Chapter 4: Social Media Techniques to Increase Shares

Intro | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Free PDF

So far in this guide, I’ve shown you a ton of methods for increasing your social shares without even touching social media.

And while every single social platform deserves it’s own guide to increasing social shares, there are still many things you can do to increase your social shares no matter which social network you’re using.

These techniques work across the board, whether you’re using Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ or - well, all of them:

So get those social profiles open, flex your finger muscles and let’s get started.

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Post During Peak Hours

Let’s say you were an up and coming comedian.

Naturally.

And you were invited to do a comedy routine at a popular comedy club. You’re thinking “yes, this is my chance! This popular comedy club could make my career!”

So you whip up the best routine ever and show up for your scheduled slot. You take a deep breath, step onto stage, look out into the crowd, and…

There are all of 7 people in the audience.

The club gave you the 5:30 PM slot, and all of that hard work that you put into your routine is going to waste.

Sounds painful, right?

That’s how it is when you post on social media at the wrong times, too.

See, most social networks act like feeds. Meaning your posts are only seen for a short window. Then, as more people post, your posts get pushed down into the underbelly of the internet.

And if you’re posting when your followers and audience aren’t even online, you’re wasting some of your best stuff on an empty room.

So to increase engagement on your posts - and therefore, shares - post only during “peak” hours when your audience is most active.

Tools: Unfortunately there isn’t one overall tool for all social networks, but you can find out which times your audience is most active on a per-network basis. Instagram has Iconosquare, which is a useful analytics tool, and Tweriod is the equivalent for Twitter:

Post on the Right Days

Picture yourself back at that comedy club, but you’ve managed to land a more lively time.

Good for you!

Now picture stepping out on the stage and seeing a well-populated room. But as you begin to tell your (wildly inappropriate) jokes, nobody is laughing. The routine flops, and you skulk off the stage with your tail between your legs.

It turns out that the comedy club put you on stage on a Wednesday, which for some reason in your town is the day the local church group heads out for some evening fun at the comedy club.

Your jokes flopped because, even though you had a far better time, you delivered them on the wrong day.

The context of your jokes was inappropriate for the audience at the club that day. How does this relate to social media?

Think of it this way:

There are specific days that certain topics and types of content do best on social media - and there are specific days on which your target audience is more active on social media.

After analyzing 200 million social shares, we found that content is most shared when it’s posted on Sunday or Monday.

But the days your content is shared and engaged with on social media depends on your website and the topic of your content.

  • If your website, blog or business is related to education, entrepreneurship, or career, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays will likely perform the best for you as these topics are top of mind these days for your target audience
  • If it’s about sports or recreation, you’re probably going to do better on Fridays or the weekends, as that’s when most of your audience is available to start thinking about those topics

See what I mean?

Tools: There’s no clear cut tool to help you determine which days are best for social sharing, but you can use programs like Tweriod to find out. You can see how my followers are online the most on Sundays and Mondays (see those peaks?):

But they tend to be offline on the “weekend” (Friday and Saturday, according to Tweriod).

Post a Call to Action in Your Bio

Do you have a bio abuse problem?

This is a common problem many people struggle with. It’s where you misuse your social media bios by filling them up with information that is relatively useless to your followers:

This is a shame, because you’re likely creating content that is chock full of useful information for your followers.

Instead of listing your preferences and where you live in your social media bios, send your followers to a piece of content with a call to action to share it!

Here’s how I’ve done this for guide to WordPress plugins:

Your social media bios are the perfect opportunity to do a call to action. Don’t waste the real estate!

Protip: Your bios are usually character limited, so shorten the URLs to your content so you don’t use your space with hyperlink.

Tools: Bit.ly is the most widely used, free option for a URL shortener. Clkim is also a great bet if you want traffic to your content to be trackable, with robust analytics data.

Use Relevant Hashtags

I was recently in Medellin, Colombia and I was trying to find a coffee shop to work out of.

#digitalnomadproblems.

So I took it to - where else - Instagram. After all, social media is where all the cool kids are having conversations.

After a few quick searches of some relevant hashtags, I ended up at the most charming little coffee shop - Cafe Velvet. I also ended up following a few of the users I found through that hashtag, and sharing some of their content.

What I’m trying to say is that if these users hadn’t used hashtags in their Instagram posts, I (and likely dozens or hundreds of other people) wouldn’t have found them, and I wouldn’t have then shared their content.

Hashtags increase your visibility on social media so people who are looking for what you’re posting about can find you - and share your posts.

For example, when somebody looks up #onlinebusiness, they’ll find SumoMe on Instagram:

Hashtags work across almost every social platform to increase our visibility and therefore your social shares.

Protip: Make a list of hashtags that are highly relevant to your blog, content, and business, so you can use them in posts where you’re sharing your content.

That way, as your target audience searches and shares your posts, they’ll drive more traffic (and therefore visibility and shares) back to your website.

Protip #2: Pair your brand's hashtag with some of the hashtags you’ve selected for your social media posts. This will boost your brand awareness and your shares, as your existing fans stumble across your posts.

Tools: Only use hashtags that have a high search volume but aren't over used - otherwise your content will be quickly buried. Track what is being said around each hashtag with #tagboard, and let RiteTag help you choose the best hashtags for your posts.

Test Your Social Headlines

You know this by now, but in case you need a reminder, your headlines, in the words of the great Kelis, bring all the boys to the yard.

Or not, if they suck.

So you know you need to create irresistible headlines for your content, otherwise nobody will read it.

This is especially true for getting traffic from social media - and it’s double especially true for getting more shares on social media.

Because let’s be honest: nobody is going to share a vague, boring, or lackluster headline. So increase your social shares by testing different headlines to find out exactly which headlines will perform the best for you…

And then schedule the winners to go out on social media often for more retweets, reposts, likes, and shares.

Protip: Usually, posts that trigger curiosity or are emotional in nature garner more social shares and general attention than posts without. Test a couple of vastly different headline formulas with your audience to see what they respond to.

Tools: Use Buffer to test your different headlines, and analyze the results to see which garnished the most social shares. See how we did this with our WordPress Plugins Sumo-Sized Guide?:

We tested two different headlines to see which would work best, and found a winner:

We then scheduled the winning Tweet into Edgar to be sent out regularly.

Know Where Your Audience Hangs Out

Let’s say you were to open a food truck that sells big, juicy, artisanal burgers. You also sell gourmet hot dogs with all the fixings, and your slogan is “no piece of bacon left behind”. It’s essentially a meatstravaganza.

You live in a food-truck utopia, where you can park that hunk of metal anywhere you please and be open for business.

And let’s say you were driving around one morning, deciding where to set up shop, when you see a huge gathering of people. Perfect!

So you pull your truck up to the curb, open the order window, drop your sign out front, and look out into the crowd, ready to take in the orders…

Only to notice that big crowd of people? Yeah, it’s a PETA rally. Yikes.

You’re obviously not going to sell any of your burgers or hot dogs. And that’s sort of what it’s like if you hang out on the wrong social media platforms for your audience (but with a lot less anger, I’d imagine).

If you’re focusing your efforts on increasing your social shares on LinkedIn, but you have a food blog, your content will not experience the level of engagement and shares that it deserves.

That’s why you need to know exactly where your audience hangs out online.

What social platforms do they use? Where are you most likely to get a return on your time investment in shares?

We’ve found that the top social media platforms for sharing are (in order of volume):

  1. Facebook
  2. Pinterest
  3. Twitter
  4. Google+

But, just because LinkedIn, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat or any other number of networks didn’t show up on the general rankings, it doesn’t mean your audience doesn’t use them.

Get to know exactly where your audience spends time so you can increase your shares by focusing your efforts.

Protip: Have conversations with a few ideal members of your target audience to find out where they spend most of their time online looking for content like yours. These conversations can be game changers for your business as you gather crucial information.

Tools: You can use BuzzSumo (no affiliation with SumoMe or AppSumo) to figure out where your target audience shares content by looking up your “competitors”, or the most popular websites in your niche that reach the audience you want to reach.

Say you’re in the fitness industry. One of the most popular fitness blogs is Nerd Fitness, so you take it to BuzzSumo:

It looks as if their audience (your target audience) shares on Facebook predominantly, with a not-so-close second being Pinterest.

Now you know where to focus your efforts!

Revive Your Archives

Do you make this mistake?

You publish new content, and set out to promote it. You blast it out on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. You may even Pin it once to Pinterest…

And then you completely forget about it. But guess what?

When you do this, so do your followers. Actually, they probably never saw it to begin with.

Because most of these social networks are really just feeds, your content gets pushed down After all…

  • 7,000 Tweets go out per second on Twitter
  • Almost 300,000 Facebook statuses are updated per minute
  • 5 million articles are pinned on Pinterest every day.

And if your followers don’t see your content and social media posts, they won’t share them.

That’s why you need to share your content more than once on social media. In fact, you should be sharing it regularly to maximize your reach and start landing more social shares.

Revive those archives and start sharing your older content regularly on social media.

Protip: Every social media site has an optimal amount of posts you should be putting out per day. Spend a few minutes with the Google to find out how many pieces of content from your archives you can get away with sharing.

Tools: Edgar allows you to create a library of social content that it rotates through, so your social media posts are never forgotten:

You can also use plugins for your WordPress site like Revive Old Post, though you have a lot less control over how your content appears with this.

Chapter Checklist

Before you dig into the network-specific strategies for increasing your social shares, you should have these overall strategies in place. If you don’t, your efforts will fizzle. Have you checked all of these off your list?

  • Have you posted a call to action to share your content in your social media bios?
  • Have you made a list of relevant hashtags to use in your social posts?
  • Have you set up tests in Buffer to try out different headlines for your posts?
  • Are you making sure you’re maximizing your reach and shares by posting during peak hours?
  • Are you posting your social content on the right days?
  • Do you know exactly which social networks your audience uses?
  • Are you posting your content more than once to make sure it gets in front of the most eyes possible?

After you’ve made sure you’re maximizing your reach and shares from your social media profiles, click the button below to check out the final chapter: Chapter 5.

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