Going Social: Spreading Your Content Far And Wide
I already mentioned in the previous unit that publishing your blog posts and articles is one thing, but it’s no use to you or anyone else unless people actually read what you’ve got to say and then take the action you want them to.
Whether we like it or not, things become something of a numbers game at this point.
By that, I mean the more people we can get to read our content the more chance we have of finding the right people who want to take their relationship with our business to the next level.
This is where social sharing can help spread the word of your posts and articles even further.
By the way, if you’ve really taken to heart one of the core messages of this course you’ll understand what I mean when I say this:
Content does not have an in-built “right” to be shared across social media. Just because we put something out there does NOT mean that people will want to share it simply because it’s there. Instead, it’s incumbent on us to create high-quality content that others will want to share with their network.
This means making sure that blog posts (and especially articles and resource pages) present real content, not just a stream of photos without any supporting text to go with them.
The truly passionate photographer who is enthusiastic about their work should have no difficulty at all in writing text that communicates that enthusiasm to their readers – it should ooze out of their posts as naturally as breathing.
One of the things that stops this from happening is from over thinking things, or getting stressed out about having to make it all perfect or grammatically correct, rather than writing from the heart, as you would to a close friend.
Why is this important?
Very simply – people respond and connect with content that makes a deep impression on them, and no one wants to share stuff that’s uninteresting, uninspiring or just plain boring.
Stories, especially, are great ways to make that connection, and the more we can engage their senses and emotions the more likely they are to want to like, comment on, and share that content with others.
With that said, let’s take a look at the mechanics – how can we set things up to make it easy for our content to go social?
WordPress Social Sharing Plugins
There are so many social sharing plugins for WordPress, with new ones being added all the time, that I couldn’t possibly mention them all here and hope to keep this current.
One of the big issues with social sharing plugins is that the social networks sometimes change the way their sharing works, sometimes quite drastically, which means that plugin authors must constantly be ready to update their plugins to keep up.
For the free plugins out there, that can be a tricky proposition, and it has to be said that the world of WordPress social sharing plugins is something of a minefield, with many of the plugins either failing to work or providing only some of the features we need.
That said, while I have yet to find an all-round champion plugin for social sharing, there are several that have been around for a while that have become very popular.
- Jetpack From WordPress.com is one of the most popular plugins out there, and you may already have it installed on your site. If so, you might want to use the social sharing components.
- AddThis is another one that’s been around for a while. It has both a free and a paid version, which gives you the option of having a floating social media bar.
- Easy Social Share is a premium plugin, which is available from Code Canyon for $12 at the time of writing. The buttons in this plugin look modern and stylish.
Whichever plugin you choose, remember that it’s not the buttons or the plugin itself that will get your visitors to share your content, but the quality of the content itself.
Choosing The Right Networks
There’s a temptation to add every social network or sharing option under the sun to your blog, with the idea of giving people as many avenues as possible for them to spread your content.
However, too many choices can lead to them making no choice at all.
Instead, I recommend that you identify the social networks where your ideal clients are most active and then have those as the options.
For example, wedding and portrait photographers might choose options to share on Facebook and Pinterest, whereas commercial photographers might benefit more from showing Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ buttons.
However, that being said, you should make sure you share your own content on as many networks as possible to take advantage of the potential traffic and SEO you might gain as a result.
Responding To Social Activity
There’s a danger in this whole social sharing business that we need to be wary of, and that’s falling into the trap of just seeing it only as statistics and numbers.
Watching the number of tweets, likes, comments and shares go up is great for the ego of course, but we have to remember that each and every one of those represents a real person – an actual human – who took the time to make the effort to share your content with others in their network.
These are people who are engaged with what you’re saying.
It makes sense, then, to thank them for their time in some way.
Now this isn’t always possible. For example, it can be extremely hard (if not downright impossible) to identify who shared or liked your content on Facebook directly from the post or article itself.
Twitter is a little easier, because you can either see a mention of your Twitter handle or at least periodically search for your website URL to see who’s been sharing your content, and you can then send them a quick mention as a thank-you.
However, when you share your posts on Facebook or Google+ and you see people leaving comments, it can really help to cement the relationship a little more by responding to those comments and thanking people for reading and for their thoughts.
Pinterest does make things a little easier in this regard, because they send you a notification every time someone repins or comments on your pinned items. It only takes a moment for you to go over to Pinterest and leave a thank-you comment.
Using Social Lockers For More Shares
I didn’t mention this in the list of standard WordPress social sharing plugins, but there’s another great plugin, which I’ve personally used and found to be quite effective at encouraging shares, called “Social Locker For WordPress“.
With this plugin, which is available from Code Canyon for $22 at the time of writing, you can hide content in a post or page that is then only revealed after someone actually shares the content.
The possibilities are almost endless, but here are some examples:
- Visitors who share a post could see a form to submit an entry to win something, such as a free session…
- A post that shows off a set of engagement photos could have a special slideshow video hidden behind a social locker that they can only see by sharing the post.
- You can hide a downloadable “thank-you” gift behind the share buttons.
TIP: You can choose to use the “like” button or “share” button for Facebook with the social locker, but I recommend the “share” button because shared items reach more of their friends and increase visibility.
Saving Time With Buffer
All this social sharing and promotion of our content can take time, and that’s a resource we need to closely monitor because we only have so much time in a day to get things done.
A great tool that I’ve found really helps save time when it comes to social sharing is Buffer and it’s free too.
Basically, Buffer allows you to connect several social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and then easily schedule posts to those networks in advance on a time schedule that you control.
All that’s needed is for you to spend a short amount of time, perhaps first thing in a morning, to set up your entire social media sharing buffer for the day, and then let it do its thing so you can then focus on other tasks.
This is especially handy if you know your target clients are active on a social network when you’re asleep or otherwise busy. You can just add posts to your buffer, schedule them for the appropriate time, and then not worry about having to be online at a time that’s not convenient for you.
Buffer also includes some great analytics in the paid version that lets you see exactly how your social posts are doing as far as reach, clicks, shares and comments.