You spend hours and even days obsessing over creating the best and the most creative piece you can think of. You invest your time and money just so you can produce great content. You know that the content you have created is better than most of the content out there. And yet, you only get a few shares and comments. All of that effort, all of that time and money go to waste, even though you’ve created superior content. Here’s a hint: you might consider getting a better social media marketing plan.
If the aforementioned scenario happens to you on a regular basis, you’ve probably already started asking yourself why it happens. Why do so few people seem to care enough about your content, your brand and expertise to share it with others? This is probably why you are reading this article.
We live in an age of focus-deficient consumers that have very short attention spans. In-between the constant juggling of videos with babies and cats and narcissistic photos, people lose the ability to properly study or experience serious content.
Because of this informational overload, content consumers have to create mental shortcuts that can quickly tell them if certain content is worthy of their limited time and attention. In this article, you will learn how to exploit these shortcuts so that the content you create gets shared, commented on and remembered.
Remember, the advice that follows is aimed at pointing out the flaws in your own content, so that you can better optimize it and make it easier to share and spread. Meanwhile, you should think of the possible flaws in your social media marketing plan.
1. You are not including share buttons on the page itself (or you have too many of them)
How many times have you stumbled upon a great article or picture, only to discover that you have no easy means of sharing this quality content? Did you share this content anyway? Chances are you didn’t. Remember this the next time when you wish for more shares by your visitors, yet you haven’t given them any tools to do this quickly and easily.
Part of the success of online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram is based on the fact that they promote extremely easy content sharing. If people can share easily, they will do it more often. This is, of course, assuming that you took the time to make that content valuable in the first place.
But, don’t overdo it. When a visitor is confronted with zillions of share buttons on your site, their willingness to share will decline. This is because you are contributing to their sensory and informational overload by confusing them with excess information, and they react with inactivity. It would be better to concentrate on 2 or 3 share buttons for online services that your visitors are most likely to use. This will help your social media marketing plan work better.
2. You don’t include quality pictures or videos (or you serve a peep show)
Humans are visual creatures. Visual communication accounts for 55% of all communication and you might as well use this fact when optimizing content. If you want your content shared and remembered, include pictures and videos. If you want your content to give off that aura of “professionalism and quality”, include quality pictures and videos. And don’t forget about the visually-appealing formatting process which we’ll cover below.
The pictures or videos that accompany your content should be somehow related and relevant to the actual content. Think of it this way – every image should capture in some way the main points being discussed in the article. If you have a paragraph giving advice about how excitement helps one improve their golf game, have an image of an excited golf player beneath the paragraph. Remember, people don’t read articles, they scan them. So, if they see an excited golf player, it might just convince them to read the actual content.
Visually appealing content goes a long way towards motivating your visitors to read your article, which means they’re more likely to share it. It also helps them look good to their online buddies for sharing a visually appealing article. Most people don’t want to appear boring by sharing content that has low quality visuals or none at all.
However, using too many visual elements can detract the visitor’s attention away from your main content and trivialize it. Remember, people have short attention spans. You should only serve them enough visuals to get them curious enough to read the actual content. If your social media marketing plan includes an overload of pictures or videos, people will give up on your content and move on.
3. Your formatting, language and style is boring or unappealing
As already mentioned, people have short attention spans. Having this in mind, it pays to optimize your social media marketing plan. Large piles of text can always be split into several more manageable paragraphs. In most cases, a paragraph should not exceed 4-5 sentences. If you find yourself constantly exceeding this limit, chances are you are including more information than necessary. Try to split existing long paragraphs into several smaller ones.
Then, try using headings to split the article into several sections. Each section should be like a mini-article of sorts. The reader (who scans before reading) should be able to tell what your article is about by merely scanning the headings. Your readers and their eyes will thank you.
If you are not sure about which font to use, you can make a safe bet that standard fonts will do. Pay attention to their readability, congestion and how they act in big chunks of text. Standard fonts such as Times New Roman, Georgia and Arial are time-tested and proven efficient. Don’t forget that visitors are used to seeing these and similar fonts elsewhere and won’t think something is wrong when reading your content.
Finally, be fun and engaging. Don’t be sterile and boring. Try to find out what the reader wants, then try to include that in your social media marketing plan. If you post short information in a Twitter-like fashion, be brief, witty and try to pull people in with a ‘hook’ of some sort. Nobody likes to read legal texts and EULAs – so stop imitating them and make your style more provocative and interesting. Infuse some emotion and some passion into your writing.
4. You are not helpful, relate-able and you don’t provide value
People want to help other people, and they want to be seen as experts or knowledgeable about a subject. The more helpful or knowledgeable your text or content seems, the more likely people are to share it. A lot of people share quality content because they want to look good by association; Use that to your advantage.
A boring article is not helping anyone. An article describing a certain problem, relating to the reader, and giving a solution can do much better. A visually-appealing infographic helping people quickly grasp certain information without having to go through thousands of pages of research will get shared. A meme that makes the person sharing it seem smart and knowledgeable will also get shared. If you help them identify themselves with your content, they will be more than happy to share it and make you famous.
Most people want to receive value in exchange for the time they’ve spent experiencing your content. If you provide them with this value as part of your social media marketing plan, they will be far more likely to share your content.
5. You ignore current events
Kim Kardashian ‘broke the Internet’ again today? Justin Bieber spent another million on something utterly trivial? Mankind has landed a probe on a comet? India has successfully launched a mission to Mars? Germany is headed into a recession? An artist you worked with has suddenly become famous? Can you find a way to somehow connect your content with these events? If you can, do it!
Don’t ignore current events. Instead, use them to prop up your content. Of course, try to avoid tabloidization of the content that’s part of your social media marketing plan. A smart and clever mention of a reference to a current event or even a brief commentary will provide you with increased attention and more shares.
6. You don’t incentivize your visitors
Some people just need to be nudged into sharing your content. Why don’t you try to use this to your benefit? Consider trying one of the many “pay with a like or share” plugins. Next time you post some truly valuable killer content on Facebook, try to enable a pay-with-a-tweet scheme and see what happens. If your promised content is valuable enough, it will create organic spread for your content and you will get a lot of additional traffic for free. Every person that shares or likes the page increases the reach of your content, making it more likely to be shared again ad infinitum.
You can also include prize offers for sharing your content, and make it a steady part of your regular social media marketing plan. The one that gets you the most shares wins an album or a book. Sit back and enjoy while you watch the sharing explosion unfold.
7. Your social media marketing plan doesn’t build trust
People dislike brands and companies that they don’t trust. If you are running a healthcare company, make sure the content you post on your website provides visitors with health advice. If they have a father who can use some advice on his eating habits, your article will probably get shared. Use every opportunity you have to develop trust with your visitors and you will be repaid in numerous ways. Don’t forget that this is also a way to convert more of these visitors into clients.
8. You don’t instill a sense of urgency to share
Use the concept of a ‘limited time offer.’ The first 10 people that share your content get a free book. The offer is only valid for the next 24 hours. Plus, don’t forget that if your content has a certain ‘cool’ vibe about it, it will automatically create a sense of urgency so that the first people that share it on a social network will receive ‘cool’ points in their portfolio. Try to design your social media marketing plan so as to create a sense that your content needs to be shared sooner rather than later.
9. You don’t use e-mail sharing
Yes, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus are where most people go to get their information updates nowadays. Yes, most people spend hours using these social networks to look at photos of cats and babies. But, did you forget that practically everyone still has and uses e-mail? According to research, people now consider e-mail more personal than a social network. If you create specifically-targeted content that they can share as a personal e-mail to a friend or a colleague, they will do it.
10. You are not brief
You probably consider every word and phrase sacred and can’t decide on which sentences to delete. But if you keep using long, boring sentences or content, many visitors will not pay attention to what you have to say. Fewer engaged visitors equals fewer shares and an unsuccessful social media marketing plan.
Try to be brief, concise and offer clarity. Your content should immediately convey the substance of what you are saying. The more bullet points, lists and headings you have, the easier it is for people to understand what you are communicating. Use the introduction to relate to the visitor so that they know you are talking to them and their issues personally, and then try to summarize your main points at the end of the article.
People build mental shortcuts to try to understand whether your content is worth their time, remember? If you make it difficult for them to do this with your content, they will close the tab and get back to chatting on Facebook.
Building and implementing a good social media marketing plan is not easy, but well worth it
If you implement even just half of the advice in this article, you will get ahead of 90% of your competitors. Implement all of the advice above and you may just become unbeatable. Increasing the sharing potential of your content is not easy. While some of these tips involve installing a better sharing plugin on your site, others are skills that will take you time, effort and energy to implement and master.
And remember, if you get stuck or want a faster solution, you can always let an expert help you. If you need a fast solution, I can help you out with your social media strategy. Feel free to contact me using this form or call me at 916-245-3100 with your list of needs, so we can get down to business today and build your social media marketing plan.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.