These 4 questions will change how you write articles forever

Amberlee Lovell | Content Manager, FamilyShare Network, DDM | @amberleelovell | March 1, 2016

Every day, publishers are competing for attention.

As a content manager for the FamilyShare Network, even with a following of 100 million social media fans, this constant battle can be overwhelming. With millions of posts made every minute on social media, how do you make your content stand out? Assuming you already have a killer headline and image, your content will never grab the attention it needs if you aren’t considering these four questions each time you write.

1. What content has performed well in the past?

In the old journalism age, articles were published with little to no input from readers. This isn’t that age anymore. Social media audiences provide instant feedback (good and bad), and that data is worth gold. As a content producer, analytics should be your best friend. If you’re not obsessing over the numbers, you won’t see improvement.

Analytics can provide ideas for future articles. If a topic hits home with your audience, investigate deeper. If a piece of content doesn’t perform, pivot. Data should drive your decision-making.

2. Would I share this?

If you are not willing to share an article, why would anyone else? While page views and likes are good, the most important social media metric is whether or not someone is willing to share it.

In an interview with Fast Company, BuzzFeed senior editor Matt Stopera explained that shares are the most important factor in driving traffic. Shares trump any other social media metric. Sharable content carries the message to people you otherwise would not reach. When writing an article, the ever-present question in your mind needs to be whether or not you would share it.

3. What emotion does this stir?

Viral articles typically have one trait in common: they evoke at least one powerful emotion. Whether it’s anger, fear, curiosity, happiness, nostalgia, amusement, devotion, appreciation, passion or agreement, if your article isn’t cultivating one of these feelings, it won’t inspire someone to pass it along.

Including controversial topics within your article is a great way to spark that passion necessary for people to become invested in the piece. These are the feelings you need in order for that article to reach a larger audience.

Engross yourself in the comments your readers make on your article. What points does your audience feel passionately about? You might be surprised by which topics rile them up. Those issues provide perfect ammo to slip into subsequent articles.

4. Is it unique?

If you’ve made it this far into the article, congratulations! According to a Nielsen Norman Group analysis, readers typically read about 18 percent of an article and spend less than four seconds on the page.

This means your article better offer something the reader can’t get anywhere else. If you can come up with the main talking points for your article within 10 minutes, chances are, it’s not going to be unique or interesting enough for your audience. If you’re asked to write about a generic topic, make sure your sub points are phrased in an eccentric way.