Social media sharing is a big aim for many businesses looking to build their brand, extend their reach, and generally make the most of their online marketing efforts. So how do you rack in the likes, tweets, pins, and +1s? Here are 15 super social sharing secrets to keep you basking in the lime light of adoring online fans.
Image courtesy of kanate of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
1. Ask people to share your content.
The first step is admitting you need help. It sounds like such an obvious no-brainer, but it really does make a difference. Make a point of asking for social shares, and you’ll be more likely to get them.
For example, some sites use a pop-up that says "If you liked this post, share it on Facebook!" It's a gentle reminder to (social) share the love.
2. Make great content people want to share.
OK, this may be a cop-out tip but again, it needs to be said. People share content that they like — content that teaches them something new, shows them something amazing, or gives them goosebumps. Great content gets shared. Bad content does not. So put in the effort.
3. Write a super-shareable headline.
Your content will capture more attention and drive more social shares with an enticing and carefully crafted headline. Most popular headlines today involve lists/numbers, cliffhangers, or a kind of twist.
Upworthy and Buzzfeed are known for their crazy shareable clickbait headlines that snag readers hook, line, and sinker. Here are a few examples to give you an idea:
Being Poor Has Never Been A Crime In Our Country. Until Now.
If I'd Learned One Thing In College, I Wish It Had Been This
1/3 Of The Fish We Buy And Eat Is Not What It Says It Is
The Top 33 Bars To Watch The World Cup In New York City
12 Incredibly Honest Confessions From Waiters
33 Jokes Only “Game Of Thrones” Fans Will Understand
17 Bookstores That Will Literally Change Your Life
These are real headlines taken from Upworthy and Buzzfeed. Each of them has one (or more) of these elements:
Insider attraction, appealing to a specific audience
Relates to current events
One article from Fast Company notes that Upworthy headlines are particularly successful (although not very original) because they manipulate our natural curiosity in what psychologist George Loewenstein calls the information gap theory — basically a metaphysical fill-in-the-blank that appeals to our curiosity, so we just have to click.
To show how formulaic these headlines tend to be, Mike Lacher created the Upworthy Generator, and admittedly, it’s hard to tell the difference between artificial, randomly generated articles and the real things.
Alright, so Upworthy headlines can be a little uninspired, even slightly pathetic ... but results are results, baby! Mimic successful headlines and see how they affect your social share counts.
4. Install social sharing buttons.
The goal is to make social sharing as easy as possible for your visitors; they're more likely to share your content if it only takes one click. Bright, colorful social sharing buttons are more likely to be clicked, just as certain download buttons are more likely to be clicked on landing pages. (Size, placement, the wording of the call to action, and contrast can all make a big difference.) When it comes to social buttons, you’ll find them in every size, shape, and style.
So many choices!
Sites like AddThis and ShareThis make it easy to add slick social share buttons to your website, no matter what your web platform is. For Wordpress users, there are a ton of great social share Wordpress plug-ins to choose from. A few of my favorites include:
Simple Share Buttons Adder: Slick, easy to use, and just enough customization to feel in control.
Floating Social Media Icon: The emphasis here is on the ability to float your social media icons so that they stay visually present even when users scroll.
WP Socializer: This Wordpress button plug-in can be quite confusing at first, but once you adapt you’ll be impressed by the amount of detailed customization available.
5. Make your social sharing buttons prominent.
It’s not just about the style and look of your buttons. It’s also important to consider where you place them on the page. While having social sharing buttons at the top of your article can work as a form of social proof (visitors may be more likely to read on if they see high share numbers), the natural reader flow calls for buttons at the bottom of the page, so visitors can share the post once they’ve finished reading. And then there’s always the floating buttons option, which allows your social buttons to always be present, but which some visitors may find annoying or distracting. How do you know which buttons to use for your biz? Test, test, test!
6. Have an irresistible offer.
Find the right offer that really makes your visitors happy is even more important than testing button placement. When you’re giving away cool stuff for free, people get excited. Awesome offers (e.g., templates, ebooks, tools) get a ton of shares. This is why it is so (so) important to have social share buttons on offer pages AND offer thank you pages.
7. Make people wet their pants.
Giving people a good chuckle increases your chances of social sharing. Just think of all those emails older relatives send you, a scrolling image collection of dogs dressed up in costumes and kids urinating in potted plants (not cute BTW) with cute captions (boys will be boys). The email forward is the equivalent of a modern day social share (give them a break, they probably still use Netscape). Why did they share it with you? Because it made them laugh. How sweet. :)
As if you’re not going to share this?
8. Interview a panel of experts.
In a recent post about content marketing ideas, I mentioned the technique of interviewing industry thought leaders. This is a great content idea, and it also drives a lot of social media sharing since the individuals being interviewed in the article will most likely be sharing the post with their own followers. Instead of toiling to obtain better reach, you get a huge audience right off the bat via your interview subjects.
Don’t you ever question the experts, ever! (by Mia Mala McDonald)
9. Drop names.
Say something nice about someone and they’ll probably share your word of approval. It only takes a few seconds to tag or @ other users, and the social sharing payoff can be big. Try writing about a big brand that has a huge following.
10. Post when your audience is most active.
Think carefully about when you post your content for optimal social sharing. Traditionally it’s been said that the best time to post content is mid-morning and mid-afternoon on weekdays, but ultimately it depends on your audience. For example, if your key market is stay-at-home moms, you’d probably want to release content when the mommies are home web-surfing while the kids are at school. If you’re in the sleep aid industry, you might want to post late at night during peak insomnia hours.
Photo by Flickr user jdbaskin
The best time to post can also vary based on the social network. LinkedIn peaks in the early morning.
11. Make social sharing super-easy with embeddable tweet quotes.
The best way to get more social media shares is to make sharing your content as easy as possible. One way to do this is with tweetable text. This way you’re doing most of the work for the visitor. You’re handpicking tweetable quotes so that all the user has to do is click! Click to Tweet makes this process too easy to pass up.
Ex. Tip #32 to increase social media sharing: Add a click to tweet button! - Click to Tweet!
12. Share posts from others.
A little quid-pro-quo goes a long way. If you share content posted by other folks, they’ll be more likely to share your content in return.
NBC’s Hannibal is the best thing ever
13. Make your content visually delicious.
Add images, infographics, or quote-image overlays that are highly pinnable and fun to share. Blogs that include a nice image are waaaaay more likely to be shared on Facebook. You can now include images in tweets, too!
14. Format your content to be scannable.
Many of these tips for increasing social media sharing also work as general web copywriting best practices. Users are as flighty and finicky as ever, and most won’t even finish reading an article before sharing it. This is why it’s essential to break up paragraphs, use subheadings, add bullet points, use bold text, and implement images for an easier, faster, more skimmable read.
15. Don’t be a gloomy gus.
According to a Mashable study, people are more likely to share posts with a positive sentiment (happy rainbows and puppies) than those with overly negative sentiment (I hate the world and the world hates me, play me a song on your tiny violin).
Damn Charlie Brown, you depressing :(
Do you have any social sharing tips you want to pass on? Let us know!