If you want people to care about what you are sharing, you need to know where you want the action to lead to. Things like messing with a share buttons positioning, when they are pushed and other variables can all play a part, but in the end you still need to provide excellent content to highlight your great service/product.
Sharing and having your content stick is a tricky thing; despite it being a buzz word and the entire craze, we’re still largely unsure about how it works. This goes double for the internet and many website designers (who try to double as internet marketers), where countless people are under the crazy idea that they can post any crap they want, and that people are so desperate to share that they’ll immediately share pointless content just to say they shared something.
There is no cure all, or a one size fits all. But we have found that a bit of common sense, mixed in with an understanding of the internet, user experience, SEO, and other elements can go along way. I have broken it down into three basic points that we look at, and feel everyone should look at if they hope to make great content and see it shared over time. I can’t promise you will go from zero reach to global domination…but your odds of global domination will go up greatly if you follow these!
Easy Button Your Button
Share buttons have become the bottom feeders of the internet. They started out innocent enough, but they quickly morphed into the bar we see so often today that crams as many icons into a small space as it can in order to hopefully get you to squint and pick one and use it to share with all your friends who then will suffer the same eye strain as you. Buttons can be great for building an audience and spreading your message, but not when they are used in a run and gun fashion.
Part of using them effectively is to get out of the “more is better” mindset. Select which networks will give you the best feedback, the most enjoyment to those people, and return you the result you want.
And while we keep in mind that being selective here is a bit of free UX design advice. Stop putting all your share buttons at the top of an article. If people have not read through it, they are not going to like it. And if they have read through it, they are less likely to scroll back up to share it. People have to like something in order to like it, and they won’t do that until they finish reading your content. So stop pre-emptily fishing for likes! It will only hurt you in the long run.
After you do this…test…change…and test some more! What happens if you use only one share option? Do you have higher conversions when share options slide in at the end of the post? Do they work better when placed at the halfway mark in your content? Do they work better in the middle of the page in a massive font? Trial and error is the only way to see what gets you the results you want; you can’t just slap a button on a page and then move on.
Start messing with the variables
Change small parts of it and see how people react to it. Try a new headline and see if it draws more people in, change where you are sharing it up. Facebook and Twitter are not the only roads to Internet gold. Reddit and Stumbleupon while not as large can still drive a ton of people to your site.
Content Marketing isn’t about a set of rules or where you post things. Great content will find its way to the top and get shared. It’s the nature of the market and how it works, which leads us to the last and most vital point of content marketing.
Produce “sharable” stuff
You can have a billion share buttons, offer a free iPad every week, and beg for shares till your blue in the face. But none of it will make up for bad content people just don’t want to see. And if people don’t want to see it, it won’t be shared, and all your hard work will be for nothing.
Look at it this way: Avengers with awful marketing still would have been a blockbuster. No amount of hype, however, would have saved Steel (You know that 90’s superhero movie with Shaq in it.). Make good stuff, and people will talk about it, it’s as simple as that.
Before you create something that you hope will be shared ask yourself a few questions. Will it inspire others? Will it teach them? Guide them? Help them? Or make their day a bit better. If the content you are creating isn’t going to invoke a response in people then it most likely won’t be shareable. Think before you waste your time. Better content, makes the web a better place.