In a perfect world, great content would be discovered magically and shared with all of the people who would properly appreciate it, trolls would remain under bridges and not hide behind anonymous shields to take potshots at anyone they deem worthy, and I would be married to Ke$ha. Unfortunately for you and me (and probably fortunately for Ke$ha), it’s not a perfect world. Ours is an Internet where the content is so overwhelming, churned out by millions of people, that you have to take steps to make your voice heard.
It’s a truly wonderful feeling when content that you created gets shared with other people. It means that you’re appreciated and your work is enjoyed and that you’re pretty and look really thin in those jeans. It means validation and credibility and something that gives you pride when your parents ask you what exactly you do all day long and why you can’t get a real job like your sister.
But how do you do it? How do you get your work shared?
1. Be original. I know this seems obvious, but it’s amazing, in the almost twenty years that I’ve been hanging around the Internet, how many times I’ve seen the same content repurposed or reimagined which is, in my opinion, the same as being regurgitated. And nobody wants to share vomit. If you have an interesting perspective on an issue, or if you created something that is unique, people will recognize that. Of course, there is that maxim out there that nothing is original, so if you’re one of those people who say that with a haughty tone and a martini in one hand with your pinky finger sticking out, just be as original as you can.
2. Don’t beg for it. Whether you’re talking about sex or a post being shared, very few people like that smell of desperation and will find it easier to just say no or possibly text all of their friends and call you a desperate creep. Be confident in your content and that confidence will inspire others to have faith that it’s worth sharing.
3. Defy conventions. There is no reason to do anything because “that’s how it’s always been done.” I always picture this giant room filled with old men with canes and top hats who decide how things should be done, and then I realize that I just pictured the Republican National Convention. Work in a way that suits you, create whatever you want in the way that you desire, and throw tradition and social mores to the wind. If you create even one piece of content that will make someone sit back and say “Wow, how did he/she do that?” you will have succeeded.
4. Evoke emotions. When you make readers sad or happy or angry, they will want to share that emotion with other people. An angry reader wants others to join in and vilify you, a sad reader wants to share the tears, and a happy reader wants to make everyone else just as happy. A corollary is to be brutally honest. Baring your soul, throwing down all barriers, and sharing your raw emotions with the world is guaranteed to resonate with your readers.
5. Dumb it down. If you don’t have anything raw and honest to share, if you like social conventions, and if you can’t come up with anything that you feel is unique, go back to the basic elements. The Internet audience as a whole has the attention span of that dog from Up, so quick, easy graphics or simple concepts that can be summed up in ten seconds will be easily digested by those out there who hate to think for themselves, and then it will be shared ad infinitum until we are living in the world envisioned by the movie Idiocracy. It’s not something I recommend, but I don’t like pandering to an audience; however, if you really want your name out there and your content to be shared, simpler and stupider is always better!
Cartoon by Adam Heath Avitable