” the reader with a tease of something exciting, a specific number, or charged language that piques your readers’ interests.
  6. Humor—If you can get a laugh out of your readers, you can probably get a share from them. Some brands may not like or appreciate the humor angle, but if your brand voice can tolerate it, we suggest trying to include some jokes or tongue-in-cheek references throughout your work.
  7. Strong emotions—Content that evokes any strong emotion, positive or negative, also tends to be shared frequently. These types of posts tend to attract lots of comments, which increase the post’s visibility. From there, people either want to share their positive emotions with others, or commiserate with their negative emotions.
  8. Influencer ties—If someone noteworthy has written, promoted, or has been featured in the piece, it will be more likely to be shared. Consider interviewing an influencer in your industry, or getting direct approval from one, before you publish your work.
  9. Ease of sharing—Readers are only going to share your content if you make it easy for them to share. The first step you should take is including share buttons at the bottom of your article as it exists on your site. From there, make sure you distribute the article regularly across all your social channels. Allow your users to share with just a click for maximum efficiency.
  10. Ongoing support—Content rarely goes viral on its own. If you want to increase the number of shares you get, you’ll need to provide it with ongoing support and expansion. That means retitling and redistributing it on occasion, or getting involved in the resulting comment thread to stir up even more interest in your work.

A Little Something Extra

It would be nice to say that as long as you follow these tips, anyone can create content capable of going viral, or at least attracting more shares than usual. But social media and reader behavior is too complex to reliably predict. These factors can give a piece of content enormous potential to be shared, but it’s certainly no guarantee. You’ll need an extra spark, or stroke of luck, if you want to get to that next step. Fortunately, the more consistent you are in following these steps, the more chances you’ll have to make it there.