By Rebecca Watson published August 17, 2014

Optimize Your Online Content: Quick Tips You Haven’t Thought of Yet

hands joining wrists in circleBy the time you read this, you could have already been capturing and analyzing information on your most valuable consumers — those who share your content.

While brands and publishers spend a lot of time and effort creating and promoting content, less time is usually spent optimizing the sharing of that content for consumers. And that’s a lost opportunity.

Consumers demand multiple sharing options

One of the biggest oversights brands make is offering only Facebook and Twitter sharing options, assuming consumers only want to share content or products on the largest social sites. In reality, today’s audiences are continuing to shift to new social networks, fragmenting their social and web activity across multiple channels. By offering only major social sharing buttons, brands dramatically limit new user acquisition and page views. Our data — based on access to share and click-back data for hundreds of thousands of websites — indicate that websites giving users a minimum of five choices generate the largest volume of sharing.

Less mainstream share buttons such as email, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google+ (among others) are still effective in drawing in a larger audience. And using a third-party sharing widget that consolidates multiple sharing channels into one JavaScript tag is a smart choice to simultaneously limit downward drag on page load time and increase sharing of your content. Don’t leave valuable click-backs (i.e., free users!) on the table.

Let your users promote the value of your content

Another content optimization technique is including counters to show share volumes. You can display one universal counter that tallies all of your shares across channels, or show individual counters beside each sharing channel. Websites with counters see an average boost of 8 to 20 percent in sharing volume within one month, according to our data. Visual indicators of sharing volume add credibility and affirm the popularity of the content. Digital consumers, like it or not, follow the herd, paying more attention to content with higher shares.

Don’t overlook the number one way people share

Facebook and Twitter get a lot of buzz, but in reality, 80 to 82 percent of all shares on the web occur from users copying and pasting text. This activity is often referred to as “dark social” since marketers and publishers don’t have an easy way to track it unless they use a third-party tool like Advanced sharing platforms can track not only how many users are sharing text from certain articles or product pages, but also which keywords they are sharing. This keyword information can help inform your SEO and SEM efforts in addition to offering unique consumer insights.

Another strategy to gain access to dark social activity is to include a link-back to the page where the text originated, driving users back to your website. This way, when the content is shared by the copy-and-paste method, friends who see the shared text know that it came from your owned or earned media.

For example, on our own blog we put thoughtful consideration into the share functionality around our copy-and-paste tracking. When a user highlights then copies and pastes any portion of text on our articles, a customized “read more” attribution link and text is added underneath:

read more-sharing example

Leverage social analytics and virality to boost results

While all marketers want their content to be shared and even go viral, we find there’s often an over-emphasis on outbound performance versus the inbound acquisition results.

Let’s take a look at an example: Say a content marketer looks at the analytics dashboard and sees that Video A drove 2,000 Facebook “likes,” while Video B had 800 Facebook shares, 500 tweets, and 200 Tumblr shares. The content marketer may consider Video A a bigger win because it earned more “likes” than the combined number of shares for Video B. However, looking back at the click-back volume, Video A only drove 150 new viewers to the video, whereas Video B drove 400 new viewers. So Video B actually performed better overall — even though the team was initially more excited about 2,000 “likes.” (And creating and promoting more pieces of content similar to Video B will likely drive more new traffic for the brand.)

Virality is an important indicator of successful user acquisition, reflected by the number of click-backs derived per shared piece of content. When we dug into data from the past year, we found several interesting insights about virality trends:

  • Technology, news, humor, and entertainment content has higher virality.
  • Travel, business, and food content has lower virality.
  • Facebook and StumbleUpon have a short time lapse between the share and click-back.
  • Tumblr, Google+, and blogging platforms have a longer time lapse between the share and click-back.
  • Reddit, Twitter, and Tumblr provide the most click-backs per one share.

The bottom line: Simple tweaks, all of which are free, to your owned media pages can drive an immediate boost in content viewership and user acquisition. By executing the approaches mentioned above, you’ll be on your way to increasing your content marketing’s ROI.

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Chief Content Officer. Sign up to receive your free subscription to our bi-monthly magazine. 

Cover image by acky24 via

Author: Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson has over 12 years of experience building digital media startups from the ground up with an expertise in monetizing online content. As Vice President of Business Development at RadiumOne, she leads strategic partnerships and is responsible for two of the fastest-growing social media products on the market: the URL shortener for brand advertisers and the sharing tool for publishers.

Other posts by Rebecca Watson

  • Krithika Rangarajan


    Thanks for these often-overlooked recommendations.

    BTW, when I Share this article on Pinterest (by clicking on the Pin button at the bottom of the post), I notice that the title of your Image is NOT the title of your blog post – it simply says, “hands joining wrists in circle”.

    Would the use of your post’s title as the Image title be more effective to encourage people to Pin? Or doesn’t the Image Title matter? 🙂

    Thank you so much


    • Lynn Abate-Johnson

      Kit, that a factor of the Meta Description and other back-end details — and ironically, it’s another area brands often overlook when setting up posts properly, so that they translate well across all platforms. I work with my clients on this ALL the time. Perhaps the author CMI will fix it….
      Great post and I’m glad you shared it. I’ve now got it in my Bundle Post Feed so i can share again and again!

  • Juliana Fitzwater Julia

    Optimize Your Online Content: Quick Tips You Haven’t Thought of Yet

  • Marios Alexandrou

    I’ve tried, but didn’t see much activity. Have you used it and seen results? It’s a nice idea for sure, but I’m not sure it works as well as it sounds on paper.

    • Rebecca W Watson

      Hi Marios. Share volume typically depends on the type of content, the number of options displayed and the placement of the share buttons. On which site did you try and did you have the copy/paste functionality enables?

      Yes we have many success stories (both user acquisition and audience insights) we can send you!

      • Marios Alexandrou

        Firstly, I made a mistake. When you wrote about the copy and paste functionality, I immediately thought of Tynt and confused it with I gave Tynt a try a while back specifically for the copy and paste functionality, but saw little activity. Admittedly it was on a smallish site (25K visits a month), but I had assumed there was at least some copy and paste activity going on.

        I just wanted to know if you had seen it work so thank you for confirming. A lot of folks share ideas without actually having measured the impact of their own ideas 🙂

  • David Willden

    Great tips on tracking your content sharing. I find it interesting that copy and paste – theold school way – is still used at such a high percentage! I still often use it when building a resource for my own use.