According to a study by ShareThis, the social sharing widget that you see on many websites, Facebook accounts for 38% of sharing traffic on the web. And that’s just the percent of people who click through. If you add links shared but not clicked, the number goes up to a whopping 56%. Which means that if we (the collective “we” since there are over 700 million of us now on Facebook) want to share a link with the world, we do it through Facebook.
This totally makes sense to me. When I find something new, cool, interesting, amazing or whatever, I immediately post it to Facebook and Twitter (increasingly, Google + as well, but more on that in a future blog post). And I rely on my network of friends, co-workers, clients and business colleagues to find out about other new, cool, interesting and amazing things.
So I got to thinking. If social sharing is an important means by which we (again, the collective “we”) learn about new sites, we can’t and shouldn’t leave this sharing to chance. Sure, most websites now have a ShareThis widget, but is this enough? I say no. I think every organization needs a social sharing strategy that includes the following:
- What you want people to share. Do you want visitors to share your home page? Individual articles? Donation pages?
- How you want people to share. Do you want visitors to send an e-mail, post to their social networks, save to their social bookmarking pages, all of the above?
- Regular review of analytics to find out what and how people are sharing links on your site. Be sure to review your usage reports, ShareThis account and other reports to find out what’s popular, how people are sharing, and learn why certaini articles or posts generate activity.
- Design and CSS guidelines that make your site shareable. For example, if you share a link on Facebook, Facebook automatically indexes the images and allows you to cycle through the images and select one to include with the link. If your organization logo is set up as a background image in your CSS or the logo is not whole, your logo can’t be included in the link.
- Calls to action to encourage sharing. While many of us will share our favorite links on our own, other won’t unless prompted, so I think it’s important to have calls to action to encourage sharing. It’s also a good idea to test calls to action on a regular basis to find out which calls to action work best.
The design and front-end team at Matrix Group has developed a set of guidelines for setting up web pages so that titles are complete and the proper images are included in links. Be sure to test the shareability of your site on a regular basis and address issues with your web design or maintenance team.
How about you? What’s your platform of choice for sharing links?