We all know social media can be an effective way to get more traffic to your website and grow your audience. But with so many different options out there, it can be hard to know what we should be doing to make our website as social media-friendly and shareable as possible.
In this post you will find some actionable advice on using social media to promote your blog posts and other website content more effectively. While most of the content here is platform agnostic, WordPress users will get the most benefit from this article thanks to the wide range of social media integrations available for this platform.
If your website and its content are getting less social shares than you’d like, following the steps in this article should help your posts get more shares, likes, and tweets, for much less effort than you might be expecting.
So without further ado, here is our guide to making your WordPress website more social media-friendly.
Write Great Content
The first step in the process of harnessing social media to promote your WordPress blog or website is to produce great content. However, the term ‘great content’ is subjective and you will need to establish what your target audience considers great content.
For some topics and audiences, multipart essays consisting of thousands of words are demanded. While for others, a list of humorous images of cats with a few lines of text will go down a storm. Look at what the popular sites in your niche are doing and identify which of their posts get the most shares and comments to help you establish what format of content your readers will respond to best.
There are some general guidelines you can follow though, and in a past article we looked at some of the proven ways to make your content more engaging and SEO-friendly.
To summarise, this guide included mastering the art of writing killer post titles, using rich snippets to make your content stand out in the search engines, and whether longer posts perform better than short posts, so do check that post out if you want some general guidelines to follow when creating ‘great’ content.
Establish Your Profiles on the Relevant Social Media Networks
This should probably go without saying, but it’s vital that you create and build out your profiles on the social networks that align most closely with your niche and your target audience.
You don’t have to go all in and establish profiles on every social network, but picking one to three of the most relevant networks is a good approach to take.
If your niche is very photogenic, then focusing your efforts on Pinterest might be the best use of your time. If your content has the potential go viral and be shared socially, then Facebook could be the best fit. The ease of use and impressive reach of Twitter makes it a great choice for spreading the word about almost any type of content and website.
Having a well populated profile on a social network should signal to your readers that you are active on that particular channel. This in turn can give them an incentive to share your content as you are more likely to see it, and perhaps return the favour one day.
Social Media Integration
Once you’ve established what sort of content will appeal to your target audience, and where they hang out, the next step is to make it as easy as possible for your readers to actually share that content.
Thankfully for WordPress users there are countless plugins available that can add social sharing and social media integration to your website in just a few clicks, often for free. One popular option is the suite of free tools from SumoMe which has been proven to grow your website’s traffic.
The relevant tools from the SumoMe package here include the Share app, which adds social sharing buttons to your site, the Highlighter app which allows your readers to easily Tweet quotes from your posts, and the Image Sharer app which makes it easy to share images from your website.
To help encourage your readers to engage with you socially, you can also try using the DW Twitter plugin which displays the latest Tweets from a specific account or hashtag. Alternatively, you can use the free DW Promobar plugin to display a constant reminder to your readers to share your content as they are reading it.
Whatever you can do to make it as effortless as possible for your readers to share your content can only help increase your site’s exposure on the social networks.
Create Custom Social Share Messages
As well as adding social share buttons to your WordPress website, you can also go a step further and use a plugin that allows you to create custom or personalized social share messages for each post.
By adding content to your posts for each social network you are hoping to leverage, whenever that article is shared, it will include some additional information. This could be an image, a gallery of photos, product information, handles of related users, and hashtags.
One way to implement this would be to use the free Twitter Cards plugin which enables you to take advantage of this Twitter feature. This then allows you to embed photos and other content into any Tweets your posts generate.
A premium option that applies the same technique to the most popular social networks is the WordPress Social Sharing Optimization (WPSSO). This plugin allows you to upload images and add content to your post meta data that is used whenever that piece of content is shared by you or your readers.
The free Jetpack suite of plugins from WordPress.com also includes a module that allows you to write custom messages that are used when your content is shared on the various social networks.
By taking the time to create custom social share messages for each post you publish, as well as uploading images optimized for each network you are aiming to leverage, you can ensure that your shares stand out in the crowd for improved results.
Ask and Incentivise Your Readers to Share
Now that you are creating the right type of content for your niche and audience, and you’ve added the necessary features to your site in order to make it easy as possible for your readers to share that great content, it’s time to start thinking about how you can encourage your readers to promote your content more widely.
In almost all cases you should always end each post on your WordPress blog with an instruction or call to action. If your visitors have made it to the end of a post, then it’s fair to assume that they respect your opinion or message, or at least can relate to your viewpoint in some way.
However if a reader gets to the end of the post and there is no clear instruction or suggestion of what to do next, you should consider it a wasted opportunity.
Depending on the goal of your website, this instruction could take many forms, such as urging them to leave a comment, visit a related post, or check out your product page. But in terms of this article covering how to promote your website through social media, asking your readers to share the post with their friends or followers would be the best course of action.
Follow that request up with a row of nicely presented sharing buttons that includes the most popular social networks amongst your target audience, and you should start seeing an increase in social shares from your readers.
However, sometimes that isn’t enough. Maybe your target audience are reluctant social sharers, or the topic of your content, despite being high quality isn’t very shareable.
In these situations, or when you really want to grow your social shares exponentially, rewarding your readers for taking the desired action is another option worth investigating. This can be executed in the form of offering an incentive, such as entry into a raffle, or revealing previously hidden content, in exchange for a social share.
Again WordPress users are well served and there are a number of plugins you can install and services you can use to simplify this process. Rafflecopter is a third party service for managing giveaways, allowing you to launch a giveaway or sweepstake in just a few minutes.
When it comes to revealing your content in exchange for an action, such as a social share, Social Locker is a popular free and premium plugin that gives your readers a reason to get social with your content. After sharing your content, they can view the key piece of your article that was previously hidden, or gain access to a downloadable file from your website – just make sure that what you are revealing is of real value to your readers to avoid disappointing them.
Reach Out To Your Audience
While you can create great content, make it easy to physically share, and then sit back and wait for results, more proactive bloggers will get better results.
By compiling a list of fellow bloggers in your niche, or identifying some key influencers in your field of interest, you can have a go at reaching out to them to alert them of your latest posts.
Blindly including popular Twitter usernames in your Tweets isn’t the way to do this though and this approach does require some finesse and forward planning to make it work for you, while avoiding incurring the wrath of those you are trying to connect with.
A good approach is to start off by sharing content published by those figures you’d like to add to your network. For extra points, don’t just retweet their work or posts, but add your own thoughts to the Tweet with the aim of standing out from the crowd and sparking some discourse.
Next, take some time to find and share content that you think the influencers in your niche might find useful, and tag them into it to bring in to their attention.
After you’ve put in some effort giving out – by sharing their work and bringing new content to their attention – take a little by promoting your own content in their direction, perhaps asking for their opinion rather than an outright request for a re-share.
Also, if you mention any products, services, resources, or bloggers in your posts, try adding the corresponding Twitter usernames to any Tweets you send out promoting those posts. Hopefully those entities featured in your post will be happy to share your content for a little extra exposure.
Giving more than you take works well in most aspects of life and social media promotion seems to be no exception.
Hopefully you’ve picked up some actionable tips to help your content get shared more regularly and widely on social media.
Just in the same way that you can follow the tried and tested rules for writing great content, you can also take the same approach to making your content more socially shareable by your readers. By following the guidelines and adding your own personal touches to your content and social media efforts, you should start to see better results from your endeavours.
If you take the time to add social sharing buttons, create personalized content for each network, and invest in building relationships with your readers, peers, and the thought leaders in your field, you will have a greater chance of making social media work for you.
If you have any questions about this post, or working with WordPress and social media in general, please leave a comment below – oh, and don’t forget to share this post with your network!