Content marketing combines the creation of valuable content with social media marketing and search engine optimisation. It helps companies drive new leads, establish industry credibility, and stay top of mind with existing and potential clients.

Social media plays a large role in content marketing as one of the key distribution vehicles for content. In addition to advertising and email marketing, social media shares of content via sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and other platforms allows good content to spread: the modern version of word-of-mouth marketing.

With that said, the spread of content via social media doesn’t have to be left to chance. There are specific things that companies and organizations can do to either encourage (or inadvertently discourage) the social sharing of content.

Here are nine ways to increase shares of your great content in social media. If your content is not getting shared, use this as a checklist to see where your efforts may be falling down.

1) Choose Topics People Care About

Not all topics are created equal, so you need to develop a sense for what your topics your audience really cares about. Some ways to do that include looking at search keyword volumes (e.g. via Google Trends or various keyword tools), asking sales what customers always ask about, or seeing what consistently gets shared and commented on your blog, competitor’s blogs and in social media in general. Providing useful information for your audience will maximise social media shares.

2) Rewrite That Headline!

I hate to say it but 99% of business blog post headlines are accurate but extremely dull. “Why Your Company Should Use Encrypted Storage Solutions” may describe what’s in the post clearly, but is not that compelling. Here are a couple of twists on the same content, with new headlines to increase interest, curiosity and share-ability: “5 Reasons Hackers Love Current Data Storage Solutions” or “Traditional Data Storage + Your Corporate Secrets = Serious Risk”. You may be able to come up with better, but the point is to intrigue the audience who sees this headline in social media or on your blog.

Whilst ‘click-bait’ can be annoying, we can certainly learn a lot from their attention-grabbing headlines. Using accurate but click-bait style titles can maximise social media shares and blog views.

3) Make Posts More “Skimmable”

Many industry influencers keep their social media followers engaged by curating valuable, unique or interesting content. In fact, they often won’t read whole posts before they share. If your post is not designed in a way that makes it easy to quickly grasp the key points, they won’t bother to skim it or share it.

In addition, many of your regular readers don’t have time to dig into large blocks of text. Think bold headers, short sentences and key points (2-3 sentences) for each versus dense paragraphs.

WordPress plugins like Yoast can determine the ‘readability’ of your blog posts. Not only will this help to boost SEO of posts, but also increase social media shares by making it more accessible.

4) Don’t Skimp on Pictures or Graphics

In addition to skimmable posts, pictures are a very important element for increasing social media shares. Adding pictures and videos can help your audience understand a concept better, as well as breaks up lines of text.

5) Improve Ease of Sharing

Supermarkets make it easy to buy impulse purchases like candy and magazines by positioning them strategically at the check-out line. If you want to increase social media shares of your posts, you need to position social share buttons right where any reader (or skimmer) will find them. I typically like to put them at the top or on the side (scrolling with the content) so they’re hard to miss.

6) Involve Guest bloggers, influencers & your employees

A good way to increase social media shares is by widening your audience. Simply posting an article to your social media profiles isn’t always enough. Instead, if you feature an influencer or brand in your blog, let them know on social media, and chances are they’ll share it. You can also ask the authors of articles and fellow employees to share it on social media. These shares are likely to generate additional shares.

7) Build Your Social Foundation

In order to maximise sharing of your content, it helps if you have a large set of followers on one or more social platforms that make sense for your brand. Each real (not paid for) connection, follower or fan can have 10’s, 100’s, 1000’s, 100,000’s (you get the point) of followers themselves. With great content optimized for sharing, you can potentially reap 100’s of shares of your content from your own social base and their connections.

8) Share the love

Don’t expect people to be jumping over each other to share your content if you’ve never lifted a finger (or clicked your trackpad) to comment on, like or share other people’s content. By building up some online goodwill, you’ll increase interaction with your content, including shares. Don’t forget to help others spread their great content well before you ask people to share your content!

9) Trendjack

Connecting topics that your readers care about with current events is a great way to create a relevant and interesting post. People love to share a new angle on a current topic or a creative addition to recent Meme. Read our guide on successful trendjacking here!

What have you done to increase social media shares?

So you can see, growing the number of social media shares is not something that will “just happen”. Savvy digital marketers, business owners, PR professionals or social media managers (including you) can be strategic about the content they produce, how it appears, how it’s introduced into the world and who sees it.

What have you found that increases your social shares? Let us know in the comments below…and if you like this post, please share! (ha ha)