This is the second of a two-part article. The first part of how to create shareable social media content is here.
Sharing can be courted
Creating content is all very well, but we need to understand that getting in front of people is at least as important. What you want to create is shareable content.
In the first part of this series about getting creating content that gets shared on social media, we looked at how to get that sharer-friendly foundation in place on your website. And today, we look at how to make that content more sharer-friendly; how to encourage people who are already on your blog to share the content they are reading.
It's time to turn your attention to how you are sharing that content on your social media channels, and then how you can encourage your people in your networks to click-through and to re-share.
Your precious gem
Your social media stream is already an endless stream of content -- and most of it mediocre -- and the last thing you want to be doing is to just spit out more content. You need to create something worthy of sharing, and also create the environment that encourages that sharing.
Think of your content marketing like a fine piece of jewellery. What's the appropriate packaging for a beautiful and precious gift?
Would you put it in a simple brown paper bag, or would you rather see it in an exquisite blue box with a white ribbon? I know which one I’d pick!
Create shareable content
And it's like that with your content: the better the wrapping, the more precious the content appears to the reader.
And there are some very simple tweaks you can make in your own sharing that will make a big impact on how far your content travels on social media.
You have your foundations in place; now you want to channel your best content through them.
Not surprisingly, the length of a Facebook or Twitter post, or a Pinterest headline has a huge impact on whether people click through and, particularly for Twitter, whether they re-share it.
Kevan Lee researched the the ideal length of social media posts and found that basically, the old adage
less is best,
is your friend on social media.
For Twitter, despite being the medium that most limits your length, your engagement is highest with tweets between 70 and 100 characters -- more than on the other channels. This gets you close to 20% more engagement than shorter tweets.
There's also a tactical reason to keep your tweets shorter than the maximum 140 characters. If you are tweeting your posts, you want to allow for re-tweets. Someone sharing your post will add RT@yourusername at the beginning, so there are fewer characters to play with than in your original tweet.
Keeping it short allows readers to share you in your original words, keeping all, or at least most, of your original message in their re-tweet.
Twitter is first and foremost a game of headlines; it's about conveying the most succinct information in the smartest way possible, and while the key to this is brevity, too brief and you lose the enticement.
For Facebook, perhaps surprisingly, you need to be even more concise; 40 characters will do it. About the length of this short sentence.
Maybe that's because we are so busy scrolling our newsfeed we don't stop to read the longer articles? Whatever the reason, Lee's research showed that you get almost double the engagement if you keep it short.
It's the same for Google+. Keep your updates under 100 characters if you want more people to '+1' , comment, or share it.
And when you are sharing these short posts, a headline and a short update works best.
If you know your audience will be scanning, use this to your advantage. According to Kissmetrics, we only take in the first three words of a headline, and perhaps also the last three.
Keep your headlines under six words and they're more likely to be read. And put the important words at the beginning. Always.
2. Make it visual
Visual sharing is exploding. Not just on the social-image-sharing sites like Pinterest and Instagram, but also on the more 'traditional' channels like twitter and Facebook. And maybe it's just my connections, but Google+ seems to be one long stream of photos.
Not surprisingly, with our shareaholic culture, Facebook was the top site for social referrals in 2014, with almost a third of all the shares made on all social media channels. Pinterest coming next, and Twitter a sad third place.
And it's the combination of a short attention-grabbing headline, and emotive imagery that will really get your shares rising.
Share your blog
When you are sharing your blog posts on facebook, make sure you have a nice, well-formatted image. The current recommended size for an image to accompany a link on facebook is 1200 x 628 pixels (or 600 x 315 pixels).
And always 'preview' your posts before sharing because most networks have a pre-defined size, and if your image doesn't conform then it will be re-sized to fit, making it look unprofessional.
If you're not sure, there are lots of online image size guides you can check before you post.
[And yes, how nice would it be, if there was a standard size that worked across the board?!]
For Twitter, pictures may be less important than on other social networks, but they can still boost your engagement, and bring you more traffic.
I've been experimenting a little with images, after advice from Neil Patel that he had doubled his click-throughs from twitter by adding images. I'm still getting more click-throughs on standard text-only tweets, so it doesn't seem to be a one-size-fits-all strategy but perhaps something for you to try out.
3. Headlines are key
The headline of the article may be less then 1% of your content, but it’s the part that will influence the browser and the social media connection to decide whether they are going to click through, read, or share your post.
When you share something on social media, you get one of three responses: it is ignored, it is read, and/or it is shared. You're aiming for one of the last two with every piece of content that you share.
If you are getting clicks to your site, then you are building an audience, and possibly an email subscriber. With shares, you are getting in front of even more people to get even more eyeballs on your site, and you are raising awareness of you and your brand so that the next time a piece is shared, someone is more likely to recognise your name.
The craft of headlines
So how do you craft a headline that makes people want to read it, and more importantly, share it to their network?
According to content marketing consultant Barry Feldman, the trick is to create emotional headlines.
This is because emotions drive actions more than anything else does, even, and perhaps especially, on social media.
Feldman urges writers to use powerful words that evoke feelings. He reports on data from CoSchedule that shows that headlines with double the emotional score get ten times the number of shares. A pretty good return on emotion!
Measure your emotions
But what are these emotional headlines?
Feldman points us to an ‘Emotional marketing value headline analyzer’ that gives your headline an emotional ‘grade’. It works by calculating the proportion of words that relate to feelings and emotions, and you can use your score to decide whether your headline is powerful enough to generate shares.
And again, keep it shorter, rather than longer to prepare your headline to be shared across social media.
Ready for action?
Improving the way your content can be shared by your website visitors, and on your own social media channels will multiply the reach and impact of your content marketing.
Luckily, there a few easy ways to do this that a lot of writers miss. It’s definitely worth taking the time to implement these simple changes into your content marketing, and it will reap huge rewards straight away and in the long one. The more frequently you practice these simple things, the easier it will become, and you will soon find yourself forming ideas with these rules already in mind.
Missed the first part?
In the first part we covered the foundational pieces that you should have on your site to enhance social sharing. There's no point creating good content if your readers have no way to share.
Make it easy for them with these simple tweaks.
Written with love by,
Author Unlimited Editorial Team
How’s your social media doing? Don’t worry if it isn’t up to the standards of some of those people we’ve linked to—do it in your own way, as long as you’re sharing somewhere (even your won website), you have a foundation to build from, or to focus on. More isn’t necessarily better!