A strong search strategy needs content that people want to share with their friends, family and colleagues. But every business faces a serious hurdle: "Branded content is tricky because it's often viewed as 'advertising,'" writes Jon Thomas at the Post Advertising blog. "As we know, audiences trust friends and strangers online before they trust advertisers, and trust is a large component of making content shareable."

According to Thomas, branded content needs to meet specific criteria to make it as shareable as possible:

It must be useful, entertaining or both. Don't be surprised if self-serving content like press releases goes nowhere at all. But if you change the way a reader thinks about her process, or you make her laugh, there's a good chance she'll share it with others.

It must answer questions its readers have. People don't often forward content that has no apparent relevance to the challenges they face, he notes.

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