Your social media content is DOA if it doesn’t get shared.

Shares drive virality. Shares boost SEO. Shares signify engagement.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on Facebook, where shares recently supplanted “likes” as the metric of choice.

So, how do you create more shareable posts and campaigns? Here are three tips for tapping into social media’s hottest metric on its widest-reaching network:

1. Gear your content strategy toward mobile accessibility. More than 70 percent of Facebook traffic comes through mobile devices, which means you must optimize content for mobile in every possible way. Ideally, anything you're linking to should be easy to read or view on a mobile device.

“Make sure to size and crop photos to fit Facebook's mobile dimensions,” says Laura Nathan-Garner, program director of integrated media communications at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center. Images sized to 560 X 292 pixels are optimal for full display in the mobile news feed.

“Headlines and teasers should also be shortened when sharing link previews to ensure readers will get the full message,” she says. Copy within posts must be concise, she adds, and the first paragraph or teaser should entice readers to click through to longer-form text.

2. Boost only those posts getting early engagement. “When boosting posts, don't boost everything, and don’t boost before posts have gotten noticeable engagement,” says Nathan-Garner. “Audiences are more likely to engage if they see others have already ‘liked,’ commented on or shared a post.”

She warns that you may end up wasting money by prematurely boosting a post that doesn't resonate with people.

“No matter how good you think a post is, it's sometimes not what your audience wants,” says Nathan-Garner, “and sometimes the post you don’t expect to boost ends up being the one everyone loves.”

3. Ask whether your posts will pass the “share test.” When people see your post, will they instantly want to share it with their friends? “If you don't think people will share your post, it's probably not going to help you achieve your page’s goals,” says Nathan-Garner.

To know whether something’s worthy of sharing, consider whether it's:

  • colorful
  • interesting
  • surprising
  • inspiring
  • different
  • timely
“Another success factor is whether your post addresses your audience's problems, interests or desires,” Nathan-Garner says.

One of MD Anderson Cancer Center’s most successful posts gave advice about what to say to someone dealing with cancer.

“That speaks to a problem we all have at some point,” she says. “We want to say and do the right thing, but when someone we know receives a cancer diagnosis, we're suddenly at a loss for words or we say all the wrong things.”

Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Kami Huyse, CEO of Zoetica Media; Laura Nathan-Garner, program director of integrated media communications at the MD Anderson Cancer Center; and Leah Cast, PR manager at the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau will share more Facebook marketing secrets in the Sept. 3 PR University webinar, “ Your Perfect Facebook Page.”


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