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Social sharing is one of the most telling aspects of content marketing. If you write to your blog every day and your content is never shared, you might wonder if you’re really being read. By having your content shared on the various social networks, you can cast a wider net and attract more targeted readers to your content. But how do you encourage that?

Start by writing the content that readers want to read. If you’re not sure what that is, ask. Nothing will stop readers from sharing content more than the wrong content.

Fundamental to the right content, however, is the right audience. If you aren’t targeting the right audience, then you need to search out the right audience for your niche and produce the content that will get them excited.

Right Audience + Right Content = Social Sharing

Seems simple, right? It is … once you figure out the formula and start working it.

Also, be sure to add social icons to your blog and each page of your website. If people don’t see a way to share your content, they likely won’t share it. Don’t forget to add a way for people to share by e-mail. Even in this day and age, many readers do not have Facebook or Twitter accounts. But they do have e-mail, and so do their friends.

I like how Jon Morris tells this story. While he offers several “key takeaways,” for me there is one really BIG key takeaway.

In his words, he shares

Provide your influencer with exclusivity in viewing and sharing your personalized content. Allowing them to create the first surge of the sharing wave will help reinforce that they are an extremely valuable, important part in the process. But don’t rely on them for everything — have a two-pronged approach and invest in link building efforts to compliment the awesomizer’s reach.

Jon came to this revelation by experimenting with an infographic, which he created specifically for a Twitter power user to whom he gave exclusive rights to with no expectation of return. The risk paid off.

I like this strategy.

You don’t always have to be first to share your own content. In Jon’s case, he could have published his own infographic, but would it have gained the same amount of attention as the one he created for his Twitter pal? Not likely.

When he offered exclusivity to Travis on Twitter, he essentially allowed the power user to get the glory that comes with sharing something great with your audience. Travis, however, paid it back and passed that glory on to Jon and his team. When you pay it forward, good things happen to you.

Lesson to learn: You don’t always have to be first to share your own content.

When you enter into business and decide to compete against other companies in your niche, one of the most important activities you’ll have to engage in competitive analysis. But what should that entail?

There are three key areas that you should analyze your competition on today. This may change in ten years, but today I’d say you need to look at these three areas:

  1. Inbound links – Where are inbound links to your competitors’ websites coming from, what anchor text are they using, and which pages are being linked to?
  2. Social influence – Which social networks are your competition using, how active are they, and what kind of content are they posting on these social sites? Also, try to determine, if you can, the reach your competition has.
  3. Content analysis – This is a very important piece of the competitive analysis puzzle. Look at your competition’s top content. What is it? Also, which pages are getting the most traffic? What kind of on-page optimization strategies are they using?

The idea behind competitive analysis is not to find things to copy from your competition. Rather, you are looking for opportunities they may have missed and looking to see what strategies you might capitalize on.

Competitive analysis is a big part of the overall picture when starting a new business. Don’t forget about it.

Is your content shareable? How do you know?

Creating content that is shareable is no easy task. There’s no magic trick either. It’s a strategy more than anything. You should consider how your content can best be shared before you create it. Don’t create it then wonder how you will share it.

The most important consideration in any piece of content is this: Does it make an emotional connection?

You have to connect with your intended readership. Pull on their heart strings. That doesn’t mean you should resort to sentimentality. What it does mean is you should let them know you are human, and don’t be afraid to address your topic from a real human need.

This can best be done if you put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What do they want? Answer that question and half the battle is won.

One effective way to appeal to emotions is to use humor. Keep it clean, but don’t be afraid to make your audience laugh. Laughter is great medicine. It also has a strong emotional appeal. People will remember you and they’ll want to spend more time on your website.

Nostalgia is another way to appeal to emotions. “Remember when …” posts are powerful because it puts people in a time and place that they remember fondly. If you can do that, then you can make a connection.

Remember, people make buying decisions emotionally. They also make sharing decisions emotionally. If you appeal to their sense of humanity, then you can get your content spread more widely.

Google+ is making it easier for you and your website visitors to share information. Now, you can install a Google+ sign-in app much like the one that Facebook has. So your site visitors and app users can sign in without signing up.

Welcome to the future of the Web.

I think this is the way the Web will work for the foreseeable future. If you use the Internet in any way, you’ll likely be signed in to your Google+ account, your Facebook account, or another social media account, or all of them. Then, when you visit another website that you like and respect, you can sign in to those sites using your Google+ or Facebook account.

When you first sign in to a third-party site using Google+, you’ll be asked what people in your circles you want that site to know you have a relationship with. You’ll also be asked who you want to share information with on that site. You can opt for all your circles, select circles only, or just yourself.

Social media marketing is changing. I’d say for the better. And the Google+ sign in is just another piece of evidence to prove it.

The question, now, for webmasters is, should you implement the Google+ button on your site? I don’t see how you can lose.

It’s pretty much agreed upon by all web designers today that social share buttons are a necessity on your web pages. What we might disagree on are how many and which ones are necessary. But there are three that most of us would agree are essential.

  1. Facebook Like – Facebook is the most trafficked website online. Chances are, you’re using it and your friends are using it. That alone is reason enough to have a Like button on every page of your website no matter what niche you serve.
  2. Tweet/Retweet – While Twitter isn’t as popular as Facebook, and may never be, it’s still popular enough that you should consider a tweet/retweet button for every page of content you create.
  3. LinkedIn – Again, LinkedIn isn’t Twitter or Facebook, but if you are business that serves other businesses, then you should consider a LinkedIn button for your website.

Another up and coming social service that bears looking at is Google+. With rapid growth, Google+ looks promising, though the jury is still out which niches might benefit most from the service.

Other social share buttons might be helpful for your site as well. If you run a technology website, look for services with a high level of technology sector participation. The same goes for whatever niche you serve. Look for social media sites where people in your niche tend to hangout.

Whatever your niche, social media is in. Make sure you encourage sharing by adding those buttons to your website.

Did you know your tweets have a half-life of three hours? According to, you’ll get half the clicks on your tweets in 2.8 hours and then from there it’s all down hill. With Facebook, you have 3.2 hours.

That doesn’t mean those links are dead. It means you’ll see a gradual decline in links after that half-life has expired. The recommendation is for you to submit “second chance” links to allow other followers who didn’t see the first one an opportunity to see your links. That’s a suggestion made by Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land.

There’s another reason you want to send out these “second chance” shares as well. You want to test another teaser message.

Remember, what you say (the reason you give for your followers needing to click a link) about a link determines to a great degree whether or not a link is clicked on. With a second chance share, you can test another teaser and capture clicks from people who saw the first link but weren’t intrigued by your teaser message.

Either way you look at it, tweeting and sharing the same information more than once is becoming a common practice. I’ve seen marketers share the same message across multiple days. The reason they do so is because they get more click-throughs.

If you’d like to get more social shares – tweets, retweets, Facebook Likes, etc. – then there’s one very simple thing you can do to make sure that happens. Cynthia Boris shares that way at the Marketing Pilgrim blog.

In a word, all you have to do is add a social sharing button to your content pages. It’s really that simple.

As the article says, with a social sharing button, you’ll get more tweets and retweets – to the tune of 7 times. That’s a pretty significant increase. Of course, just by putting that social share button on your site there is no guarantee that you’ll see the promised fruit. After all, there is no substitute for great writing.

Make sure your blog or website is full of great writing and you’ll also increase your chances at seeing it tweeted, retweeted, and Liked.

So I guess that’s two ways to get more social shares. Combine them and your chances at getting your content spread across the web increases manifold.

One more thing you can do, if your blog is a business blog, is to write and publish your content during normal business hours. If you publish your business content between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. EST, which is normal business hours in the U.S., then you are more likely to see your social shares increase during that time as well.

Sometimes we are rained with statistics and oft times one set of data will totally contradict another. There is one set of statistics recently released by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate Research Technologies, which does at least make interesting reading. It relates to content sharing and how it is being shared.  What won’t come as any surprise to many marketers is that email and Facebook are the two biggest sharing channels.

If you read the full report, there is a lot of interesting data that could help you to narrow some of your marketing strategies. For example, only 4% of respondents in the survey used Twitter to share content. However, when it comes to age demographics, 11% of 18-24 year olds share using Twitter.

At the other end of the scale, over 70% of 18-34 year olds share using Facebook. This number drops to just over 50% for 35-44 years and drops even further for older users.  As people get older, sharing via email becomes the dominant channel. Overall, 86% of respondents shared through email, 49% through Facebook with the next best being the telephone at 25%.

Other data to come out of the study includes:

  • users didn’t differentiate between branded or branded content;
  • the content was more important than who created the content – if the content was good and important, it was shared no matter who wrote it;
  • while family and friends news dominated, funny videos, general news, blog posts, and coupons or discounts were the most frequently shared items.

Quoting statistics is fine, but what does it all mean to you, the business owner?  The report draws some useful conclusions although they are conclusions that have been discussed for many months now. These included:

  1. Create good content and people will share it
  2. You need to develop a concept of social sharing as part of a marketing strategy
  3. Deliver content that people find interesting, entertaining, and helpful
  4. Get to know what your audience wants and needs – then deliver it
  5. Make sharing an easy option for your customers and readers.

That last is the cream on the cake. If you don’t provide your visitors with a means to share then they most likely won’t. Installing predominantly displayed email, Facebook and Twitter share buttons should be an integral part of your social media optimization. People want to share – give them something worth sharing – and the means to easily share it.

You can read the reports summary here – you will need to sign-up to receive the full version, however, it does make for some interesting reading.

Google and a few other large websites have been racing to a more open Web for some time. OExchange is the latest protocol in that race and it could be a deciding factor in how social sharing ends up on everybody’s top priority list.

Currently, if you want your website visitors to share your content to multiple sharing sites then you have to provide them with multiple buttons or a single button with access to multiple APIs. For instance, Share This and AddThis utilize the API of the various social sharing sites they support, but that can often be cumbersome. OExchange would be a single protocol that is accessible across multiple platforms and reduces the need for multiple APIs.

In other words, your site visitors will be able to share your content to every service that supports OExchange with a simple click. The need for services like ShareThis and AddThis would be reduced.

One benefit to this would be an increased load time for your website as the multiple API protocols won’t be necessary for sharing the data and slowing down the speed of your site. Another benefit would be site visitor happiness.

What do you think? Is OExchange another step in the evolution of social media optimization? Is it necessary?