Why and How You Should Optimize Blog Content for Social

As we’ve seen over the past couple of years, branded content can be an amazing marketing tool that any business can leverage. And while recent attention has focused primarily on micro content — such as tweets — you can’t ignore the impact social media has had on long-form content as well.

Crafting great content for your company blog often requires a substantial amount of time and energy. Obviously you don’t want to put in the effort only to have a minimal ROI, and simply clicking “publish” isn’t enough to drive traffic or leads. Just as with any other marketing asset, you need to promote your content.

One of the best ways to do this is to optimize your company blog for social sharing so your readers can promote it for you. And to do so successfully, you need to be familiar with how your content will appear across various social platforms. Here are some tips to get you started.

Use Captivating Headlines

With A Megaphone By A Wall

Headlines, or titles, are arguably the most important part of your blog post when it comes to social sharing. In most cases, the headline is the first thing readers will see whether they’re browsing an RSS feed or their Twitter stream. And to put it in perspective, only 20 percent of people who see your headline will read past it.

A good headline will captivate and intrigue viewers so they want to click through and continue reading. As such, you’ll need to pique their curiosity. Use strong verbs to pull readers in. To really grip them, include an emotional element or promise something of value — like solving a problem, for example.

Consider how a shared article appears on Twitter or within Facebook’s News Feed. In addition to a photo and description, the article’s headline is prominently displayed. Considering that roughly 99 percent of shared blog content is posted to Facebook and Twitter, you’ll want to make sure that your headline is working for you and not against you.

Upload Powerful Photos

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Social media platforms like Facebook and Google+ usually feature an image when you share a link to your content. A great image, just like your headline, can be the difference between someone clicking through or scrolling past your article. And if that’s not enough pressure, in some cases an image might be all anyone sees before clicking through, such as on Pinterest.

With that in mind, you want to be sure that any visual you associate with your blog post is appropriate in context and high in quality so it appears properly across different social sites in a different range of sizes. For example, square images tend to be a popular option because they can be posted on a variety of platforms.

It might be a bit of a nuisance, but spending a little extra time carefully selecting your image is well worth it. Blog posts with compelling visuals receive 94 percent more views than those without.

Include Strong Quotes

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When you rely on readers for social sharing you’re forced to give up control over the message, but that doesn’t have to be as scary as it might sound. Although you can’t speak for them, you can encourage readers to share certain parts or statistics by including strong quotes or “tweetable snippets” within your post.

This is especially important when characters might be limited or when images speak louder than words, like on Pinterest. With the latter, you actually have the ability to preload images in your post with a smart, SEO-friendly description. This can always be edited by the pinner, but it’s a helpful suggestion for those who are focused more on choosing the right image versus text.

Sometimes squeezing a quote into a 140-character limit can be a challenge. Take the guesswork out of it and make it easier on your readers by including a “click to tweet” link after a specific sentence, quote, bullet point, or statistic. Additionally, you can try embedding inline tweets like The New York Times, which turns sentences into tweets in just one click.

Why Does Social Sharing Matter?

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Now that you’re prepared for optimization, it’s important to know why you should care about social sharing in the first place. Although businesses don’t rely solely on readers for promotion, social shares help spread the word about your content and brand. In turn, this results in more traffic which can convert into new leads and increased sales.

It’s also worth noting that some social networks have a special relationship with search engines, which can have a huge impact on your exposure. Take Google+ for instance — if someone is following your Google+ Page, your content will appear higher up in search results. Therefore, the more people who follow your brand, the more likely your content is going to appear in their search results.

Now consider this: if readers are sharing your blog posts on Google+ and their followers are +1ing and sharing it with their networks, that can result in a massive increase in not only brand awareness, but traffic back to your site. It’s an SEO domino effect that you don’t want to miss out on.

Of course, you don’t always have to rely on readers to do the sharing. An August 2013 study found that a majority of marketing professionals in North America were already sharing blog posts on their social pages, and 44 percent said they would like to increase this. The tips above can be used regardless of who’s tweeting, pinning, and so on.

[Image credit: Garry Knight, Ian Sane, Quinn Dombrowski, Jason Howie]