Let’s first set the base… you probably know how to create content that gets clicked, but content that gets clicked works differently from content that gets shared.

But having your content shared should be one of the ultimate aims for your brand online. The reason for this is that getting shared can lead to exponential growth in your user-base and potentially even help something you create to ‘go viral’. (Going viral is defined as being shared a million times, which of course is rather beneficial for any business!)

This is taking full advantage of the very nature of social media. The great thing about social media is that it mimics real life social networks and the way that memes and ideas spread through them. If you create a post and upload it to Facebook, the hope is that 10 of your followers might Like it, share it or comment on it.

When this happens, that post then becomes visible to all the people that are connected to those users. So now your exposure has just grown by 1,000%! And if 10 of the friends of each of those ten people shares your content, then you’ll be seen by 10,000% more… and it keeps growing!

So how do you go about creating content that will go viral and get shared that much? Or how do you at least make something that will get shared a little bit…

The Psychology of Sharing

It all comes down to psychology and to understanding why people share in the first place.

And to understand this, we need to revisit a concept from right at the start of this book: the persona.

As you’ll hopefully recall, a persona is a fictional biography that describes the individual that your post, your product or your service is for.

When you’re creating content that you want to share well on social media, you need to keep this persona in mind at all times. It can help to imagine someone you know in the real world who is just like that person. Keep them in your mind as you write and imagine that you are sat opposite them and explaining the subject directly to them.

This will lead to a more engaging post and it will lead to something that is highly targeted at your specific end user.

But that’s not where the magic lies.

The magic lies in what happens when you share this content and someone reads it.

And again we need to go back to something we said earlier:

Social media is primarily a tool for communication.

The reason this is relevant is simple: people share because they’re communicating. When someone shares your post, they are doing it as a form of communication.

This means that they either share the content with their audience, or a specific friend because they think they’re going to enjoy it; OR they share it on their own wall as a form of self-expression. In both scenarios, other people and communication are at the heart of their motivation.

And this is why having a previse persona in mind is so useful and important.

Let’s imagine your persona is ‘anyone who works from home’. So you’ve written a blog post that is perfectly targeted at people who work from home and that addresses things they might go through. Let’s say you’ve called it:

‘This is Why Your Friends Struggle to Work From Home’

Or perhaps:

‘Five Life-Changing Tips for People Who Work From Home’

Now you’ve created that title, it’s perfectly clear who that post is aimed at. Now, when you share it to your followers, some of those people reading are going to identify strongly with the title. They identify as someone who works from home and they probably enjoy that fact about themselves. Thus, by sharing that content with their friends, they are communicating that they relate to your post and telling their audience something about them.

But there’s another kind of person who will share this content too: the kind of person who knows someone who works from home. Because the article is so clearly targeted at a particular persona and because the second one offers to provide value, you might think: ‘this will be useful for Jeff’. Thus, you share it to Jeff’s wall and you thereby help out Jeff and show you’re thinking of him – making your friendship stronger.

Either way, your post has facilitated that.

Personas, Titles and Routes to Market

Notice how we’re bringing this all together nicely here? It really is simple once you land on that formula and it helps in a ton of ways.

Because when you’re writing for a persona, you’ll also be creating more routes to market for your posts. One great example? Social communities.

For example, if you write an article called ‘What Writers Can Learn From Bruce Lee’, then you’ve created something with two very interesting personas: writers and martial artists.

This then means that you can share your post in a number of interesting places in order to reach a huge audience that will be perfectly targeted for that post. Join a Google+ community or a Facebook Page that’s all about Bruce Lee for instance and post there and you’ll probably get a hundred Likes or more.

Another great option is Reddit which is all about finding specific audiences with particular interests.

This is a great way to find smaller sections of your audience and to hone in on them too. Maybe you did pick a large niche for your blog like ‘Making Money Online’ – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t target your articles at smaller sections of your market like work-from-home Mums or students who want to start online businesses. Write articles specifically for them and share them to these online communities that will provide your routes to market.

More Ways to Get Likes and Shares

Of course that’s not all there is to getting likes and shares – there are a number of other hints and tricks too.

For example, remember how we said you could use BuzzSumo in order to share other people’s content? Well how about using that same tool as a way to come up with ideas for your own content? Don’t copy anything you see is doing well here but rather look at it and see which niches and which titles are doing particularly well. Now you can write something in a similar tone or on a similar concept and hopefully enjoy the same success.

Looking at what’s trending is also a very good idea and especially on Twitter and Instagram where a topical hashtag can make all the difference.

You can also empower others to share your content. For instance, try using the plugin in Shareaholic. This will add social sharing buttons to your blog posts on WordPress, meaning that people who enjoy your content can share it quickly with others on Facebook or on Twitter.

And don’t forget to simply ask people to share your content too! This is something that people do an awful lot on YouTube and it can work well on your blog too. Write the best blog post you can possibly write and then at the end just say:

“If you loved this blog post then please consider Liking it on Facebook. It helps me a great deal and that way, I’ll be able to keep updating you with more awesome posts!”

Sometimes you just gotta’ ask!