4 Ways to Strip Hurdles for Easy Content Sharing
“Frictionless sharing” was introduced by Facebook in 2011. If a user likes a product or a blog post, or if he read a story or listened to a song, or any countless actions performed with a participating app, that news was posted to the user’s Facebook profile and broadcast to his network.
Facebook’s frictionless sharing model was met with criticisms over privacy concerns and user annoyance, as feeds were filled with automatic updates from apps. Facebook has since enabled users’ to fine-tune permissions for apps to post to their profiles and access personal and network information. Today much of the initial concern has been replaced with acceptance and increased savviness. And the sites that implemented frictionless sharing? Major win.
How many times have I read or heard “create great content” as the first rule of online marketing? Unfortunately that overlooks the importance of promoting the content. The old adage “build it and they will come” is misleading in the content marketing world. The power of frictionless sharing for brands is the broad exposure, made easy as readers do the work.
Facebook doesn’t have a copyright on the concept of frictionless sharing. In fact, business should examine their media assets to make sure user sharing is obstacle-free. Here are some things to think about in optimizing your content’s sharability.
Enable One-click Sharing
You’ve seen share buttons around the Web, those little buttons that let you post the content you’re looking at to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and so on. If you’re reading this from a desktop browser, you’ll find the buttons across the top of this post. There was planning that went into the share buttons included on our blog, and our considerations for how to choose social media share buttons can help you select the buttons that make sense for your audience and content goals. The bottom line is, make it easy for your audience to propagate your content among their networks.
Feature Social Trust Indicators
Social cues are a big part of how we social creatures evaluate stuff. There are a lot of reasons why we look to our social group’s analysis, from safety by avoiding the outside bounds of what’s acceptable, to using popularity as a first-level filter for the finite resource that is an individual’s time and attention. Social trust signals carry a lot of influence; harness them to your advantage. Share buttons can be accompanied by share counts, and if the number is significant, can suggest that content has value.
On the flip side, here’s a qualifier to the first point about adding share buttons to your site: only include them on pages where they’re likely to be used. Zero counts on share buttons can signal low value to a user (and possibly Google).
On the Cracked.com home page we can see an example of social trust signals demonstrated by number of views. But notice that one story doesn’t include the number of views — probably because it wasn’t high enough for Cracked to consider it a convincing trust signal so it was left out altogether.
Highlight Popular Content
In the image from Cracked.com above you’ll notice another principle in play to encourage sharing, and that’s pointing out content that’s likely to interest new visitors. Clearly, the most popular content is likely to impress a newly incoming audience, as it’s track record has proven. Based on the content the visitor is looking at, suggest something else from your site along those lines. This is the idea behind the related posts listed below this post.
Or go back to the Mashable screenshot above and notice the trending stories prominently placed at the top of the page. That’s a great example of this principle not only because they’re highlighting well-performing content likely to interest readers, but it also includes the trust signal of share counts.
Optimize Discoverability through Site Structure
Before content can be shared it must be found. For any visitor to our site, regardless of how they got there, make it easy for them to surface content they’ll find interesting. While all the above principles support this interest, there’s one more element that can be used to this end. That’s the structure and navigation of the site itself.
As a user navigates your site, it should be clear to them how to get around. Breadcrumbs are one easy roadmap you can provide to enable visitors to find more content they’re interested in. A navigation and site hierarchy with clear category/theme focus is also helpful. And if your site has a blog or section where fresh content is updated, highlight that on the home page and other key areas of the site. You can see how we point out our recent blog posts and newsletter articles on our home page to help visitors dig into shareable content.
One last recommendation I’d give is to get familiar with what works on you in terms of sharing content online. What signals influence you to share? Here, let’s give it a go. See those share buttons at the top of this page? Click and see how you feel. ;)