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Viral Spikes: The Power of the Share

  |  March 26, 2013   |  Comments

How many marketing tactics and programs have you constructed around encouraging social shares?

I've said in many columns that "you don't need a million fans" and that most businesses will never have a million fans. Yet there are many companies, large and small, that have relatively small social communities (say just a few thousand fans and followers) and dedicated staff and agency relationships that do nothing but develop content and manage these communities.

Is this a waste of time? No! It's not if you're leveraging these small communities to act as social sparks to start the viral propagation of your content. It's not a waste of time if you understand the power of the share! It's not a waste if your mission is to create a viral spike!

You want ongoing dialogue and engagement with viral spikes!

spikes

A viral spike of course is when your content gets shared and your reach in social and on the web spikes. It's when your content goes viral. And, people will share your content if (and this is a big if) you give them something worth sharing. That is the key: giving people things they will want to share. So rule number one: create content worth sharing! Give people facts, figures, memes, or photos that make them look smart or witty. (Want more on doing this? See my column "Socializing Thought Leadership.")

So first let's define sharing with some examples so we nail down exactly what you want people to do.

Social Sharing on Your Site

The first place you want to enable for sharing is on your site. Don't hide the share; celebrate it! As I said, make it a big, noisy call-to-action positioned next to your content. (See example below.) Make it one click away. Don't aggregate it under ShareThis or some other button. Scream it: the share is the action! Also, work it into your workflow. Did someone just buy something, download an infographic or white paper, watch a movie, or enter a contest? Did you ask them to share it at the end or as part of the transaction? Why not?

onsite-share-final

Do the share right and look what happens - your content ends up all over the web! This is the power of social and how you succeed without millions of fans and followers.

share-goog

Sharing of Facebook Posts

We all know about getting comments on Facebook, right? But shares are way better than comments! Shares end up in people's news feeds.

faceshare

This is what pops when people hit the above share button.

karma-feed

Share content in the news feed and on a profile; that's where you want it. Much better than a comment!

karma-share2

So, what is the effect of all these shares on Facebook? Viral spikes! See the Facebook Insights graph below showing a spike in Reach and Talking About This.

picture1

Retweets on Twitter

On Twitter the best thing that can happen (next to someone clicking on your link and converting into a customer of course) is for a user to retweet your content! (See below.)

retweet

Retweets create viral spikes on Twitter!

twitterspikes

Now, how do you get them to share? Ask them to do it! Position share buttons as big, noisy calls-to-action. It is just as valid of an action as engagement or conversion. So ask yourself, how many marketing tactics and programs have I constructed around encouraging social shares? If the answer is none, well, you have some work to do.

Remember, the share is the action - so make it happen!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Harry Gold

As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.

Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.

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