shareable content

7 Steps To Creating Shareable Content: A Case Study

Viral content is everywhere – strewn across our social channels, encouraging internet users across the world to watch cat video upon cat video. As a marketer, most of us dream of seeing our content hit the big time. Having thousands of people share your work is an incredible feeling – a feeling that gives you a real buzz.

It’s not easy though. The internet is a huge place (somewhat of an understatement) where masses of content battles it out to get noticed. Most content flies under the radar, simply reaching the author’s social circles and never much beyond. So why would your content be any different? Is there a knack to hitting the big time, or is it just luck?

grumpy cat

The original Grumpy Cat video has been viewed over 18 million times...

When we created our Manchester Metrolink Rent Map, we knew it would gain some interest. However, we weren’t prepared for quite how much it would take off. Within four days of posting the map on our website and social channels, it had been picked up key media outlets in our area. We’d been interviewed by the local newspaper and had a photographer show up at our office to conduct a photoshoot. By the following Wednesday we were the number one story on their website.

From idea to production, the process had taken less than one week. But that’s the thing with great content – it can blow up overnight, seemingly out of nowhere.

So what is the secret? It’s a topic that is much-debated, and sadly there’s no concrete answer. Don’t be put off though – there are some handy tips you can follow in your quest to create the next Coca-Cola infographic (which, by the way, is highly flawed). We’re going to take our post as an example to take you through this guide.

A search for Thrillist's map brings up

A search for Thrillist's map brings up over 10,000 hits.

#1. Find inspiration

Take a look at Thrillist’s London Underground Rent Map. This is a brilliant piece of content – an infographic based on the London tube map, showing the average cost for a one bedroom property at each of the stations. When you land on Thrillist’s post, you’ll immediately click through to view the image in full, there’s no doubt about that. Intrigue makes you want to take a closer look at the tangle of coloured lines and eye-watering figures.

It’s a brilliant piece of content, and it works for a number of reasons. One, the tube map is iconic. It's instantly recognisable, and the blue snake of the river Thames adds to that. Two, the data is shocking; the thought of paying £2920 on rent each month should make most people feel slightly nauseous. Three, it looks great. The design is clean and highly professional. It’s informative, scandalous, and will appeal to the masses. It ticks all the boxes.

Do a Google search for ‘London Underground Rent Map’. Thrillist’s offering fills the first six pages, and then some. When we looked at this, we knew we had to take advantage. Searching for ‘Manchester Metrolink Rent Map’ didn’t come up with much, so we took it on ourselves to give the Underground map a Mancunian twist. Sure, the appeal wouldn’t be as widespread, but we knew that anyone who’d ever lived in the city might well take a passing interest. And so our project began.

We used Zoopla Market Data to gather our figures.

#2. Do your research

A great way to get your content noticed is to use original data. You can gather your own data either by conducting a survey or making use of online search facilities. If you do run a survey, make sure to speak to the right people. Pick your demographic and ensure you gather a large response. We used original data by compiling it using online sources. Our plan was to recreate the London map but using the Metrolink route. To make things directly comparable we followed suit and took the average rental cost of a one bedroom flat along each stop. We took each of the station’s postcodes and entered them into Zoopla’s market data search facility. (There was one drawback of this method, but we’ll get onto this later...) By conducting our own search and finding original data we provided our content with unique value, and Google loves unique value.

Twitter trends

Twitter is a great place to watch out for trends

#3. Stay relevant

To stay relevant with your content, you simply have to follow the trends. In the world of marketing, relevance is defined by what is trending. By creating content relating to those trends, you’ll stay at the top of the relevance pyramid. It’s easy to write content around trends and current affairs – just keep an eye on news headlines and suggested trends on social media. Reddit is another great source for inspiration. Piggybacking on a hot topic may well see your readership increase, so don’t be afraid to follow the crowd. Picking a topic that will stay relevant is also a great idea. It goes without saying that maps are enduring - Thrillist published their map back in September 2015, and it’s been gaining traction ever since. Both of our pieces have longevity (although we stated that ours relates specifically to 2015), so may well be picked up and shared way into the future. Et voila – relevancy.

Facebook stats

The organic reach from our initial post was fantastic.

#4. Nail shareability

Stating the obvious, if you want your content to make tracks, it has to be shareworthy. If the content only has value to you, it’s not going to go anywhere. Think about what people want, what people consume, and what people are likely to share with their peers. People share content for different reasons, so you need to tap into different aspects of the human psyche. These reasons include social validation, entertainment, beliefs, incentive, aesthetics and practicality. With our Metrolink map we ticked both the aesthetics and practicality boxes. We mixed attractive imagery with something highly informative, giving people double the reason to share the post with their friends. And share they did!


We love design.

#5. Make it look great

Not to be shallow, but when it comes to content, looks are everything. You need to organise your work in a way that will work for your readers – user experience is key here people. If your content is text-based, make sure to break up that text with spacing, images and other visual aspects. No one likes trawling through huge blocks of text. When it comes to images, they need to be high quality and sized correctly. If your images feature text, make sure it’s legible. Creating visual content is an art form – you need to think about typography, imagery, colours, layout and much more. If you want to produce something that looks great, take your time with it and most importantly enjoy yourself!

Reddit feedback

Response to our map varied wildly, but on the whole was positive and constructive.

#6. Cause a debate

People love to debate, especially on the internet. Remember the unescapable dress debacle? (White and gold, by the way...) If you post something that opens up debate and discussion, you’re likely to make an impact purely for the conversation that will open up in the comments section. Our choice of data collection wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, and perhaps didn’t give a 100% accurate impression of prices across the region. However, the ensuing debate got people talking with one another, offering their thoughts and critiques and even suggesting ways for us to improve the content in the future. When your content reaches a wide audience you will receive criticism, so take it on the chin and don’t take it personally. Causing a debate can be hugely beneficial for your business – after all, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

content promotion

Promoting your content is the key to success.

#7. Promote, promote, promote

There’s no point creating an amazing piece of content if no one’s going to see it. Simply posting on your website and social channels won’t cut it - not unless you’re happy with a mere handful of shares and retweets. When it comes to promotion, you really do have to put the legwork in. What’s more, you need to be resilient. Sure you’ll face some rejection and many people that you contact will simply ignore you, but you need to keep going. Do your research and contact any blogs and media outlets that are relevant to your industry. Try to find out the contact details or social accounts of key influencers and send them personalised messages with a link to your work. First impressions are key here, so think of a killer subject line and engage people rather than turn them off. We worked tirelessly to get our content out there, and admittedly the majority of people we contacted didn’t take the bait. However, it’s all about persistence so keep at it.

When it comes to content creation, not everything will work. Sure, your articles might be doing everything right, but it may only be that one that hits the big time. It’s crucial however that you keep making all the right moves. Post consistently great content, piggyback on trends and current affairs and share, share, share. Believe us, when that one story makes it, you’ll be smiling from ear to ear. If you need help or support with your content marketing, contact us at or call us on 0800 808 9980. You can also catch us on Twitter @digitalmediatm - we'd love to hear what you think.

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