Jun 11, 2020 - 03:17 PM
Since overall social media use keeps rising steadily, it might seem odd that your social sharing has dropped so much in the last three years. However, two main factors could play a role in the trend you’re seeing.
First, there are new social platforms increasingly taking audience attention away from the share-friendly platforms that dominated three years ago. Second, the type of content people like to share has changed with time, which means you may need to change your content strategy to encourage more sharing.
Let’s take a closer look at these factors, then discuss some ways you might be able to get more shares.
New Social Platforms Are Less Share-Friendly
In mid-2016, Facebook had the highest social sharing activity in the world. That’s probably still true today, since it’s still the most-used social platform by a long shot. However, you can’t ignore the fact that new social sites and apps have diverted some user attention in recent years.
Three dominant platforms - Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn - are particularly conducive to sharing content from third parties. However, competitors like Instagram, Snapchat, and the fast-growing TikTok largely encourage users to post their own content instead.
For example, Instagram users can’t post links in their captions, so if they post something of yours, it’s likely in the form of a screenshot (which you can never track.) And TikTok and Snapchat users are mainly posting content from their own lives, though it may be inspired by someone else’s post.
Old Social Platforms Now Have Stories
In recent years, Facebook and Instagram have increasingly focused on the “Stories” feature in order to compete with Snapchat. Stories, which expire after 24 hours, often involve photo or video content from a user’s own life. So, if someone is active on Facebook but mainly posts stories rather than status updates, they probably aren’t sharing third-party content.
It’s telling that Facebook launched the Stories feature in 2017, following Instagram which launched it in mid-2016. This could definitely be part of the drop in sharing you’ve seen. As platforms become more focused on stories, users are posting more in this format, rather than sharing external content on their feeds.
Social Is More Personal Than Ever
Social media has always been a place for people to post about their lives. But newer updates, like stories and better smartphone cameras, have increasingly turned social media into everybody’s realtime diary. People use these platforms to share the narratives of their lives.
For your content to get shared, it has to fit into those narratives. People don’t want to post something that’s just kind of useful or interesting; they want to post what reflects who they are. They’ll share things that resonate with their values and aesthetics. Tweaking your language and visuals to sync with your audience’s lives may help (more on that below).
New Content Types Are Winning
Users are still reading and sharing text posts, but newer social content types, like video, are increasingly grabbing more of their attention. Interactive content, like quizzes, has also held user interest in recent years. These content types aren’t going to replace text-based content, but they do compete with it.
How to Get More Shares in 2020
Since you’re getting healthy pageviews on some of your posts, it sounds like you’re already making content that interests your audience. However, a few changes may entice them to share as well as read.
Remember to Make Sharing Easy
You might double-check how easy sharing is for your readers. The simpler you make it, the more people will share.
For example, are your social sharing buttons easily visible on each post? Do you include a clear, simple call to action, like “If you loved this post, share it”? If you let users share with a simple click, and include a gentle reminder, they’ll be more likely to do it.
This might be a good time to do some A/B testing with different share buttons or CTAs to see what gets better results. Also, avoid going overboard with social icons. Include just the two or three that you really want people to use.
Feature Influencers and Thought Leaders
People are more likely to share something that they feel personally connected to. You can encourage shares, rather than just pageviews, by featuring interviews or stories of industry influencers and thought leaders that your audience feels a connection with. Plus, those influencers and leaders will also promote the posts to people in their networks, who will be more likely to share, too.
Update Your Image Strategy
The right feature image ensures that a post looks great on social, which can help entice people to share.
You need to go beyond just choosing clear, high-quality pictures. A feature image that’s particularly thought-provoking or eye-catching makes a post more shareable. Of course, don’t forget to pepper the rest of the post with good images, but the feature image is most important for sharing.
People today often care about the aesthetics of their social pages, as well as the general content. So, you’ll want feature images that fit with the aesthetics your target audience loves. For example, millennial audiences may lean toward clean, minimal images. Audiences of a travel gear brand will likely want stunning images of travel destinations. Audiences of a fashion brand will want images that reflect the latest trends.
Images that are exciting, beautiful, and natural-looking will do better than generic stock photos. This doesn’t mean you can’t use stock photos, but choose them carefully. Avoid pictures that look overly staged or bland.
Infographics are another type of share-friendly image to consider. Use them to visually represent interesting data, which can get people sharing.
Invest in Headlines
Similarly, great headlines mean more shares. Keep in mind that many people who see a post on social media will never actually click on it: they’ll read the headline, see the feature image, and react based on that. So, if your headline doesn’t stand out, people won’t want to share, even if the content is good.
Where appropriate, a headline that’s witty, funny, or unexpected can work wonders for your shares. Also, while writing great headlines, don’t forget to also write excellent ledes. The first few words of your post are key to catching attention and getting shares, too.
Be the “First to Know”
Of course, blog content isn’t the place for breaking news. However, if you can publish content that makes people feel they’re the first to know about a subject or trend, they may be more likely to share it.
People often won’t share something that most of their followers may already know, even if they personally found it interesting. Many people use social media to distribute useful, new information, because it makes them look knowledgeable and interesting. They don’t want to post things that only add value for them personally: they want to post things that also add value for their followers. So, try to post brand-new industry trends and ideas quickly to get more shares.
Take a Stand
Many people support brands that reflect their values, and that try to make the world better. Posts that take a stand on controversy-ridden subjects, such as social distancing or climate change, are conducive to sharing. People often use social media to express their stances on what’s important to them.
Of course, this tactic will drive people who don’t share your brand values away. However, this is balanced by the fact that it can make those who do share your values more loyal - and likely to share.
Stay Active on Social
This may seem to go without saying, but it’s hard to get social shares if you aren’t very active on social. If people first encounter a post on social media, it’s easy for them to share that post on social. After all, they’re already there. If they encounter a post via search, though, sharing on social becomes an extra step.
So, if your pageviews are mainly coming via search, you might need to invest further in your social strategies to increase your content’s share appeal.
Stay reasonably active on share-friendly sites like Facebook and Twitter. Post at the times of day when your target users are most active. Include relevant hashtags or tags (such as tagging an influencer featured in the post). Write clever captions that are unique to each social site.
Also, remember to respond frequently to comments on your social posts. If it’s appropriate for your brand, use wit and humor in your responses to grab people’s attention.
Lastly, build your brand by posting content that’s not your own on social, too. Sharing others’ content can make them want to reciprocate and share yours, whether they’re a fellow brand or an individual. This variety also keeps your social pages from feeling like pushy marketing.
People are using social media more than ever, but the ways they’re using it have changed. New platforms, content types, and share methods now compete with the old-school habit of simply sharing a link. However, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t still sharing links. With these strategies, you can encourage their shares while still creating excellent, widely-viewed content.