Asking for shares on your content, especially if you’re starting out, might feel an awful lot like asking a friend or family member for money: uncomfortable, and somewhat embarrassing.
Luckily, you don’t have to be stuck in this share-free zone forever.
By knowing the best practices that will make your content delightfully share-worthy, you can boost its impact across the web and succeed in making your content as popular as you’re dreaming of.
Keep reading to find out our best tips to earning your maximum mileage on social media with every post you create. Let’s delve in!
The Secret Sauce to Social Shares: Simpler Than You Think (or Is it?)
Social shares, via platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc, are essential to the success of your online content (blogs, etc). It can do everything, from helping you build your brand to extending your reach – and allowing you to boost your online content marketing efforts to the next level.
But how do you start to tap into the immense power of social content sharing?
The answer is by connecting with people that can spread the word about your content, find your content truly useful to them, and boost your reputation online – your audience.
Once you’ve connected with the right audience, did you know that simply and honestly asking for social shares is one of the most effective ways to get them? It sounds way too simple, but Wordstream lists it as the #1 way to earn a share. ASK your readers!
Bloggers that don’t ask will likely never experience the level of popularity they want from their online content.
Keep in mind that to earn the recognition of both customers, readers and peers, you’ll need to craft content that earns a high number of shares across the web. We’ll share tips below with more on that.
And by asking for social shares and having content that has the potential to get somewhere (it’s level of usefulness, interest, etc.) you can expand your reach and become an authority in your given industry.
7 Best Practices for Earning Your Most Social Shares (Ever)
I’ve divided my 7 key points into two lists: #1-4 in my list below are mandatory prerequisites you should be checking off your list before you even ask for a share. Next, #5-8 will detail what to do to physically see shares happen. Learn and enjoy!
Pre-publish List: Practices 1-4
These four points are essential to make sure you get the most potential social juice out of every single post. Keep in mind the first one is optional, but absolutely worthwhile. Enjoy!
1. Optional but powerful: influencer love (mention other people in your content)
Ready to learn how to create what I call an influencer love post?
First, why is this optional? These are intensive, time-taking pieces, and they’re evergreen: you’ll only need a few if you do them right.
It would be a great idea to do them periodically (for us, once/twice a year is enough). So, you don’t have to start here, or even create this type of content right away: but it’s worth it to know how to create these, and put one on your to-do list.
Second: mentioning your influencers might sound simple, but you have to do it the right way.
If you do, it’s a HUGE key to getting somewhere – not just with social shares in numbers, but all-around online connections and relationships (what’s more, you hone in on talking to the right people, too).
Your key here is to mention your influencers in your content.
These are defined as the people who are top-notch and well-respected in your industry.
You can easily find them in BuzzSumo – once you’re logged in, it’s as simple as clicking on Influencers. From there, the Twitter influencers tab displays, and you can type in any topic to instantly see your influencers. Here’s what it looks like when I look up my industry (Joe Pulizzi is the man!):
When you mention an influencer in your content and let him or her know about your post via social media, that influencer is likely to share your content for you, leading to increased visibility and more social shares with their audience and yours.
We’ve done this – several times.
We did exceptionally well on social with a blog on the Top 60 Content Marketers on Twitter.
After writing and publishing it (which took a while – several weeks to compile and check the list), we tweeted to everyone we mentioned in the post that they’d been featured. Look at the stats – over 500 shares to date. A large part of the influencers retweeted our mention to their followers, which made for even more exposure. And, we had 17 comments on the piece – many from the influencers themselves.
Another similar post we did where we talked about others was a roundup of the top content marketing predictions for 2016, interviewing 16 experts to get the predictions.
We even took the finished copy and designed an infographic out of it.
In total, it was shared over 300 times, and we saw retweets and social shares from the influencers as well.
Even better, an interesting opportunity came my way from the relationships built. One of the influencers stayed connected with me, and reached out just this month randomly asking if I would like to help co-moderate a G+ group. The group has over 150,000 members. He’s even going to allow me to promote my book a bit in the group.
How’s that for connections? Yeah!
2. Build reader trust before asking for social shares
Fact: content is a give-take relationship.
You can’t expect to take something (shares) from readers if you don’t give them something (i.e. expert content) first. With this in mind, it’s essential to ensure that your readers trust you before you start asking them to spread your content around.
This is important for a few reasons. First, 78% of readers share content largely to build their own relationships. If you’re providing them with content that is not authoritative or trustworthy, you stand to damage those relationships for them, which they’re unlikely to appreciate.
Secondly, 94% of people who choose to share information think so carefully before doing so. Readers want to share content that will make a difference, and taking the time to assure them that yours will is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to earning content shares.
While earning reader trust is a long-term process, it’s a necessary step that can be done through providing quality, informative content, responding to reader inquiries and comments, and pulling solid sources and statistics to share with your audience.
3. Make your social sharing buttons obvious, and sparse
Social sharing buttons are a great way to ask for shares and make it easy for your readers to take the desired action. To put this another way: readers are far more likely to share your content if you make it really, really simple for them to do so.
Even if the body of your content is interesting, inspiring, and relevant, most users won’t take the time to share it unless you make it really simple for them to do so. For best results, install social share buttons to the space right beneath your content.
Be aware that the size, shape, and color of social sharing buttons can make a big difference in terms of their effectiveness, so play around a bit and find out which ones work best for your company.
What’s more, you’ll want to be careful to avoid including too many social sharing buttons.
Too many social sharing buttons at the bottom of a post can actually confuse readers and damage the number of social shares you get from a piece of content, so it’s wise to limit your sharing buttons accordingly. CoSchedule reports that Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the most-used social share buttons on the web, so you may be wise to stick to those three.
4. Write effective headlines
Even if the body content of your article is airtight, people aren’t going to want to share it if the headline doesn’t reflect that. Because of this, it’s critical to pay extra attention to your headline. Content with intriguing, clickable headlines gets shared more often and improving your headline is a simple place to start ensuring your content is getting the social shares it deserves.
For best results, try taking a page out of BuzzFeed’s or Upworthy’s (which, by the way, has a share pitch – “Pass ‘em on” – in its slogan) book to intrigue interest with your headlines. Cliffhangers, lists, how-tos, and “Avoid the dangers of X” articles work very well when it comes to attracting and inspiring reader attention, and many marketers have had great success inspiring social shares based on headline strength alone.
5. Add a (good) featured image
Content with images earns much more social engagement than text-only material. Because of this, it’s critical to add a featured image to your content if you’re hoping to get it shared. Adding an image improves the way that your content looks on-site and makes readers more likely to share it with their unique audiences. What’s more, adding an image can actually help boost awareness of your brand or product, especially if you create a custom image that reflects your company.
Don’t be average with your images: think of a cool custom artwork piece, use Canva to make a branded image that looks good, or just go and hire a graphic designer. The better and more striking your images, the more likely you’ll get your best mileage on social sharing.
Now That Your Pre-Publish-Musts Are Checked Off: Here’s How to Ask For & Earn Shares
Now, how do you actually do that? Let’s delve in. (It’s not as easy as just writing one or two emails. ;))
Who knew that getting people to share your content could be as simple as just asking people to share your content? Well, it is. Content is a give and take relationship. Once you’ve given the reader something valuable in the form of the high-quality, well-written content you’ve worked hard on, it’s fair to also ask them for something in return.
6. Ask for a share: via a site CTA
A call-to-action (or CTA) is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a line that tells your readers what you want them to do next. Chances are, you’ve seen these all around the web. Lines like “Subscribe now,” and “download today” are both calls-to-action.
By implementing a good call to action in your content, you can easily encourage readers to take a desired action and help your content spread far and wide across various social channels.
But, did you know that despite their effectiveness 70% of B2B websites don’t have a call-to-action? It’s not hard to see how these companies are throwing social shares in the trash by neglecting to create CTAs.
To write a great CTA for your website, blog post, or landing page, consider these tips:
- Keep your goal in mind. What do you want people to do? Regardless of whether you’re trying to inspire them to click, share, or download, it’s critical to keep that goal in mind as you write your CTA. Every word should reinforce the goal and, if it doesn’t, it needs to get cut.
- Make it action-oriented. One case study by Unbounce found that the owner of a B2B website noted a 38.36% increase in his conversion rates after he changed his CTA from the words “order information” to the words “Get information.” While both “order” and “Get” are action words, “Get” is much stronger and gives the impression of immediacy and relevance, which is fantastic for a CTA.
- Keep your CTA short. Most experts recommend keeping your CTA to below 150 characters. This allows you enough space to give your readers a good idea of what they’re interacting with but not enough space that they get bored reading and leave your site.
7. Send an email campaign that that raves so much about your post that they have to share
Sometimes you don’t even have to blatantly ask – you just need to make them want to share.
And that can be done by writing and sending a super creative, confident email sent to your email list to publicize – and get them to publicize – your new post.
Look how Joanna Wiebe of Copyhackers does this:
You really want to go read that post, now, right? I mean, 7,000 words, an ultimate destination on how to write better, whaaaa?
(Okay, okay… here’s a link to what she was raving about in her email.)
I’ve really upped my email campaigns for my blog this year, more than I ever have (once/week in volume, and more creativity/time spent on the writing). Lately, I’ve been adding emoticons 🙂 😉 in the headers. I’ve gotten more responses and even a new client from the email campaigns I’ve been sending.
Don’t neglect your email campaigns – tie them to your content publishing and build your list! Consistency here is key. For mail campaign tools, I love Mailchimp.
BONUS TIP #8: When asking, don’t beg for shares
Here’s a bonus tip for you.
When asking for shares, the tone in which you do it can make all of the difference. A simple statement like “Please share this post” or “Please retweet” can have a huge impact on your social share numbers across the board. Whatever you do, though, stay away from lengthy pleas for your followers to share your content. In addition to coming off as desperate, this also damages your share rates and can have an effect exactly the opposite of what you’re looking for.
Asking for Shares: A Critical Skill
While asking for shares may still feel uncomfortable, it’s an important skill to master and our top key practices can help you get it down quickly and efficiently.
By asking for and encouraging social shares on your hard-won content, you’ll be building your online reputation faster than you can say, “share now.”
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