Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Your Social Selling Secret Weapon: Shares

March 25, 2014

They don’t cost you any money. They take little time and effort. Finding the sweet spot with your shared content can pay off.

Don’t you feel a sense of accomplishment when someone shares something you’vImagee posted online? When someone in your social network audience goes beyond liking some content and shares it, you’ve just made your way into a whole new collection of contacts who wouldn’t otherwise know about you.

Shares are endorsements. They can spawn leads. And while the lion’s share of your videos and pictures and text posts will never move beyond your immediate circles, the ones that do can give you global exposure instantly — with a click of someone else’s mouse.

Your how-to post on removing and replacing your wallpaper the right way will be helpful to some readers. They might like it and thank you for helping them solve a problem. They might also refer your interior design firm to a friend or two. That promotes goodwill toward your company and helps position you as an expert, two of the goals of social sharing.

Unintentional Fame

How do you generate content that makes people want to share? Some social selling experts will tell you that you really shouldn’t try. In other words, “going viral” shouldn’t be a goal. Often, the most shared posts are accidental successes: Their originator just posts something because it’s funny or heartwarming or terribly insightful, and it takes off.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to understand the nature of virality, the characteristics common to some of the most shared posts. The e-book Contagious Content: What People Share on Facebook and Why They Share It, by Brian Carter and Marketo, studied heavily-shared posts to see why they had such impact on people.

The authors of the survey came up with seven attributes. Every viral post they looked at had at least one of those characteristics.

  • They gave. And not just to their mailing list or social networks – to anyone who wanted to benefit from an offer, a discount, a deal or contest.
  • They advised. Everyone is looking for answers to questions, solutions to problems. The most-shared posts dealt with common dilemmas. 
  • They warned. What products and practices have the potential to hurt you? What are some safer alternatives?
  • They amused. You’ve seen pictures of dogs looking guilty and hilarious photobombs, watched videos of babies conversing with dogs and stunts gone awry. Don’t be afraid to lighten up the occasional post – carefully — with some funny original content of your own.
  • They inspired. Those pithy little quotes that occasionally strike a chord with many thousands of people, putting to rest some common anxiety or insecurity. Or the heartwarming animal rescues, the fireman holding an oxygen mask up to a small kitten’s face. Customers will be grateful for an inspiring moment in the midst of a harried day. Share your own inspiration.
  • They amazed. You’ve seen photos and read posts that were so incredible that it was hard to believe they were real. (And sometimes they’re not: Do you know about Snopes.com?)
  • They united. This is tricky. Though some of the most viral videos are political in nature, you don’t want an ideology associated with your company (and you do want people to make an association between the content and your business; just be subtle about it). Some themes are universal.

Though this study was based on Facebook posts, you could easily share similar content on LinkedIn and Twitter, SlideShare and Pinterest, modifying it to be audience-appropriate for each service.

Most of our companies’ products don’t have to do with dogs or cats or babies. And most of the time, your content is focused on the solutions you provide and the market you serve. But keep your eyes open for your own original content that can morph into a viral marketing opportunity.

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