One of the keys to successful social media marketing is creating what we like to call “shareable moments”—content that your audience wants to share. After all, one share on Twitter or Facebook could result in more leads, subscriptions or sales if it reaches the right people.
According to a 2011 study by the NYTimes Insights Group called “The Psychology of Sharing,” people share content for one of five reasons:
1. To bring valuable and entertaining content to others
2. To define themselves to others
3. To grow and nourish their relationships
4. For self-fulfillment
5. To get the word out about causes or brands
By creating content that is valuable to your users, you’re creating shareable moments. But how do you know what type of content your audience finds valuable?
One tip: Segment your audience and track their responses.
There’s no reason for content to be one-size-fits-all. It makes more sense to target small audience groups based on their specific characteristics. Once you have segmented your audience, you can focus on strong and impactful concepts rather than one huge idea that covers all the bases.
You can segment your audience in a variety of ways: by geographic location, by age or by device usage (laptop vs. mobile), among others.
Share unique content with each audience segment and track how they react over time. If one group is responding better to your strategies than another, consider how you can tailor your content to better serve the less responsive audience segment.
Of course, segmentation isn’t the only way to decipher what your audience likes. You can use a variety of social listening and analytics tools to see how users respond and what they click on.
How to create shareable moments
Once you understand the type of content your audience responds to, it’s time to create easily shareable content.
Research each social platform you plan to use so that you know how to create content that takes full advantage of the tools. For example, Pinterest is great for sharing images, but more than 75 percent of its users are on smartphones or tablets, so it’s important to limit how much text you add. Twitter is great for sharing timely news, but tweets are ephemeral and typically won’t even last in peoples’ feeds for an hour.
Here are 3 more tips for creating content your audience wants to share:
1. Organize your ideas based on “content occasions.” Content-sharing occasions can be planned, like product launches, holidays and other events on the calendar. They can also be unplanned, like responding to social media mentions or trending topics.
Even as you take advantage of trending topics or seasonality, it’s important to remain within the guidelines of your audience’s interests. For example, if you typically write about food and restaurants, you don’t need to write a post on taxes just because it’s the season. On the other hand, if you frequently write on financial topics, an article on tax deductions is timely and pertinent for your audience.
2. Use visuals wisely. Photos, videos and infographics should be a big part of your content strategy. On some social media platforms, adding images or videos can make them more eye-catching and shareable: Tweets with photos see an average 35 percent boost in engagement and tweets with videos see an average boost of 28 percent, according to a 2014 Twitter study. On primarily visual platforms, like Instagram and YouTube, you need high quality images in order to stand out.
Aim to create branded, consistent visual that your audience will recognize immediately. If possible, create visuals that can work across platforms so you don’t have to design separate elements for Pinterest, Facebook and your blog.
3. Leverage the expertise and social connections of influencers in your industry. If you’re writing a blog post about an industry hot topic, why not interview an expert to increase the quality of your content? Expert input not only makes content more credible, it can also make it more shareable. Many industry leaders have strong social followings that are interested in what they have to say. Utilizing their expertise can help your brand reach new people.
You should always be mindful of your audience whenever you create a piece of content, whether it is a simple tweet or an in-depth infographic. If it’s not meaningful to your audience, it’s probably not going to be shareable.