From the subtle, custom-styled social media buttons nestled in a sidebar to in-your-face pop-ups demanding you send this post to everyone you’ve ever met RIGHT NOW, no online experience goes without some request to share your discovery with the world at large. There’s a reason for this: getting people talking about you on social media is a good way to spread your brand’s reach without requiring a huge advertising budget (and potentially even double your site’s traffic according to Kissmetrics).
Oh, and before we get started, your friends are going to want to read all about this too. Social sharing buttons are up the top there. ⬆️️
Alright, now that that’s taken care of:
Why does sharing matter?
Think about what gets your attention online. If another dull blog post from some self-important social media specialist telling you what to do pops into your feed without any context, you’re likely to just keep scrolling. On the other hand, if one of your friends shares the same link but endorses it by pointing out how incredibly insightful and cool this social media specialist is, it’s probably going to make you more curious. Endorsement by people who share our interests and opinions immediately adds that extra level of trust. Our friends like it, so we’re much less likely to be wasting our time by checking it out.
Add to this the fact that social media isn’t free. I know, it seems like an obvious statement, but it’s easy to forget. If you’re an individual user, you pay with access to your data. If you’re a business, it’s all about that sweet, sweet ad revenue. Unfortunately, not everybody has a plump marketing budget to promote every piece of content they produce. You can still post for free as a brand, but it’s getting harder and harder to stand out from the crowd (or, in many cases, to even get into user’s feeds at all) unless you’re backing it with money.
That’s where quality, shareable content comes in. It’s the loophole in this whole system. Social media companies want you to pay for ads, but they also need to keep their users entertained and wanting to return to see those ads. And how do they do this? By prioritising the things our friends and networks choose to share, discuss and otherwise interact with. Facebook’s algorithm is the most infamous for this, but it’s present on most platforms: Twitter has trends, YouTube recommends related videos to watch, and so on. There are any number of other factors that determine how these platforms choose to display content, but the number of people choosing to talk about it is always one of the most significant.
Long story short: if people don’t want to tell their networks about your content, you’re going to struggle to get a foothold on social without a dedicated advertising budget.
Some easy things you can do right now to get started.
Give people a way to share easily
If you want someone to buy your product, you don’t just hope they’ll randomly stumble into a purchase. You encourage them to purchase with some sort of call-to-action and make it clear where they need to click to do so. In the same way, you have to remind people to share your content and make doing it simple and easy to understand. Remember those social sharing buttons I mentioned at the start of this post? They’re one of the quickest and easiest ways to instantly make your site more shareable, and there are a huge number of easy to use and versatile plugins out there to make setting them up super-simple.
A few social sharing plugins worth a look:
Improve your site’s metadata
Getting people to click share’s just one part of the equation. You also want to make sure that once they’ve shared your site it looks amazing on any platform. Depending on your skill level, this might be something you choose to do manually with Open Graph tags and Twitter cards (and if you want to learn more, this Envato Tuts+ tutorial is a good start). Again, there are any number of great plugins to help you really get control over your social metadata without too much effort on your part.
Get started by checking out:
Add visual appeal
Having quality visuals on your shared links is a great way to increase interaction with your content once it’s posted to social. Each platform has its own quirks to factor in when designing images for social, and playing to these is a great way to stand out from the crowd. There are a huge number of great online resources to help you figure out what you should be aiming for (such as this guide from Hootsuite), and it’s worth doing a little bit of research to fine-tune your visuals. It’s also useful to have a library of pre-made social templates so that you can cut down the time spent creating custom content and get that consistent look across all your social images.
Start building your template library with:
Now, go make all the things shareable.
I work in social media, the home of short attention spans, so if you’ve skipped to the end just to get the tips summarized I won’t hold it against you. Here they are:
- Make it easy and intuitive for people to share your site.
- Get the metadata right so everything works seamlessly when it is shared.
- There’s a lot to see on social, so spend some time adding a little visual appeal.
- Share this post. Buttons are at the top. (This one’s more for me than for you.)
These are just the basics to help get you started, but even with these few tweaks you’ll be taking a big step towards making the most of social media. Who knows? Play your cards right, and something you’ve created could be the next big viral hit.
Featured image: ZhitkovGR