10 Secrets to Creating Sharable (Maybe Viral) Content

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

woman posing next to a wall image of a mega phone with "like, love, and share" buttonsThere are times when healthcare providers—even health systems and hospitals—dive into content publishing with only a general idea about where they’re going or how to get there. Right from the start, creating and publishing authoritative material is challenging. But the initial creative step just gets the ball rolling.

We all know that regular postings and updates support online visibility via websites, blog pages, social media platforms and other postings. Staying fresh and timely helps Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But all too often well-intended publishers inadvertently miss out on the positive benefits of content that is shareable.

The simple definition is that good online information has added value or potential through sharing. When the initial readers are inspired to pass the content to others…thereby extending reach and influence to a wider audience. Sometimes, the grand prize is the sudden and often unexplained explosion of public attention when something “goes viral.”

Viral exposure is usually a good thing, but it tends to be rare, short-lived and unpredictable. But creating regular content that can connect to new readers has greater value over time. Here are some of the secrets to consider when creating sharable content.

How ideas spread as shareable content…

A recent study by UCLA psychologists suggests that “people are regularly attuned to how the things they’re seeing will be useful and interesting, not just to themselves but to other people.” It seems that’s the way we’re wired, according to UCLA Professor Matthew Lieberman.

Generally, people tend to be touched by emotions. Both positive and negative feelings can grab attention and inspire sharing. Overall, people want to share information with other people, particularly when it is:

  • Useful – where information can be helpful or beneficial
  • Amusing – content that has entertainment or simple “feel good” value
  • Inspiring – materials that touch emotions or a high level of curiosity

 In addition to these high-level characteristics, ideas and information are more likely to be shared:

  • A specific purpose, cause or defined need. The millennial cohort, in particular, relates to belief-driven ideas.
  • Make it visually compelling with videos, graphics, charts or infographics.
  • Offer a specific takeaway, reward or incentive.
  • People love lists of specific characteristics, how-to steps or defined directions.
  • Provide an opinion or provoke an important discussion or debate.
  • Surprising information and things that are unusual or unexpected.
  • Timely, topical matters or provocative ideas that are in the news are often shared.
  • When social validation shows others also share. People use share and like buttons (with counters) to join others and be part of the group approval.
  • When there is a unique value or unusual authority for content not available elsewhere.
  • Where practical, how-to or implementation value is strong or beneficial.

There is no simple or single magic ingredient in the sharable formula…and that’s a good thing. In fact, there are many techniques that give interesting and informative content an added opportunity for readers to share and extend your reach and impact.

Being shareable means you are useful to your audience, and your content has added value in reaching people beyond the initial circle. For more ideas about the value of creative content, please give us a call.

Oh…here’s one more tip: Ask a question…like, what would you add to this list? What have you used or what do you recommend as a way to inspire shareable content?

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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