By Ann Gynn published March 13, 2019

Don’t Miss Out on These 7 Ways to Use Your Social-Share Data

They sit on the screen, often unobtrusively.

They appear as a single letter, or sometimes two. And almost always a bird and an envelope are included.

They go unnoticed unless the visitor feels moved to look for them.

And when that visitor is ready, the icons are ready to go into action with just a click.

Almost every site incorporates these opportunities to encourage visitors to distribute the content. (And some site visitors take it upon themselves to share the content without going through those icons, directly cutting and pasting links, adding a few words of intro (or not), in their social media posts.

But no matter how they begin, these social shares often get lost in the data shuffle. Are the numbers considered part of social media or website analytics? Without a proper home, the use of social-sharing data is rarely maximized.

To truly benefit from your social-sharing data, you need a strategic plan to incorporate those numbers into your analytics. Here are seven ideas on what to do with your social-sharing data.

To benefit from #social-sharing data, you need a plan to incorporate those numbers into your analytics. @AnnGynn Click To Tweet

1. Understand the impact of social shares on website traffic

Explore how social shares affect referral traffic to your website. You can learn which shared content prompts people to visit your site. And then understand those visitors’ behavior on your site — how long do they spend on the landing page, where else do they go on your site, etc.

First, in Google Analytics, go to Analytics > Acquisition > Social > Landing Pages.

You’ll see a list of all the pages visited by people who clicked on a link shared on a social platform. You can dig deeper by clicking the landing page URL. Then you can see the referring social platforms broken down by:

  • Traffic
  • Number of sessions
  • Total page views
  • Average session duration
  • Pages visited per session

2. Improve paid promotion

You know organic reach in social media is declining exponentially. Paid promotion is almost a must to get your content in the feeds of your audience.

Paid promotion is almost a must to get your #content in the feeds of your audience, says @AnnGynn. #socialmedia Click To Tweet

Analyzing platform-specific social-sharing data is like having your own focus group. Identify what content your audience thinks is most relevant and appropriate for which platforms. Then use that information to make your paid promotion plans more effective.

With social-sharing data in hand, you can be more selective in choosing which content merits paid promotion. Instead of spending a little on everything, you can spend more on the content pieces most likely to drive your desired results.

3. Inform future content

In addition to helping identify where you should invest your promotion dollars, social-sharing data also helps you understand what type of content (e.g., topic, format, headline, length) will motivate your audience to actively promote it.

Using a spreadsheet, create columns from left to right and document:

  • Content title
  • Topic
  • Keywords
  • Format (e.g., blog, infographic, video), length (word count or minutes)
  • Inclusion of request to share (yes or no)
  • Number of social shares in first 30 days

Incorporate this spreadsheet into any content planning meeting. It could serve as a good starting point for discussion or it could validate (or invalidate) ideas derived in brainstorming sessions.

TIP: Don’t use a calendar month to assess social shares (or really, anything else). The results will be misleading. For example, if you create your April report on May 1, the content published on April 30 has only been public a few days, while the content published on April 1 has been available 31 days. Ensure that the evaluation period for each piece of content is the same.

4. Pick platform(s) where you can develop a community

Developing a digital community or neighborhood requires a lot of work. To do it well, you can’t build a community on every social platform available (at least not at the same time).

People who take the time to share have indicated an interest in your brand and/or its content. They also choose the channel most relevant to them and, more importantly, the channel most suitable for their friends/followers.

Pick the platform where your content is shared most frequently and create a community forum to expand your reach, cultivate brand fans or ambassadors, and develop more personal relationships with your target audience.

TIP: No matter the platform, engage with your sharers by liking or commenting when they share your content – people always like to be acknowledged and it’s a simple way to thank them. And perhaps it could lead to a conversation or a deeper engagement.

Like or comment when people share your #content. Everybody likes to be acknowledged, says @AnnGynn. Click To Tweet

5. Ask for links

If your content team has the time to go deeper to connect your social-sharing data with your backlinking data, it should. A recent study by Backlinko found “virtually no correlation between backlinks and social shares … This suggests that there’s little crossover between highly shareable content and content that people link to.”

There is virtually no correlation between backlinks & #social shares via @Backlinko #study. Click To Tweet

If your brand sees the same non-relationship, you can take steps to change that. Compare your social-sharer list with your list of bloggers or others whose content references your brand, products, services, thought leaders, etc. If you find some of the same people on both lists, reach out and ask if they would consider including a link to your relevant content or brand website.

6. Identify new influencers

In some cases you may find the same people repeatedly sharing your content. Look up their social media profiles to learn more about them – see if their followers/friends complement your target audience, or if they share any divisive or inappropriate content that wouldn’t reflect well on your brand.

Then incorporate those frequent sharers who seem like a good fit for your brand into your influencer marketing program. Connect with them online, invite them to special events, offer exclusive or behind-the-scenes opportunities, and thank them both online and in real life with some token of appreciation.

Incorporate people who frequently share your #content into your# influencermarketing, says @AnnGynn. Click To Tweet

TIP: Think of your authors as influencers, particularly if they aren’t part of your team. Some content creators do a great job of promoting their content. And if their promotion delivers what your brand needs, you may want them to create content more frequently.

7. Don’t forget in-content social promotion

Make sure to analyze your in-content sharing promotions such as clicks to tweet or links to other relevant content (e.g., the Handpicked Related Content feature in CMI blog articles).

Similar to Step 3, develop a spreadsheet to track your calls for social promotion (you could even add these columns to your original spreadsheet). Identify:

  • Format of social promotion (click to tweet, in-text link, etc.)
  • Text of social promotion (what the tweet says or what the text is that links to a highlighted article)
  • Placement in content (e.g., beginning, middle, end)
  • Length of promotion
  • Number of times social promotion is used by one person

Analyze what works and what doesn’t to improve your mix of in-content social promotion (or to get rid of it altogether).

Get under the content marketing umbrella

Don’t assess your social-sharing metrics in a vacuum. Social sharing should be an integral part of many of the elements in your content marketing – from your social media program to your content development to your influencer marketing.

You have the data, why not use it for the good of your overall content marketing program?

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Ann Gynn

Ann Gynn edits the CMI blog. She also serves as the Tech Tools editor for Chief Content Officer magazine. Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. Former college adjunct faculty, Ann also helps train professionals in content so they can do it themselves. Follow Ann on Twitter @anngynn or connect on LinkedIn.

Other posts by Ann Gynn

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