Ok, we are going to get silly for a second, but...humor us.
Imagine that your brand is a person. Also imagine that the bar is social media: the place where people hang out, share stories and laughs, and sometimes make deals.
Your brand walks into this bar and sees a crowd of diverse, but very similar, individuals.
Walking past the crowd, your brand makes its way to the bar to order a drink. It’s wearing its favorite band t-shirt and jeans.
While enjoying a beverage, your brand is approached by someone ordering their own drink. “Cool shirt,” the person says, and strikes up a conversation. The two engage in interesting and mutually valuable dialogue. After a while, your brand assesses the vibe he’s getting from his new friend and decides to tell a joke. Laughing at the punch line, the new friend invites another friend over from the other side of the bar.
Your brand is introduced to this new friend and is invited to tell the funny joke again. Soon, the three are laughing and having a wonderful time, attracting the attention and interest of others in the bar. Your brand ends up telling the joke repeatedly and sometimes exchanges contact information with a few folks.
This interaction, in a nutshell, is social sharing. And it’s the backbone of a successful blog, website, and social strategy. Let’s break down how and why social sharing is important to your brand.
What is Social Sharing?
Social sharing, as defined by Google’s dictionary, is the practice of sharing content from a website on a social media site or application.
By nature, it is also an integral part of a successful social media marketing strategy. When experienced at high volumes, it can contribute greatly to a brand’s overall image and success.
In the scenario above, the brand is your website, the bar is social media, the funny joke is your content, and the band t-shirt? Well, that would be the attention-grabbing headline and/or image you use to get your target market’s attention.
Why is Social Sharing So Important?
When individuals share something on social media, they are telling the world (or their friends, followers, fans, etc.) that they find this content informative, valuable, funny, useful, unbelievable, or just plain interesting. Something about the content hit them in the feelers, and they want it to hit others as well.
Shared content is valuable not only to the person sharing it, but also to the brand who created it. In fact, it is as good as free or word-of-mouth advertising when it comes to your bottom dollar!
So, what can shared content do for you?
- You can be seen as the expert in your field —Share-worthy content shows you as the brand that knows a lot about your field. When you’re the expert, you’re also a customer’s first stop when they need the answers and solutions you provide.
- It shows you’re involved—When pieces of content are shared frequently, your brand is seen as being involved and on trend with the latest and greatest. Those who don’t create content at all, or irrelevant content, have a much harder time being involved in the online community.
- It can help build relationships—Share-worthy content can build credibility, which can equal more client relationships down the road. The more your content is shared, the bigger the community you build, and the better your chances at converting those community members into paying customers.
Although brands can survive without social sharing, those who do experience it can expect to see higher website traffic and overall brand engagement.
What Kind of Content is Shared the Most?
Think about the last piece of content you shared. What was it? A video? A meme? An article?
Sharable content comes in many forms, but visual content is often among the most highly shared. Articles that provide value (think lists), evoke feeling (inspirational stories), or show the human side of your brand (a touching video) are also frequently shared, depending on the subject matter. In the end, a combination of emotional value, timeliness, community, and idealization drive a person to share a specific piece of content.
Not sure what to create to give your content the best chance of being shared? Check out this list of 10 types of content that are most often shared on social media.
Go Viral, Hit the Jackpot
Although it’s very rare, the Holy Grail of social sharing is going viral. If your content conjures up emotion for enough people, it just might go viral and spread across the world! There is no formula to going viral, and no one really knows why it happens, but if going viral is your goal, check out these 10 tips to doing so.
So, the moral of story: social sharing has always been a thing. It’s just that now it’s in electronic form and it spreads much quicker than gossip…well, sometimes. If you can create content that resonates with your target audience, you’ll likely see an uptick in social media analytics and website traffic. It might not be immediate, but it might just make the difference in your bottom line. Good luck, and get creative!