I saw a quote from someone recently that got me thinking about sharing blog post.
“In an ideal world our dear readers will share our posts instead of us, but until then we have to.”
There is a great deal of truth in this message. Until people know who you are, follow your every post and stay in the loop of every thing you do, you have to find your readers (and even once you have it is still your duty to find new readers). If you aren’t trying to find new readers then you shouldn’t be surprised that your readership is growing slowly if at all.
However, looking deeper into this comment there is a more important question to look at.
Why Don’t Your Reader Share Your Blog Posts?
No matter how large or small your readership is they should always be sharing your blog post. That doesn’t mean every member should share your blog post or they should share every blog post but if no one else ever shares your blog post then even if you get 1,000,000 readers (which I doubt) non of them will share your blog posts either.
Look at your last blog post…would you share that if someone else had written it? Really?
It’s a tough question to ask yourself and you might not want to admit that actually you wouldn’t share it. You mind might start on the defensive that the post was a good read and people enjoyed reading it (they even left comments) which can all be true…but would you share it? Maybe not.
Why People Share Online
You might think that people tend to share things to help others or because they like the writer but in general that’s not true.
People share things that make them look better
Every time you share something online you risk a bit of your social currency. If you share something good or of value then you gain a return on the currency you spent. If you share something bad that people don’t like then you make a loss. In general you make wins and losses across different people with each update and so people don’t just share everything or anything (and if they do people ignore them).
Except when it comes to what you’ve made.
When you share something you’ve made you are always willing to risk it because it relates to you, people should be more interested and accepting. You can’t see the objective value or if other people would share it.
If you haven’t written something and you read it then you may really like it and greatly enjoy it but you still don’t share it because it won’t make you look good to your social network. That’s why people don’t share your writing.
The Six Things People Will Risk Social Currency For?
There are a few things people tend to risk their social currency Of course not everyone is motivated to share the same things and some people will be more motivated by different factors but generally we can group them into six things.
1. Amazing or Noteworthy Things
Something that simply wows people. You can’t believe how incredible this is and so you have to show it off. The more impressive it is the more people want to remember it and pass it on.
2. Controversial or Outrageous Things
We like arguments and sometimes things you really disagree with (or JUST agree with) can be highly motivating to share, even if it’s just to say how much you disagree with it! (of course sometimes we just like sharing that blog post that proves us right as well). It’s a dangerous one because
3. Taboo Things
It’s funny but things that people shouldn’t want to talk about…are sometimes the things people most want to talk about. This is a very risky option and with Christians is less likely to be true but there is still truth here. Over on ChurchMag the editor, Eric Dye has joined the battle against Pornography. It’s surprising how large a problem this is and yet how infrequently it is talked about because it is taboo. But because he is talking about it, others are talking about it more now.
Just remember, there is usually a reason things are taboo and by definition not talked about. If you target the wrong audience you will probably get even less shares.
4. Unusual Things
When everyone and their dog are writing blog post on similar subjects, you might well have read the same thing time and time before. So when someone comes along with a fresh and unusual perspective it can really stand out. Sometimes this might be a gimmick (like talking about what lessons we can learn from a popular cultural reference to a topic they have no obvious relevance in) or it might be the way the information is presented.
5. Hilarious Things
We all love to laugh and making other people laugh feels great too. Something that is not just funny but hilarious and guaranteed to make people laugh. It’s not surprising that this stuff spreads.
6. Secret Things
People love to have the inside scoop and know things that other people don’t. They love to share these things too and be the first to know the secret. I’m sure you know that person who if you tell them “this is a secret…” then you know they will tell everyone else they know what you’ve told them. The same thing happens online.
Sometimes things will be multiple categories but most viral things can be grouped into one or more of these categories. If you really want to read more about this then check out the book Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk About Your Stuff for more.
I’m going to try something a bit different with you today. I’m setting some homework that will result in an increase in the amount your blog gets shared…if you apply the lessons from above.
Analyzing your last posts
Go back to your last blog post and measure it against these criteria. How does it perform? Did it tick any of these boxes?
What about your most successful blog post? Did it tick any of these boxes?
Consider your readers
Not all these types of posts will work on your readers and you certainly should do them for the sake of doing them. Think about what sort of things your readers might like (I’d say that Noteworthy and Hilarious are going to be okay no matter what audience you have, but Taboo is difficult to get right.)
Put it into practice
Next time try to write something with one of these criteria in mind and see if it get shared more. Make sure you have some form of analytics so you can check.
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