Even the best content will often not be shared online, despite hours of effort and even significant financial investment. This post is my deep dive into what makes some content get shared, and how you can tee up your content to be shareable.
There are 3 reasons why people aren’t sharing your posts:
- You made it about you, and they don’t care about you.
- You made it difficult for them to share.
- You didn’t ask.
People Don’t Care About You.
This may be a bit of cold water to the face, but when somebody visits your website, even when they click your “about us” page, they are not really looking for anything about you.
They want to hear about you, sure, just in the context of how it applies to them.
Not even your mom (who will read and share all of your posts because she sees them as a reflection of her) is reading your posts with a filter other than “what can I get out of this.”
A blog post about your recent site relaunch is only useful for people looking to relaunch their website (or if your business is web design).
The first thing to do if you want people to share your content on social media is to make it worth sharing.
Think of your content like the topics of conversation at a dinner party: the guy standing in the corner blathering on about how many vacation homes he’s got has never had anyone say “let me stop you right there, I’ve got to loop my good friend on the other side of the room into this conversation!”
When’s the last time you literally stopped someone mid-sentence in excitement to bring someone else into the conversation? What was the conversation about? Probably not how amazing the speaker is.
The person sharing your content online needs to be the hero of the story you are telling. (hat tip to StoryBrand for that insight). What that means is simple: If you are not positioning your reader to be the hero in the story of the people they are sharing it with, they simply will not share your message, no matter how well-written it is.If your content is not worth your listener interrupting you at a dinner party to loop in a friend before you continue, they are probably not going to share it online. Click To Tweet
The content has to provide actual value to your reader, and set them up to provide actual value to their audience. Otherwise they might read and be enriched by it, but they won’t share it.
Before clicking “publish” ask yourself “Is this content engaging for folks who are looking to get something out of it to share with their network?”
People Only Share Easy-to-Share things.
Once you get over the first and largest hurdle of writing stuff that helps your reader to be the hero of the story, the next wall you will run into is that unless you make it effortless to share, they will not share it.
Marketers call this “friction:” the more steps or complexity you add to an online task, the more committed a person has to be to take that action.
So your options for getting people to follow through are to increase commitment or to decrease friction.If you don't have the luxury of people being compelled by necessity to share your posts, you should remove all the friction you can from the process. Click To Tweet
Ever had to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a seemingly routine task? I once had to drive across town twice to get a signature (re)notarized because I initialled less than 2 centimeters to the left of where I needed to.
Everywhere you look there is friction in DMV interactions.
The only reason people stay in line at the DMV is that they are committed by default. You have to endure the transaction to get a license, or to license a car. The head of the department does not have to do anything at all about the friction, because you have no other choice.
Just the other day I experienced friction in a different scenario. My phone suggested I give a review of the restaurant I recently patronized.
Feeling generous, I clicked the button to rate it 5 stars. Instead of recording the rating, my phone asked me to put in my security PIN (or fingerprint) to validate my identity.
I wasn’t even all that busy, but that one extra step to move my finger 4 centimeters to the right lost them the rating. I just didn’t care to hop through any more hoops, because there was no downside (to me) to not posting that rating, and there was no upside to leaving it.
My level of commitment to the task was near nothing, so just the smallest amount of friction and I bailed.
Asking a reader to share your content is much less like the DMV, and much more like leaving a restaurant rating. One little inconvenience means the difference between completing it and going about their day.
The free Better Click To Tweet WordPress plugin aims to take as much friction as possible out of the social sharing transaction. For starters, if you set up the tweet right, it’s two clicks to go from reading to sharing and back to reading.
Better Click to Tweet is better than a sharing button because it pre-populates a shareable thought, essentially putting words into your reader’s mouth to share with their audience. All you as the author have to do is find the right words to resonate with a large group of readers, and they are two clicks from amplifying your message.
If you don’t make it too easy for a reader to share your content, you’re not going to get readers to click and share that content on social media.
Before clicking “publish” take the extra time to make any callouts and Click To Tweet boxes optimized and in your target reader/sharer’s voice.
People Have Given Exactly What You Asked For.
With better (and more reader-centering) content as well as barriers and friction removed, you are over half way to compelling readers to share your content.
There’s one last step, and it’s the most often overlooked.
If you’ve provided value to your readers, removed friction from the process, and they still aren’t sharing, it’s likely that you just need to ask.
People will only do what you tell them to do, in clear and compelling language.Your readers are only going to share what you ask them to share. Amplify this
Many an excellent blog post sits unshared because the author didn’t add in a single line clearly asking the readers to share.
Before I go on, I want to clarify that if you’ve skipped straight to this point without any thought toward the first two you may get a few shares, but it’s not going to be a good long-term play. There’s no substitute for good content that actually solves a user’s problem and sets them up to be the hero in their audience’s story.
Once you’ve provided that value, it is logical to ask the reader to share the love on social media.
A few pointers on how to ask:
- Be honest. You are not CNN, the Kardashians are unlikely to retweet you, and the way people hear about this is by word of mouth. If you’ve brought value to the reader, the best way they can thank you is to share. Call them to action.
- Be brief. Be short, to the point, non-hokey, and direct. You don’t need a sob story here about how nothing ever gets shared. You just need to ask.
- It’s still about them. Center them in the story. “You can be the reason this post gets the attention it deserves” is better than “I would really appreciate more people reading this.” Give them a subtle opportunity to be the hero.
Before clicking “publish” ask yourself if you have been cute and passive instead of clear and bold in your ask for people to share. Don’t be cute, be honest, be brief, and make it something they want to share.
People are busy, so don’t waste their time with content that is not shareable, not easy to share, and doesn’t ask them to share.
Speaking of which, it would mean a ton if you’d take a few seconds to click the boxes below to share this with your network.Check out this clear, helpful, and actionable guide to getting your content shared online. Click To Tweet Better Click To Tweet makes sharing WordPress posts and pages a cinch. Download it for free today! Share this