While a small minority of bloggers writes purely for themselves or for pleasure, most bloggers would love to get some social media love for their posts. Yet it keeps surprising me how many posts I encounter that are simply hard to share.
Remember: the more hurdles there are to sharing, the more hoops to jump through, the bigger the chance that somewhere in that process the person sharing it will stop. If you want to create shareable blog posts, you have to make it as easy as possible to share them—and you have to write great content as well, but let’s assume that’s a given for now.
Here are 6 practical things you can do to create a shareable blog post:
1. Keep the Title Short
Twitter still only has 144 characters. That means that with the characters needed for the actual link (even shortened), a mention (HT or ‘via’ plus the Twitter handle), and a picture you only have so many characters left for the title if you want it to fit.
Here’s what a shout out by me generally looks like:
You see what I mean? This tweet is stuffed to the max and yet the title is really short. The lesson: keep your post titles short enough to share.
2. Make the Title Self-Explanatory
Facebook and Google+ allow a sharer to add some context, but platforms like Twitter don’t. That means the title itself with a super-short addition from the sharer should be enough to attract readers. That doesn’t work with long, fuzzy titles that may be cute, but don’t say anything about what the post is really about.
3. Always, Always, Always Have a Picture
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see bloggers make: posting posts without a (featured) image. Research shows that on all social media platforms, posts with images score significantly better in terms of clicks, likes, shares, and comments.
So make sure to always have an image with your post. But not just that, make sure it’s ‘featured’. This means it will be automatically recognized by social media as the right image with the post and will be displayed.
Also, it will be ‘picked up’ by Buffer easy-share. This is what I almost always use to quickly share stuff on Twitter. When I hover over an image, the Buffer share logo appears and I can click it to immediately start formatting a tweet. But: this only works with featured images that are large enough. Otherwise I have to manually save the image and add it…way too much trouble!
And if you’re trying to get pinned on Pinterest, a picture is even more crucial obviously. Make sure it’s portrait, as these score way better than landscape images. Adding a little text to your image—for instance with the title of the post—works wonders here as well, so people can easily see what the post is about.
4. Set Up a Sharing Service (and Set it up Right)
Most blogs have set up some kind of sharing service, like sharaholic or another plugin. That’s a great start. But: how are your settings? Many bloggers forget to optimize these.
When you click on the Twitter button in a sharing service, what pops up automatically in the tweet the sharer is composing? Here’s what should pop up: your blog title, the link and your Twitter handle.
Your Twitter handle. Now there’s one that bloggers tend to forget. It will show the name of their blog, which is only handy when it’s short. My blog’s name (Youth Leaders Academy) is too long to be included; it would take up too much space. So I’ve only included my Twitter handle. This is what it looks like when you click on ‘share to Twitter’: Blog Title, URL (shortened) and my Twitter handle. That leaves (in this case) 72 characters for a picture, an added comment and a hashtag.
Why you need to include your Twitter handle? Because you want to see who’s tweeting your stuff, don’t you? Plus people who share often want to include your handle because deep down they’re not just sharing for fun, but also because they’d love for you to see you’re sharing their stuff. It’s all part of being social!
If the Twitter handle doesn’t automatically show up in the Tweet I’m composing, that’s an extra step I have to take. Now, if the Twitter handle is easily visible (say, on the top right op the site or in a sidebar near the top), I’ll include it manually. If not, sorry. I may share, but without mentioning you.
And for people who use a scheduling app like Buffer, putting your social media handles in a clearly visible place is even more important. I use the Chrome extension for Buffer for instance, so I only have to click that button to automatically add a link to Buffer…but I need to add the Twitter handle manually. So make it easy to find!
Now all this applies to sharing to other social media platforms as well obviously. Test how easy your posts share though your sharing service, or ask friends to test it for you. Tweak till you get it right.
5. Provide a Meta-Description
Another big plus is to provide a meta description of the blog post, which will show up on platforms like Facebook and G+. It’s a 160 characters max description of what the post is about. If you’re smart, you’ll make this as attractive as possible, you’re your post’s keyword(s) thrown in for SEO bonus points.
If you don’t include a meta-description, the displayed snippet will either be the first few lines of your post, which is way less pretty and effective, or a generic description of your blog. Boring. Plus, a meta description may improve your search engine optimization (SEO). So get this right! (if you’re on WordPress, there are easy-to-use SEO plugins for this).
6. Display your Full Post in RSS Feeds
Do people still use RSS Feeds? Yes they do. I’m one of them. What can I say? It works for me. Buffer allows me to share directly from the feed without ever having to go to the actual site. Easy, peasy.
A big hindrance to sharing posts through RSS is when posts aren’t fully displayed in the feed. That means people have to click through to your website first to read the post and then go through the steps to share it. That would constitute as extra hoops to jump through—thus lowering the chance of people sharing your content.
Just display the full post in the feed. Simple as that.