This post on social sharing is the fourth and final post in a series to help you get started blogging. No matter whether you are an individual looking to write more and earn a little money on the side, or a business seeking to expand a content marketing strategy, you’ll benefit from our series. We’ll take you from stage zero to blog hero, and make sure that you understand the importance of having a niche, choosing the right blogging platform, crafting the perfect post, and getting found online. if you missed post one in the series on Starting a Blog, post two on Choosing the Best Blog Platform, or yesterday’s post on How to Write a Blog Post That’s Perfect, check them out now before reading on!
Getting your blog post out to readers can be a challenge, but there is a way for your readers to do a lot of the work for you.
It’s called social sharing.
When a reader likes your blog post and shares it with their friends, colleagues, family and, yes, total strangers on the internet, they are promoting your work for you. Think of it like a megaphone for your thoughts, except in this case it isn’t you that is sending your words into the ether but rather the people who have found your work that are doing the shouting.
The positive effects of social sharing are immediately felt and powerful. While your blog might have a readership that only just cracks double figures, a share from a reader that is re-shared by an even higher profile social networker can see your reach grow exponentially in just a few minutes. A simple favorite, like, or retweet from a person with hundreds of thousands of followers can launch your blog post into the big time, bring in more readers than you’ve ever seen before, and lay the foundation for a community of readers who visit your site daily.
But it’s not all about luck, and getting that huge social share isn’t just a matter of posting the right blog post at the right time. In fact, there are a number of steps that you can work through to give yourself the best chance of being shared. In this post we explain in detail the six things you can do to ensure that your post is shared, and that what is shared offers the best reflection of your blog, and your content.
Ready to get started with social sharing? Great – let’s jump into number one.
The first and most important step in developing your social sharing strategy is to allow social sharing to be easy on your blog.
While there is nothing to stop a reader copying and pasting your post’s URL into a tweet or a Facebook share, add their own title, and even attach an image, it is additional work for the reader. In a world where attention spans are short and where automation is so easy, it’s essential to make your social sharing a pleasant and easy experience for your readers, and take the pressure off them as much as you can.
The way to do this on your blog is by installing social sharing buttons, a series of clickable buttons on each page or post of your blog that allow readers to share what they’ve read with just two clicks.
The first click is on the social sharing button itself (for example, a Twitter logo) and then – automatically – a tweet is presented to the reader ready for sharing.
The second click confirms and sends the tweet so that, in just a handful of seconds, your post is shared. For most blogging platforms these social sharing buttons come standard and, where they don’t, can be quickly added via a free or premium plugin to your platform.
In yesterday’s post we mentioned how important the title or headline of your blog post is for attracting the eyeballs of readers. When it comes to social sharing, it’s even more important to get your title right.
The reason is because your title or headline is part of what is shared automatically in the tweet, Facebook post, or other social share that your readers make. While it is possible to adjust your blog code on each post to have a different headline or title shared to that on your post, it is additional work that rarely pays off – especially when anyone clicking the social share finds themselves on your blog post with a different title.
What’s important to keep in mind, then, when optimizing your blog post titles for social sharing are the length restrictions imposed by social networks, and the ‘clickability’ of the title you produce. While your titles should be optimized for keywords on the blog post, you’ll want to make sure it remains a compelling click for social sharing; avoid stuffing the title with keywords and look for balance instead.
Keep your titles short where you can to avoid taking all the space up in a tweet or, worse yet, having your title truncated by the social networks. This looks unprofessional and won’t help your shares get re-shared, hampering your social sharing efforts significantly.
Hashtags in Titles
Chances are that the niche you are blogging about is not so narrow as to have no other blogs on the same topic. And if there are other blogs on the same topic then you can be sure that, on social networks and social media, the social sharing is probably being organized with hashtags.
One way to launch your blog post into the social stratosphere when it is shared is to have those hashtags relevant to your niche or blog post topic pre-attached, and this is achieved by including them in the title of your post.
Hence, instead of a title that reads ’10 Ways to Use Instagram to Grow Your Small Business’ you might title the post ’10 Ways to Use Instagram to Grow Your #SmallBusiness’. Social sharing with this title will ensure that not only do the followers of your sharers see the post, but it also falls immediately into the #smallbusiness category and finds readers there, too.
A word of warning, though: stuffing a post title with hashtags is not going to help as much as it is going to hurt your post. Remember that the people clicking your links are reader first, and sharers second, and a title stuffed with hashtags is not going to be easy to read. If you go down the hashtag route, stick with one – and consider this a ‘sometimes’ strategy more than an ‘every post, every time’ strategy for building your social sharing network.
When your post is shared using those sharing buttons you installed the social networks pull some data from your blog post. The title is the first, and generally the second is an image. By default, the social networks will generally take the featured image or, failing that, the first image in the post. Sadly, where your post does not include an image, it will either provide only a text link (that’s bad) or an empty box noting that there is no image at the shared link (that’s worse).
To avoid this problem and to optimize the social sharing that your readers are doing for you, it’s imperative that every post include an image and, where there are multiple images attached to a post, that one is identified by your blogging platform as the feature image. Time and again research shows that links with images get more clicks and attract more readers than those links without any visuals, so including an image is a great way to ensure that the social sharing you blog wins pays off for you.
As always, ensure that you have the rights to the image being shared or that they are public domain images that you are free to reproduce, and make sure they are relevant to the blog post in question. Again, it’s all about not disappointing the reader when they arrive on your site, so don’t have images of pets tweeted out on your behalf when your post is really about your transport services small business.
Along with your title and your feature image, the other piece of data that the social networks pull from your post for sharing is the meta-description that you write for your post.
In yesterday’s post we explained why the meta-description is important for search engine optimization, but it serves double-duty as a key part of the social sharing your readers do for you. The meta-description is generally included in the sharing card that is generated by clicking on the social sharing button on your site, so making it interesting, giving the readers a reason to click, and keeping it related to the blog post are all important.
Like the title, though, there are considerations for search engine optimization to keep in mind, too, and you’ll want to make sure that the targeted keyword for your blog post is included in your meta-description. However, with the importance of social sharing for building an audience, you cannot focus solely on search engines here. Make your meta-descriptions engaging, make them interesting, compel the reader to click and you’ll have a shot at converting them to a regular visitor.
Social Sharing CTAs
Finally, and in addition to your social sharing buttons, you can also invite your readers to share your post (or parts of your post) directly on social media via the use of specific call to action buttons.
An example would be the widespread ‘Click to Tweet’ buttons that allow readers to click to tweet (obviously) a specific extract from your post. perhaps you have a key sentence or a significant takeaway that also happens to fall into Twitters character limit. If so, you can use the ‘Click to Tweet’ plugin to send those words straight into the Twittersphere.
There are similar plugins offering the same sort of social sharing opportunities for images (on Pinterest, for example) but there are a couple of things to keep in mind with options like this.
First, make sure that what you are sharing fits within the boundaries of the social network. yes, Twitter allows you 140 characters per tweet, but some of that is going to be taken up by the URL (20 characters) and if you include your Twitter handle, too, you might run out of space.
Second, make sure that you don’t overwhelm your reader with many calls to action (CTAs) on each blog post. Your goal is to get shared by every reader, not to confuse the reader with so many options they don’t know where to click. It is probably best to stick to one additional CTA on top of your sharing buttons per blog post – anything more might mean doing more harm than good.
Social sharing is a great way to build an audience, but you need to make sure that your blog is ready to go social. Adding sharing buttons is a must, and configuring the titles, feature images, and meta-descriptions on your posts for effective sharing is also important. Adding hashtags, where relevant to your blog post titles can help categorize your posts on social media and push your thoughts into wider and deeper conversations, and additional CTAs in the text of your posts or on your images can help get your work to a wider audience, and quickly.
Have you had success with social sharing? Tell us about it in comments below or on Twitter!
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