If you’ve ever spent 2+ hours slaving over a blog post only to have 1/2 a spam bot be the sole person to share it you may want to read this post.
Improving the odds of getting people to share your post starts with creating compelling content (or having a lot of money to give entrepreneurs). Assuming you can achieve this, there are certain considerations and practices that maximize the exposure available through social media.
The Sharing Funnel
You can visualize the content sharing funnel by working backwords.
For content to be shared, it needs to be read (unless you have a posse retweet jockeys).
For it to be read, a visitor must perceive that it’s worthy of their attention upon arriving at the post.
For them to arrive at the post, it must be perceived as compelling enough to visit or click through.
The best way to improve the odds of your content being shared is to make the act of sharing easy. The easier you make it to share something the more likely people are going to do it. Make no mistake, there is an art to making things easy. On my personal blog, I try to achieve this by giving readers an opportunity to share at both the top and bottom of every post (see below).
Top of post:
Bottom of post:
The Effects of Optics on Sharing
Most people are followers; they feel more comfortable engaging in actions once they’ve seen other people do them first. This phenomenon exists across the social media ecosystem. The bottom line is that people are more likely to share your content when it’s evident that other people have. People behave this way because:
a) the fact that others have shared gives them comfort and permission to do so.
b) they want to be part of a tribe. All the cool kids are sharing!
c) they don’t want to look inconsiderate relative to their peers. “Well Jimmy shared Mikey’s post so I better do it too, or Mikey might like Jimmy better!”
To take advantage of the optics of sharing, the first thing to do is make sure that all of your share buttons have counters on them. This facilitates social proof.
After I publish the post, I intentionally hold back on sharing it any further in order to give my core audience the first crack at reading and sharing the post. Thirty minutes to an hour will suffice. Again, I do this because they’re most likely to share which provides social proof to additional audiences who may be less likely to share without it.
At this point, it’s time to push your content to the next audience segment: people who’ve opted to connect with or follow you on social networks. This group is still primed to share your content and benefits from the social proof provided by the sharing of your core audience.
Finally, you’ll want to push this content to the third segment which is composed of people that may not be familiar with you at all. Because these audiences are less familiar with you, it can require more social proof for them to even read your content, let alone share it. You can reach this audience by syndicating your content to communities like Reddit, HackerNews, and StumbleUpon. Writers from other publications that you’re trying to get to re-syndicate your content also fall into this bucket.
In the next part of this post, I plan on discussing ways to optimize your content for reading and clicking through – two components vital to maximizing the number of people who share your post.