Want More Results? Make Your Content Likable and Linkable

If there’s one area where journalists and public relations professionals are in complete agreement, it’s around writing quality. Whether you’re writing articles, blog posts, emails or subject lines, great writing trumps all. If your writing is exceptional, more of your articles will get read – and more of your pitches will be spared from the delete button. Unfortunately, great writing skills are only half the equation today. If you really want to drive results with your content, your writing needs to be engaging, interesting, relevant and compelling, but also linkable.

We’re in a sharing economy today. If you write something great, it should be easy for your readers to share it with their friends. If you’re writing exclusively for print, you significantly limit the reach of your content. In David Meerman Scott’s latest book, World Wide Rave, he stresses the importance of linkable content for driving increadible (often unbelievable) viral marketing results. He urges marketers to remove all barriers for sharing, and to make it easy for anyone to consume and share your content. He also provides some great pointers for making your information compelling and interesting, which is a prerequisite for getting people to share your content in the first place.

Bottomline: linkable content is about writing content people will want to link to. Content they will share with others, who in turn share with others. This is how your content goes viral and reaches the maximum number of people possible. Isn’t that what you’re writing for in the first place? It should be.

If you’re not doing so already, evaluate the content you’re producing on a regular basis in terms of its potential appeal to your audience, as well as how easy it is to share across multiple channels. If you only have a basic understanding of this concept, here is some additional food for thought that might help:

  • If you write for a newspaper or other print publication, do your articles also appear online? Are the articles available to any vistor to the site for free, or do users need to subscribe or register to read the articles? If the latter, you’re limiting your audience. Encourage management to break down the barriers. A good example of this point is PRWeek, my top source of news for the PR industry. There is so much good content I would love to share with other people, and discussions I’d like to engage in, but the subscription wall stops much of this from happening. People are less likely to share content their readers will have to jump through hoops to access.
  • If you write and distribute press releases, do you write them as a journalist would write a story? Do you answer the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How in your release? Do you avoid industry jargon and gobbledygook that is so commonly used in releases these days? Would you want to write about the release if you were a journalist?
  • If you do have a newsworthy press release, do you distribute your news on a wire service? Do you also format your release for social media consumption, using a social media release platform like PitchEngine? Do you blog about your own news on your site and provide and easy way for your readers to comment, share and link to your post? Your blog might reach more readers than the publicity you generate – don’t overlook this option. And finally, do you tweet about your news on the day it goes out and update your other statuses across social networks? The list goes on an on. If you’re not doing most of these things, you could be missing out on thousands of readers.
  • Back to the journalism side of the equation, do you share links to your recent articles across these channels? You can’t rely on search engine visitors, email and RSS subscribers and your friends and family to pass the word along. You need to get your content into the hands of as many people as possible.
  • What are you doing to help people find your content beyond these suggestions? Do you optimize all your content for search engines? If you’re not using descriptive page titles, descriptive permalinks, meta descriptions, meta keywords, alt image text and headers to your advantage, you might be missing out on thousands of people searching for the topics you’re writing about.
  • Similarly, all your content should include options for sharing. Make it easy for people to tweet about your content, to share your content via social bookmarking sites, or to email your content to their friends.

This may sound like common sense to a lot of you, but more oftent than not, great content goes unnoticed because it’s not presented in a format that is easy to discover and share. Writing great, likable content is only half the battle. Today, if you want to get noticed and rack up the results for your hard work, you need to make it easy for your readers to find and share your content.

How are you making it easy for people to find and share your content? What steps do you take to ensure your content is as good as it can possibly be?

(Image Credit: Keys by fotologic)

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.

11 Comments

  1. Jeremy, Great post and thanks for mentioning my book.

    Another thing I would add is the importance of writing for an audience, not for your ego. With companies, when ego gets in the way, the content is written about the product (which nobody cares about). If you write for an audience, it means you focus on people’s problems.

    Best, David

    • Great point. But no surprise, you are the expert in this area.

      I think a great example is the stuff HubSpot has done, particularly around the Grader stuff (grader.com). I was pleased to see them mentioned in your book, because I was a fan way before that. I’ve never done business with them, but their information is always very helpful and informative. They remain top of mind with me. If I were to ever buy marketing automation software, I’d probably call them first (because they’ve already helped me out).

      If all they did was host webinars about how great their product is, I would probably never attend (and would forget about them). Keep the ego in check. Help people and they will help you.

  2. OK so I tried to go to Pitch Engine and it is NOT a trusted site. It looked like an awesome site until I tried to sign up and got the big fat warning and the button that says “Get me out of here” Looks like I wont be using that one. Thanks for the article. Good stuff

    • Kim, thanks for your feedback. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you must have done something wrong or gone to the wrong site (or have some funky pop-up blocker that doesn’t like the site for some reason).

      I can assure you that PitchEngine.com is a trusted site. The company’s social media release platform is used by a ridiculous number of top brands, including IBM, Mattel, Xerox, Microsoft, The American Red Cross (and me). 🙂

      Thanks again for reading. I’ve personally used the service myself and it’s great. If you are going to the right site and you’re still getting the message, you may want to let them know about it.

    • Kim, Jeremy is correct, PitchEngine is a very secure site. We just made the switch over to a faster, more robust server last week and you may have caught us in that transition. Could explain why there was a message up at one point.

      My apologies for encountering this and hope you’ll be able to log on and see what you’re missing!
      Best,
      Jason Kintzler
      @jasonkintzler
      PitchEngine

  3. Another point could be the ambivalence of “likable” : not only that people like it, but also can express it by a vote or a +1 or whatever.
    You get then useful data on what your readers enjoy & appreciate, you can sort the “most liked articles” in a column. The reader has a sense of participating to the organisation of your own homepage. This enables you also to make “best of” articles on a regular basis (weekly, monthly…).

  4. Back to the journalism side of the equation, do you share links to your recent articles across these channels? You can’t rely on search engine visitors, email and RSS subscribers and your friends and family to pass the word along. You need to get your content into the hands of as many people as possible.
    I’d be very careful on this front. While promoting your work through social media is fine, there’s a thin line between promoting and spamming, and people have widely variable tolerances for both.

    I’ve long used Twitter primarily as a way to get story ideas and sources. In a new role, I started promoting more content, and ended up losing a few long-time sources as followers. And for what? The traffic Twitter drives, except in a few exceptional cases, is relatively minimal, and if you’re just spamming people, it’s probably not targeted to the right audience always.

    Perhaps Vonnegut said it best when he advised, “Pity the reader.”

  5. Great post Jeremy!
    There are indeed so many things that can make today’s PR content more sharable and findable. I would also suggest including a shortened url in your content to encourage the reader to share.

    All good feedback, and thanks for mentioning PitchEngine – can’t wait to show you what’s on tap!

    @jasonkintzler
    PitchEngine

  6. linkable content is about writing content people will want to link to.
    Can I get an AMEN!

    Sorry,… I really like your idea about likable content. If it’s not likable then it will not be linkable. =)

    Not to mention all the other great tips you give away… sharing buttons, content distribution… Good piece.

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