describe the imageJust create great content. That’s the clearest most useful advice anyone can give you about content marketing. The better your content the more effective it will be. The thing is, not only is that a lot easier said than done, it’s only half the battle. For your content to really work for you, it needs to be seen. The best way to get it seen is to make effective social media shares. Which is something many content marketers forget.

So, how do you share effectively?

Add Color

When you post something to twitter or LinkedIn, you’re only doing it to get the content out there. You know that, your followers know that, but that doesn’t mean you should just copy the link and walk away. You need to encourage people to follow the link. Tell a joke, make a statement or just leave your followers hanging. Most people’s timelines or full of content, you need to make your social media shares stand out.

Think About Value

Adding color may not even be enough. You need to give people a reason to follow the link. For a post like this list, you point out that it will help people with social media shares. Let them know why they need to see the content. That should already be in your headline, but if you just share it under the headline it looks somewhere between lazy and boring.

Focus on Retweets

When you are adding a short line to promote your content, you need to make sure you don’t take up too many characters. People love to add their own spin or comment to their shares, your post should encourage that by leaving around 40 characters for retweeters. After all the reason you’re sharing is to encourage further social media shares.

Don’t Double up on Keywords

A common mistake people make on Twitter is including hastagged versions of words they’ve already written in the tweet. The main functionality of a hashtag is to make it easy to search for particular content. That search will still find your tweet if the word are there with or without a hashtag. Doubling up on hashtags is literally wasting space.

Prioritize Hashtags

Speaking of hashtags, you need to be careful about how you use them. They create great opportunities for throwing in a gag or summing up a post, but they can be overused. Especially if they’re used in place of a valuable keyword focused hashtag. We can never forget that the point of social media shares is to drive traffic and sales. Not to make a quick gag.

Make Shares Unique

This post is about social media shares and not Google+ shares or Twitter shares alone because every brand operates a social media strategy that includes each channel. Very few companies can afford to use just one network. But a broad strategy shouldn’t discourage you from creating unique shares on each individual network. Every social network has its own niches and its own core users; basically it’s own personality. Your shares should take that into account and each share should be made to fit the network’s core user.

Don’t Just Share, Engage

You should also be careful not to get too bogged down in social media shares. Social media is meant to be social, so you should talk to your followers and fans rather than just broadcasting too them. Ask questions, give opinions and engage as well as share. It will build your credibility and make you more attractive to potential followers.

Don’t Be Greedy

It’s also a good idea to share content that you didn’t create yourself. You don’t know everything, none of us do, and sharing insight from others can only add to your image as an expert. It can also lead to valuable connections for you and your business.

Track Trends

The most successful social media shares are the ones that fit into conversations that are already occurring online. You should track trending topics across your social channels and share content that fits with those trends. This is a great way to broaden your reach and can also help to give old content a new lease of life.

Don’t be Afraid to Experiment

As with all advice on content marketing and social media, the advice of others will only get you so far. Your followers and fans are unique to your brand. Don’t be afraid to experiment, try sharing content in a few different ways and see what works for you. No two social media shares will ever be exactly the same, so the more you experiment the more chance you learn.

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