Viral Spikes: The Power of the Share

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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.)

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Retweets create viral spikes on Twitter!

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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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