In the tough online game of acquiring more visitors, keeping them on the page, and having them spread the word to their friends (i.e. through social sharing), publishers today––that is, site owners, designers, and content producers––need to look beyond pageviews, and create stories that people want to read and feel a desire to share with their friends. If you’re a publisher, you can sympathize with this.
Bringing traffic to a site isn’t enough; engagement is the key to your content marketing. Deploying an optimal social sharing solution while analyzing the data from it (like what Smart Layers does) can provide insights into what that content should be. Here’s how to do that.
Ask the Right Questions
A publisher’s success is predicated by how well they understand all aspects of how their content is engaged with. They need to understand what social platform their content is being shared to the most. What is driving the most traffic to the site? Is it Facebook, Reddit, Email, or maybe Instant Messaging? When does a certain kind of content spike? Are readers sharing more on mobile? What content is generating fan or follower adoption? And are they fans of our site or just the author?
Answers to these types of questions help you reap more benefits from social on the site. With AddThis’ social and engagement tools platform, a publisher of any size––whether a large site with multiple writers and a continual stream of new content or a small independent blog updated weekly––has access to a free dashboard that’ll answer questions about social behavior beyond just pageviews.
Use Tools that Maximize Content Sharing
To optimize for social means displaying the right social sharing and engagement tools on your site to maximize a visitor’s sharing potential.
Facebook and Twitter are seen by most publishers as the de facto social sharing buttons––the only components required for social “compliance.” What often gets missed by the publisher is the opportunity to drive more incremental sharing and engagement by surfacing services that are more personalized for the visitor. Presenting the right social service to the visitor on a site has shown to increase the probability of a share happening. For example, if a visitor tends to engage with StumbleUpon more than Facebook and Twitter, data shows they’re more likely to share if StumbleUpon was one of the first options presented (versus showing Facebook or Twitter first).
But putting the right social buttons on your page isn’t enough. There’s an enormous amount of social sharing that happens outside of clicking on social buttons. Social sharing includes the simple act of copy/pasting a page’s URL into an email or in an Instant Message. Not only is it an effortless way of sharing content (one that most people don’t think about), the visitor is typically selecting an entrusted group that they feel would be interested in the content they’re sharing. They’re doing this rather than broadcasting the content to the masses (a.k.a. via their social network).
From a Publisher’s point of view, knowing which medium is being used to engage with the content will shed light on how best to push (or not push) content into those mediums.
Make Sense of Your Data
Once your site is optimized for social, the next challenge is to dissect the social data. You’ll needs to look at different variables, including the content you’re producing, and the engagement services you’re providing (i.e. share buttons, etc.). If you have AddThis on your site, you’re able see how visitors engage with your page, including how much and when a certain piece of content is shared, and how much that sharing has yielded new traffic.
You can also dissect the data around services to see how many shares and clicks have occurred on social platforms vs. email vs. URL copy/paste. Measure how many decided to fan/follow your social pages, or your content’s level of virality. You can also compare the historical data with what’s happening on your site in (near) real time––a feature useful for sites that publish a large amount of content frequently.
And if you’re a Google Analytics user, you can integrate your AddThis analytics into your GA reports.
Gather a Holistic View of Your Site
Deploying the right social tools and dissecting the right social data will help you, as the publisher, answer critical questions so you can improve your content’s performance.
Many publishers use native API integration to their choice of social platforms, and some use third party social platforms like AddThis to help them consolidate and manage their social deployment. The latter option alleviates the headache in managing disparate social APIs, disparate social analytic streams, and can provide custom social deployment options across various mediums (site, mobile, video) and devices (mobile, tablet, desktop). This is a philosophy that AddThis has continually embraced in its social and engagement product.
Has this post helped you think about your site’s performance in a different way? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment box below!