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From “sharing is caring” to a social sharing strategy
Peter Boots comment 0 Comments access_time 9 min read

Viral, interesting content is scarce. Our content needs to be more sensational, more revealing, more dramatic and more seductive in order to go viral. However, there are limits to content rebuilding. As a brand, we can’t all be like Red Bull or Salesforce. Does this mean you ought to be satisfied with a few social media likes? No, by developing a social sharing strategy, you can practically have every bit of content go viral. 

Is it important that your content is widely shared? Of course. The 10 most serious effects of low content views we explored in one of our previous articles explained how you’ll miss out on business and risk a whole lot when only a few people share your content. Less reach means less authority, less impact, no control regarding timing, inefficient deployment of people; which all translates to fewer results and maybe even dismissal…

Caring to share with a social sharing strategy

That’s why I propose a different approach: “sharing is caring” won’t really get any favors. Let’s focus on “caring to share.” What I mean by that is that you don’t need to wait for people to act (or rather: to not act), but to ensure that the amount of shares will be the result of a preconceived plan: a social sharing strategy.

Before I show how to get more likes, lets get rid of a critical misconception. Our goal is not to create and produce content that gets as many likes as possible. As content marketers, we want to meet the information needs of our target audience with desirable, useful content which aids in the buying strategy or long term usage of your product & service. In content strategy and creation, the primary objectives are creating attractive and relevant content. Sharing – when done correctly – is a great side effect. However, with content distribution and promotion, sharing is a (sub) objective. Sharing inherently multiplies your reach to connections and followers. This multiplying factor is what makes the distribution/promotion cookie crumble.

4 Areas of focus for a social sharing strategy

Encouraging sharing at distribution and promotion isn’t as difficult as it sounds. In our opinion, it can be done by just by implementing sharing in the following four aspects of your marketing strategy: the springboard, the packaging, the poster, and the promotion team.

#1 The springboard You can easily put an article on your own website and get a few dozen visitors daily. This approach is considered a “low springboard”. If you utilize a platform with thousands of daily visitors to host your article, you’re utilizing the “high springboard” approach. The higher the springboard you jump from, the more shares will naturally follow. This causes a springboard effect; more shares ensure more views ensuring more shares, etc.

Yet just as importantly as volume of reach, consider the sharing behavior of the visitors on the platform you are publishing on. If someone shares something from AdAge.com versus Buzzfeed, that share says something about that person; namely I keep up to date with whats happening in my field. Sharing from certain media outlets or personalities gives off a certain status. The phrase “The medium is the message” could be applied here. The better a potential sharer can profile themselves with the article and author, the sooner they will be inclined to share.

#2 The packaging What’s the best way to ‘package’ your content in a way that results in more shares?

  • Obligatory: social sharing buttons. Don’t just throw them at the bottom of your page, give them prominence!
  • Offer something of value. For example: promise a follow-up article if the current one gets shared >300 times.
  • Make quotes “tweetable” links with plugins such as tweetable or ClicktoTweet.. Don’t forget to add a link to the content!
  • Ensure social proof in your content. The greater the popularity of your content through likes, shares, and comments, the greater the exposure. You can deploy your promo team (See point #4) to encourage this.
  • Explicitly ask for the share. You are providing your content and knowledge for free; it doesn’t hurt to ask a favor in return.
  • Get your consumers to subscribe to a newsletter. If an article triggers someone to subscribe to a newsletter, there’s a big chance people are willing to share that article.

#3 The poster Every piece of content needs to be promoted. The promotion has been largely neglected in the content marketing world. Almost anyone can finish up a promotion with a cheap stock photo and a few lines of text in the intro. Is your piece about content strategy? Show some logos of social networks. Is it about cooperation? Show some shaking hands.

Publishers don’t need to guess; they know how to seduce people. They’ll do everything in their power to produce covers that captivate their audience; covers with authority that summarize the story or get readers hooked in a single glance. Publishers go for covers with stopping power, and they need to. Competition is brutal for a rare purchase. Bookstores are closing and people are reading less and less, and print media really is judged by its covers.

It’s different for us, luckily. Our content contributes only partly or indirectly to our success.

But haven’t we been declaring that brands have become publishers themselves? And what about the time lines, aren’t they some kind of kiosk where the audience looks through the things on offer and where they only pick what really interests them?

Exactly!

Because most content marketers don’t want to pay attention to the promo, but you should. That is at least, if you want to distinguish yourself, attract a larger crowd and make yourself more desirable as a brand and establish yourself as a thought leader. Therefore, allow your promo to be upgraded. Call it a poster from now on. Remember the poster is content as well. Make it snackable & shareable.

The irresistible poster you are about to publish will gain shares. Tens, maybe even hundreds of shares. That success is something to work with. Do you know those stickers on books which say “more than 400.000 copies sold!”? you can do that as well. When the amount of shares is considerable, make sure to point it out!

#4 The promotion team It’s often assumed that those who share and those who read your content are one and the same. It’s possible, but not a given. It can be valuable to explore dividing these two types of sharers.

The people who consume your content, will only share if they deem the content shareable enough. Usually, this means the content has something in it for them. That means that you have to wait first to see what they think of it. The content has already been made and published and you won’t have much influence on it anymore.

There are also people who’d recommend your content with reasons other than the content itself. Those are your ambassadors or promoters. These people are worth their weight in gold, and you need to get them in your promotion team.

Why would people share, besides the content itself?

Who are those potential promoters? For this you can look at those other reasons, to the interests people can have to share your content. I can think of five reasons:

  1. People want to affiliate with you. This may be you as an author, your organization, your brand or the platform you publish on.
  2. People really believe in what you do. You have a very sexy product, devote yourself to a noble cause, preach peace on earth or will pursue a next term in office.
  3. People work for you.. Employees, business partners, franchisers, shareholders and sponsors all have a vested interest in making sure you do well.
  4. People get something in return. Access to exclusive content for example. Discounts, money, samples, merchandise, or just to shake your hand!
  5. People just love you. Family, friends, partners, kids, neighbors, acquaintances… if you have a good aura, people are willing to share just because they love you.

Make a social sharing agreement

All these people are eligible for your promotion team. Check to see who you’d prefer to have in your team, seduce them to be part of it and make a sharing agreement with the ones who enlist. In this agreement you’ll write down what, when, how often and through which channels someone is going to share. This will make it clear how many shares you can count on.

Make social sharing easy

This is still kind of a ‘thing’. Despite all good intentions, commitments and enthusiasm, reality shows that sharing is not set in stone. One will share, whereas the other only sometimes and the third just forgets to do it. Sharing is a hassle. That’s why it’s important to make sharing as easy as possible for your promoters, by automating it for example. We’ll show you exactly how to do that.

Do you like this content? Please share!

Most marketers would like their customers to recommend the product to others, mouth-to-mouth promotion. In order to do that, they have the three P’s to their disposal: Place, Promotion and Price.

If you compare content with a product and that product is a given, you will have one P less, as a content marketer: the P of Price. The content is given away for free. That leave Place (distribution) and Promotion. I tried to show you what you can do in terms of ‘place’ and ‘promotion’ to get shares for your ‘product’. Do you think I succeeded? If the answer is yes, you may give me your share. I’d be very happy with it!

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