This sponsored post is produced in association with Citrix GoToWebinar.

Here you are again. Refreshing your website for the millionth time to see if anyone shared or commented on your week-old post. No matter how much effort you put into your post, your readership refuses to grow.

Don’t blame the audience. The reason why no one is reading your content is because you’re neglecting key strategies that will help make your work go viral. And with new websites and blogs opening up everyday, you need all the help you can get.

Headlines can make or break your content

According to Copyblogger, an average of 8 out of 10 people will read the headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the article. If the reader finds your headline boring, he won’t be motivated to read the rest.

Upworthy suggests in its “How To Make That One Thing Go Viral” slideshow to write out 25 headlines for an article. The exercise helps dump out the crappy and predictable headlines and churn out the clever and exciting one hiding in your head.

When writing out one of those 25 headlines — or 10 if 25 is daunting — think about making your headline emotional. CoSchedule states headlines based on emotions, such as happiness or anger, perform the best on social media.

There’s even an online tool to judge how emotionally invested your headline is called the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. It categorizes your headlines in three categories: Intellectual, Emphatic, and Spiritual. This is useful in deciding which headline would best suit your target audience, or which type performed the best on them. If your audience prefers headlines that evoke reasoning or careful evaluation, then you need to aim for the best Intellectual score.

Certain words also contribute to viral success stories, as shown in this 2013 analysis by Iris Shoor.

Headlines with the words “no,” “without,” and “stop” generated strong shares. Continuing the thought, albeit in a darker way, “kill,’ “fear,” “dark,” “bleeding” and “war” contributed to top shares. If you don’t feel like turning your content into a horror show, other successful words used in high-sharing posts are “smart,” “surprising,” “science,” “history,” “hacks,” “huge,” “big,” and “critical.”

Producing content people want to read

A good post should be easy to read — not filled with never-ending walls of text. It’s why numbered or bulleted lists are favored by online readers: they’re easy to spot out and digest. The same is true for subheadings which make it easier for viewers to comprehend detailed posts.

Searching for what’s trending online is one way to gain attention and Quora is an ideal tool for this situation. Quora allows you to search any topic your target audience might be interested in based on popularity and quality. For example, let’s say you want to write about the travel business, but not sure how to go about it. One popular thread on Quora talks about which airline or domestic travel is best for going to India. You can use this thread to write an article about your own travels to India, or name airlines that share the positive qualities users were looking for.

BuzzSumo is another useful tool for topic scouting. It not only lets you see which topic performs best on social media, but lets you see how well your competitors did discussing the same topic as well — very helpful in deciding which topic and approach would be best for your readers.

Most importantly, seeing the common trends regarding your niche allows you to think of ways to make your approach unique from everyone else.

The simplest and often overlooked way to finding out what your audience wants is to merely ask them with a short survey, newsletter, or social media question.

Get social media to work harder

Beyond owned properties, it’s essential to distribute your content effectively, and, of course, social media is a must. But there are best practices you might be ignoring.

Plus, not only does your content get a huge boost in distribution across social media channels, but social can improve your content in search. According to Branded3, URLs receive significant lift in Google rankings when they’re shared on Twitter. URLs with over 7,500 tweets almost always rank inside the top 5 results when people are searching a topic you may have written about.

But how should you compose your social media posts?

Based on this infographic by Kevan Lee, the most popular social media posts had these ideal character counts:

  • Twitter: 71–100 characters
  • Facebook: 40 characters
  • Google+: 60 characters
  • LinkedIn: 80–120 characters

There are other factors to consider in catering to certain social media markets. Hootsuite researched the demographics associated with each social media account and her are some of the results:

  • 38 percent of internet users access social media through mobile
  • 54 percentof Millennials use LinkedIn for industry news and advice
  • 76 percent of Tumblr and 74 percent of Instagram users are teens

With this kind of intel in hand, you’re then equipped to target and segment your audience using the most appropriate platform. You might use Instagram for a promotional contest targeting teens and young adults, Twitter to drive general mobile traffic to your blog, or LinkedIn to share opportunities or guidance related to your industry. Mobile users are also more likely to browse during 8-8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. And for businesses catering to families or food and beverages, Pinterest is the perfect social media platform.

Building an online presence requires you to be intriguing, consistent, relevant, and conversational. Engaging with other social media personalities gets your name out in the public and possibly a recommendation — so having an influencer strategy is important. It also lets your followers know that you’re the real deal and not a robot behind a keyboard.

User-submitted websites like Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Digg also expose your work to new people, so try to stay active on them as well.

Don’t ignore metrics

The only way to optimize and improve content over time is to measure and analyze. Tools such as Google Analytics lets you track how many visitors you received on your site and how well certain posts and keywords related to your niche performed. Furthermore, it breaks down your readership by age, gender, and region. Performances on different browsers and desktop and mobile are also monitored, helping you decide how to better optimize your site for readers.

Viral content isn’t easy to make, but it’s not impossible. Creating great headlines, posts, and online presence is fundamental to your success.

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