We all know that sharing is the gold standard of social media.
Likes and comments are all well and good, but getting someone to share, to retweet, to repin, to regram – that is what exposes your content to a wider audience. Sharing is more powerful as it requires more engagement than passively, scrolling, reading or even clicking “like” on a post.
When a member of your online community shares your stuff with their network, this gets new eyeballs on your information and hopefully brings new people into the fold. Preaching to the choir all the time won’t get you anywhere.
That leaves us with the million dollar question: How do we get more members of our online communities to share our content?
Getting people to share isn’t a cake walk, but it is doable, and many nonprofits do it very well.
Here are 6 proven methods to get more social media shares.
1) Make it about your audience.
Do you mostly share information that talks about how great you are? While sharing testimonials and success stories featuring the people that you have helped works great on social media, constantly promoting your accomplishments and achievements is not.
Pro Tip: People want to see their beliefs conveyed in the content they spread on social networks. Make sure you know your audience and what they stand for. Your social media content should reflect the values of your online community and help them see themselves within it.
The Humane Society of the United States knows what is important to their online community and gives it to them – making it easy for them to share to their friends.
2) Make it eye-catching.
Think about how you consume media nowadays – with 10 Google Chrome tabs open, while texting and scrolling through Facebook on your phone, maybe with the TV on in the background. We are all distracted; this is not news. If your post doesn’t catch my eye while I am perusing the latest photos of my friend’s vacation or the latest tweets from my favorite celebrities, then you are out of luck.
Pro Tip: Post many different types of content (articles, photos, videos, text) to see what works best for your audience. Colorful photos of people always work best, because they catch the eye and resonate with most.
This beautiful photo from (RED) does just that.
3) Make it emotional.
Nonprofits have a distinct advantage when they use social media – they can make people angry, or sad, or happy. When was the last time your local insurance agent could make you feel extreme passion? (Nothing against insurance agents – they do important work!)
Think about the emotion you felt when you first watched Caine’s Arcade, Kony 2012 or any of the numerous advocacy videos that you have seen online. Take notes on what is currently being shared online and how it makes you feel.
Pro Tip: Your post should have some purpose, some reason to exist. It should spur people to action – it should make them so mad, or so moved, that they can’t help but press the share button and tell everyone they know.
Who would not be moved to share this post from UNICEF, especially with school starting so soon in the U.S.?
4) Make people look good.
People share content to prove something to their friends – it’s really as simple as that. Are they trying to be witty, funny, serious, academic, nerdy, hip, ironic?
Pro Tip: When posting a piece of content, ask yourself:
If I shared this with my personal social networks, how would it make me look in the eyes of my friends, co-workers and family members?
This is where inspiring quotes (ones that tie into your mission) work very well – see below for an example.
5) Make it funny, helpful or useful.
The types of content that people share on social media are predominantly funny, helpful and/or useful. That’s because of #3 – how people want to be perceived by their networks.
Photos of your latest Board retreat will not get shared by your Facebook fans (other than the ones that are Board members) for this reason.
Pro Tip: Sharing something humorous is pretty straightforward. Sharing info that is helpful or useful is where a lot of nonprofits get tripped up.
The American Red Cross always does a stellar job of sharing helpful information with it’s Facebook fans.
6) Make it timely.
The Facebook News Feed, Twitter stream and the like all move at lighting speed.
Posting about a timely event or an activity with an expiration will encourage more shares because people will want to do something in the moment to support it.
How do you encourage sharing on your social networks?