Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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4 Ways to Make Your Readers Hit the “Share” Button

December 14, 2012

The social media universe has its own stars, often created by a simple photo or video or even a clever phrase. Sharing makes it happen.

In the summer of 2012, a middle-aged man in the Midwest wanted to have a nice photograph taken of himself with the dog who he’d rescued from the pound 19 years earlier. Schoep had grown very old for a large dog, and the only relief he got from his severe arthritis came when his human, John Unger, held him in his arms as they waded out into Lake Superior.

So a friend of his, Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, a professional photographer, took this picture and posted it on her Facebook page:

 Todd Martin blog 121112 image 1

It went viral very quickly. The two humans and the canine were covered by countless national new outlets. Hudson’s photography business picked up, and she and Unger launched a small business selling t-shirts and caps and cards bearing the now-famous photo.

Unexpected Bonanza? Or Calculated Move?

A fellow I know who considers himself a content marketing expert often tells people at seminars that they shouldn’t try to make their content go viral.

I think he’s partially right. While you won’t hit one out of the park every time you post, you should be creating social content that you think will strike a chord with at least some people who see it.

Your objective here isn’t to make instant sales, though what you’re doing will contribute to your overall social selling efforts. You’re trying to create buzz, to get your first-tier contacts to share what you’ve posted to their social networks. Your content may not even have anything to do with what you’re selling. But it can make people want to learn who you are. That builds brand awareness and helps you attract the right people to your sites. Those people get you, and some of them will become customers.

Sharing is an Endorsement

When someone in your networks shares what you’ve posted, he or she is saying, I like this. You should check it out. And that means more than anything you yourself can say about your products or services. Todd Martin blog 121112 image 2

So how do you encourage sharing? Here are some ideas:

  • Ask people to share. Make your Share buttons prominent.
  • Keep it simple. Lengthy posts are less likely to be shared. Same goes for videos. When you describe one, say that it’s only two minutes long.
  • Illustrate universal themes to cross demographic lines. 20-somethings and younger grew up with social media. But the most buying power lies with more mature types. Try to keep both in mind as you brainstorm ideas, though sometimes you’ll direct content at people your own age who share your cultural references.
  • Think about what tickles you enough to share. Go for funny. Insightful. Touching.

Plan to Be Spontaneous

Make sure that your company identity is visible, but don’t let it overwhelm your message. If you’ve touched people, help them find you.

You may work hard at creating content that will hit a collective nerve and goes viral, or it can happen the way it did for the photographer and the man and his beloved dog. The point is, they were all doing what they loved and sharing it with their social networks.

Even reality shows are scripted. So plan your content with an eye toward its potential appeal, but just go with your instincts sometimes, too.

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