The online world is full of talented authors and high quality content. Problem: not every good author is in a position to share their content effectively. When content isn’t shared and distributed properly, it stands to reason that few people ever read it. Consequently, lots of content – whether articles, videos, presentations or podcasts – only reach a fraction of the audience they could reach. In this article, I show demonstrate how your content should look and what steps to take when distributing it in order to guarantee maximum exposure.
Prominent placement of share buttons
If it sounds obvious, that’s because it is. But experience has taught me time and time again that the obvious things are sometimes the most easily forgotten. When it comes to sharing content online, the sensible placement of share buttons is perhaps the most obvious of the lot – and yet it is so often neglected. Yet simply placing the buttons on the page isn’t enough.
Share buttons must not only be placed at strategically important points within an article, they must also be the right sort of buttons! Again, it sounds obvious but there’s no point having a Pinterest share button when your article doesn’t contain many pictures.
A Facebook button however is a must. With 1.79 billion monthly active users worldwide, it’s a statistical certainty that your target audience is accessible via the popular social network.
Install accurate tracking software to measure shares
Do you know exactly where you get most of your shares from? If not, then you should consider installing an appropriate – and, most importantly, accurate – tracking software. If you don’t offer share buttons via external providers such as SumoMe (which provide their own tracking data), Google Analytics is more than sufficient.
Google’s powerful in-house tool tells you exactly where your shares come from and what effect this has on traffic to your page. Use this data to conduct regular analysis and determine which share buttons work best for your content.
If you notice that 99% of your traffic comes via Facebook and only 1% via Twitter, you can be pretty sure that the distribution and promotion of your content on the micro-blogging platform isn’t worth the effort. For whatever reason, your audience isn’t active on Twitter, so don’t bother offering a Twitter share button.
Make sure that your share buttons work!
Unfortunately, not everything in life has unrestricted access. And just as barriers and hindrances are annoying in real life, so they are in the digital world too! Take mobile websites, for example. Do you remember the time when not all websites were mobile responsive? Then you’ll remember how annoying it was to have to zoom and scroll everywhere on a website in order to consume the content.
It was highly frustrating – and sometimes still is! Share buttons were often inaccessible, invisible or unclickable. And no shares = no exposure. Even worse, the user experience was so bad that visitors were put off from returning to the page. But if share buttons on a website are simple and quick to use, people will use them. And shares = exposure!
Furthermore, if you use the right open graph tags, your content will also be displayed properly on Facebook & co, thus increasing shares, exposure and traffic.
Co-operate with well-known influencers
If your content is good enough, people will be interested in it. Many will just consume it, enjoy it and move on, but others will share it further. And some people are so-called “influencers.” People who are digitally active in your field and who boast significant follower counts. These are the sort of people you should be working with.
Investigate first of all whether there are certain people, or influencers, who have shared or retweeted your content frequently in the past, and get in touch with them. This process is sometimes called “Blogger Outreach” – but whatever you choose to call it, the key is to make important bloggers and influencers aware of your content and get them to share it. Influencers are often happy to oblige. Other times, you can strike a deal whereby both parties can profit.
If your content is good enough for other bloggers to consider it interesting for their own audiences, such deals probably won’t be necessary. If they do require something in return, it’s up to you to decide how far you want to go. As a “new” publisher, the fact is that you are to an extent reliant on the support of other bloggers and influencers – at least at first as you establish yourself as an authority. So try and develop a strategy in advance as to how you want to get in touch with such people and how you want to work with them.
Go the extra mile! Offer content which is only available in exchange for a share!
An offer of bonus content is one of the most effective methods for generating more shares. But bonus content must provide something special, something extra which is of greater value than the general, basic content. Ideally, it should feature extra information and further solutions to issues which have already been briefly touched upon in the original article, video or podcast. Offering bonus content shows that you are going the extra mile – but only for users who share!
For WordPress, there is a plug-in called Social Locker and other solutions are available for different content management systems. The advantage of using such a plug-in is that users who are generally interested in your content anyway are also likely to be interested in your bonus material – which ideally features additional tips, tricks and info on the same subject (the possibilities are endless). Experience shows that most users are more than happy to share content when they are rewarded with access to bonus material.
Plug-ins such as Social Locker allow you to decide whether this bonus content is activated via shares on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks. Don’t forget however that your bonus material should stay on topic! Don’t offer users extra material on link building when the original content was about Facebook ads. You don’t want to the user to feel used.
The methods I have described here will guarantee more shares for your article, video or podcast. Whether they guarantee 1,000 shares or not – that’s down to you. I have a rule which says you should spend 20% of your time producing your content and 80% of your time distributing it.
If you are not in a position to dedicate so much time to content distribution, don’t worry – you can always reduce the ratio slightly, but don’t forget that the actual production of content is not even half the story, so don’t sit back!
There is one exception – if you are fortunate enough to have a website which ranks highly in Google and from which you attract constant organic traffic, you can afford a slightly more relaxed approach to content sharing. But this doesn’t mean that the tips in this article don’t apply to you too – after all, more shares are better than less shares!