In August of 2015, we launched our own blog at Proven with these thoughts in mind. We naively put out content that we thought our customers and other people in our market would want to read and share only to discover that no one besides our immediate family members were actually sharing, linking to or browsing our content.
If this sounds familiar, do not worry, you are not alone. This is the majority of people blogging but it doesn’t have to be this way.
In this article, I am going to show you the exact strategies we used to grow our traffic 50X in just 4 months.
I have compiled these strategies into 11 simple tips that will help supercharge your blog’s social sharing appeal and start driving more and more eyeballs to every post you publish.
I am going to walk you through each of these tips step-by-step so you can start driving more traffic today.
Understand why people share
If you want people to share your blog posts, it’s important to first understand what compels people to share content.
People share content to say something about themselves. The act of sharing is a reflection of that person’s identity.
People share content that makes them look: smart, good, funny, controversial, or insightful.
It’s the same reason people contribute to online forums, participate on Quora, or write Amazon reviews. They want to be seen as an expert or provide utility to the community that they care about.
Brian Dean of Backlinko talks about creating content with built in “share triggers”. These are essentially characteristics of content that gets shared more often.
For example, recipes are widely shared because they have great utility while infographics get shared because they visually tell a story and are memorable. If your content is forgettable, then don’t expect people to want to share it.
Create content that is positive
Content that elicits positive emotions like awe, curiosity, amazement, interest, or astonishment are more likely to go viral than neutral or negative content. Our own study of 5,000 HR blog posts, found articles with positive titles resulted in almost twice as many shares as negative or neutral titles.
Researchers at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania came to a similar conclusion after analyzing a data set of New York Times articles.
Use great images
Social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are designed for visually compelling content. If you are publishing blog posts without a single image, then you are doing yourself a huge disservice.
BuzzSumo analyzed 100 million articles and found that the presence of a single image resulted in that article receiving twice as many shares as an article without an image.
Travel articles are a great example of visually compelling content. It’s easy to have really great visuals when showing off exotic locations from around the world. Also, these images help tap into positive emotions awe and inspiration.
For example, take a look at the New York Times article 52 Places to Go in 2016. The article has over half a million Facebook shares. Obviously the New York Times is well known and has a large built in readership, but even by Times standards, this article is killing it with social shares. The pictures are amazing and make you want to visit every place they talk about.
Images impact more than just the shareability of your content. They also impact how people view your entire company and brand. MGD Advertising found that consumers are more likely to contact a company if an image shows up in search results versus not having an image in the results.
Bottom line, make sure your content has images that help tell your story.
Write longer content
Anyone can churn out 300 word articles on a daily basis. Your readers know this and Google knows this.
A longer articles does a number of things that helps you. You have more keywords for Google to consider when matching your page to a search query. It also helps Google understand the context of your page. It keeps people on your blog longer, reducing your bounce rate.
Of course, you need more than just lengthy content, the content has to actually be good. But in-depth thoughtful articles perform better and they help establish you as an expert on the subject.
Write a great headline
You need a great headline so that when people see your article shared on social media or on Google they choose to actually click on it versus some other piece of content.
Magazine covers are a great place to look for inspiration when it comes to headlines. The magazines you see at the checkout at the supermarket are all competing against each other, with essentially similar content.
Why pick GQ over Men’s Health? Consider the GQ cover below with Jay-Z.
Besides the cover story, one of the standout headlines is “20 Things A Man Should Say At Least Once In His Life”. You will see these type of headlines a lot on magazine covers. A list, usually between 10 and 20, and something hyperbolic to describe that list.
When you are writing your headlines, think about what would make someone click on your link versus 10 other similar articles? Is your article the best? If so, then tell people. Is it a list? Then tell people how many items are in your list and what they will get out of reading the items in that list.
Also, experiment with your titles. If your post is not performing the way you want it to, don’t be afraid to make changes and see if there’s an impact. You can also use CoSchedule’s Headline Analysis tool to help point you in the right direction.
The clicks you get from search will impact your ranking, which will drive more traffic, which will drive more shares, which will again drive more traffic.
Lists and infographics get shared more
Building on our previous tip about writing a great headline, magazine’s love lists and you should too. Lists and infographics get shared more (see below graphic).
The reasons this type of content consistently performs well is because it taps into a lot of the things we have already talked about.
Lists have great utility, are easily readable, often address a specific problem, and fit nicely into a great headline.
Infographics tell a story, are memorable, and as we’ve seen, people like images when it comes to sharing.
Make sure your blog is mobile-friendly
It’s likely that as much as 60% of your traffic is from people on mobile devices. If your blog visitors are forced to pinch zoom into your articles, you need to drop everything right now and fix this.
There’s plenty of services out there that will help you create a responsive design and if you are running your blog on WordPress, there’s lots of great free themes that you can use to accomplish this.
I cannot stress how important this is. Besides the readability of your blog being poor, your share buttons will be tiny and difficult to tap with a finger meaning that you are wasting all that mobile traffic.
Ask your readers to share
Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to simply ask for it. Even if you do everything I’ve encouraged you to do in this article, your readers might still not even think of sharing your content.
Dan Zarella found that people that ask for a retweet are 4 times more likely to get a retweet than those that do not ask, so why not ask for shares?
The ask can be simple like the example below from SocialTriggers.com.
Reach out to influencers in your industry
As in life, when it comes to blogging and social media, having a strong network of relationships with influential people can help you get what you want.
If you do not have this network within your niche, it’s important to start building it. You can begin by figuring out who the influencers are, follow their blogs and social media profiles and then start participating in the conversation. Over time, you’ll build up a relationship and they’ll know who you are, that’s when you can start getting their help to share your content.
Check out Brian Dean’s article about how to reach out to bloggers and promote your content for free for a step-by-step guide on how to get started.
A great way to help establish these relationships quickly is with an expert roundup.
I did this back in January of 2016 with experts in the HR space. That article performed reasonably well, but it helped establish early relationships with HR bloggers, which later led to over 1,000 shares on a list post about the best HR blogs to follow.
Acknowledge those that share your content
After investing a lot of your time into building your influencer network, it’s important to nurture those relationships by making sure you acknowledge those that share your content.
This can be a simple thank you on your social media channels or if your outreach happened through email, make sure you send a thank you email.
Here’s a sample template that has worked for me.
Hey BLOGGER NAME,
I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to check out my article and to share it with your followers.
Keep up the awesome work at BLOG NAME.
The same goes for anyone that comments on your post. Make sure you thank them for reading your post and engage with them if they have questions or ideas.
These simple actions help build rapport with your readers and will keep people coming back and encourage more sharing and contributions.
Reshare your content
This is really straightforward, but easy to overlook when you first start blogging.
Make sure you continue to promote and reshare your content on all your social platforms. You should be sharing your content at least 8 times over the first month that it is live.
Why do this?
There’s a number of reasons, but bottom line, not everyone is online looking for content at the same time and they may miss your original promotion. Further, not everyone responds to the same type of promotion or searches for content in the exact same way, so experiment with the verbiage and hashtags.
You can use tools like Buffer to setup and schedule these social media posts as soon as you publish.
All of these tips are things I have had to learn over the past 8 months with my own company’s blog. Early on, I failed consistently to create any real traffic and it wasn’t until I started following the recipe outlined in this article that I started to see real progress.
These tips have helped us grow our blog traffic by more than 50X. Getting shares is not impossible, it just takes consistent focused effort and hopefully these tips help you get there.
If you have your own tips, questions or ideas, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Finally, if you found this article useful or interesting, please share it :-).
Author Bio: Sean Falconer is Founder and CTO of Proven. He is a proud Canadian and reformed academic. He is passionate about making hiring for small businesses simple, streamline and frictionless.