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August 24, 2017 (Updated: February 28, 2020)
Social networks have completely changed the way we create and share content. It’s opened a new door to our audiences, providing a way to directly connect and relate with them. Prior to the social network boom, “sharing” your website occurred largely through word of mouth and email campaigns. Now, with the click of a button, you can immediately have your content in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of viewers.
But what works even better than you posting your work on social media? Users sharing your posts themselves. So, if you’ve put off pushing for social shares in your content strategy, here’s why you may want to start caring.
Image via Flickr by Jason A. Howie
It’s great to have a reliable audience base that keeps coming back to your website. Every month, you can expect to see a generally consistent amount of click-throughs thanks to those trusty audience members. But why would you want the same numbers every month when you could watch them grow? Word of mouth and email may still work as means of expanding your audience, but they’re not as effective as instantly getting your content in front of thousands of eyes. Social shares get your content directly to the ever-growing audiences on social media.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram use algorithms to give users relevant content based on other sites they’ve visited or pages they’ve liked. So when your content shows up on their feed, you’re not only establishing your place as a website relevant to their needs or likes, you may also be solving a problem for them. And users always come back to the places that solved their problems. Thanks to these algorithms, you’re sure to reach people who are already interested in your content. That way, you don’t have to waste time and resources trying to convince them why your website matters in the first place.
Of course, all of this requires that your content is relevant and focused. If a user follows a link to your site and your content is nothing like it appears to be, then your social media campaign will backfire. Be honest with your posts. Don’t click-bait.
Brand visibility becomes more and more important as technology advances and more people (and their businesses) across the world gain access to the Internet. While it’s great that anyone can build a website and share content, you don’t want your website to be lost in the ether among sites with far lower quality than yours. To separate yourself from the pack, your site needs high SEO (search engine optimization). Many factors contribute to increasing your SEO, but one that you can’t neglect is social media impact.
Google has stated that social shares don’t directly affect your rank on Google, and Bing (the second most-used search engine) also doesn’t take much stock in social media. However, while social media may not directly affect rank, the results of social shares will lead to a better ranking for your site. This is because some confirmed factors of search engine ranking are backlinks and referrals, which you ear when people visit your website. By sharing links to relevant audiences, more people will click through to your site, boosting both traffic and rank.
Again, this requires some work from your team. It’s not just posting on social media that will get you the rank boost, it’s posting relevant and engaging content that draws viewers to click through to your website. Craft posts that are relevant to issues of the time, but don’t make them too long. Post pictures and videos, which people are more likely to stop and view as opposed to a paragraph of packed text. And since most use social media on their mobile devices, take time to optimize your website for mobile use. Doing so will increase your website’s rank even further.
As much as you may want it to, not every post will get all the click-throughs and likes that you want. But don’t give up! Social media posts always have the potential to go viral. A viral post will compound both your organic audience growth and SEO rank increase. Getting a post to go viral will also increase the chance of future posts getting shared, since that viral post will get your website in the hands of a wider audience.
So what’s the secret to making a viral post? Unfortunately, there’s no one strategy to making a viral post, picture, or video. Most of the time, they happen by accident. Few sit down to come up with something and plan on it going viral. Posts go viral because they get an unusual amount of shares, so the best thing you can do is create relatable content that viewers will want to share with friends.
A few years ago, the non-profit organization WATERisLIFE posted a video of residents in third-world countries complaining about things that only those in the first world would complain about, like going to the restroom and forgetting a phone, or leaving clothes in the washer so long that they start to smell. Today, the video has over seven million views. WATERisLIFE may not have intended for their video to go viral, but by relating to their audience in a clever manner and causing their audience to consider larger issues, they succeeded.
One final note on posts going viral: don’t let your posts go viral for the wrong reasons. For example, earlier this year, Pepsi pulled an adthat went viral not because everyone loved it, but because of the controversy it created. Don’t let that be you.
Strong marketing is all about adaptation. Many companies that have existed long before the rise of social media may struggle to adapt to the relatively new channel, but failure to adapt spells certain doom for any business in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. By integrating social shares with your content marketing strategy, you’ll stay ahead of the competition and your content will get the attention that it deserves.
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