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There is no doubt that engagement plays a huge role in social media marketing and is a huge aim for most businesses. Likes and comments are important from the perspective of helping you determine how much interest there is in your content, but social shares are one of the most important social media marketing metrics as they help drive reach. Not only that, but social shares can help build your brand and generate leads.

To maximize on the content you're posting on your social media channels, you need your target audience to share that content with their friends and family to expose it to a whole new audience. But how do you do that? How exactly do you increase your social shares? Publishing quality content is a small piece of the puzzle, but that alone won't get you far. Here are 5 effective ways to help you get on your way to increasing your social shares and your reach:

Craft The Perfect Headline

Your headline is crucial to the success of your content. You need to craft your headlines from the perspective of wanting to pull people in. If you are scanning your feed on Facebook or Twitter, what kind of headline would make you stop dead in your tracks and say "hey, I must read this article?" According to Quick Sprout, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. They recommend a headline no longer than 6 words, as people only scan headlines, taking in only the first and last 3 words.

With only 6 words, there is less to read, which increases the chances of the person retaining attention. To increase social shares, include negative wording in your headline, such as "no", "without", and "stop". You should avoid clickbait headlines at all cost, which are headlines that either withhold information or mislead as to what your blog post is actually about. This tactic may have worked in the past and driven more traffic, but Facebook, in particular, has protocols in place to reduce the number of clickbait stories people see in their news feed, which is counterproductive to wanting to increase your social shares.

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Give People A Reason To Share Your Content

If your content is simply about your products or services, chances are, you aren't going to get many shares. You need to know your target audience well and post content THEY find interesting, rather than content YOU find interesting. Social media isn't about you - it's about your audience. Sure, sprinkling in promotional content here and there isn't a bad thing, but in reality, it really shouldn't make up more than 20% of what you post. The other 80% of what you post should be content that provides real value to your target audience. BuzzSumo did a study of viral content and discovered four different elements that commonly occur within the content:

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Visual content should be a primary focus when you are posting on social media. With the vast amount of content being posted, if there isn't an eye-catching graphic included, chances are, people will simply continue scrolling through their news feed, skipping right over that blog post you worked so hard on. Next time you are trying to think of what to post on social media, incorporate some of the above content, and who knows, your next post may go viral and you may get an explosion of social shares like you've never seen before!

BuzzSumo recommends if you do indeed want to go viral, that you can try to surprise people, leverage a trend (keep on reading below to figure out how), inspire people, share heartwarming stories, provide health or fitness tips, tell the secrets of success, or quiz people.

Determine What's Trending

One of the most effective ways to increase your social shares is to post content that is of interest to your target audience. If the content is interesting and relevant to them, the chances of them sharing that content go up. But how do you figure out what they're interested in? By determining what's currently trending on social media. A tool like BuzzSumo can assist you with determining what's trending, as you can simply enter a topic of interest to you, in this case, "social media", and they provide you with a breakdown of content based on top social shares by network. After seeing the specific type of content related to your target keyword that's trending, you can use that as a model for your own blog post.

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You can also use a tool like Google Trends to see what is garnering the most search volume on Google to come up with content ideas. In addition to search volume, Google Trends will show you topics and queries related to the keyword you searched for, in case search volume for your keyword has been down as of late and you need to explore other avenues. These are the results we got for "social media" over the last 90 days:

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Keep in mind whatever keyword or topic you choose, the idea here is not to duplicate existing content you find, but rather use that as a baseline to determine what is trending, and then interject fresh content to the conversation.

Post When Most People Are Online

Okay, so there is no golden rule as to when you should post on each social network. However, HubSpot has done a wonderful job of compiling data from multiple sources to determine the best times to post on each social network (which increases the chances of you getting meaningful engagement and social shares), and this is what they came up with:

  • Facebook: 12-1 PM on Saturday and Sunday, 3-4 PM on Wednesday, and 1-4 PM on Thursday and Friday
  • Twitter: 12-3 PM Monday through Friday and 5-6 PM on Wednesday
  • LinkedIn: 7:30-8:30 AM, 12 PM, and 5-6 PM on Tuesday through Thursday and 10-11 AM on Tuesday
  • Pinterest: 2-4 AM and evening hours every day, 5 PM on Friday, and 8-11 PM on Saturday

If you are using a social media management platform that offers analytics with optimization reporting, you can also use that as a guideline to see when your own followers are responding best to the content you are posting and push your blog posts out at those hours. In addition to posting when most people are online, you should be recycling your content to expose it to a new target audience each time, which in turn will also increase your social shares and help fill up your posting schedule in the event you don't have any fresh content available. This also gives you the ability to test out different headlines for the same content to see what performs the best.

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Make Your Blog Posts Easy To Share

You need to make social sharing easy for your audience. People are much more likely to do things that require minimal effort on their part. If people are left to having to fend for themselves to craft a post to share content, chances are, they won't. One of the more effective ways of combating this problem is by adding social sharing buttons to your website.

You have probably come across these many times before - they are icons within blogs posts for leading social media networks, that when clicked, enable you to share that blog post on that network with ease. This provides your audience with a super simple way to share a blog post they found interesting, and provides you with an additional way to extend the reach of that blog post. Here is an example of social sharing buttons:

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