Pass It On: 5 Ways To Create Compelling Content

So you have great content, but is it being seen? Here are five ways to refine and package for optimal attention.
September 30, 2011

While imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery, nothing beats the satisfaction that comes from having your content shared, forwarded or re-tweeted. So why is it that some anecdotes, blog posts or articles circulate through media circles like wildfire while equally interesting content largely goes unnoticed?

The reality is there’s no magic bullet that’s a surefire way to get people talking about your company. However there are ways to naturally inspire readers to pass along your content through social media channels.

Assuming you’ve got great content to begin with, here are five ways to refine and package it for optimal attention.

1. Metaphors and similes

As a grammar refresher, metaphors are implied comparisons between two unlike things that actually have something in common. For example, the phrases “time is money” and “heart of stone” are commonly used metaphors.

Similes compare two unlike things and use the words “like” or “as” to draw a comparison, such as “life is like a box of chocolates.”

Be creative and clever in introducing a new simile or metaphor to increase the chances of your readers retaining your message. Just be sure to test it out on a few folks before committing to it.

Remember, if you’re trying too hard to coin a new phrase or the metaphor seems like too great of a stretch, that’s a good sign you may need to go back to the drawing board.

2. Images and slideshows

Along with creating images in the reader’s head, you can also draw in readers and reinforce the message with captivating images.

Slideshows are another great way to get out your message in a “shareable” format. Why not try to tell your story in 10 click-through images or less? After all, a picture is still worth a thousand words.

3. Pithy headlines

One trick to writing punchy and memorable headlines is to write them last, after the story is complete.

You may also want to strive to keep your headlines under 140 characters. This way, your Twitter followers can more easily re-tweet your message without having to edit their name or your work of genius.

4. “Is equal to”

One of the most effective ways to put a large number into context for your readers is to illustrate the impact of that number in the real world.

For example, when we read that the 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high, our mind instantly conjures the image of a football field filled with red, green and gold cards.

If you’ve got large numbers you’re trying to convey, break out your calculator and figure out how it applies to the reader’s everyday life.

5. Have fun with statistics

Take on the role of an actuary by comparing the likelihood of an event actually happening and drawing a parallel to your content.

For example, the likelihood of being struck by lightning is higher than the odds of winning the lottery. Or perhaps comparing the 2004 odds that the Boston Red Sox would win the World Series to relevant data from your company will help put your story into perspective.

There are lots of ways to tie mainstream news with statistics and tie them to your business by combing through the latest news headlines.

As you experiment with these different ideas, test and track your results. You’ll find that certain ideas will be more effective than others though you can’t always gauge which will yield the best results.

While some messages will be more popular than others, you want to steer away from continuously repeating a successful approach because it will lose its effectiveness if it becomes part of every message.

Along with these five tips, one of the easiest tactical elements you can add to your e-mail newsletter, website or blog are sharing buttons. This way, readers can easily click a link and redistribute your content to the social media outlet of their choice.