Can you achieve follow links AND social shares with the same content?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if your content campaign could earn tons of coverage AND thousands of social shares?

Of course it would. Follow links help to increase organic traffic to a brand’s site, therefore improving its position in search rankings and increasing visibility. General coverage such as mentions, and social shares on sites like twitter and facebook, help to increase brand awareness and introduce new prospects to your marketing funnel.

Typically, a piece only performs well for one or the other: content either generates lots of SEO-valuable follow links, or performs very well for brand awareness with mentions and social shares.

Our sister brand, Kaizen, wanted to find out what kind of content performs best for these different goals. Through analysis of over 2300 pieces of content, there are some key factors that differentiate the two:

Content for Link Building

  • B2B focussed

The research found that content that offered Business-to-Business value performed better for link-building than consumer-led content. 

  • Technical focussed

High-performing link-building campaigns tended to have fairly technical or advanced information, rather than being generic.

  • Unique data

News sites will only offer a backlink if the research needs to be cited: the best way to achieve this is to create a unique data set.

  • 1st party data

One of the easiest ways to ensure your data is unique is to use 1st party data – and it generally leads to a successful link-building campaign!

  • Clear data story

No matter the size of your data set, both the link-building content and press release must contain the key takeaways in an easily-digestible format.

Example content:

Content for Social Shares

  • B2C focussed

The research found that content that offered consumer value performed better for link-building than B2B-led content. 

  • Emotional connection

Content that organically earns social shares tends to be something that people can emotionally connect with, whether in anger, shock or delight.

  • Immediately obvious story

Attention spans are infamously short on social media. Make sure your story is instantly understandable!

  • Visuals-oriented

Make an impact on socials with well-designed graphics or even video content.

Example content:

Achieving the Impossible: Backlinks AND Social Shares With the Same Content

It seems like it can’t be done. However, out of all 2000+ pieces of content analysed, one piece ranked in the top 10 for both categories. 

Case Study of both: Corruption Index:

So why did this manage to do what so many before had failed to achieve?

We believe it’s because of these three factors:

  • Global appeal

The content generated engagement (both links and shares) all over the world, because the data allowed unique stories to be created for every country.

  • Emotional appeal

The subject of the content – levels of corruption around the world – was naturally shocking, and evoked emotional reactions.

  • Evergreen appeal

The nature of the story means that the data can easily be updated every year, but kept on the same URL, generating tons of traffic to the same landing page.

The key thing to think about is what you want to achieve with your content. From there, use these checklists to make your campaigns work for either backlinks or social shares.

And if you’re feeling really ambitious, go for both but be aware it’s rare the two work hand in hand.