Carson Ward, an online marketing manager at Clearlink, recently posted an excellent guest piece on The Moz Blog about creating credible, share-worthy content. Here are the highlights:

  • If you want people to share your content, your content must be credible. For your content to be credible, it must be trustworthy. In order for it to be trustworthy, it must be clearly written, accurate, insightful, and easily understood by the average person. And if you’re not making or breaking the news, then you need to be adding value to existing news through analysis, opinion, and proprietary data.
  • Experts either create or inform the most credible pieces of content. If your company does not employ experts in your field, then hire experts, interview experts, quote experts, or do all three. Faking expertise is a fast way to lose credibility with the people whom you want to share your content.
  • It is not enough to simply hire experts, though. According to Clearlink’s Carson Ward, studies show that people are most likely to share content created by experts who clearly care about the subject and the audience, content that is deep and thoughtful rather than shallow and superficial.
  • Titles matter. The higher up the food chain the author, the more credibility readers assign to that person’s reporting, analysis, and opinion. Something written by the Editor-in-Chief or the President and CEO is naturally more credible than something written by the Associate Editor or the Intern.
  • Referent credibility also matters. You trust certain publishers, specific writers, and selected people within your social networks. If they share something of interest with their audience – say, a blog post about how to build credible, sharable content – you’re more likely to share it, too, if someone you trust and respect shares it first.
  • Associative credibility is also important, whether it is based upon the name of your website, your website’s design and navigation, and the author’s or expert’s title. Present yourself as a serious company employing or referencing serious people and you’re more likely to be taken seriously.

Oh, and by the way, if you source expertise from outside the house, always be sure to cite the source, like I did at the beginning of this post.

— Christian Wardlaw