When you first start blogging, or even long after you’ve begun, it can seem like pulling teeth to get people to share your posts on social media sites. The biggest tip I have for newbies is this: be patient. It takes time for people to get to know, like, and trust you enough to share your work on a consistent basis. Beyond time, though, there are a few other steps you can take to make your posts as shareable as possible. Here are my best tips:
Yes, I still come across blogs that give me no buttons to click to share posts. It’s frustrating because I want to share, but like most readers, I’m also lazy. If I have to copy/paste the URL and enter your screen name myself, I’m probably just going to click the back button or otherwise head off into the vast black hole of the Internet.
When I read a post, I personally like the share buttons to be at the end, so I can click when I’m done. Other people like these buttons at the beginning. Consider putting them both places or do a little split testing to see what works best for your audience. Syed Balkhi talked about the importance of split testing for your share buttons at BlogWorld LA 2011, and I think his advice was right on the money.
Yes, I’m about to beat this dead horse with a stick. Everyone and their mom has talked about the importance of great headlines, but I can’t in good conscience write this post without mentioning it as well. When you write a great headline, people want to read it, but they also want to share it. The content has to match in awesome sauce of course, but your headline is a first impression. Like old-timey newspaper boys, you want your followers to need to shout “Extra, extra, read all about it!” They’re only going to do that if the headline is interesting.
And if it’s shares your after? Keep in mind that Twitter has a character limit. It might not matter for Facebook or Google+ that your headline is long, but a long headline on Twitter makes it a lot harder for people to share, since many like to add their own comments. If people want to retweet your link (either shared by you or one of their followers), it can also be difficult to fit the person’s name, the title, the link, and your name into a tweet. So shoot for under 100 characters with your title + link.
Sheer numbers are great, but more important are what I like to call the “blind retweeter brigade.” These are your hardcore fans, the ones who will retweet every post your write, sometimes multiple times. If your goal is getting more shares, this is the following your have to build and nurture. Luckily, it’s pretty easy. Someone who blindly retweets you holds you at a sort-of celebrity status in their minds. So think how cool it would be for you to get a shout-out from your favorite celebrity from time to time. That’s all it takes. Once or twice a day, pick a member of your blind retweeter brigade and retweet something of theirs, reply to one of their tweets, give them some #FF love, or otherwise acknowledge them. It keeps them motivated to continue being your fan.
If your posts catch the eye of someone who has a ton of followers or friends on any social media site and they share your posts, you’re going to get a bunch of reshares as well from both their blind retweeter brigade and from other fans of theirs who check out your content and enjoy it. So how do you attract the attention of someone who walks the virtual red carpet?
- Interview them for a post.
- Guest post on their blog.
- Mention them in your post (and tell them about it).
- Link to one of their blog posts in your post.
- Meet them in person at events like BlogWorld.
If the content is highly relevant to them in some way (for example, you write a response to one of their opinion pieces), you can also contact them directly with a private message, DM, or email…but be careful that you’re not spamming them.
Whenever I write a post that’s really from the heart, telling people about a struggle in my own life, it gets more shares. People like to share posts that bravely expose a weakness of some sort or that motivates them to share their own struggles. We all like to think, “Me too! I thought I was the only one!” So yes, write really useful list posts and how-tos…but also take the time to get a little personal every once in a while.
Note that being emotional doesn’t always mean making people cry! You can also be uplifting in your posts. The point is to bring out some kind of emotion in the other person that serves as a pattern interrupt in their day.
I know, I know, being funny is hard. And it’s not for every blogger. But something BlogWorld speaker Jordan Cooper has taught me is that you don’t need to be funny on the level of a stand-up comedian to be funny on your blog. You just have to say something that’s a little unexpected to make a reader giggle, especially if you’re normally a very serious blogger. Reference pop culture, poke fun of yourself, or link to a picture that makes you giggle (and is hopefully somehow related to your post, with extra points if it’s cat-related). Again, it’s about being a pattern interrupt. Something that makes a reader giggle or smirk is going to stand out next to all the boring stuff we have to do during the work day.
I think every time I write a “tips” post, one of the tips is to write better original content. I’m not trying to sound like an overplayed meme (quick, someone make a Sh** Allison Says video), but this is the best tip I have to be better at anything. Want more shares on every post? Write better original content. Want more traffic? Write better original content. Want more people to buy your stuff? Write better original content. It’s all traced back to your ability and motivate to stop regurgitating the same crap everyone else is writing and start writing posts that are totally unique or at least put your own spin on the same old advice/news stories we find on every other blog. When you write something awesome that people have never seen before, they will share it.