WARNING: You could get so much exposure that your head may explode.
Wouldn't it be great if every post in your content marketing portfolio went viral? I think every small business with a defined online presence has dreamed of a post going viral and sending thousands upon thousands of leads back to their website.
Unfortunately, the cold, hard truth is that posts only rarely go viral. It simply takes a lot of steady work for content marketing to pay off, though there are specific actions you can take to increase your effectiveness.
Even if your posts don't go viral, it's still possible to capitalize on shared content. While some viral videos and posts may get thousands or even hundreds of thousands of shares, it's still beneficial to get handfuls of shares for several reasons:
- When your audience shares your content with their friends and social media circles, your brand garners more exposure
- Shares increase the potential number of cold leads
- Shares help increase your following (Facebook followers, likes, and even an email list) by driving traffic to your pages
The good news is you don't need viral content to become an influencer in your industry or niche (though to be fair, it does undoubtedly help). Even fewer than fifty shares, which may not sound like a lot when compared with the latest viral post, can fuel your digital marketing campaign.
Given that shares allow you to leverage social media platforms and boost marketing performance, here's the big question:
What actions can small businesses take to increase the frequency that their posts are shared on social media?
Use the following tips to help make your online content strategy more potent by increasing social shares.
Align Content Production with Topical, Trending Subject Matter
Social media users thrive on being in the know and being the first to discover the latest topics. Humans in general, for that matter, love to keep up with the news. Naturally, part of your content production strategy should be aimed at creating topically relevant content.
When you show your audience new developments in your industry or niche, there's a greater chance that it will pique their curiosity, and also increase the chance that they'll share it with friends. If, on the other hand, you only produce stale and stagnate content that most people already know about, it stands to reason that you won't generate as much engagement with your posts.
But how do you stay on top of the latest industry trends and news without spending hours a day scouring the web and hunting for relevant material? There are three main ways to tackle this problem.
Firstly, I highly recommend visiting BuzzSumo, which is a website that helps you track trending material via keywords. It will even show you detailed metrics that track social media engagement, such as the number of shares per social media network (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.). Just type in a word, phrase, or click on a category, and you'll be instantly presented with trending content.
Secondly, I highly recommend setting up an RSS aggregator. RSS is a way to pull news and updates from an eclectic variety of sources without needing to visit each individual web page. Tools like NewsBlur, Feed Wrangler, RSSOwl and other similar RSS tools will keep you effortlessly updated with the latest and greatest trending news stories.
Thirdly, you could set up a Google Alert for specific phrases that you know you want to track. Simply visit your Google Alerts account and plug in the phrases you know people will use that will interest you. This could be brand names, particular slogans, some of your main keywords, or even product SKUs!
Make It Easy to Share Your Content (Duh!)
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: you have to make it easy for visitors to share your content. I personally have two favorite tools that simplify the sharing process. The first is any WordPress extension that inserts a social media toolbar into your posts. That way, users only need to click a single button to share your content with their friends.
Secondly, I'm a huge fan of click-to-tweet Twitter tools. These tools allow you to surround some on-page text in shortcode tags. The shortcode generates a button by the text, and when a user clicks on it, they tweet the text surrounded by shortcodes on their own personal Twitter account.
Craft Powerful Headlines for More Interactions
There have been entire copywriting books written on the power of headlines.
It's all a rather complex and psychological subject that's more art than science, but you shouldn't feel intimidated. You don't need a graduate degree in marketing to write solid, competent headlines. To be perfectly honest, it isn't always crystal clear why some headlines grab more attention than others.
Having said that, there are certainly markers and metrics that can be used to identify strong or weak headlines. Two tools that I often use to get feedback on my headlines are CoSchedule Headline Analyzer (asks for your email address) and AMInstitute Headline Analysis.
These aren't the only headline analysis tools, of course, and you can easily find more by hunting around on Google. At any rate, these types of tools will help you gauge which headlines are heroes...and which are zeros.
The more eyeballs you grab with your headlines increases the chances it will be shared. In addition, if your headlines are more emotionally powerful, there's a greater chance social media users will share it with their friends.
Increase Shares with Eye-Catching Visual Content
Social media is a platform to share almost any type of visual content you can imagine. For instance, not only does Facebook allow you to share pictures and videos, it also allows you to video chat with your friends and family. Likewise, consider that Instagram and Pinterest are built almost solely on photographic and image content.
If you want more shares, it's worth taking the time to find quality images. Though it's possible to hunt around for royalty-free public domain photos, the old adage holds up: you get what you pay for. I'm not saying go spend a fortune on images, but once in a while it certainly doesn't hurt to splurge on visually stunning images.
Time Your Posts Accordingly
Most everyone who regularly markets through social media channels understands that different platforms have different peak usage hours. To maximize shares, it only makes sense to post when the most people are online, or just before the peak.
The best time to post depends on which platform you're using. But it stands to reason if you post during a time when more people are online, you'll generate greater exposure and create the likelihood for more shares.
Social media is a great way to drive traffic to your website – and customers to your business. But it's rather hard for small business owners, especially if you're new to digital marketing. Creating a website is only the beginning; you also have to drive traffic to your site, or you won't get much exposure.
If you're not sure how to go about driving traffic to your site, it's time to reach out to a professional (like us!).
The success of your business could easily hinge on the success of your digital marketing campaign!