Social media sharing functionality has grown from basic link-sharing (way back in the 90’s) into a rich set of options for easy content sharing around the web. Let’s be clear about how important getting this right can be – content sharing is akin to a personal recommendation. Social sharing can also affect your website traffic. Some sources report that up to 33% of website visits come from links shared by other visitors. Personal recommendations drive traffic…who knew?
Many savvy nonprofits are finding that social sharing buttons are key to conversion and list growth. The team at Firefly has compiled some great advice to help your organization understand how to approach these cute little buttons as a strategic communications tactic and super-duper source of visitor data.
Choose the Right Social Sharing Tools
There are several very popular social sharing tools out there (like AddThis & ShareThis), as well as some lesser known names (like AddToAny, Buffer & Shareaholic). Most of these tools offer similar functionality. Some things to consider are when choosing sharing tools include:
- What type of content will you generally share? Blogs, multi-media and website content may be better served by different social sharing tools.
- What are your expectations for analytics? While most sharing tools have robust reporting and data tracking – some offer benchmarks so you can see where you stack up against others using these tools. Others roll right into your Google Analytics account for an integrated view of visitor data.
Our experience indicates that the higher you place your social sharing buttons on the page – the higher the rate of sharing. The buttons don’t need to be giant and eye catching like a donate button. This will let them fit into your current site or pages without requiring a huge retooling of your layout. Here are a few more tips on placement:
- Avoid placing them in a sidebar – although this can be ok for folks using a desktop or tablet, this doesn’t work well for visitors using a smart phone
- Just because your sharing tool comes with 400 different buttons doesn’t mean you need to use them all. Stick to the handful that reflect the usual and customary places your visitors might share content. Scrap the LinkedIn button if your content is geared for teenagers.
- Experiment! Try different placements for different types of content and see what works best before you hard code them into your site.
Improve Content Share-ability
There are some simple best practices you can follow to make sure your content is worth sharing. Not surprisingly, this list looks strikingly similar to the approaches you should use to create compelling content
- Give your visitors a compelling image to share – pictures are really worth a thousand words when it comes to sharing content
- Consider adding sharing buttons between the title and the content – this gives people extra encouragement to click one of those buttons.
- Use humor if you can – in a recent study, humor was cited as a primary sharing motivator for all types of content
- Display your sharing stats once you have them – keep those counters away until you’ve got some numbers (15 shares is the fewest shares you should display).
Monitor & Use Your Data
We really mean it! Spend an hour a month just looking at your sharing stats. What trends are you seeing – are most things shared at a certain time of day? Is most of your content is being shared on Facebook or is Google+ where the action is?
- Focus your social media outreach on the top three places where your content is shared most frequently.
- Identify influential share-ers and consider ways you can enlist their help with outreach for important campaigns.
- Evaluate the other things your sharing crew is interested in. Are there opportunities for you to frame your content in ways that speak to their other interests?
We hope these tips are helpful to you as you evaluate and implement some super social sharing best practices. We’d love to help your organization think strategically about your online ecosystem – contact us!