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What makes content shareable?

Posted by Dan Hatch on 12th April , 2022 in The Write Fit
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What makes a story shareable?

Some stories are so good we’re still sharing them after thousands of years. Like my favourite story, The Iliad, about the fall of Troy, or perhaps the Easter story, which will be retold and inspire millions all over the world this weekend.

Most stories don’t resonate through the ages, like the battle between Achilles and Hector, the cunning of Odysseus and the Trojan horse—a story which was shared in song for centuries before it was even written down.

But let’s be real. Most of us aren’t writing epics. So, how do we give a story shareability, when we’re writing about widgets, whatchamacallits, and thingamabobs-as-a-service? What is the secret sauce that makes a person—a reader, a listener, a viewer—stop dead in their tracks and say to themselves “Aunty Wanda needs to hear this”, then hit the share button, when we’re writing something that’s more or less commercial?

Helpfully, the team over at Muck Rack, in their just-released The State of Journalism 2022 report, have asked more than 2,500 journalists precisely the question: “what makes a story shareable?”

Here’s what the journalists said:


A graph showing what journalists say makes a story shareable


This chart shows us what journalists say works for them, but there’s plenty we can take out of it and apply to our own content.

Here are some of my thoughts on the above:

  1. Timeliness matters. If you have an angle on a trending story (what we used to call news), get your related content out as soon as possible
  2. Stories need good pictures (or videos) to really bring them to life, and to make people more inclined to share them
  3. Tell a story (or give information) your audience can’t get anywhere else. When you do that, you’re adding value for your audience and you’re turning your content platform into a destination
  4. Know precisely who your audience is and what they’re interested in. Above all else, create content that meets that brief.

Finally, it’s interesting to note how little importance journalists have placed on social media influencers and company spokespeople in the shareability of a story. (A handy defence to keep up your sleeve if a client or a boss is trying to jam an influencer into your copy, like a wooden horse through the gates of Troy.)

None of us is likely to write a story that people will still be telling in several thousand years’ time, but we can all write a story that’ll shift a few widgets and thingamabobs.

It doesn’t have to be epic. It just has to be good writing.

Dan Hatch
12 April 2022


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This is an excerpt from the 65th edition of The Write Fit, a fortnightly newsletter about writing, editing and proofreading, content marketing and good editorial practices for business, from Sarah Mitchell and Dan Hatch at Typeset.

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