By Danielle Brooks at Social Times:
With so much content on the Web, it can be difficult to gain exposure. Even if you produce the best resource on your topic, there’s no guarantee that your website will attract more visitors than usual. While Google gives precedence to higher-quality content when determining their search rankings, making sure your efforts are rewarded requires more than just writing. Without an outreach campaign, you may never get decent results.
Getting your content shared online is one of the best ways to gain exposure. While it can take months to rank your website organically, sharing gives you the chance to receive a significant amount of traffic. Gaining social shares isn’t as difficult as you may think. As long as you create a useful resource and contact the right people, there’s no reason why the content you produce won’t get shared.
At The Pink Group, we recently produced a piece of content that amassed over 12,000 social shares. Below is a step-by-step guide on how we achieved that.
Research and write
Performing market research is probably the most important part of the content production process. The Internet is riddled with low-quality content that’s been rehashed time and time again, so unless you find a topic related to your industry that will actually benefit readers, you will have no chance of acquiring social shares.
After researching social media branding, we discovered that one of the primary issues businesses face – regardless of their field – is seamlessly integrating their brand logo across the many social networks. In the business world, convenience is essential, so we developed “The Social Media Cheat Sheet” to streamline the process. After the research stage, developing the content was easy.
Communicate with your industry
After you develop your content and publish it on your website, you will need to communicate with other bloggers and businesses within your field. At this stage, the idea is to simply make them aware of your content in order to generate interest and acquire feedback. Some people may share it voluntarily, but that’s not the purpose. It’s more about honing your piece and developing relationships.
At The Pink Group, we contacted other businesses that were directly related to the branding industry. We carefully selected the candidates based on their social following, relevance and whether or not they actually needed help.
Ask for shares
With a free “product” that actually benefits others, asking for social shares isn’t unreasonable; therefore, most bloggers and businesses will be more than happy to help promote your content. However, asking for shares without building a relationship isn’t recommended – that’s just spam. Be polite and go the extra mile by writing personalized emails in the build-up to asking for help.
As expected, when we asked for shares there were some people who were unwilling and thought it was rude; however, they were the small minority. At least 95 percent of the contacts we communicated with were willing to share; not because they wanted to give us exposure, but because the product offered their readers something beneficial that they couldn’t provide.
Establish a community
Getting social shares is just the beginning. Don’t just take what you want and leave your contact in the dark; make sure you send them a thank you message, give them updates on new developments and ask them how your content has helped them. If you keep them in the loop, they may share it again in the future. In addition, be sure to respond to queries and feedback from their readers via their social updates. Simply acknowledging comments is a great way to encourage other readers to share your work.
At the Pink Group, we continue to maintain relationships with those who have shared our content in the past; and some of them have gone on to share it multiple times, providing more than enough traffic to make the time and effort worthwhile. In addition, we’ve managed to establish new relationships through their followers.
Fundamentally, social media marketing is about building and maintaining relationships. Selfish behavior and simply asking for shares won’t cut it. Unless you develop content that’s unique, beneficial and targeted towards your industry, you’ll never achieve viral success.
But don’t give up. Not everything you do will have viral potential or reach the same level of success — you can never fully predict the outcome of a marketing campaign and even if you develop the best content on the Web, it could take multiple attempts before you find something that’s genuinely worth pursuing on a greater scale.