Marketers concede that content is critical, but in Australia, only 37% have documented their content marketing strategy. Of those, over half say that they their marketing strategy only "somewhat" guides their efforts. Writing the strategy down is important, but unless it's followed it can't possibly be very successful.

What is Content?

Content covers a wide range, including internet articles, video (very popular), social media, blogs, case studies and in-person events. In order to get a high ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs), informative and compelling content is a must.

What Sort of Articles are Shared the Most and Go Viral?

1. Longer is better, getting far more social shares. Even though there are 16 times more articles written of less than 1,000 than longer articles, they are shared far less often. People only bother sharing content that is worth reading.

2. Articles with pictures are shared more than twice as often as those without. The difference was even greater for Facebook preview image meta tags; those with social thumbnails received many more shares.

3. People share awe-inspiring and digital marketing consultant amusing content. Pieces that inspired awe made up one-quarter of the shared articles. Humorous articles did even better, whether they were laugh-out-loud hilarious or engendered a quiet smile. This type of content accounted for almost one out of every three shares. When asked, people reported that they shared this type of content for the following reasons:

To pass on something they found entertaining and of value;

To demonstrate their interests to others;

To develop personal relationships;

To feel more involved;

To educate others on something they feel passionately about.

4. Infographics and lists are always popular shares, with infographics being the most liked. How-to articles were the third most popular. Infographics are so popular because they can convey a great amount of information in an easily-read format. When they're done well, people love infographics. They are definitely worth doing. For lists, people prefer Top 10 lists over shorter ones.

5. Adding a byline increases the trust and the shares.

6. Adding a well-known name will further increase trust and shares, especially if a quote is included.

7. Don't forget about older, but popular, content. Re-promote this content regularly; there are billions who haven't seen it.

8. Be original. This is absolutely necessary for all content, since Google will penalize duplicates.

9. Have an eye-catching headline. If it isn't noticed and read, it won't be shared.

10. Provide an answer or a solution, whether it's a philosophical question or about plumbing.

A marketer's dream is to have positive content that includes their name or their company's name being seen and talked about all over the web. That may or may not happen, but providing excellent, informative, readable content is the first step in that direction. Craig Wilson is a Search Engine Optimisation Consultant and Digital Marketing Speaker who understands marketing. His Mediahunter blog if full of must-read tips and information. Visit his website to learn more.