You’ve spent hours crafting your next hit blog post… Heck, you spent even more time sharing it with your audience on social media, email list and made sure to tell all your friends to “go check it out”. You’re thinking to yourself “create it and they’ll come” is probably the biggest lie ever.
What about putting others to work and help you with that excruciating task that’s promoting your content?
How to do that, you ask? By having your audience share your content on social media as well as making your shared content look professional and attractive, so as to attract new readers on your site.
Good news, this is something you can optimize easily with and the number of steps detailed in this blog post.
Understanding why and how people share on social media
Before jumping on how to make people share your content on social media, let’s take a step back and understand the psychology of sharing.
The act of sharing is intrinsically human. Whenever someone stumbles on something useful, funny or else – he or she feels the need to share it whether it’s with an audience of a friend. According to a study make by New York Times:
Two in three (65%) report that when they find valuable information, they have to share it. Three in five (58%) say it would be difficult to stop sharing information online. Indeed, the very act of learning and discovering information is inseparable from sharing it, as three in four (76%) say that sharing is half the fun of finding information.
What’s more, two third of people sharing content do so in order to “define themselves” and, in doing so, build their personal brand.
To finish with, sharing a piece of content also means that you endorse it in a way or you wouldn’t have shared it!
Choose the right topic
First things first, if you write about your grandmothers’ latest passion (we all agree she’s awesome), nobody’s going to read it, let alone share it on social media. For people to share your content on social media, it has to be relevant to their audience and sexy.
And other than using your common sense to determine what you’ll blog about, what better indicate than content that’s already out share? Luckily for us, there are tools like BuzzSumo that can tell you what existing content around your topic was shared the most.
Here’s how it works:
- Go on their website
- Type the keywords you’re targeting with your blog post
- Buzzsumo will give you a list of articles along ordered according to the total number of shares they received. They even give you the number of times each piece of content was shared on major social media channels.
Other than telling you how many social media shares your main competing pieces of content, Buzzsumo can help you determine what angle works best for sharing potential. It can give you ideas on what specific words to use, what social media platform this type of content has the most chance getting shares.
As we’ve seen with the psychology behind why people share, people want to share useful content with their audience.
It goes without saying that your content has to be of high quality to be useful. In our case, this is what will trigger your visitors to share it.
The first thing someone sees about your article is your headline. One could say it summarizes what your blog post is about in a few, catchy words. They will see it when you share your post on Facebook, on Twitter or in the search results.
Along with your post’s image, this is what people will see when someone shares your post on social media like Facebook, on Twitter or in the search results. Remember, people want to look good when sharing content – having a great headline will help a lot.
We want to optimize for shares on social media from the piece of content itself to have people share it. That is the first step. When your content is shared by your best readers, it means that it will come across other readers. And that’s those readers that you must convince to open the link and visit your website.
As a rule of thumb, I find these two types of headlines to be no-brainers as a starting point:
- Numbered lists – like my article “40 Productivity Hacks, Habits & Shortcuts”
- How to’s – like “How to Growth Hack your Job Search (with real examples & case study“
Coming back to psychology, it’s also really important to chose the words you use in a headline wisely. You want them to appeal to an urge to solve a problem or provoke certain emotions.
To make sure you have the right balance and estimate the potential of your headline, you should use a headline analyze like the free one by Coschedule. It will help you find the right mix between common, uncommon, emotional and power words to make your headlines rock every time!
Find the perfect image
Along with the headline, your blog post’s image is one of the most important elements of your blog post that will encourage sharing on social media.
Not only will it be shown in your blog post’s page (which results in more shares), it will also be shown when your piece of content is shared on social media (how your fan’s network will see them).
A good cover picture or featured picture (WordPress) will be attention-grabbing, descriptive and funny (if it applies).
Great places to look for free-to-use and copyright-free stock pictures I use are Unsplash (from Montreal) and Pexels (aggregates different sources). You can use them, edit them, add text on top, etc.
Also make sure you have the right image size for social media share. A good resource is this Social Media Image Cheat Sheet.
Optimize your content’s look for share on social media
Now that you’ve made sure your content is optimized for share on social media let’s make sure it will look good when it is shared on social media.
This is huge on two levels. First, your loyal readers who were in the process of sharing your blog post will probably give up if it looks like this:
Second, if you do it properly, people who come across your shared post will definitely be more interested and click if it looks something like this.
Same goes on Twitter (it is called a Twitter Card) and other platforms, and you should optimize your content for social media sharing.
Latest blog post by @andrewchen: What’s next in growth? #growthhacking #growth https://t.co/5DHIG9zsbH
— Ambroise Debret (@AmbroiseDebret) 23 janvier 2017
How to make it look good? Open Graph tags.
Without getting too technical, each page of your blog should have this kind of code in the <head></head> section of your blog post which is called “open graph”. These meta properties tell Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ social media what to show when your post link is copy/pasted. They generally include:
- Your post image
- Your post title
- Your post’s description
- Information about your website
Let’s see how they look! Note that I’ve excluded everything SEO in this example. Don’t get scared; I’ll show you how to update them without any coding skills required in a moment.
<meta name=”twitter:card” content=”summary_large_image” />
<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”Are your 37 notifications, 63 unread emails, and 19 pending action items stressing you out to the point you can't get anything done? This post might help.” />
<meta name=”twitter:title” content=”40 Productivity Hacks, Habits & Shortcuts • Ambroise Debret” />
<meta name=”twitter:site” content=”@ambroisedebret” />
<meta name=”twitter:image” content=”https://ambroisedebret.marketing/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Featured-Productivity.png” />
<meta name=”twitter:creator” content=”@ambroisedebret” />
For Facebook & the other social media:
<meta property=”og:type” content=”article” />
<meta property=”og:title” content=”40 Productivity Hacks, Habits & Shortcuts • Ambroise Debret” />
<meta property=”og:description” content=”Are your 37 notifications, 63 unread emails, and 19 pending action items stressing you out to the point you can't get anything done? This post might help.” />
<meta property=”og:url” content=”https://ambroisedebret.marketing/productivity-hacks-habits-shortcuts/” />
<meta property=”og:site_name” content=”Ambroise Debret” />
<meta property=”article:publisher” content=”https://www.facebook.com/ambroisedebretgrowthhacker/” />
<meta property=”article:author” content=”https://www.facebook.com/ambroisedebretgrowthhacker/” />
<meta property=”og:image” content=”https://ambroisedebret.marketing/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Featured-Productivity.png” />
I already hear you say “You said it’s possible to add them without code, how do I do it?”, there goes. If you use WordPress (like I recommend you do) along with the Yoast SEO plugin (like I recommend as well), it will be a piece of cake. If you don’t use WordPress, you will have to add it to the code on your own.
In your post or page edit mode, head over to the “Yoast SEO” section when you usually input your SEO info and click the share icon.
Then, just fill the fields with the necessary information such as post title, description, and image.
As the last step, once your piece of content is published, you will want to make sure that it is working properly. Each major social media platform has its sort of validator.
- For Facebook, head over to the Sharing Debugger
- For Twitter, use the Twitter Card Validator
- Google has a structured data (like Open Graph) testing tool
Add social sharing buttons
Last but not least, make sure you make it easy for people on your website to share your blog post by adding social sharing buttons. Depending on how you choose to display it, you can usually choose what social media you want to display as suggestion (and sometimes have it auto-optimize!).
Good sharing tools will also allow you to display the number of shares your post or page has received as well as a total of shares. This acts as a great social proof for your content and encourages people to share it on social media even more!
You can have different types of sharing buttons at many locations of your posts. Most popular ones are:
- Left/Right share bar (I use it)
- Share buttons at the bottom of the post (I use it)
- Top/Bottom share bar (I use it on mobile)
- Share buttons on images
- Have them pop up
- Have them show after a specific action (scrolling, commenting, etc.)
In order to handle this properly, I recommend you use SumoMe. It is easy to install on WordPress (they have a plugin) as well as any website. It is really flexible and features many additional functions like email options (integrates with MailChimp), features heatmaps, etc.
More recently, I’ve started using ElegantThemes’ Monarch plugin which I find much more robust, good locking and flexible with a set of triggers.
As a closing note on social share plugins, don’t forget to add and test them on mobile as well!
Making sure your content is optimized for social media sharing should be a really important part of your blog post preparation process. It has to be thought of early on as your headline and image influence it greatly. You want people who visit your posts to share them with their network as well as attract people to click your website’s shared post.
To make it happen, you have to
- Understand the psychology behind sharing
- Choose a share-friendly topic
- Create great content
- Make your headline perfect
- Find the right featured picture
- Optimize your content’s look when shared on social media
- Make sure you have share buttons