Interview: Professor Mike McGuirk on How Brandwatch For Students is Used in His Classroom
By Olivia SwainSep 6
Traffic and views aren’t KPI number one for most of us.
Our success or failure, in a lot of areas, comes down to people sharing our content. Shares on Facebook, Twitter and (increasingly) Reddit drive a massive amount of activity on our blog.
We put a lot of time into tracking exactly who is sharing sharing our articles, engaging with our Tweets, and commenting on our Facebook posts, but our all time biggest hits can still baffle us a little bit sometimes.
There’s not a specific science to getting huge shares, but we’ve found the following eight techniques work really well, and don’t take long at all to implement.
People are tribal. We like to associate with an identity, then outwardly show off that identity.
Finding an article that caters specifically for you and your group will make you want to share it with others in your group. It’s like you’re being name-checked.
Ever noticed Buzzfeed’s oddly geographically specific articles?
They don’t have a universal appeal, but they do have an incredibly strong appeal to a limited audience. Word up to all you busy marketers.
Social media is personal.
Personalizing the articles through reader engagement will make people want others to give it a whirl for themselves.
Headlines don’t often convey the length of article.
Social media browsers want to know what they’re getting in for before the click on a link. Will it take them 30 seconds to read? A minute? 10 minutes?
Front-loading your headlines with numbers lets people know what kind of commitment your article is.
It also lets people pull out pieces of you article to drop into social posts.
TIP: Number 3 is UNBELIEVABLE. Trust me. [Click to Tweet]
It’s not a secret that click factories like Buzzfeed and Upworthy write up to 25 headlines before settling on the best one.
Usually, they’ll actually end up running two or three headlines for the same article, then axe the two that were shared the least after a week.
Not every blog has the sophistication of CSS wizardry that those new media giants do. There are plugins to allow you to A/B headlines in WordPress.
But, here’s a pro hack from us: write the 25 headlines, then print them. Get everyone in your office to put a tick next to the one their eyes are drawn to first. Select your victor.
Your thumbnail will become part of your headline. Often, it’ll be all readers use to decide whether they’ll click on your article on not.
Stock images – especially expensive ones – look very pretty. Pictures of Macbooks sitting on wooden desks next to flat white coffees reinforce your company’s trendy image, but they might not explain your story, or encourage people to click further.
Highly shared stories tend to have some text in their thumbnail image. People holding signs or screenshots of Tweets make people stop scrolling their timeline and take notice.
The best kind of sharing happens offline.
Showing articles to friends become a lot easier when you’re not asking them to read anything, just to look at pictures. That’s not to say your articles shouldn’t be lengthy – it’s just that you need variety of content to save pages from becoming walls of text.
Articles centered around images (infographics, cats, charts, quotes next to faces) make it easy to people to share their favorite part.
Be warned, though. We’ve been burned by having our graphs and charts take off on Twitter without being properly attributed.
The knowledge that your work is being shared is great, but the edge is taken off when no-one knows it’s you. The takeaway: watermark your images.
TIP: Watermark your images to ensure your work is properly attributed! [Click to Tweet]
In the wild west new media landscape of 2013, web writers thought they had cracked the code of headline writing. By leaving out crucial details , or deliberately misinterpreting the article, headline writers would rake in clicks by curiosity alone.
This still happens to some extent, but it doesn’t work as powerfully as it used to.
Upworthy have their own fork of this style (‘what happens next will…’) but this approach is being phased out in favor of being clear and communicative.
People don’t want to feel like they’re being duped. Readers are generally now more aware of cheap traffic hacks, and don’t want to waste time attempting to decipher what’s interesting and what’s not.
TIP: Don’t hide the best details away – put them in your headline. [Click to Tweet]
This is by no means an exhaustive list of top tips for social glory – you’ll have to ask the experts for that. But these tips have saved us time and stress when organizing a strategy for certain blog posts.
After you implement these tips, it’s important to measure what’s succeeding and what’s not. You’ll learn a lot more from your own content that from our experience.
Using a social media analytics dashboard gives you that vital feedback loop to learn how to make your content shine on social media.