Social shares have two main functions in a social media campaign. First, they function as a valuable feedback metric; generally, the more shares you get, the better your campaign is faring, and the more engaged your customers are with your brand. Second, they function as a mechanism to build even more success; when people share your content, they introduce it to an entirely new audience segment, and if those shares accumulate, your content has the potential to snowball in popularity.
So what if you aren’t getting any social shares at all? Share stagnation is usually an indication that something is off with your campaign, and it’s also a sign that your campaign won’t be able to grow very quickly in its next few stages of development.
Obviously, this is a problem to fix, but the first step is to understand exactly why you aren’t getting shares in the first place.
The first group of potential problems I’m going to present are all related to the type and quality of content you’re producing:
1. Your content is weak. For starters, your content could be weak. “Weak” here could mean one of several things; it could be poorly researched, thinly written, poorly written, or it could fail to provide value to your audience. Only strong content gets shares.
2. You’re too similar to the competition. In an interview a few years ago, I collected tips from Syed Balkhi, the founder of List25, a YouTube channel with 2.2 million subscribers. One of his top suggestions for building an audience was choosing a unique niche that differentiates you from the competition and allows you to build specific expertise. If you’re too similar to the competition, and you don’t have a target niche, you won’t be able to build a loyal audience or attract as many shares.
3. Your topics aren’t shareable. It might also be that your topics are good, but they just aren’t shareable. According to Scientific American, the most shareable topics tend to be the ones that elicit some kind of emotional reaction, whether it’s surprise, anger, or elation. If you aren’t influencing emotions in your audience, you may not get the shares you want — even if the rest of your content is high-quality.
4. Your audience targeting and/or understanding is off. Some marketers stubbornly assume they already know the best audience to target, and what that audience wants to read; don’t make that mistake. Perform your market research comprehensively, and question all your assumptions. Only by choosing the right audience, and tailoring content specifically for them, will you succeed.
5. You aren’t presenting your content’s best side. According to at least one study, about 59 percent of all links on social media are shared without being clicked first; in other words, your headlines and introductions are more important to your content’s shareability than the actual content behind it. This means you need to really nail your headlines.
You may also be having a timing issue, but these are less serious than content issues:
6. You don’t post with the right frequency. It takes time to build up an engaged audience, so if you post rarely, or in an inconsistent fashion, your readership won’t grow, and you’ll have a lower likelihood of getting social shares from them. Of course, if you post too frequently (i.e., many times a day), all your best work can get lost in the shuffle, and frankly if you’re posting that frequently, the quality of the content is probably not great. Shoot for a happy medium, posting at consistent, yet reasonable intervals.
7. You’re posting at the wrong times. You can review plenty of research on the “best” times to post on social media, but the truth is there’s no universal “best” time, since every audience and every brand is different. If you’re posting at a time when your audience is active, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
No matter how good your content is or how well-timed it is, you may still fail to get social shares if you aren’t able to adequately support your content with a strong foundation and extension:
8. Your brand isn’t personal or consistent. The more loyal your followers are, and the more captivating your brand is, the more likely your followers will be to share your content. If your brand is impersonal, or if you’re inconsistent with your brand standards, you won’t build the audience or loyalty necessary to get a consistent stream of shares. Think of your brand as the foundation for your campaign, and fix any issues with it first, before moving onto individual pieces of content.
9. You aren’t encouraging discussion. Conversations are key for generating attention on your pieces; each comment increases the relevance of your post on most social media platforms, and increases its visibility on the newsfeeds of your followers’ followers. If you aren’t encouraging discussion with questions, follow-ups, and active participation, you’re doing something wrong.
10. There’s no initial momentum. In an ideal world, perfectly written pieces of content would generate attention on their own, but they don’t; instead, they need at least some initial momentum to get going. You can generate this momentum by promoting the article on various external platforms, using email marketing to drive views to it, or even influencing the first round of shares with your closest followers.
Any or all of these motivating factors could be diminishing your social share potential. The sooner you recognize which ones are influencing your campaign, and the sooner you take measures to prevent or mitigate them, the faster your campaign can recover and grow.
Your campaign doesn’t have to be perfect, and it probably won’t be, but you have to have certain fundamentals in place if you want a shot at earning social shares.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!