The secret to creating shareable content on social mediaYour company’s Facebook Page features inspiring posts, your Pinterest account is stunning, your tweets show off both your humour and your intelligence… You rule on social media!

And yet you don’t. The stuff you come up with is staying put. Hardly any shares, and not as many likes as you’d, uh, like. What happened to ‘if you post it, they will share’?

Sadly, creating shareable content isn’t a matter of simply following a recipe or a formula. But ad agency Ogilvy & Mather have put together a handy infographic which includes all the elements you need. By mixing and matching them to suit your SME’s offering, you can come up with fabulously shareable material – and the power of social media will take it from there.

Here’s a closer look at 4 important ingredients which will get people clicking.

1. Know your social media audience

People don’t care about you, they care about themselves. Others are only going to want to share your material if there’s something in it for them. People might share a post announcing your business promotion if they’re a friend of yours, or (and this is not a positive!) if there’s an embarrassing error in your text – but it’s not going to get much further than that.

For social media users to want to share your content, it needs to be of value to them. Your first step is to understand what’s important to your audience. Chances are that hearing about how your company has the best service or the most competitive prices is not going to inspire them to click that ‘share’ button.

So what will interest them? While the specific subject matter depends on your target audience, keep on reading to learn what will get people sharing.

2. Touch a chord

Last year, Indian jewellery brand Tanishq used the historically taboo theme of remarriage – widowed and divorced women are shunned in some parts of India – to set the scene for its new advert. The ‘remarriage’ advertisement received worldwide media coverage, and went viral on Facebook.

The reason? Ogilvy & Mather remind us that many of our decisions are based on emotional factors rather than rational ones. We are more likely to want to share content that evokes an emotional response than one that offers practical information on how to do something.

Tanishq’s short yet very moving advert is an example of narrative storytelling, but you don’t need to have the budget for ad-agency promotional spots like these. Even simple photos create shareworthy material: they tell a story. And that’s why a picture is worth a thousand words – even on social media.

3. Leverage social proof

The idea is simple enough: we are more likely to want to do something if we see that other people are doing it too. Call it herd mentality if you like, but we all want to be part of the gang. In practical terms this means that using testimonials and pictures from your existing customers is a good way to leverage social proof.

If, for instance, you run a yoga studio, positive testimonials and attractive pics will demonstrate that other people like your business. Most people aren’t going to rush out to try your offering on the basis of one social media mention, but the social proof is reinforced as you build your online community.

The comments and reviews on your company’s Facebook Page, likes and reshares of your photos all encourage others to join in. The more popular something is, the more likely it is to show up in news feeds, increasing your business’s reach still further.

4. Keep it Simple, Stupid

Simple Advocacy is perhaps the most obvious ingredient, and yet so often overlooked. Don’t forget to ask your followers to share, like, repin or retweet your content. And make it easy for them to do so. Include social media share buttons on all your communications, and consider which platforms might be the most effective for various types of content. Don’t waste your time tweeting a link to a great photo – put it straight on Facebook, Pinterest or even Instagram.

As one social media maven said: “You need to spend 50% of your time on the idea and 50% on how you spread it. Not 95% and then only a tiny portion on how to spread the idea.”

Think before you post, make it easy for your audience to do what you want them to, talk about things they’re interested in, and let them see that others are interested too. Then you’ll be well on your way to creating shareable content.