Chapter 1: Engineer Your Website for Social Sharing

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How frustrating is it when you see somebody with something fancy and they don’t even use it properly, let alone to it’s full potential?

Like my dad, for example.

When the iPhone first came out, he bought one.

At first glance, there’s no problem with this. The iPhone has always been on the cutting edge of phone technology. Why wouldn’t he buy one, right? But here’s the kicker:

My dad bought an iPhone because he liked the size of the screen.

He didn’t buy it to help him run his business. He didn’t buy it because the "there’s an app for that" commercials lured him. And he definitely didn’t buy it to use it as a smartphone as intended. He didn’t even have a data plan.


That "wtf" feeling you might have right now over my dad’s wasteful behavior is exactly how I feel when I see a website that isn’t living up to its full potential.

Because look - your website is an asset. It’s a tool that has so much potential to change your business - and not only that but your life, too. And if you aren’t using it to it’s full potential, you’re essentially committing the same faux-pas as my dad was with his iPhone - except far, far worse.

Because a few changes to your website can be the difference between you reaching your goals…

And failing miserably at them.

Your website has tremendous potential to help you reach any goal you have for it, including increasing your email list, your sales, and yes, even your social shares.

It’s sort of like having a full-time employee. You can either make that employee earn its keep, or let them waste your time and money. So here’s how to get that employee to drum up some social shares for you.

social sharing chapter 1

Display Your Share Buttons Loud and Proud

Picture this:

You’ve just read or listened to an amazing piece of content, and you want to share it to Facebook. So you check at the bottom of the post for share buttons, but - hark! - there are none.

Would you then copy and paste the URL from your browser, open Facebook, paste the link into your status update bar, copy the headline and type out a description to share the post?

If you answered yes, the content must have been absolutely orgasmic.

We humans are a lazy species, so to get anybody to do anything, you need to make it easy for them. Especially if you’re asking them for a favor.

If you’re not giving your audience a simple way to share your content, they won’t do it.

So the lowest hanging fruit for boosting those social shares is to make sure your share buttons are ever-present.

See how Marie Forleo’s share buttons are always there as you scroll down the page?:

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Not only are they accessible, but they also act as a reminder for her readers to share the episode or article.

Smart marketing, Marie.

Make sure your share buttons are all up in your reader’s business to maximize your social shares and increase your traffic.

Tools: Install Sumo and activate the Share app. It’s 100% free, and Share allows you to position your buttons where you want on your site (and float them down the page, like Marie’s).

Remove Excess Baggage

In Vancouver there’s an ice cream shop that has over 150 flavors.

They’re not your run of the mill flavors, either. They have all of the regular favorites, but also flavors like pear gorgonzola, lavender (two of my favorites), and wasabi.

It’s my happy place.

But for some people (read: almost everyone else), that much choice is totally overwhelming. So overwhelming, in fact, that they just won’t make a decision. Studies prove it.

This phenomenon is called decision fatigue, and it extends beyond ice creams and jams.

If you give your audience too much choice with which social platform to share your content on, they will more often than not choose to do nothing.

So instead of asking your audience to share everywhere, narrow it down to one or two of your highest-impact platforms.

Take James Clear for example, who only displays a button to share his articles on Facebook:

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By removing the excess baggage and narrowing down on his audience’s decision fatigue, he enjoyed an enormous amount of Facebook shares on that article:

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Smart dude.

Know where your audience is really sharing your content, then remove the extras.

Wondering which social platforms will perform the best for you? We analyzed 200 million social shares, and our data shows that Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest drive the most social sharing love by far.

Tools: A quick peak in Google Analytics should reveal all you need to know about where your existing audience is sharing your content. If you don’t already have traffic, look up the popular websites in your industry on BuzzSumo and take a look at which social platforms are the most widely used in your niche.

Make Your Share Buttons Mobile Friendly

If your website, content, and opt-in opportunities aren’t mobile friendly, you’re losing almost half of your audience.

Over the past few years, the usage of mobile devices for browsing has skyrocketed, and now exceeds desktop:

increase social shares

Almost 42% of the traffic to Sumo comes from mobile, and chances are your visitors are using mobile, too.

So if your sharing opportunities aren’t mobile friendly, you’re losing out on almost half of your potential shares.

Most social sharing plugins are mobile friendly, but beware of those that aren’t. Sumo’s social sharing apps (including Share, Image Sharer, and Highlighter) are mobile friendly by default:

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Just set the placement of your Share bar in your Sumo dashboard:

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And to capture more shares from your mobile visitors, make sure they don’t have to scroll for your share buttons. Toggle this option off:

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This is a low hanging fruit that will instantly increase your shares.

Protip: Your mobile visitors use different social media platforms from desktop visitors. For example, our data shows that Facebook and Pinterest are the most popular social sharing desktop websites, but Facebook and email are the most popular mobile sites for social sharing:

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Whatsapp and SMS make an appearance with mobile, where they are relatively absent from desktop.

This makes sense, and to increase your shares you can optimize which services appear for your mobile users (and differentiate them from your desktop users):

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In your Sumo dashboard, navigate to the Mobile Optimized tab, and toggle "Use Mobile Optimized Services" on. Then, drag the mobile services to Selected Services, and press “Save”. Voila! You’ve got yourself a mobile optimized user experience to encourage shares.

Tools: To ensure your share buttons display on mobile, and to optimize the social media websites you display for your mobile visitors, install Sumo Share app now (if you haven’t already).

Set Up Your Meta Data

Nobody wants to share your content if it clutters up their feed with unsightly images.

That’s why setting up your meta data can drastically increase your social shares. And what do I mean by setting up your meta data?

Well, if you were to share a piece of content that didn’t have a default image that was sized for the social platform, it would show up like this:

Would you rather share something that appears like that, or an article that appears like this, with an image that is sized specifically for the social platform?:

Since visual content is so important - and enjoys 40x more social shares than those posts without a visual - you want to make sure to optimize all of your posts for sharing.

Make sure that your Twitter card and Facebook meta image are sized correctly, and that they’re showing up appropriately on your page. This will increase your social shares because you’re giving your audience something they’ll be proud to share.

Tools: Use SEO Yoast, one of the top WordPress plugins for 2016 to set your Twitter card and Facebook meta data for each piece of content you release right in your WordPress dashboard:

social sharing increase

Hold a Giveaway

People love free stuff.

And they especially love the chance to win free stuff. There’s something about that dopamine hit that’s triggered by the words "giveaway", “sweepstake” and “lottery” that gives us tingly feelings inside.

Which is why it makes sense that giving something away can skyrocket your social shares.

All you have to do is make one of the entry options for your giveaway social sharing.

See how NinjaOutreach gave away a one year license to their program, making the entry options include sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest?:

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This creates a loop: the more people who enter your giveaway by sharing it on social media, the more people find out about the giveaway and… enter it by sharing it on social media.

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Welcome to the land of tags and Retweets. Enjoy your bounty.

Protip: Only give away items that are specific to your audience and niche. You don’t want just any social shares - you want relevant social shares.

Tools: Rafflecopter is a free tool that will allow you to collect social shares as entries to your giveaway. If you need a more robust tool, KingSumo Giveaways is a premium paid tool to structure your giveaway.

Quiz Your Audience

A few months ago, I had a deep, curious thought:

I wonder what Hogwarts house the Sorting Hat would assign me to?

I had a hunch Mr Sorting hat would put me in Ravenclaw, but I couldn’t be too sure. So, I took it to - where else? - BuzzFeed.

And after asking me to make the uber-difficult decision between Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, BuzzFeed spit out my results: Gryffindor. And, smartly, they also asked me to share my results on Facebook:

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Which, of course, I did - and not just because I was proud to be put into Gryffindor. I would have shared if I ended up in Slytherin too, because I was curious to know what my friends’ results would be.

Plus, I’m like every other human on the face of the planet in that I’m obsessed with myself: I love anything that tells me something about who I apparently am (why do you think we’re so obsessed with personality tests?).

Quiz your audience on something related to your industry or niche, and ask them to share their results on social media. This works like gangbusters to boost those shares.

Protip: Take it one step further to encourage social shares by gating the results with the share. Don’t hand over the results until they share the quiz. This works really well because your audience has already done 95% of the work by going through the quiz, so they’ll want to take it the final 5% to get their results.

Tools: WordPress Viral Quiz is a WordPress plugin that allows you to embed quizzes on your website. You can have users share the quiz, or gate the results with social shares.

Ask for A Share on Your Thank You Page

Pop quiz:

When are your visitors the most engaged with you and your business?

Answer: right after they sign up for your email list.

And when are those brand new subscribers the most likely to follow through on your calls to action?

Well, when they’re most engaged of course!

Use that honeymoon period to ask your super-engaged new subscriber to spread the word about your website on social media.

Include the call to action on your Thank You page that new subscribers are automatically redirected to after they confirm their subscription.

Check out how I’ve done this on my personal blog:

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My audience at this point has already handed over their email address, so I have their action-taking momentum on my side.

Ask for the share when your audience is the most engaged by placing the call to action on your Thank You page.

Ask for the Share in a Pop-Up

Guess what?

Even if you find them annoying, pop-ups are not dead. In fact, the conversion rates on pop-ups outperform every other opt-in form bar none, with the top 10% of highest-performing pop-ups averaging a 9.28% conversion rate.

Sumo users collected 23,645,948 email addresses with List Builder pop-ups in less than two years.

Since they work so well for collecting email addresses, you better bet that pop-ups will also work well for collecting those social shares.

Check out how Airport Wifi Guides uses a pop-up to ask for the share:

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Increase the likelihood of your audience actually following through on your call to action by making it so they can just click the link to share the specific piece of content. Here’s how:

Step 1: Choose the platform you want your audience to share to. In this example, let’s say you want your visitors to share on Facebook.

Step 2: Click the share button from the piece of content you want your audience to share, as if you’re going to share it:

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Step 3: Copy the URL of the sharing window that appears:

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Step 4: Paste the URL in the link field in your Call to Action pop-up:

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Badda-bing badda-boom. When your visitor clicks the Share button, they will just have to press the "Post" button. No muss, no fuss.

Rather than setting your pop-up up to collect emails, ask for the share.

Protip: Be specific about which platform you want your audience to share on. Include only one (or maximum two) options on your pop-up for maximum conversions. Set the platform to whatever makes the most sense for the post. If it’s an infographic for example, include a call to action to share it on Pinterest. If it’s a list article, ask your users to share it on Facebook.

Tools: In List Builder, set Popup Mode to Call to Action Button. You can then create a call to action to share on social media rather than collect emails.

Set Your Squeeze Page As a Social Call to Action

If your main goal for your website is to increase your social shares, then all of your calls to action on your website should be supporting that main goal.

That means setting your squeeze page or Welcome Mat as a call to action instead of an email collection form.

Want people to share your content on Facebook? That’s what your squeeze page should be directing them to do, if that’s your goal:

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Protip: Only display these squeeze pages to people who are returning to your content. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to ask them to share it before they’ve even read it.

Tools: If you’re using Sumo, your Welcome Mat can become a call to action just like your pop-up can. Just select the Call to Action template when you’re building your Welcome Mat:

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And populate the link the same way you did above to bring up the pre-populated social media post.

Chapter Checklist

Your website should be used as the powerful tool it is to help you reach your goals. Use this checklist to make sure it’s following through:

  • Did you make sure your social sharing buttons are not only on display, but easily accessible from any point in your content?

  • Did you remove all of the extra options in your share buttons to reduce decision fatigue and increase action?

  • Did you make sure your share buttons are mobile friendly to increase your shares by 50%?

  • Did you make sure the meta data on your content is set up for social sharing?

  • Did you hold a giveaway with the entry options being to share your content on social media?

  • Did you set up a quiz for your audience and ask them to share their results?

  • Did you ask for the share on your Thank You for Subscribing page to capture your most engaged traffic?

  • Did you set your pop-up as a call to action to ask for social shares?

  • Did you ask for the share on your squeeze page or Welcome Mat?

After you’ve set up your website with this low hanging fruit to increase your shares, it’s time to get serious about boosting your social shares from your content. Click the button below to check out Chapter 2.

NOTE: This guide is 12,000 words and 5 chapters long. You can navigate to Chapter 2 and read it all right now, OR you can download the entire guide in ebook form for FREE and read it later.

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