Millions of pieces of content are published every single day. It's true that trends in social media have affected how your audience engages with your content -- but that doesn't really soften the blow that, according to BuzzSumo, only 5 percent of content gets more than 343 shares.

Now, if your audience is really only your mom, then 343 shares isn't bad. Hell, if every single one of my mom's Facebook friends shared an article of mine that she posted, that still wouldn't add up to 343.

But you're not targeting an audience of one. You might be using a social distribution strategy and a variety of marketing tools to reach and engage a specific audience, sure, but that audience is made up of many different people.

You're using content to grow your company and achieve actual, measurable goals for your business, and to do that, you need your content to get in front of the right people. That means creating highly engaging content people actually want to share. Here are three simple ways to do that:

1. Put in the work to develop a good, shareable headline.

I sometimes feel like a broken record when I talk about headlines, but honestly, I can't stress enough how important a good headline is to the reach and success of your content.

If you want people to visit your website, you need to entice them with headlines and titles that will capture their attention and compel them to engage with you. The same rule applies to any off-site content you contribute, too. According to "The State of Digital Media 2018," 93 percent of online publication editors measure the success of guest content by looking at page views, and 69 percent use social shares as a metric.

Your headline is what grabs people's attention, gets them onto the page, and even makes them more likely to share content. For some reason, though, many marketers put all their work into the written content, tack on a basic headline once they're done, and publish. No one is going to see that content if they don't click on it first. Your headline deserves at least as much effort.

2. Don't hide the payoff.

After you put the work into a good headline, the last thing you want to do is wait until the end of the article to make your point. You've used your headline to set up your content -- don't make your audience work that hard to find the payoff.

Think about it: Audience members clicked on your content. Of all the messages they were exposed to on a particular day, they chose to check out what you have to say, and they're putting trust in you to deliver on what you promised. If you want to keep that trust, become a resource, and make it easy for them to share your content, then you need to clearly deliver that value early on.

3. Go big or go home.

And speaking of your actual content: If you're only publishing content for the sake of publishing, then you're going to have a hard time creating anything that's worth sharing in the first place.

Consider the fact that if your content is being shared and seen, that means your message is circulating. Any piece of content could be someone's first impression of your brand, so do what you can to make sure you're putting your best foot forward. Take the time to write a high-quality article for a publication. Invest in producing high-quality video for your site. Be intentional about the content you share on your social media accounts.

Every interaction is a touchpoint with a potential client, partner, or brand advocate. The better able you are to make those touchpoints positive and engaging, the more likely it is that your content will pay off in more than just share count totals.

Content is an extremely valuable tool for accomplishing pretty much any business goal you have. How useful it is comes down to how well you use it to engage the right people. Follow these steps to make your content worth the share, and you can use it to reach, engage, and grow your audience.

Published on: Aug 26, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.