If that familiar question ‘why aren’t people sharing my blog?’ isn’t quite as old as time, then it certainly feels like it.
Is it about the quality? The saying goes that the cream rises to the top. Others disagree and prefer to say ‘shit floats’. Either way, various search engine and social media algorithms have done their best to muddy those particular waters.
Let’s assume your content is hitting the mark and getting positive feedback from its intended audience. But the share count is still lurking on the low side.
There are simple things you can do to up those numbers. Here are just a handful.
There are so many options for which share buttons to have on your content. Share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, email, Digg, Tumblr… and so on, ad nauseam.
There’s just no need for that many. As BuzzSumo rightly says, turn to your Google Analytics to find out where your traffic is predominantly coming from and then stick with those channels for your sharing buttons.
And it’s not necessarily a case of simply how many people have reached your content through that social site – it’s about what they’ve done once they’ve got there. Metrics such as time on site or click-through rate might be the ones to focus on.
Plus, apply a certain amount of common sense, too. For B2B marketers, for example, not including the fertile environment of LinkedIn in the share buttons would be madness.
Where to put them
Right at the top under the headline? Or at the end?
Who is more likely to share? Is it the quickfire headline scanners or the considered read-the-whole-thingers?
If you’re not sure, you can have your cake and eat it with sticky share buttons on the side of screen that follow the user’s journey down the page. Be careful though, on mobile screens especially, those sticky extras can start to eat into your space and clutter things up.
You might be better off keeping with the standard buttons and putting them at the beginning and the end of the piece. Just don’t go overboard with which pages you have them on. Your brand FAQs or terms and conditions don’t need share buttons. Save them for the stuff that will gain traction.
Click to Tweet
There’s never any harm in signposting the key moments of your content. And one of the easiest ways is by highlighting certain vital stats, quotes or moments that serve as a natural teaser or summary of the content as a whole.
Click to Tweet is the simplest way of doing this.
Paste in the sentence you want highlighting, choose a theme and the application provides the link for you to use in your post.
It turns sharing into a natural part of consuming and also makes life nice and easy for the person to share – their tweet has been composed for them!
Just don’t forget to include ‘via @insertcompanyname’ to maximise your brand visibility.
Similarly, there are plenty of tools out there (for example, from Sumo) that allow the sharing option to be displayed when you highlight a specific part of the text.
Open Graph tags
The way you present and amplify your content should, in an ideal world, be a finely honed system of editorial, tech and design expertise – ensuring everything appears just right.
Everything is under a certain amount of control.
However, when someone shares your content, to some extent that control is lost.
But there are ways of grasping some of it back. For example, when sharing on Facebook, an optimal display would be something like this:
But it doesn’t happen by accident. To make sure that all the relevant information and imagery is as you want it, it’s vital that you mark up your website with Open Graph tags.
That means specifying the URL, title, description, image, height and width of any video… and lots more.
This guide for developers gives you the rundown on which tags to use and how. But the good news is that if you’re a WordPress user, there are plugins (such as Yoast or WP Facebook Open Graph Protocol) that will do it for you – allowing you to simply customise what you have.
Here on Content Desk, we’ve long stressed that counting content shares is a flawed practice. But as a metric to be measured, for better or for worse, it remains the top-line figure for many clients and marketers alike.
So if your content is slipping under too many radars, addressing these four issues will help nudge it back into the crosshairs.