Ever read a piece of content that you just couldn’t wait to share?
It was well written, interesting, engaging and maybe a bit controversial. There were so many great quotes in the content that you couldn’t even choose which to Tweet, and it came equipped with visuals and graphics to please even the laziest of readers.
The author made the content uber-sharable, so with one or two clicks of a button your friends, colleagues, and family could know about it, too.
This utopic content bliss means that naturally, the content probably received a ton of social shares.
In this chapter, I’m going to show you how to reverse engineer this perfect content scenario to skyrocket your social sharing from your content and start dominating social media like the boss you are.
But first, a note: This guide is 12,000 words and 5 chapters long. You can either try to read it all right now, OR you can download the entire guide in ebook form for FREE and read it whenever you want.
Click here to download this entire guide for free.
This guide would be all for naught if you ignored this advice.
Our social media profiles are like aggregated versions of ourselves. They amalgamate our self identities. That’s why you wouldn’t share anything that isn’t great quality - because what you share is a reflection of you.
Obviously BuzzFeed quizzes are exempt from this assessment.
All that to say that nobody will share your content if your content is crap.
Create content that reaches your target audience, that you can truly be proud of. Because if you’re truly proud of your content, chances are your audience will be proud to share it.
If you’re stuck on how to create popular content, we’ve outlined the exact process we go through to create content in our guide: Our EXACT 7 Steps to Reverse Engineer Enormously Popular Content.
While you’re creating that irresistible content, don’t forget to...
Have you seen this quote before?
How about this one?
Surround yourself with the right people...."You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." -Jim Rohn— TJ Jackson (@tjjackson) May 11, 2016
I’m willing to bet you have. And that’s because they’re shared constantly on social media.
Those quotes are short, memorable, and they sum up an important idea. In short, they are sticky. And that’s precisely why they’re shared again and again.
To increase your social shares, weave short, quotable snippets into your content. This may not seem easy (because it’s not!) but it’s one of the best ways to make your content go farther on social media.
Tools: Make it super simple for your audience to share those quotable nuggets you worked so hard to weave into your content with Highlighter. It’s a free Sumo app that brings up an option to share the quote when your reader highlights it.
One of the best ways to get people do something is to…(drumroll please).
Ask them to.
Surprising, right? Your audience probably isn’t made up of internet marketers, so it makes sense that they might not know how valuable social shares are to you. Most of them probably won’t think to share your content, even if they enjoyed it.
Asking them to share your content is one of the best ways to increase your social shares from people who are already consuming it.
See how Derek Halpern includes a strong and specific call to action to share in his content?:
Since the people reading this call to action got all the way to the bottom of the page, they must have found the article valuable, making them far more likely to share.
Protip: Ask your audience to share your content only on one platform for maximum impact. If you ask for more than one, you risk overloading your readers with requests.
You’ve seen them all over the internet.
They’re not quite images, and they’re not quite articles, but you sure can learn a lot from them…
They’re those long, informative images that usually compliment a short write-up. Here’s one we’ve posted recently on Sumo about how A/B testing is ruining your website:
The best thing about infographics is that they’re a highly shareable visual representation of data.
In fact, infographics receive 3x as much likes and shares on social media than any other content.
Infographics are a great way to present a lot of information in a simple way and brand your business or blog as an authority. And smart marketers not only use infographics to simplify their content and paint a pretty picture, but also to increase their social shares.
Protip: See that infographic I’ve included up there? It works double duty for us, because we provided an embed code on our article with the infographic:
By providing an embed code, you’re encouraging people to share your infographic on their websites, linking back to your own. Embed codes follow this HTML:
Replace the width and border with the appropriate dimensions, and the generic links with the specific links to your article and infographic. Include the embed code in the write up about your infographic.
Tools: Want to create your own infographic to save money? Try Venngage to make infographics for free. If you have a small budget, Fiverr is a great bet. If you want a beautiful, professional infographic with a short turnaround time, Growth Geeks creates them for $149 on a monthly subscription (that can be canceled at any time).
You may notice that in almost every single Sumo guide, we use a ton of examples from other websites, businesses, blogs, and entrepreneurs.
That’s not only because we want to show you live examples to make the ideas and strategies "gel" for you.
It’s also because we love shouting out people who are doing great work.
And a huge bonus of shouting out people who do great work is they’re usually so happy to be acknowledged for their great work that they’re willing to share the content with their audiences on social media.
Their audiences which just so happen to be rather large. They are "influencers", after all.
For example, I mentioned Kimra Luna in the Sumo-Sized Guide to Drive Massive Traffic from Facebook:
Kimra took notice and shared the post with her Freedom Hackers Mastermind Facebook group (which has almost 30,000 members).
This resulted in a huge boost in social shares as her group members discovered the content.
Protip: Mention people in the same or similar industries as you, or with whom you can find a reasonable overlap. You want people who reach your target audience to share your content, not just anybody.
Studies show that content that triggers high arousal emotion (emotions like amusement and anxiety) is more likely to be shared than content that triggers low arousal emotion.
Guess what is also a high arousal emotion?
You got it: controversy.
Controversial content - or content where you take a strong stance on something you believe in - appeals to everyone.
The people who agree with your stance will share it to communicate that they agree, and as a rally cry to their friends who also agree
The people who don’t agree will share it because they think you’re dumb and sharing terrible opinions you don’t agree with on social media is like the digital version of a face palm.
Take a look at how wild this article called: Are GMOs safe? Yes. The case against them is full of fraud, lies went:
Let’s all have a moment of awe-struck silence for the wonder that is that headline.
In case you lost your monocle, that’s a whopping 245,000 Facebook shares and 3,500 comments.
And that’s not even including Twitter shares.
And you better believe that a lot of those people shared because they wanted their friends to get-a-load-of-this-crazy-guy.
Taking a stand on something controversial is one of the best ways to ensure you maximize your social shares and get that content in front of plenty of new, fresh eyes.
Just like controversy tends to lend itself to an increase in social shares, so do challenges.
What do I mean by challenges?
Challenging yourself to do something a bit unusual. Something that surprises people or that most people would find it difficult to do.
The family who decided to eat only real, whole, unprocessed foods for an entire 100 days:
The startup founder who decided to be rejected over and over again:
The woman who bought nothing new for 200 days for sustainability:
Get a load of all of those social shares!
Challenges go viral because they’re surprising. They break patterns and social norms, and trigger curiosity. And people love to share when they find other people doing cool things.
Like with controversial content, some people will share challenges out of disbelief, and some out of admiration, but either way, challenges are the perfect viral formula for making sure your content is liked, shared, and read.
Protip: After you report upon your challenge on your own website, create sub-articles out of the different lessons and things you could teach related to the challenge. Pitch them to large news sites that run stories on related information. Republish your challenge on larger websites to reach an even broader audience and truly make it go viral.
Want to hear something sweet?
Visual content collects 40x more social shares than any other form of content.
Makes sense, too. When you're perusing on social media, it's the images that jump out at you and catch your attention, not the wall of text. Your audience is the same.
That's why it's important that you use shareable images in your content.
Which would you rather share? A post with an image like this one on our 2016 WordPress plugins guide:
Or a post that pulls up an image like this?:
If you create visuals for your content like we do on all of our guides, when your audience shares the content it will be far more enticing for their followers to engage. Therefore their followers are more likely to share it as well.
Shareable images are eye-catching and draw attention to the content.
Tools: If you don't have a knack for design or don't know your way around Photoshop or Illustrator, creating shareable images for every piece of content you publish may seem daunting. But don't worry: there are programs for that!
You can use Canva to create free, shareable images for your content. Size them depending on the social channel you want to share them on:
You can customize your layout, upload your logo and colors, and created images specific to your content.
Protip: After you’ve created the shareable image for your content, set the images as your Twitter card and Facebook meta images in Yoast SEO, so when people share your content, the images are displayed properly on the right channels:
That way it won’t show up all wonky.
In our guide to 2016’s 57 BEST WordPress plugins, we included a few social sharing plugins that you can’t afford to miss.
One of those was Click to Tweet, a plugin that allows you to embed a button in your content so your readers can easily… well, click it to Tweet a phrase, saying or sentence.
So not only are you reminding your audience to Tweet the quote, but you’re making it stupid-simple to do so.
When the link is clicked, it brings up Twitter with a pre-populated Tweet:
Allowing your audience to share your content to Twitter with the click of two buttons.
Protip: Include hashtags in your Click to Tweet quotes, so more people on Twitter can discover your content when your audience quotes it. See how Noah used #contentmarketing in the screenshot above?
Tools: Click to Tweet is a free WordPress plugin that automates this for you.
If you’re not holding webinars yet, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Just kidding, but you should consider it, because webinars are a type of content that convert insanely well.
The no-sales webinar I held last year converted at 18% from the webinar registration page itself, and my Welcome Mat converted at around 30%:
Webinars convert so well because they are essentially free education. I’ve never gone to a webinar that I didn’t learn anything from, and your audience recognizes their value, as well.
Because they’re so valuable, your audience is more likely to want to share them on social - as long as you ask:
Include share buttons on your webinar registration pages to encourage more webinar signups and shares.
Tools: Almost all webinar programs allow for share buttons to be embedded on pages. WebinarNinja is a good bet if you want an affordable, easy-to-use webinar program that allows social sharing.
Have you ever had to give up your email address to read an article?
This is typical of some larger news sites, and even some smaller blogs are catching on. If you’re writing things that people really want to read, you can gate your articles with a call to action - so your readers need to do something specific for the privilege of reading the article.
To boost your social shares, Instead of gating your articles with an email collection, gate them with a call to action to share your content on social media:
This isn’t the best way to go about content marketing (after all, you’re asking them to share content they haven’t even consumed), but we’re giving you every single way to increase your social shares, and we couldn't leave this one out.
Protip: Know the policies of the social media platforms you’re gating your content with. Many social media sites are changing their policies which makes incentivizing likes and shares no bueno.
Tools: Some themes allow social gating, but if yours doesn’t, OnePress Social Locker is a WordPress plugin that allows you to do this. There are free and premium versions of this plugin.
Have you ever seen those groups at the airport that give away flowers?
I bet you feel obligated to pay them once they thrust that rose into your palm, right? Yeah, that’s intentional.
See, when somebody gives us something, we feel the need to return the favor. Those groups at the airport rely heavily on our human, psychological tendency to reciprocate.
And as a friend has told me, reciprocity is what separates us from apes.
That’s why giving away something valuable for free can work to increase your social shares.
The recipient of your free gift will feel compelled to return the favor. So you could give away:
A discount or coupon code
A free course or challenge
A free month of your app or SAAS program.
If you don’t ask for an email in return, you’ll have more license to ask for the social share (because you’re truly giving them something, no strings attached).
Even though this will inevitably trigger that reciprocity urge, you should still ask for the social share. If you’re giving away a digital product or discount code, include the call to action to share on your preferred platform on the thank you page.
Content upgrades can help you grow your email list insanely quickly.
Our content upgrade on our DIY Crowdfunding guide collected over 1,000 emails so far - and boasts a 42.97% opt-in rate.
Content upgrades are effective not only to collect emails, though. You can offer a content upgrade in exchange for a social share, too. See how we’ve done this on our Sumo-Sized Guide to Free Facebook Traffic?:
We offer a free checklist in exchange for a social share. This has led to hundreds (if not thousands) of shares of that article over time.
Tools: Use a service like Pay with a Tweet to automate the process for your users. It’s a free service that allows you to trade shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Google+ in exchange for a content upgrade or offer.
OK, so you took my advice from above and created an opt-in offer.
And you’re rolling in the social shares, because your audience really wants that high-value offer you made for them.
But there’s no such thing as too many socials shares, so why not get them to share again? Maybe on a different platform?
After they go through the content upgrade and find out just how useful it is, ask them to share again by including a share button or call to action on the last page of your content upgrade or freebie. Like how I’ve done on a freebie I give away on Unsettle:
You can include the call to action in the footer or the concluding page.
You want your content to go viral, right?
Yeah, I’m a mind reader.
Well, I have great news for you. One of the best ways to make content go viral on social media, drive social shares and boost your traffic is by writing an expert roundup post.
Tor used one expert roundup post to drive over 20,000 visits to his website, 1,700 social shares and almost 100 comments.
An expert roundup post is when you crowdsource feedback around a specific theme or question from influential people. Because they’re featured in the article, they’re likely to share it with their large audiences.
Tools: Find out how exactly to conduct an expert roundup post to drive massive shares in our guide Getting 20,231 Views with One EPIC Roundup Post: A Step-by-Step Guide.
Okay, so say you don’t want to have to actually reach out to experts and ask for quotes for your content.
You’re lazy. I get it.
All is not lost. There’s nothing better than a surprise mention of your content! It feels good to see your name in the wild.
Create a roundup post that links out to other content to increase your social shares. The writers of the content you include are likely to share the content, like this BuzzFeed post:
The people you mention also have friends and family who will be excited for the mention and share the content, as well:
When your mom's food blog is seen in the wild: What To Eat In Canada If Trumps Wins https://t.co/7aIqTAbaSG (#3 and #16 - so proud!)— Sarah (@petersonsar) June 28, 2016
Okay, so say you don’t want to create an expert roundup post or a content roundup post. But you still want to be able to integrate credibility into your content and potentially get that content in front of the audiences of influencers.
You can still ask experts for their opinions and quote them in your content, without making the entire piece of content a roundup post.
For example, I asked a handful of online business experts what their favorite WordPress plugin was for our Sumo-Sized Guide to WordPress Plugins. When they responded with their suggestions, I published the guide and tagged them in a Tweet:
A couple of the experts retweeted the content, and as a result, it was retweeted several times, and shared even more.
Your content can serve as a great driver for social shares. Don’t let these opportunities pass you by.
Weave a few key elements into your content to maximize your social shares. Use this checklist to keep yourself on track:
Do you create amazing content that people actually want to share?
Do you weave quotable snippets into your content and encourage sharing of them with Highlighter or Click to Tweet?
Did you include a call to action in your articles?
Have you created a highly shareable infographic?
Have you made sure to mention a lot of influential people in your content?
Have you created controversial content to get people talking (and sharing)?
Have you done an unusual challenge and posted about it?
Have you created shareable images and set them as the meta data for your content?
Have you installed Click to Tweet?
Have you included a call to action to share from your webinar registration pages?
Have you tried gating your content with social shares?
Are you giving away something of high value to trigger reciprocity?
Are you gating content upgrades with social shares?
Have you asked your audience to share from your content upgrades and freebies?
Have you created an expert roundup post?
Have you created a content roundup post?
Do you make sure to get expert opinions for your content?
After you’ve started to create content that will drive massive social shares and help you dominate the internet, let’s start engaging those subscribers to rake in even more. Click the button below to check out Chapter 3.
And if you want this guide to keep and read later, we've got your back:
Click here to go to Chapter 3