If I could, I would print every name in the phone book.

Those words were spoken by an old-time city newspaper editor. He wanted his writers to always include names–lots of names–in the articles they wrote. He knew that if he included names, people who had their name in the paper would rush to buy it and then tell their friends. If you know the source of the quote, let me know. It’s from one of the last 50 or so books I read during the past year. I can’t remember which one. I can’t find the source online. But the quote stuck in my head as few quotes do, because it has been so applicable with the writing I do here on this blog, as well as for Forbes, Entrepreneur, and other publications. The posts I write that include references to influential people who are active on social media tend to get shared by those same influential people, and because they are influential and have large followings, that results in lots of traffic to my writing.

Here are some cases in point:

Joshua_Steimle-most-read-Forbes#2 and #3 are the most obvious. Piggybacking off Tim Ferriss is nothing new. Everyone under the sun quotes him or references his work, and it’s not just because they like his book, The Four Hour Work Week, or his blog, but because they hope that by quoting Tim he’ll tweet their article or blog post and they’ll get thousands of readers. Hey, it worked for me, although I will also say that every word I wrote in that post is 100% sincere.

Making a Forbes list of the top 10 online marketing experts to follow in 2014 is second only to making a list of the top 50 most influential social media experts, as Haydn Shaughnessy did. That list has had 134K visitors vs. my 38K (why oh why did I stop at 10?).

Even my list of books is still a way of citing people, since every book has an author associated with it.

But even the other articles could easily quote people. Every article can. There is virtually no article you could write where it would be impossible to find someone you could quote or cite, and therefore gain their attention and potentially have them share what you’ve created. I already cited Tim Ferriss in this article, but for good measure let’s quote Brian Clark of my favorite writing blog, Copyblogger:

A great quotation is gold to a perceptive writer. You can instantly boost reader engagement with the right bit of wisdom or wit. And when writing to persuade, you can bolster your arguments by pointing to the words of the well regarded.

Ok, so that doesn’t really relate to what we’re talking about in this post. Ideally I’d probably use that quote toward the end of this post to say “Hey, in addition to getting the right people to share your post, quotes are the icing on top because they also make your writing more readable and credible.”

Will including this quote from Clark get him to retweet this post? Maybe, maybe not. Quoting people or mentioning their names doesn’t mean you win 100% of the time in that way. But if nothing else, it does add credibility and make for better reading. And who knows, you may win a home run the next time you cite Oprah or Ellen.