Sixty percent of B2B marketers say producing engaging content is their biggest challenge for 2016. As such, understanding engagement metrics and determining what kind of content resonates with your audience is more important than ever.
One such engagement metric is social shares.
Generating a high number of content shares on social media is key to overcoming engagement obstacles for a number of reasons:
Social shares amplify your content - No kidding, right? Although the organic effectiveness of most social channels for amplification has declined over the years (thanks to filtered news feeds), social media can still be a substantial source of referral traffic. At Uberflip (a B2B SaaS company), social traffic accounts for 10-15% of our monthly Hub traffic, and the majority of these sessions are new visitors.
Social shares show social proof - Social proof is key to proving the credibility of your content, which causes a bit of a "chicken or the egg" situation: you need social shares to generate social proof, yet people won't share your post unless they know it's from a credible source. The best way to get around this is to provide valuable content in a well-optimized content experience (more on that below).
Social shares impact SEO - The connection between social signals and search engine ranking is indirect, but important. The key thing to know is that if your content is good, people will share it, which increases the likelihood that you'll generate links. And those links can drive some serious SEO juice.
So, social shares have a ton of great benefits in addition to being a key way to measure content engagement.
But why aren't people sharing your content on social? Let's take a closer look.
1. You're not enabling sharing
If you want people to share your content, you need to make it easy for them to do.
Add social sharing buttons to your content (using AddThis, for example). If the buttons display the number of shares from a piece of content, this can help demonstrate the aforementioned social proof, which can then lead to even more shares.
In addition to social sharing buttons, you can include Click to Tweet links within the body of your content. Don't just include buttons and links, however - prompt people to use them by leveraging the power of asking every now and then.
Consider that people might prefer sharing with their own social scheduling tool (Buffer, for instance), and ensure your content is optimized accordingly. Include:
- A catchy headline (it'll likely be pulled in with the metadata for the preview link)
- A well-written and well-optimized meta description
- A compelling image (or set of images)
Finally, rely on your own team to get the ball rolling with social shares. Keep them in the loop by sending the content you'd like them to help share in a daily email or via a group chat or a Slack channel. There's nothing wrong with a little inside help every now and then.
2. It's not valuable enough
According to The Psychology of Sharing (a report put together by The New York Times to understand the motivations behind why people share content), 94% of participants "carefully consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient". As such, the report concludes that it's important for content to appeal to your audience's motivation to connect with each other, not just with your brand.
In other words, if your content isn't providing information that's valuable enough for your audience's audience, it won't be shared.
Valuable content needs to appeal to the motivations of your readers, which requires in-depth research and knowledge of what makes them tick. One way to perform audience research is to use interactive content to gather information. Use the insights gathered from the results to fuel your direction.
Most importantly, don't let your content standards fall. Before you hit "Publish", review and edit your post to ensure every single piece of content is both accurate and provides value.
3. It's living in a poor experience
Your content experience - that is, the environment in which your content lives - can make or break your content's performance.
Environment adds context and relevance to a piece of content, which can provide additional value and credibility.
As an example, let's say a profile on a famous basketball player appears on two different sites: ESPN and MTV. The content of the profile would vary on each site since they serve different audiences. If the ESPN article was shared with the MTV audience, it probably wouldn't have as much of an impact since the environment isn't aligned with the intended audience.
Studies have proven that environment can have a massive impact on a consumer's motivation to act, and when it comes to social shares, there's no exception.
Increase the value of your content (and its shareability factor) by ensuring that your entire resource center is visually appealing, responsive, well organized, and, overall, is relevant and contextual for your target audience.
Optimize for Sharing
Shares on social media can help get your content in front of new eyes, increase your brand's credibility, and even impact SEO. However, your number of shares won't budge if you're not making your content easy to share and ensuring that your content is valuable and relevant to your audience.
If you're not optimizing for social shares, it might be time to switch up your strategy.
This post was originally published on the SnapApp blog.