Social Sharing: Why the Number of Shares Means Nothing (and Everything) - ManageWP

Social Sharing: Why the Number of Shares Means Nothing (and Everything)

Social Sharing: Why the Number of Shares Means Nothing (and Everything)

Any blogger worth his (or her) salt understands the value of social media.

As the likes of Facebook and Twitter becoming more ingrained in our very culture, the value of exposure via those networks becomes ever greater. And that is why social sharing is such a big priority for bloggers — high sharing numbers are sought after by the majority of bloggers. Because more shares means more traffic, right? Well, yes and no.

In reality, I think that a lot of bloggers have their perception of the value of social sharing all wrong, and in this post I want to explain why, and how we can better utilize social sharing to boost traffic.

Quality, Not Quantity

Our plugins of the month series usually attracts a decent number of shares, as October’s post demonstrates:

Plugins of the Month

Lots of shares — can’t be a bad thing, right? True, but not all shares are created alike. Here are the top three tweets (with associated retweets) sorted by number of impressions (i.e. how many followers that tweeter has), courtesy of Twitter Reach:

Top Tweets

As you can see, the first account attracted far more impressions than the second, and the second far more than the third. In fact, the number of impressions drops off rapidly:

Tweets

According to Twitter Reach, the post was shared by a total of 28 contributors, and the top contributor accounted for nearly 57% of total impressions. To put it another way, just one person accounted for more than half of the social “juice” generated by shares.

Now Twitter Reach isn’t a perfect system, but it is good enough to demonstrate that a high number of shares shouldn’t be your primary concern — the individual influence of sharers is far more relevant. One brings the other — if you get influential people to share your content (and therefore get far greater exposure), the number of shares will rise exponentially.

How to Get Influential People to Share Your Content

At the end of the day, social media is all about relationships. If you want increase the exposure of your posts through social media you are going to have to do some networking.

And by networking, I mean that you need to put in some hard yards — you need to help your fellow bloggers indiscriminately. Because if you simply become known as someone who is willing to help out, you will get noticed. I can say this from personal experience, having shared the posts of many startup bloggers simply because they took time to connect with me.

Tweet
Most days I’m sharing new content with my followers on Twitter.

Far too many startup bloggers make the mistake of going for the kill — they contact a-list bloggers and ask for help. The problem is that whilst many a-list bloggers may be the helpful type, they receive a number of emails of a similar nature every single day. They simply cannot devote time to everyone who wants a piece of them. If on the other hand you simply reach out and make yourself known, share their posts, mention them in your own posts (and let them know that you have done so), you become known to them for all the right reasons.

After a time, you might ask them for help with sharing a certain piece of content (or perhaps even linking to it on their blog). At this point you are not just another person in search of a quick share — you are somebody they know and like. They may be only too happy to help (presuming that your content is relevant and high quality).

The fact is that a lot of the bigger bloggers are actively looking for content to share, so at times you will be doing them a favor by reaching out. And don’t forget those who publish periodical “links mashups” (like we do) — the more posts like those you can get featured on, the better.

It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask

My general point is this — you shouldn’t take advantage of people’s generosity, but asking for a share every now and then shouldn’t be an issue. And although the idea of being shared by a Twitter power user (or equivalent) can seem highly unlikely, remember that these guys are constantly having to find new stuff to share. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. I personally know a bunch of high profile bloggers who are only too happy to share my posts (when they are relevant to their audiences). This willingness is borne out of organically-formed relationships.

Ultimately, the worst anyone can do is refuse your request. If they give a reason, great — you can learn from it (perhaps you were too eager). If they don’t give a reason then you’ve lost nothing by asking.

But as I have already said, I would not recommend that you contact people “cold”. Successful blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. Take the time to develop genuine relationships with other influential people in your niche, and reap the rewards in the long term.

Have you employed any specific strategies to attract shares from influential social media users? Let us know in the comments section!

Creative Commons image courtesy of webtreats

Tom Ewer

Tom Ewer is the founder of WordCandy.co. He has been a huge fan of WordPress since he first laid eyes on it, and has been writing educational and informative content for WordPress users since 2011. When he's not working, you're likely to find him outdoors somewhere – as far away from a screen as possible!

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