Are you embarrassed by the social sharing counts on your blog posts? Do you hit publish… only to hear crickets?
If you’re not getting many – or any – shares for your content, there is one bright spot: You’re not alone. I’ve seen hundreds of good, even great blog posts with single digit share counts. On any given day, thousands of unshared updates stream through my social media accounts.
As you know, there’s a tremendous amount of content getting published. If you’re not getting any sharing love, consider what you’re up against. This infographic from Domo outlines the situation well. It shows how much content is published every minute. And it doesn’t even count the 2 million blog posts published every day.
So is the situation hopeless? Is content marketing a sham… or meant only for million dollar budgets?
While the volume of content being created and shared is definitely at tsunami level, there is good news. You don’t have to compete with all those publishers. You only have to compete with the publishers in your niche or industry. You only have to get the attention of your ideal customers or clients.
You don’t have to try to outrun the entire tidal wave of content shock. You just have to stay one step ahead.
There’s an old joke that describes this situation perfectly.
Two guys are camping. They hear a hungry, angry bear crashing around outside their tent.
One guy starts putting on his running shoes. The other guy asks, “Why are you putting on your running shoes? You can’t outrun a bear.”
The first guy says, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”
A little gruesome? Yup. But relevant. Because you don’t have to outrun the content shock bear. You just have to beat your competition. You just have to find and engage your audience, not the whole world. You need to get the attention of the type of customers and clients that generate the bulk of your business. The ones who love your services and your approach.
What makes this even better is that your ideal audience is by definition hard-wired to like your stuff. You and your ideal audience are soulmates, baby. They want what you have. You just gotta help them find you.
Herein lies the true, underlying problem of why no one is sharing your content: No one is sharing your content because you’re not doing enough to make it possible for your audience to find you. All we have to do is send out the right signals and get you and your unique voice to talk in a language they understand. And it’s fixed.
Here’s how to do that:
1. How to be you
- Rigorously define your company brand.
- Offer services or products in a way that is completely in line with that unique brand. Don’t just talk about your brand or write a mission statement and leave it in a drawer. Execute your daily business tasks 100% in line with your brand (or, if you dare, according to your business’s moral code).
- Don’t be afraid to be a little weird, or unusually passionate. In other words, don’t quash your uniqueness. We expect designers to have strong opinions about color schemes. We hope coffee vendors obsess over the differences between City and Vienna roasts.
Still hungry for more details on how to be you? See our recent post, “9 Ways for SMBs to Beat Big Corporations on Social Media [With Examples]”
2. How to speak in a language they understand
That last strategy was about you. This strategy is about them – your ideal audience.
- Read the comments people post on blogs in your industry. If you’re selling products, read Amazon and other product site reviews. Actually, no matter what business you’re in, find some Amazon reviews to read. How-to book reviews are a goldmine of ideas. If you’re a local business, read the reviews on Yelp and other local business review sites.
- Use the words and phrases people write in those reviews in your sales copy and in your content.
- Survey the audience you have already to see what they want more of.
- Check your analytics reports to see which content has done best so far.
Want more ideas about how to get into the heads of your audience? See this post: Audience and Content Publishing: 17 Ways to Find Out What Your Audience Wants You to Share.
3. How to send up the right sharing smoke signals. Aka, how to format your content so it’s easy to share.
Just dressing up your content the right way can double or triple shares. Here are the basics.
Social media is more image-driven every day. On Facebook, images clearly rule:
Twitter found that tweets with photos are 35% more likely to get shared.
Stone Temple Consulting did a very interesting analysis a few years ago and found using hashtags can dramatically increase shares:
Don’t post content that’s too salesy.
This is one of the easiest mistakes to make. Social media is not the place for the “hard sell” – in other words, a direct sales pitch. You’ll see direct sales pitches, but smart social media marketers use them sparingly. 90% or more of what they share or promote is designed to simply deliver value to their audience.
Don’t post boring content.
If you did your research, you know what your audience wants. Odds are they don’t want to be bored.
Customize your content for each social media platform.
I know, it takes more time. But you’ll look smarter and thus more trustworthy. Typical mistakes for this are including way too many hashtags on Twitter, but not enough on Instagram. Even worse is using a YouTube video link on Facebook, instead of directly uploading the video to Facebook. There are reports of natively uploaded Facebook videos getting 52 times more views than YouTube videos on Facebook. More views means more sharing opportunities.
Share at the right time.
You’ll have to test a bit to find out when is best for your particular audience, but here’s some insight on when is best to post for a general audience. Data is according to Fundivo.
Write good headlines.
Botch the headline, and your social media update is almost guaranteed to fail. Fortunately, social media expert Pam Dyer wrote a fabulous post earlier this year about how to create perfect headlines for social media posts.
Add sharing buttons to your blog posts, and consider asking people to share or like your social media updates.
Don’t ask people to share every single update you post, but once in a while, when you really need an extra lift, make the ask.
Check your updates for mistakes like a typo in the first paragraph, or broken links.
This is one of the most painful mistakes to make, and to see. But there’s an easy fix. Either have a second person look at your updates, or use a tool like Content Director to schedule your updates in advance. Then come back to those updates later with fresh eyes and proofread your own work.
If your content isn’t getting the shares you want, keep trying different tactics (like different timing, different formats, etc) until you hit the sweet spot. Just give each different approach enough time to be sure it works or not. Usually ten posts is enough to know if a certain trick either will or will not work. A full week is considered the minimum for A/B tests.
Just do keep trying. Sometimes it takes some finesse to build a following. If you want more ideas on how to build a social media following from the ground up, see our recent post, A beginner’s guide to promoting content on social media.