Write Content that Matters

You want your content to be noticed. Here’s a checklist to make that happen.

Address an Audience Interest

People read things that speak to their needs and interests. Period. If your content doesn’t talk about something they need or want, it is worthless.

For blog and social media posts, target a single interest or need. On your website, make sure your content addresses all key needs.

Make the topic clear in your headline and subheads. Repeat over and over in the text so the focus remains clear.

Be Clear and Authentic

Use clear language that doesn’t overstep. Stick to the bounds of what you know, to avoid losing the respect of your reader. Make sure the content reads as helpful and informative rather than like a sales pitch.

Offer Something Valuable

If you don’t have a new insight to share, you don’t have content worth sharing. Write your content in a way that offers a fresh perspective, that connects the dots, or shares your unique insight.

Make valuable, actionable suggestions that makes the reader feel rewarded for diving in to your content.

Checklist to Great Content

There is a lot of content online. Most fails to grab attention. Some rises above the clutter.

The effort to create great content is worthwhile. Content marketing costs less and has been proven to generate more leads than traditional marketing.

Improve the chances that your content is seen and motivates your target audience by focusing on quality over quantity. As you create content, follow this checklist:

  • Speaks to a specific need of my target audience
  • Tells a good story
  • Makes a compelling case for credibility
  • Connects in an emotional way
  • Concise, thoughtful and adds to what is already out there

One way to make sure you create worthwhile content is to have it reviewed before it is published. The ideal reviewer represents your target audience. He or she should also have expertise in the topic being covered.

Ask for feedback. Does the content make a compelling case? Is it credible? Is it explained in a manner that makes sense?

After someone familiar with the subject gives your content a pass, don’t forget the value of copy editing. Your content needs to be easy to read online. Headlines and subheads need to catch attention and help tell the story. The content needs to be free of grammar and spelling errors.

Yes, this all takes time. Creating content that matters is worth it. The rest is just clutter that has no impact.

100 Million Headlines Don’t Lie

The headline is the most important part of your content. People decide what to read based on the headline. Shared content often includes little more than the headline with the link.

Buzzsumo recently analyzed 100 million article headlines to get insight into what is most effective. The research looked at the most shared headlines on Facebook and Twitter from March to May 20.

Headlines that Work on Facebook

  • The most powerful three-word phrase was “Will make you”
  • Two-word phrases that gained a high level of average engagements included “goes viral” and “most beautiful”
  • Emotional phrases such as “tears of joy” and “shocked to see”were consistently effective on Facebook
  • Headline phrases that provoke curiosity and a sense of voyeurism also gained a high level of engagement on Facebook, such as “What happened next” and “are freaking out”
  • Many of the most engaging phrases contain numbers, and the number 10 is the best performing number to use

Headlines that Work on Twitter

  • The headline phrases that gained the most engagement on Twitter were different from those that gained high engagement on Facebook except for “will make you”
  • Top Twitter phrases have a focus on newness such as “this is what,” “for the first time,” and “things to know”
  • Emotional phrases do not resonate on Twitter

Word Count Matters Too

Buzzsumo also analyzed the number of words in article headlines and plotted this number against the average number of Facebook engagements for all headlines in our sample.

  • Posts with 2-18 words in the headline receive the highest number of Facebook engagements on average
  • As headlines get longer or shorter, Facebook engagements decline
  • 80 to 95 characters is optimal

Add Your Intel

The research also demonstrated that a headline may perform poorly on Facebook but work very well a different social network. While this research provides some great guidance, knowledge of your target customer should be used to refine your efforts.