A Complete Guide to Sharing Content Allie Wolff If an inbound marketer writes a blog post in the woods and nobody shares it, is it still great content? While undergrad philosophers might debate the question, the answer is actually just “no.” It is not great content. Almost by definition, content is only great if it garners an audience—and the typical way people read content is by sharing it. So you need those shares. You may have written content specifically to be shared, and may be testing different sharing widgets and content strategies, but the fundamental building block to all that is understanding how sharing works across all platforms. The important preface here: there is no universal solution. Social media is a dynamic, vibrant thing. What works for others may not work for you. These are just guidelines, generally true but not always. The best way to refine your social game is by testing out different post types and times and recording the results. Follow your data, and you’ll find results. Facebook I don’t think there’s a small business around that doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. While it’s the biggest social platform with nearly 2 billion users, it’s also cracked down notoriously in the last few years on brands, particularly on link posts. That means nurturing a Facebook audience is still a great idea, but Facebook prefers you keep them on their site, not bring them to yours. Video and image posts will almost always perform better than link posts—posts linking out to your content, for example. A good example of an image post—this could have been a link post, but the image will garner more traction. While brands could previously rely on a roughly 10 percent click-through rate on average link posts, that’s diminished to around six percent. One common way around this is to pay Facebook to “boost” your post, which is a rabbit hole in itself that can very easily turn into throwing money away. So how can you maximize your Facebook traction for free? A few tips: Keep your text short (fewer than 50 words is great) Post when no one else is, like early in the morning or late evening Ask questions of your fans and engage them in the comments Embed videos directly instead of posting YouTube links Don’t bother with hashtags; Facebook doesn’t really use them Twitter Brands have found varying levels of success on Twitter—the best have found exactly the right tone, bouncing between funny, human and observational. Twitter is a pithy medium. People will gloss over headlines and shoot straight for the commentary, jokes and jabs. Some say the most active Twitter hours are commuting hours—7 to 9 a.m., 3 to 6 p.m. But really, since tweets have a lifespan of around 10 to 20 minutes, you should be tweeting hourly to foster a relationship. Some Twitter tips: Link posts perform better, though your click-through rate will almost always be lower than your click-through rates on other platforms. Don’t be afraid to include calls to action. Ask questions, host polls and reach out to your community. Be in tune with the latest trending topics, but don’t newsjack them lazily. Retweet and like people whose opinions you appreciate. reddit Ah, reddit, the most unwieldy of social platforms. It’s both a forum for strangers to buy pizza for people in need from across the country, as well as a hideout for some of the internet’s worst personalities. This is a social platform where your “newsfeed” is voted on by so-called redditors. People upvote good content and downvote bad, annoying or spammy content. That said, sharing content to reddit is a great way to increase visibility and see a huge spike in your traffic. Not much of that traffic will necessarily stay after a few days, but redditors remember articles and will repost them from time to time, increasing your visibility and reputation online. The subreddit forum “Shut Up and Take My Money” exclusively promotes awesome products—but it’s all organic, voted on by the community. This platform is a different beast, partly because the interface is not so user-unfriendly, making it unclear for many how to sign up, where to post and what to do. But if you commit, you can find devoted niche communities that may adore your product or brand. To succeed on reddit… Research first. Don’t go in blind; find your communities and post a bit before adding your own content to the mix. Post your content early—links posted before 11 a.m. tend to do better than those posted later on. Don’t be overtly salesy in your comments or titles. Only post when you think the community will really benefit. Posting to reddit can be a challenge because content disliked by the community can be downvoted into oblivion. Post wisely. LinkedIn For all its networking value, LinkedIn has notoriously low engagement rates. People don’t really use it as a platform in the same way people use Facebook, Twitter or reddit. But don’t let that discourage you from jumping in: LinkedIn can still be a valuable tool for building your influence, especially within certain groups. You can and should share your content (link posts are fine here) on your company and/or personal page, as well as any relevant member groups you’re a part of. As with reddit, doing research ahead of time and finding the right niche is critical for success. Mornings are the most popular time to post. Sign up for LinkedIn Pulse to repost your blog content there and reach a wider audience. Don’t just copy and paste your posts into various groups; be distinct and unique, tailoring your message to each one. Hashtags are valuable here. Email One of the most intimate, least-utilized and hardest ways to get people to share is via email. The biggest problem is that there’s no easy or universal way to help people share via email—you can include a button in any sharing widget, but that user has to enable a default email client on their browser. Otherwise, the button simply won’t work. One easy way is to encourage your newsletter subscribers to forward your email blasts onto their friends. Offering referral coupons is a great method for this, and it’s easy to add a bit of extra content in there while you’re at it. This plays into what makes email marketing such a great option: it builds your brand as reputable and trustworthy within real, close-knit communities. But don’t stress too much over email shares: they’re extremely difficult to track, generally offer minimal viral benefit and not ideal for broad content marketing. That said, you don’t want to ignore it, either. In the world of content marketing, any share is a good share.