Do you get all the traffic you’d like for your site? Do visitors just keep pouring in, letting you meet all of your business goals with ease?
Yeah, don’t worry, no one making a living online actually says Yes to that question.
Getting new people to your site can be tricky, and ever-changing algorithms don’t make it any simpler.
As it happens, there’s one traffic strategy that virtually all “big blogs” use.
It works, no matter what’s going on with the big search engines or social platforms. It doesn’t cost anything. It gets more effective in cluttered, noisy environments with “too much” content.
And you definitely do not need to be “big” to implement it effectively.
This miracle strategy is optimizing your content for social sharing — making it irresistible for readers and influencers to get the word out about the work you’re doing.
Unlike search engine optimization, most techniques for social-sharing optimization are evergreen. Because they rely on human engagement, not some other company’s algorithm.
One warning before you start
There’s one important thing to know before you start optimizing for shares — what do you want your content to do?
What action or change are you hoping to inspire? Who are you striving to reach? How do you want people to feel? What should they do next?
If you don’t understand your content goals, you can end up making changes that work against those goals, for the sake of “more eyeballs.” And that’s usually a terrible idea.
So, once you’ve got your content goals firmly in mind, here are some things to keep in mind when you’re looking for more folks to share your content.
Influencers gonna influence
Of course, we expect that a web publisher with a significant audience — a “big blog” — is going to be influential. It just makes sense.
But big publishers also understand why influencers share content … because they’re looking for high-quality material to share themselves.
That means that bigger sites get very smart about how to make the content they publish appealing to share. Study the big sites you like and watch what they’re doing to craft content that gets the Share buttons clicking.
Influencers are looking for great experiences to share with their audiences. If you know how to write a good blog post, you have the potential for that nice stream of new visitors you’re looking for.
Keep in mind that it’s not always the biggest sites who have the most passionate fans. Don’t neglect the amazing opportunities that can come from getting shares from a mid-sized publisher whose audience trusts and adores them.
And then there’s that army of people who love your work, find it wonderfully useful, and want to show off by sharing it with their friends. When you optimize for sharing, you help them, too.
Speaking of which …
Why people share
There are a lot of individual, specific reasons that people share content, but most of them boil down to one:
People share content because it makes them look and feel smart.
Now, if you’ve ever read anything I write, I bet you can predict what I’ll say next:
Your blog post ideas have to be good.
They don’t have to be miraculous. But they have to be good enough that an influential person will speak for it.
What does “good” mean?
You can sometimes get by without Useful (although you shouldn’t), but the other two are mandatory.
Boring content doesn’t get shares. Neither do the jumble of cookie-cutter posts that pile up around any interesting topic.
Be useful. Be interesting. Be different.
What’s the experience?
Big blogs are obsessive about user experience. What’s it like to land on the site? Is the design pleasing? Does the site instantly communicate its relevance and reliability?
What kind of content do new visitors find? Does it speak to their problems? (Remember … one of your most important content goals is attracting a specific who.)
Do the headlines promise a lot of useful, interesting things to browse? It’s not uncommon for readers to share content on the strength of the headline alone. Make sure yours are worthy.
Does the site load quickly? Can the visitor get to “the good stuff” (the best posts, the email opt-in, etc.) easily? Is the content formatted to be reader-friendly?
How about after the opt-in? Do readers have a great reason to sign up for your offer? Is the site sending valuable material, or just a bunch of pitches and thinly disguised spam?
You may not have an editorial department or a design team, but you can ask yourself the same questions. People who care a lot tend to create great experiences.
Does it feel good to land on your page?
No one with an ounce of influence will share your content if they’re sending their audience into a crummy experience. Provide a great experience.
And finally …
Don’t forget to ask! If you ask your audience to spread the word about what you’re doing, they often will.
And when you have that perfect piece of content for a specific influencer, go ahead and let them know about it.
Don’t overuse this, but there’s nothing wrong with a polite nudge to content that’s going to make that person look brilliant for sharing it.
Reader Comments (6)
Ryan Biddulph says
For me Sonia it is about making friends by sharing my blogging buddies’ content persistently. Doing so strengthens bonds, firms up our friendships, and I do not even ask these folks to share my stuff. Friends share friend’s content without even thinking about it. Automatic thing.
Share other folk’s content generously and as you give freely, those social shares will flow back to you.
I’ll have to say this is nice. What I took note of is the point of why people share. Because they want to feel smart. So write smart posts to get more shares.
I love your post and it actually digs what is in my heart. It is at that time of evaluation and wondering what else can I do to improve my connection with the readers of my blog. I have grabbed something over here.
I believe quality contribution aimed at solving a problem or informing readers is the key to everything and actually invites more shares.
Mike DeVincent says
I was wondering, what share plugins for WordPress are good to use these days?
One major variable, is what share plugins can fly under the radar of ad blockers, such as “uBlock Origin” and “AdBlockPlus”?
These ad blockers are becoming more and more popular. To be honest, I think you’d be insane not to use them with all of the “malvertising” attacks and aggressive advertisements out there.
In any event, my current “share” suite has been effectively blocked by ad blockers, lol, and I was wondering what everyone is using these days?
I noticed that Copyblogger’s share icons are working fine, even as my browser is liberally strewn with ad blockers, hehe.
Have an awesome day, I’m a huge fan of StudioPress and Copyblogger.
Cordially and humbly yours…
I will try out “Genesis Simple Share” later on to see if uBlock Origin allows it to pass.
Thanks again for the cool content, and have a great day!
Icy Sedgwick says
I’d also add that it’s okay for content to not be useful if it’s entertaining! Sure, we all dream of building a list and getting stuff in front of raving fans…but it depends what you write about. I wrote a blog article about the ghosts of the Bank of England and Guillermo del Toro shared it on Twitter. It’s not useful (unless you’re into that kind of thing) but I like to think it’s interesting 🙂 And yeah, UX is absolutely crucial. I won’t share anything myself if I have to click through ads or 5 million popups to read the content, so why would I assume people would share mine if it looked awful?
Benjamin Ehinger says
I find the more I read/watch/listen to influencers, the more I can tap into what they like to share with their audience. They give us a free ride right into their mind every single time they put out content and it’s so easy to learn what they love and how they share.
I think taking a different approach and making content unique matters most, across the board. So often, bloggers just regurgitate the same tips found in three other articles without even trying to spin them into their own thoughts or adding anything unique.
It’s not easy to create unique, amazing content, but when you do, people notice!
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