If you’re normal — you have a beating heart and functioning mind — then you want more shares on Facebook. A huge part of this desire comes from being human. All humans want recognition and approval. Another huge part of this desire is just good marketing. If we are to be successful in content marketing and social media marketing, then we have to get more shares on Facebook.
I’m going to tell you how to do that.
Introduction: First, define your Facebook strategy.
In this article, I’m going to discuss just one facet of a Facebook strategy — more shares of your articles. Let me explain:
- This is about articles. I’m discussing content and Facebook — the nexus of content marketing and social media marketing. Social media is fueled, in part, by how awesome your website content is. My focus here is on articles that get shared.
- In the article below, I’m focusing on sharing. People can like, share, and comment on Facebook. Sharing is one of the best ways to help spread your content. It is free, spontaneous, and more likely to be trusted within an individual’s Facebook network. Facebook’s user interface gives shared articles more real estate, and Facebook’s algorithm gives shared articles more weight in the news feed.
I recommend that you develop a Facebook strategy that is directly connected to your content marketing strategy. The two go together.
The simple idea of this article is that great content will result in more sharing.
Characteristics of content with high share rates
What kind of content gets shared a lot? Here are the four main characteristics of shareable posts and a brief explanation about each one.
1. Shareable posts have short titles.
Linguistic content, as Facebook researchers have discovered, really matters. And the length of your catchy titles matters just as much as the words you choose.
Research indicates that the most effective title length is four words. That’s pretty short, but since 47% of users only use their mobile device to access Facebook, short titles may simply be easier to read.
I’ve written before on the importance of headlines, and I’ll emphasize it again. Headlines are important, not only for their impact upon SEO and CTR, but also social media marketing. Create headlines with Facebook shares in mind.
2. Shareable posts display images.
In all of the measurements of a post’s success, photos rank highest. They have more likes and more shares than any other form of content. As far as frequency of comments, they are nearly tied with text-only posts.
3. Shareable posts are longer than 1k words.
My research on content length has shown that longer content gets shared more.
Right around 1,500 words, I see diminishing returns on content length based on shares and readability.
4. Shareable posts are helpful.
In a study about the psychology of sharing social media, researchers discovered that 94% of people who share a post do so because they think it will be helpful to other people.
I see people use this phrase all the time — “sharing is caring.” I guess the idea is to inspire altruism for others through sharing the post. As it turns out, it’s true. People think about their friends and social network when they share a post. It makes sense of course. The biggest reason for sharing is so other people that you know will see the post.
Helpful posts aren’t just “how-to” articles. Helpful posts are also emotionally upbeat, as another article on New York Times reported. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Jonah Berger put it this way:
“When you share a story with your friends and peers, you care a lot more how they react. You don’t want them to think of you as a Debbie Downer.”
When I create my articles, I think long and hard about what people will consider to be helpful. Chances are, if my readers think that an article is helpful, then other people will think it’s helpful, too.
Six tactical tips to get your posts shared on Facebook
1. Provide a sharing button.
You have to provide a way for people to share. Place a button somewhere in close proximity to the article so people can see it and click it before, during, or after they read it.
Instead of a “like” button, you should provide a share button. Liking doesn’t have the same social spread as sharing.
Here is an example of what happens when people click the Facebook button on my site.
Immediately, a popup appears that prompts the user to add a comment, select the method of sharing, and then click “share link.”
You don’t need to have the word “share” in the Facebook icon on your site. You simply need to have some visual indication that the button they are about to click has to do with Facebook. Once they get halfway through the process of sharing, they are more likely to follow through.
2. Display the number of people who have shared the post.
It’s smart to show how many shares the post has. Doing so serves to enhance your reputation and improve the chances that other people will share it, too.
3. Use an image.
When the shared post hits Facebook, it will get far more visibility and additional shares if it has an image attached. Facebook pulls the image thumbnails using its Open Graph meta tags. If you’re using a plugin to enable Facebook sharing, check for details on how to set the correct image.
An example of an image coded for featuring on Facebook is the following line, which should be present within the <head></head> of a page:
<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://example.com/image.jpg”/>
4. Create article headlines with words that appeal to your niche.
When you create an article headline, think about how it’s going to sound on Facebook. The right words in a shared Facebook post will attract more shares, clicks, likes, and social spread.
Use words that appeal to your target audience. Your goal isn’t indiscriminate sharing. Your goal is targeted headlines that address your specific niche group.
5. Write long articles.
The data shows that longer articles get more shares. I realize that long articles take a long time to write. Believe me, I do a lot of writing.
But I know that the time and effort pay off. If longer articles mean higher readability and more sharing, then it’s well worth the time and sweat equity that I pour into it.
6. Create content that really matters.
Obviously, it’s not just words on a screen that compel sharing. It’s what those words actually say — how helpful they are.
Whenever I create content, whether it’s on my own website or on a guest post, I try to make it as powerful, actionable, and helpful as possible. People are looking for something that helps them to solve a problem, overcome a challenge, make more money, become more successful, or feel happier. If your article isn’t satisfying any of those needs, then no one will care about sharing it.
Content marketing will succeed when you write winning articles with powerful information.
Here are the four main characteristics of shareable posts:
- Shareable posts have short titles that contain appealing words.
- Shareable posts display images.
- Shareable posts are longer than 1k words.
- Shareable posts are helpful.
And here’s how to use this data to your advantage in your content marketing strategy:
- Provide a sharing button.
- Display the number of people who have shared the post.
- Use an image.
- Create short article headlines with words that appeal to your niche.
- Write long articles.
- Create content that really matters.
If you aren’t already using these strategies, I recommend that you begin as soon as possible. There is real power in knowing what works, and then doing it. Successful content marketing doesn’t come through haphazard attempts or guesswork. It happens by knowing data, and acting on it.
What do you do to get your articles shared on Facebook?
*A big thanks goes out to Dan Zarrella for the “like, comments, and share” graphs used in this post.