Digital marketing blogs are constantly telling us that content is king, but that’s missing half the story to content marketing.
When you’re creating extraordinary content, it can be discouraging if no one is reading or sharing your articles, videos, infographics, or eBooks.
However, if you want to make the most out of your content, you have to devote a decent chunk of time to its promotion.
There are hundreds of ways to promote your content – email marketing, PPC, paid social promotion, etc. – but my favourite has always been promotion via your existing readers. If you can convince your current readership to share your content, you gain instant access to their network of contacts. This can extend your reach tens, hundreds, or event thousands of times!
I’ve spent five years promoting content and I’ve definitely picked up a few handy tips to help nudge readers towards the social share buttons. Now, it’s time to share them with you.
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Make It Easy
Some readers can be lazy. If you want them to share your content, you’ve got to make the process as simple as possible.
One way of doing this is by integrating click-to-tweet sections throughout your content. These handy links allow you to line up a pre-written message, which your readers can send with one simple click. It takes the content creation responsibility off your reader and lets them share useful content without extra work.
Check out our example click-to-tweet below.
Make it easy for your readers to share your content with click-to-tweets. [Tweet This]
Content guru, Kathryn Aragon, recently put three click-to-tweet plugins to the test and recorded some really interesting results.
On average her content received 87.4 shares, but that increased to 107.8 when she switched to using Tim Soulo’s TweetDis plugin. That’s a 23 percent improvement. Not bad for a couple minute’s work!
Customize Your Social Meta Tags
Nearly all social networks now generate an automatic preview when you share a link. By default, these previews use information pulled from the page’s metadata. This isn’t ideal.
Metadata is boring and geared towards text-based search rankings. If you let a social network generate a preview using its default settings, you’ll end up with a result like the one below.
It’s dull, uninspiring, and unengaging. It’s going to blend into the background and be forgotten before you’ve had a chance to gain any viewers or clicks.
So how do we give this dull preview a makeover?
Allow me to introduce a handy bit of web technology called the Open Graph (OG) protocol. The OG protocol is designed to allow any web page to become a rich object in the social graph. Perfect.
If your website is built on a CMS like WordPress, download WordPress SEO by Yoast or SEO Ultimate. These handy plugins handle all the code generation and let you enter images or text via your website’s back-end.
If your website isn’t built on a CMS, check out the Open Graph Protocol’s website to learn how to set up the OG code.
A couple minutes of tinkering in the back-end and I’ve managed to transform that ugly preview from before into something that looks like this.
With a big engaging image, the post is far more attention-grabbing and far more likely to spark engagement in readers.
Human beings are visual beasts. We love illustrations, drawings, photographs, videos and all other things that can tell us stories in the blink of an eye.
The usage of imagery in content has a huge effect on its reception.
A recent study from Buffer showed that Tweets with images received 18% more clicks, 89% more favourites, and 150% more retweets than those without.
Compare these two Tweets from Burberry. One includes an image, which is automatically shown in followers’ feeds. The other links to an Instagram picture, which does not automatically expand unless a user clicks on it.
The status with the image instantly grabs your attention with sharp geometric lines and strong colours, while the status without an image just gets lost in a crowd of more engaging pieces of content.
Burberry’s Tweets with images receive an average of 113 retweets. Tweets without images pull in only about 31 retweets.
Whenever you’re writing blogs, articles, or social statuses, think about how you can illustrate your story. How can you excite your readers’ eyes as well as their minds?
Leverage User Generated Content
People like to feel part of a club. It’s why cavemen banded together into tribes, after all. Well, that and fighting Wooly Mammoths.
Leveraging user-generated content is one of – if not the – best way to foster this feeling.
Think about it, if a user has their contribution promoted by a brand they admire, they’re going to be far more likely to reshare that contribution, aren’t they?
In 2009, Burberry launched the Art of the Trench website. This site allowed users to upload pictures of themselves wearing Burberry coats. Burberry’s marketing team then select the best to feature on the site.
A British fashion icon using your photo – using you – as marketing material, what could be more validating to than being a fashion icon on Burberry’s website?
Customers who had their photos shown on the site instantly became vocal brand advocates, sharing and promoting Burberry’s content on behalf of the company.
The economic return for Burberry was outstanding with year-on-year sales surging 50 percent after the website’s launch.
Find Your Ideal Audience
Your existing social communities are fantastic marketing resources, but they are unlikely to be your ideal audience for all of your content.
Let’s say you run a courier company. Your drivers have decided to start sharing photographs they take along their route and this has generated a substantial social following. The people who like beautiful landscape photography probably won’t like your corporate case studies. However, that’s okay – it’s perfectly fine to create different content for different sections of your audience.
However, you do have to make an effort to get the right content to the right section of your audience.
Here’s an example from our own blog.
I recently published a blog that pulled together over 40 of the best free stock photography websites from around the web.
However, when we first shared it on social media it only earned a few likes, a couple of shares and one solitary comment.
Fair enough, I thought. Our readers tend to be small or medium-sized business owners and probably don’t need to source that many stock images.
However, I knew there were people who would be interested. All we had to do was track them down.
I researched for online communities that are frequented by designers, developers, artists, freelancers, content marketers and so on. When I’d amassed a sizeable list of communities, I worked through them and shared with them my article.
A couple hundred daily users quickly multiplied and became a couple thousand. Best of all, these users were engaged with the topic. They liked, shared, and commented on the article as well. They were definitely a valuable and ideal group of readers for my blog.
A single LinkedIn post in one of the LinkedIn communities captured 228 likes, 46 comments, and a huge number of shares.
Write Share-Worthy Content
Perhaps the most effective way to make your readers share your content is to write something that is genuinely valuable.
After you’re done reading this blog, you should be able to go away, put these tips into action, and boost your share counter. That’s why I think this blog is valuable.
However, value is a strange beast and it can mean a million different things to a million different people. For example, for Taco Bell, it’s about providing readers with a chuckle on their morning commute.
For British DIY store Homebase, it’s about providing practical DIY hints, tricks and hacks.
Their YouTube channel is full of DIY secrets and carefully targeted towards the hammer-wielding, home improvement enthusiast. How do you get a screw out if you’ve stripped the head? How do you hold a nail safely? There are hundreds of handy tips just waiting to be watched!
Your job is to work out what it is that you want to provide your readers. Are you being funny? Are you providing practical advice?
Work out what makes your content valuable and focus on replicating that across all your work.