While most businesses are aware that social sharing is important and is something they should be doing, most only understand it as a general concept. Without digging deeper into the values and even motivations of why people share, businesses take a scattered approach, which brings random results. When a business develops a more strategic thoughtful process, social sharing becomes a powerful tool to grow the business.
Social sharing is one of the strongest forces to drive web traffic. It ranks higher than many other SEO techniques. In their response to Google’s new algorithm release, HubSpot recently said this about social sharing in their post, Post-Hummingbird Search: An (Almost) A-Z Glossary of Winning at SEO: “Google’s looking more and more at social shares as a signal of content quality - and thus, a reason to elevate a site's content in the SERPs. So for better SEO, you should be incorporating social sharing and social media marketing into your inbound marketing.”
Social sharing should:
- Create company and brand awareness
- Boost web traffic, and ultimately…
- Build brand loyalty, leading to passionate brand advocates
To lay a good foundation to your social sharing strategy, we find these are key:
- Understanding the basics of the psychology of sharing and
- Building trust so that people will want to share and
- Increasing that faith through actively engaging employees in their social sharing strategy
The Psychology of Social Sharing
When laying the foundation of a strategic social sharing plan, it makes sense to first examine the reasons people share. Why does someone decide to attach their social media reputation to a post and then pass it on to their friends and colleagues? Content may be shared because it makes them look intelligent, cool, caring, socially aware, and so on. The NY TImes did an entire study on the psychology of sharing.
Think about your audience and the factors that will come into play when they’re deciding to engage with your content and forward it on. You build your social sharing plan around these factors. Whatever the motivations may be, ideally you’ll continually grow an army of advocates who are excited to embrace and promote the majority of your posts and content. You don’t just want people to “like” your post - you want them to engage and share it.
Developing Faith in Brand
The next step in an effective social sharing plan is building trust with the quality of the content you are sharing. People need to know that what they are passing on to their friends and colleagues is going reflect well back on the themselves. Your online social reputation - as well as theirs - is on the line. If it’s sharing a tip, is it one that’s really worthwhile? If it’s something that’s humorous, is it truly funny?
They also need to know that you’re going to deliver on the path you’re leading them on. They need to have faith that if you send out the teaser, “The Top 10 Ways to Become Socially Responsible in Your Community” that they’ll gain new insights or say in their minds, “Yes, I totally agree. Thank you for pulling this info together - I need to pass this on!” If they gain trust in the integrity of your content, their conviction will make them willing to put their own reputation on the line to share it. And they won’t just quickly pass it on. They’ll add their own comments, or testimonial, attaching their own personal credibility to your content. This kind of social sharing is priceless.
Who’s Doing the Sharing?
We all like the idea of as many people as possible sharing our social media posts. But, in reality, it’s more important who is doing the sharing. Do the thought leaders in your industry have faith in the quality of your content? Are they willing to attach their online social reputation to the path you’re leading them on? Better yet, are your very own employees embracing your message…excited to pass on your company’s message?
When sharing on a personal level, some of us have a looser and more carefree approach to social sharing – and others don’t. Regardless of our personal styles, when it comes to employees using their own LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, etc. to promote their company’s message, they need to be confident that they are actually passing on good, industry-pertinent content that is helpful… not just propaganda about their company. They’ll be wary of committing to a scattershot social sharing plan, but will find security in a focused, well-honed strategy.
The Harvard Business Review shared some interesting points that highlight ideas for aggressive social sharing. It comes back to being strategic…having a quality, well-thought-out social sharing game plan.
Here at SPROUT Content, we’ve recently witnessed this in action as a content marketing agency with clients whose employees embraced their social sharing mission. The following snapshots show website visit increases once two different clients' staff members started actively engaging in their social sharing. (Reports conducted mid-April 2015.)
The Rise of the Power of Social Media
The eminence of social media in the marketplace is growing at astonishing rates. A recent report showed that, “collectively, the top 8 social networks drove 31.24% of overall traffic to sites in December 2014, up from 22.71% the same time last year.” The importance of integrating a strategic, well-thought-out social media sharing plan into your inbound marketing planning is imperative.
With a potent strategy, you’ll not just generate random traffic - where people click a couple of times and then move on and away from your content - but you’ll bring in customers who want to stay awhile and embrace your company's culture, actively engaging in your product or service and - even better - becoming passionate advocates for your brand.
If you think your company could benefit from improved social sharing strategy with an inbound marketing agency, get started by downloading our free guide: “The Ultimate Guide to Hiring an Inbound Agency.”