You spend hours creating linkable blog posts, valuable resources and juicy articles all so that your customers will find something to dig into and engage with. You know that producing great content is one powerful way of increasing your own authority. But you don’t want the interaction to just stop there. Oh no! You want your customers to share your great content with their own network because doing so gives your content legs and increases the brand exposure for your business. But what are you doing to make it easy for your customers to share your brand? Are you putting obstacles in their way or are you instead breaking down those walls and giving them the sharing tools they’re looking for? That’s the question.

Below are five ways to increase user spread of your content.

1. Use Twitter Buttons

Twitter continues to be one of the most popular ways for Web users to share and pass on content in their networks. Users like sharing content on Twitter because it’s fast paced, it allows them to play the role as discoverer, and they can use it to start their own conversations. However, you need to encourage them to share it. In order for the typical user to share your resource on Twitter, they need to find it, use a link shortening service to shorten the link, and then go back to Twitter to tweet it out to their network. That may be too many steps for them. To help encourage spread, embed a service like TweetMeme on your site to allow people to tweet your post directly from that page. You can add the TweetMeme Retweet functionality to your blog via their widget or WordPress plugin.  Once it’s there, it’s one click to increased brand and content exposure.

tweetmeme 5 Ways to Encourage People to Share Your Content

2. Add the Facebook Like Button

The Facebook Like button is another way you can encourage users to share your content and was created to replace the Facebook Share button (though some peopleprefer to use both). The way this works is that when a user clicks the Like button on your site, a story appears in the user’s friends’ News Feed with a link back to your Web site. This serves as a powerful testimonial for your piece and gives that person’s network a chance to read the post and possibly become a member of your community. To add the Facebook Like button to your Web site, simply use the Facebook Like button configurator or use the Facebook Like Button Widget Plugin.  We’re starting to see more and more users adopting the Facebook Like Button as Facebook continues its fight for local and social domination.

facebooklike 5 Ways to Encourage People to Share Your Content

3. Sharing Plugins

Social sharing plugins give site owners another effective way to encourage users to share their content. By adding the plugin to your Web site, it allows visitors to quickly and easily post your content to their favorite social media Web sites. The advantage to using one of these plugins is they capture a greater number of sites so that you can use one plugin instead of multiple site-specific ones. Many will also offer an option to e-mail a post for users who aren’t yet comfortable on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Some examples of basic sharing plugins include:

4. Make it easy to save your logo

This is a great piece of advice I’ve stolen from the super smart Andy Sernovitz and now live by. If you want people to share your content and your brand, then make it easy for them to lift your logo off your site. In fact, maybe even offer different sizes and shapes of logo. Why? Because your logo is your identity. When people talk about you, they’ll often want to use your logo to go along with their comments. You can either make it easy for them to properly represent your company or you can make it difficult and force them to represent your brand in some other, non-approved way.  I’d opt for the former.

5. Ask!

If you want to encourage people to share your content, not only should you make it easy for them to do so with appropriate widgets, but you should also remember to ask. One place where I think the “asking” technique is very underutilized is with e-mail newsletters. Are you asking people to forward your newsletter to their friends who may find it useful? If not, why not? Your e-mail newsletter goes out to people who have taken the time to opt in to what you’re doing. These people have told you they want a closer relationship with your company.  Use that to its fullest. Also, you may find customers are more inclined to forward an e-mail than to share something on Twitter because it’s just one extra click and a process they’re already very familiar with.  Don’t force them to learn new tools.

Note that none of this is to say that you should randomly litter your Website with different sharing plugins and applications. Instead, find out how people are sharing your content and then make it easy for them to do that. Empower them to do that.

If you’re not sure HOW people are sharing your content:

  • Check your analytics. What are the top referrers? If you’re seeing a large amount of traffic from sites like Twitter or Delicious, then you know those are popular in your community. Make sure you’re using those buttons on your site.
  • Use SEO for Firefox to see where your best content is already being shared and the kinds of stuff people like sharing. Any surprises?
  • Go to Quarkbase and put in your URL. Then, take a look at how people are sharing your content, what sites/types of sites are most popular and who’s doing the sharing. Put in a URL for one of your competitors and note the same thing to spot favored sites in your industry.

Those are some of my preferred ways to encourage users to share content that I’ve written.  What methods do you swear by?

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