Social media marketing is an enigma to many business leaders.

While it is an important aspect of any online campaign, many businesses believe it is more like a bulletin board for placing advertisements about their products, services or content.

Very few organisations actually actively participate in content sharing.

 

Not Sharing Is Against The Rules

Sharing content from others online is one of the unspoken laws of social media. You can’t expect your content to be shared across networks if you are not willing to do so yourself. At the same time, you can’t be continuously retweeting or sharing content on networks without having any of your own original thoughts.

Sharing content that links to a blog is alright, but sometimes, social media users want to connect to the user, not a web page. Therefore, personal quotes or informational content that can help a reader should also be targets for sharing.

Having a balance between sharing and publicising is important and the advantage of such a strategy is that it can be highly useful for brands. Not only are you grabbing the attention of those who have similar views by sharing your content but you are also demonstrating that you are an expert in your industry.

You’ll also be showing you have a personality and that the social media account is not managed by an automated system or a cheap social media management company.

All of these factors combined produce a strong foundation for a highly engaging social media account which in turn will present you with a good return on your investment.

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What Content Should You Share?

Sharing content across social media realms is more than a simple action. It provides those who are reading your content with a glimpse into your personality, beliefs and values. For instance, if you retweet someone who mentions a local sporting club, those following your account would ascertain that you are a supporter of that club.

The same could be said if you were sharing positive content about a controversial political party or urban development. The difference is that with a sporting team, while there is rivalry, people are unlikely to stop interacting with your brand other than in jest because of your supporter preferences.

In contrast, sharing content from something controversial, while gaining attention, might alienate your brand from some of your target customers. Therefore, you need to think carefully about what you want to share with your audience and the impact it will have on your brand.

 

Some Truths About Sharing

One of the things you need to realise when you are reading content that has been shared via a third party on social media, is that many of the sharers haven’t actually read the content themselves. What they have done is to select a title that has a similar topic to what they cover or think their audience has an interest in. This can be a clever time saver, but it is also a ticking time bomb.

There are sites out there with malicious content on them and it is not unheard of for them to mask their true content with clever subject lines. Therefore, while you might think you are sharing content about the latest SEO tricks, you are actually sharing a site which could infuriate your audience.

This lesson is important. The key to a good sharing strategy is to not to share something without checking it for quality first. There are several aspects to quality that you could check for:

  • Content is what the link says it is going to be.
  • Images are suitable for your audience.
  • The content is not a long sales pitch that could infuriate your customers.
  • There are limited spelling mistakes.
  • It is not an advertising scam or any other content that could be interpreted as immoral.

Once you have checked the content for these elements you can safely share it with your audience. Another benefit of checking the content is that when you add your comment you know that it aligns perfectly with the content’s main message.

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How Best Is It To Share Content?

Sharing content from a user can vary from platform to platform, yet there are similarities between them all which make strategy building easy. The first option on sites like Facebook and Twitter is to like the update or retweet it. While this is effective at sharing the content with your audience as they will appear in your news feed, few people are going to see the share outside your immediate network.

In addition, this method of sharing has no capacity of adding to the conversation. By adding to the conversation you are providing evidence that you are an expert on the topic you are sharing and you understand the content. It can also reassure your audience that you aren’t just sharing any old content that has a specific hashtag in it.

If you want to get this message across you need to consider sharing your message through the RT @username method or commenting upon it on Facebook. These are great options because your brand name will appear on the newsfeed of the content’s author. It also allows you to add your own message.

This can mean that your message is not just seen by your followers but by those of the original author – giving your brand vital exposure.

There are a couple of etiquette rules when you are doing this. Firstly your comments cannot include a sales pitch. This is effectively spam and frowned upon. Many small businesses and consumers will report you and this could lead to your expulsion from the social media network.

The second rule is that you cannot overload your shares and comments upon one individual. There are times when you will want to share more than one piece of content from a specific user. This is when you should use a program like Hootsuite to schedule in the second share at a later date, like the next day.

 

The Results

As you continue to use this approach, you will find that your social media following will rise, as people see you as an influential and socially centric brand. This will attract followers who want to interact with your brand and as your campaigns gain momentum, you will find more shares and leads will be generated from social media.

Jake Burdess

Director at Aflua
This post is by Jake Burdess, the founder of Aflua and HEROIC. Jake is an English designer who lives in New Zealand with his wife and three kids.

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