Social media has become one of the most effective ways to reach your audience, which includes both existing and potential customers. As more and more people spend time on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others, it becomes ever more crucial to establish a strong presence on these sites.

What really counts with your social media strategy is engagement. This refers, not to the number of followers you have, but the number of people who actually engage with your posts. When people share your content, they are working on your behalf to reach a wider audience. Let’s look at seven of the best ways to encourage more social media shares.

1. Make Sure You’re Offering Value

People only share items that are perceived as valuable. This can mean several things. If you’re addressing a certain problem, this offers value to people who have this problem, whether it’s how to fix a computer glitch, lose weight or save more money. Content can also be valuable in other ways, though. Viral memes and videos, for example, are often simply funny or entertaining.

The key is to not be overly promotional. It’s better to provide content that’s helpful or entertaining in itself, even if there’s nothing to buy. At the same time, of course, you want to make sure that readers or viewers are led back to your website or sales page after consuming the content. For this reason, it’s best to share items that have some relevance to your industry.

2. Create Timely Content

In such a fast-paced world, it’s important to be up to date with your information. Search for trends, products and news that’s current. This allows you to deliver content that’s relevant to your audience. You can simply share news stories, videos and images that are topical. It’s a good idea, however, to always brand everything you share. For example, rather than simply sharing a news story, write a commentary about it as well. Or make a video where you discuss a timely issue or perhaps review a new product. This helps you establish yourself as a commentator or opinion leader in your field.

3. Conduct Analytics For Better Results

While it’s always good to do research and seek the best social media strategies, you also have to get familiar with your own unique audience. The only way you can do this is to conduct analytics on all of your campaigns. You can use Google Analytics as well as free platforms offered by social media sites. Facebook, for example, has Facebook Insights, which gives you lots of data about who is engaging with you. Twitter Analytics does the same thing for Twitter. There are also more sophisticated tools and services for analytics.

When you collect data, you can use what you’ve learned to plan more effective campaigns. For example, you might find that your audience prefers shorter or longer content. They might prefer articles or videos. They might be more inclined to share posts on certain topics. The more testing and tracking you do, the more you’re able to tailor your efforts towards your particular followers.

4. Make and Share Videos

Videos are one of the most popular types of content right now. You can make videos using a webcam or with various software or platforms. Once you create a video, you can upload it to YouTube, other video sharing sites, your own website and social media platforms. This is a great way to build your reputation as an authority and get people to share your content. Just as with written content, be sure to optimize your videos using popular topics and keywords in the titles and descriptions.

5. Connect With Influencers

Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to get more social media shares. The first step is to identify key influencers in your industry. It’s often best to start with people who have a large following but who aren’t world famous. For example, if you’re in the tech field you have a good chance of connecting with bloggers, authors and YouTube personalities who have, say, 100,000 followers. You’ll have a harder time connecting with Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.

Your first goal is to develop a relationship with influencers. Share their posts and reference them in your own social media posts. Link to their work in your blog posts. Review their books. To take it a step further, offer to interview them, either via email or on a video or podcast. If you can get someone with a large following to share your content, then you have a good chance of going viral.

6. Create Tweetable Quotes

Twitter is one of the best social media sites for getting shares. Retweeting only takes a moment. However, it’s necessary to create tweets that are interesting and memorable. Quotes are very useful in this regard. Catchy and timely quotes are more likely to be shared than tweets that only contain dry text or links. These can be your own quotes or “tweetable” quotes from celebrities, famous people in history or in the news. Adding an image to accompany the quote makes it even more shareable. One of the best tools for getting more people to share your tweets is Click To Tweet, which is available both as a web app and a WordPress plugin.

7. Participate in Communities

When you’re part of a community, it’s more likely that people will share your content. This means, of course, that you have to reciprocate and share other people’s items as well. One approach is to join existing groups on the social platforms on which you’re most active. Facebook and LinkedIn have many groups. Other possibilities include Twitter chats and Google Plus. Look for large and active groups where you can contribute and make new contacts.

If you want to be a little more ambitious, work at starting your own community. You can do this on social media or from your own website. You might, for example, start a discussion forum or create a membership site. When you have your own community, it’s only natural that members will share your content. This, in turn, helps your community grow more quickly.

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