There are five characteristics that determine whether a piece of content is shareable. Readers identify with at least one of these characteristics when they make the decision to share a piece of content. Shareable social news is:
- Evocative: Social news elicits an emotion. If a piece of content elates or enrages, it has a very good chance of being shared. A social news creator must be able to identify content capable of either emotion and realize its full potential by creating it in the right form.
- Entertaining: Humorous content is shareable content. People like to laugh and they want their friends to think of them as funny.
- Useful: More than anything, people want to look intelligent. Content that shapes opinions and provides context to our world is the strongest driver of social currency.
- Compelling: Pieces that tell a great story have a profound impact on readers. Some of the most affecting examples of viral storytelling are short videos with fewer than 50 words of accompanying text. Video of a military parent returning from service and surprising their child during a game, a behind the scenes look at the family life of an SEC football coach, or even the Gatorade commercial of Derek Jeter walking to Yankee Stadium are all examples of a wide array of compelling content. Some of it is short, some it is long, all of it is visual and emotional. Relatable, humanizing stories are transcendent and unifying.
- Visual: Proper presentation is vital. Almost every piece of sharable content has powerful accompanying visuals. Photo selection, headline and even the size and positioning of the share buttons play crucial roles in the creation and spreading of viral content.
A final and overarching attribute of social news is timeliness. The right content on the right topic at the right time is the formula for a successful piece of social news.