Journalism organizations of all sorts and sizes are eager to grow their digital reach, bolster their brands, increase the impact of their work and, in many cases, generate new sources of revenue. One of the most effective ways to reach those goals is by getting others to help distribute your work — by sharing it on social media, for example. If you publish under a Creative Commons license (like Journalist’s Resource does, by the way) you probably also want other organizations to republish your articles, videos or photos on their websites.
What can you do to encourage people to share or republish your work? Joel Abrams, an expert in online content strategy, recently offered a slew of tips at the Online News Association’s annual conference in New Orleans. They’re lessons he learned over two decades working for organizations such as Boston Globe Media, the Christian Science Monitor and Inc. Magazine. Since 2015, Abrams has been the manager of media outreach at The Conversation US. He’s in charge of giving away content from The Conversation, a nonprofit site dedicated to spreading ideas from academic experts.
Want your content to go viral on social media? Abrams suggests doing this:
- Use numbers in headlines and tweets. “And use odd numbers, which are more memorable than even numbers,” Abrams says.
- Attach charts to tweets. “People like sharing a good chart,” he says. He adds that it’s crucial for a few accounts to “like” your tweet right away — to keep it from getting buried by Twitter’s algorithm.
- Limit hashtags. When you tweet about your work, Abrams recommends only using hashtags with terms and phrases that people are sure to be searching for on Twitter. Unless you’re just using them as a joke.
- Spark readers’ emotions. People react to, engage with and share tweets that make them care, Abrams explains. He adds that while tweets prompting outrage or fear are commonly retweeted, so are those that elicit positive feelings such as love and inspiration.
- Check out the hand-drawn chart in this article from io9. Even though it’s several years old, Abrams explains, it offers lots of insights on the kinds of content people are most likely to share on social media.
Want your work republished?
- Leverage your personal connections. Abrams suggests using LinkedIn to find friends and colleagues who can introduce you to others who might be interested in republishing your work on their websites and including it in their newsletters and other promotional materials.
- Offer content that connects with an organization’s core audience. This might mean offering different content to different organizations. Abrams adds it’s important to establish a relationship with someone at the organization to whom you can regularly pitch new content.
- Stay on top of the news cycle. Many organizations are interested in content that’s connected to something trending in the news at the present moment.
- Keep content to 500-600 words if you’re looking for print distribution. “People want a quick, digestible take or a really in-depth piece,” Abrams says. “If you’re not going deep, keep it short.” If you do go long, use bullet points to help readers get to key information quickly. Just like we did here.
Interested in research on social media? We’ve spotlighted studies that examine how misinformation spreads online and how the partisanship of journalists’ Twitter networks tends to show in their work.