Social Media
7 things to look for in a sharing tool
July 08, 2014

Choosing the best way to share your content can make a huge difference for your business. Here are the features you should now expect from advanced tools.

Content creation and sharing fuel the internet. Having access and insight into exactly how and where your content is shared is a unique advantage. Embedded sharing tools offer a quick reminder and easy opportunity for your audience to share your content, thereby driving increased traffic for your business.

A sharing tool may seem like a generic, unassuming feature -- an afterthought for developers that doesn't involve strategic planning. In reality, this seemingly simple technology has developed several innovative advancements that help boost user engagement, optimize clickbacks, and track, monitor, and analyze influencers' behaviors.

The following is a list of features and functions you should now expect from advanced content sharing widgets.

Custom messaging

When your audience chooses to share your content it becomes a virtual company endorsement giving the content extended reach beyond its original location. Once users share your content they are directly validating, supporting, and engaging with your brand.

A huge missed opportunity by most websites is the moment after readers share your content, when they are open to receiving messaging from your brand. With the right sharing tool you can take advantage of this moment of undivided attention to reach them with a custom message. Message opportunities can include:

  • A call-to-action to follow your social channels or sign up for your newsletter.
  • A relevant ad that monetizes these premium readers and influencers.
  • Custom messages to drive users to another section of your website to increase the likelihood of additional content views/shares.

This is a prime moment where your audience is receptive to your messaging. Use it!

Track copy-and-paste sharing activity

Out of all the ways users can share digital content, 82 percent do so through copy-and-paste sharing. It makes sense: When reading content online, you often want to select a quick snippet of information from a site to share with friends or family. An advanced sharing tool can track this behavior, where the clickbacks are sourced (i.e. Facebook, email, publication, etc.), as well as the frequent keywords shared within the copy-pasted portion of text. Reviewing these behavioral analytics can help you optimize your editorial decisions and audience development efforts. For example, if readers are sharing more content on current events versus advice, it's likely you'll want to cover more content on current events to fuel that demand.

Automatic link back to your site

You should always be capturing and attributing even the smallest portions of your content that goes viral. If a user copy-and-pastes content directly into an email, instant message, or social network, make sure a linkback is included that displays a "Read more at 'http://www.yourwebsite.com'" at the end of the sourced quote to lead them back to your site. This simple, but typically overlooked, feature is a free way to acquire users and build your brand recognition.

Keyword analysis reports

Your sharing tool tracks a ton of actionable insights and information that Google Analytics or Omniture does not include. Advanced sharing tools can capture specific keywords and phrases that are most often shared by users on a particular site. For example, by utilizing these insights, one national news site discovered that while crime-related stories tended to be shared via the entire article, crime-related content was more likely to be shared via snippets of text including neighborhood location and suspects' names. Your company can leverage this type of data when developing your content strategy and SEO and SEM efforts.

Audience insight reports

Standard widgets give you click and source data for your site's sharing activity. Advanced tools provide insights into the type of users who share your content and compare it to the types of users (their friends) who click back on the shared links. Audience insights can include average education level, household incomes, demographics, and hobbies/interests of your influencers and newly acquired users.

Mobile optimization

The number of mobile connected consumers is skyrocketing with increased mobile usage worldwide. Between 2013 and 2017, mobile phone penetration will rise from 61.1 percent to 69.4 percent of the global population, according to eMarketer. To enable quality social engagement, your content needs to be optimized for mobile devices to offer a seamless sharing experience across platforms. Advanced sharing tools will automatically adjust to each phone's display across different models, switching icons to a higher resolution on Retina screens.

Fully customized design

Web design is an extremely personal element to each company. Your visual web presence makes a statement about the personality of your brand, while also providing a service or information utility for your users. With this in mind, sharing buttons should be fully customizable to your existing design, including their size, style, and placement. Based on best practices, you want your sharing buttons to be streamlined to your general aesthetics, but you don't want them to lack the identifying characteristics and symbols (blue for Facebook and Twitter, red for Google plus) that users have become accustomed to easily finding on a page.

The best sharing platforms bring your content full-circle. By taking advantage of innovative sharing functionality, companies and publishers developing unique content can simultaneously gain increased virality by adjusting content type based on valuable data about users.

Rebecca Watson is director of business development at RadiumOne.

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