The internet has changed a bit since I built my first web page back in 1996. In the mid '90s, sharing a page meant copying the URL and pasting it into an e-mail. Granted, by then, forward-thinking webmasters had already begun streamlining the process by placing direct links with blank "mailto:" tags on their pages (most notably on e-commerce sites). But the concept of pinpoint content sharing was still in the embryonic stage.
Nowadays, marketers depend upon consumers to boost ad campaigns by distributing content via social media. Tweeting and Facebooking are a good start, but if you want your fair share, you need to do more.
Seems like a no-brainer. Content is still king. Sure, your company history and staff bios are relevant, but this isn't the kind of content that users are eager to distribute on your behalf. The most common way to add share-worthy content to your website is to write a blog and provide some insight or expertise that customers will find useful. But even if you can't commit to posting regular blog entries, consider adding some sort of reference area or knowledge base to your company website. Populate it with industry-relevant articles or information that will be of value to your audience. Make it easy to find this from your homepage, one or two clicks at most.
Mobile internet makes it easy for us to stay connected to all the things we love, and encourages us to act on impulse when we see something we want to share. Of course, there's only so much you can do without a full keyboard and mouse. Manually copying and pasting links on a mobile device is a real pain, so if you want people to share your content, you need to add social share links to the pages you want shared. Most blog & CMS utilities like WordPress offer themes & widgets that will populate these buttons automatically. If you're building without a CMS, all the major social networks provide share button code that you can insert on your pages. Save yourself some work; add these links only on share-worthy content like products, blog posts, and articles.
This is another tip that should go without saying, but a lot of small business owners miss the opportunity to get the ball rolling themselves. Once you've added a new product page, blog post, or article to your website, take the initiative to share the link on your company's social media feeds as well. Blogging and social media dashboard apps make it simple to schedule and distribute your content across multiple platforms. But even if you manage your social media manually, sharing your own web content only takes a few minutes. If you've already placed social share buttons on your page, you can do this right from your phone.
It's really easy to create a Facebook post, almost too easy. And the immediacy of feedback (likes and comments) adds to the appeal. But consider this: a well-written post that originates on Facebook will get a healthy number of shares, on Facebook. If your objective is to drive users to your website, that post, insightful as it is, doesn't accomplish your objective. Content like that ought to be on your website, contributing to your search engine visibility. So if that post you're writing is longer than a paragraph, consider turning it into a blog post or website article, then linking to it from your social media accounts.*
*Incidentally, the same goes for posts on any social media platform. For example, I originally wrote this article as a post on LinkedIn Pulse.
Last, but not least, it certainly doesn't hurt to ask your audience to share your content every now and then. Do it with humility, and know where to draw the line between encouraging brand advocacy and flat-out begging for attention.
TJ Barranger is a branding and publicity consultant in the Baltimore, Maryland area with a background in business communications and online content management. He specializes in assisting small business and non-profit clients. Agree/disagree with this article? Share your comments via e-mail: TJ@TJBCreative.com.