It is undeniable that a large social reach across multiple platforms helps improve the impact that content has; whether it be a blog post, an infographic or a full blown content marketing campaign.
It is probably why many people use social reach as a key indicator to determine how successful any large scale content campaign has been. So why do so we all suck at integrating social sharing into their content? Why is sharing content made such a disjointed experience from the rest of the piece?
Or, to put it another way 'How do we maximise the possibility of someone sharing a great piece of content?'. Past the content itself being genuinely unique the next key consideration is the user journey. In many ways designing a piece where the conversion is social sharing is no different to designing any other web dev project and I want to share some of my findings below.
Often, when someone reaches the end of your carefully crafted masterpiece they are thrown into an array of various buttons each equally demanding their attention to share, like, comment, plus one, Reddit. The list could go on! It’s often an ugly experience which makes it difficult for the user to decide what they actually want to do. As a result they will often do nothing!
It doesn’t have to be this way, however, and by making social a part of your content creation process you'll ensure that enough time is put into thinking about how best to integrate it as a seamless part of the journey. Doing this actually provides them with more opportunity to share your content, while not overwhelming them with options. It also allows you to make the sharing more about content rather than it just being a link.
Let's take a look at some examples next at how your content can be made or improved with social in mind. Remember these tips can be applied to practically any type of digital content, whether it be a blog post, infographic, web application or microsite.
Facebook embeddable posts have made big headlines recently but it is a feature that has existed on Twitter for a long time. The power of embeddable posts truly improve the social experience through the user journey. They allow the user to directly interact and engage with you via social. It’s important to not forget other social networks and media that you can embed within your content: Vine, Instagram, YouTube, AudioBoo and Pinterest are just ta few, all of them have built in official embed codes that you can create to carry on the user journey long after they’ve viewed your content.
Everybody loves a fact or statistic, it’s the reason that Twitter accounts such as UberFact have over 4M followers. Which just goes to show people love sharing stats on Twitter, why not make the statistical content in your piece tweetable? The same can be done for quotes or other pieces of micro content within a larger piece of content. This is something that can be included in everything from a simple blog post to a full blown interactive piece of content. We've used this idea on a piece we created on Football Debt at http://www.debt.co.uk/football/ which has seen a large number of tweets because of the way that social is included in the user journey.
“Tweets that ask for a retweet are 12x more likely to be retweeted”
If you have additional content within your main piece then why not make it more sharable? There are many social networks that focus on a single type of media, Pinterest for images, YouTube for video, AudioBoo for small audio clips. If you have an infographic or any sort of graphic that might be worth sharing then make it pinnable on Pinterest. By including this sort of social button or action while the user is viewing it they are more likely to interact with it. People are lazy, which means they are more likely to interact with something if it is simple and fairly easy to do.
You can take this point further by repeating your content in a different medium in order to increase the amount of reach it gets for example if you had an interesting quote or fact in a blog post you could recreate it as a small graphic or poster and make it pinnable.
Pinterest make this fairly easy with a number of ways you can include a 'Pin It' button on your website including a script that scans the page for image content and displays a Pin It button on hover. They have a complete widget builder on their site over at http://business.pinterest.com/widget-builder/#do_pin_it_button that allows you to create all kinds of widgets.
Let's jump into an example, to get the hover widget working all you have to do is insert the following code in the example to your page just before the closing </body> tag.
Facebook checks for some special tags that they call the Open Graph Protocol on your content that, when used, help identify some information about it such as what type of content it is and what it’s description should be. While this is a rather large and extensive topic it is something that is quite important when making your content shareable. There is an extensive site that goes into detail about all of the tags here: http://ogp.me/. So I won't go into too much detail here but, it really is as simple as including some HTML tags at the top of your page.
Just to give an example here is the sort of code that you’ll need to add to your content. This example is taken from the Open Graph web site and shows you how simple it is to create content that is about a movie for example but, the Open Graph allows you to define any type of object you could think of and if it doesn't exist then you can create it.
<html prefix="og: http://ogp.me/ns#"> <head> <title>The Rock (1996)</title> <meta property="og:title" content="The Rock" /> <meta property="og:type" content="video.movie" /> <meta property="og:url" content="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117500/" /> <meta property="og:image" content="http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/rock.jpg" /> ... </head> ... </html>
There are a number of ways you can make use of comments on a piece of content. Both, Medium and SoundCloud make an interesting use of comments that allow you to comment throughout the entire piece. On Medium you can comment on a specific paragraph, SoundCloud does a similar thing where you can comment on a specific second of a song. There are a number of unique ways in which you can make use of comments in your piece so why not try some of them?
It’s fairly easy to underestimate the power of social networks that you don’t see and hear of every day, but this is overlooking a large potential. When we created our Football Debt piece a large number of traffic on the first few days came from Reddit for instance, proving how important it can be as a channel. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t underestimate certain networks and placements. Which leads us onto our next point nicely, which is about focusing on a small group of social networks.
Networks like Reddit provide access to audiences of very defined markets like sport, gaming, science, movies and more! Chances are your content will fit in one of their boards and each board has a very active and vibrant community who are likely to like your content and share it with their friends on other networks and real life.
When creating a piece that you want to gain a high social reach you should sit down and spend the time to focus on which social networks are most appropriate for your content there are a number of things you need to do when you do this, such as looking at things like the target audience of your content and it’s social network, the popularity of the network and the likelihood of your content being shared.
Trying to appeal to too many social networks causes confusion for users as to what they should share your content on and how. It is wise to create a social strategy to ensure you stay goal focused and relevant. Most content, it would be safe to say, should primarily focus on Facebook and Twitter and then make use of other networks like Pinterest in the ways I’ve mentioned above.
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