When you want to raise awareness of your cause, amplify your advocacy activities and create change where it is needed most, social media is an important channel to share your message with the world.
But it’s not enough just to create content and push it out online. How you create, publish, and promote your content will directly impact the chances that people will see it and want to share it with others. In this article, you’ll learn 10 tried and tested ways to help you maximize your social shares and increase your social reach.
1. Create Something Worth Sharing
Let’s get straight to the point here. If you want people to share your content, you need to give them something worth sharing. The New York Times Customer Insight Group did a fascinating study a few years ago on the psychology of social sharing. It named five primary motivations for sharing:
- People want to better the lives of others
- People want the content to reflect their online identity
- People want to grow and nourish relationships
- People share because they like the feeling of having others comment on it and engage
- People want to spread the word about something that they believe in
Actionable Tip: Create content that your audience will want to share because they believe it will be of value or interest to others. Before you post something, stop and ask yourself would this pass the re-share test above?
2. Ask Your Followers What They Want To Learn About
One way to ensure you are creating content your followers want to read about and share is to simply ask them what kind of content they’d like more of. You can create quick polls on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and post a question such as “What content do you want to see more of?”
Actionable Tip: To take your audience research a step further you could survey your followers to get a deeper understanding of their preferences. Survey Monkey, Polldaddy and Google’s own survey forms are all simple tools to use.
3. Curate Relevant Content
Information is power and patients are becoming more empowered through increasing access to medical information online. However, one of the biggest challenges we face is trying to filter the vast repository of online content to find trustworthy content. Instead of more information what we really need is more accessible, understandable and credible information on which to base our healthcare decision-making.
One solution is to curate reliable, up-to-date medical information in a format that is easy for patients to access, digest, and understand. Content curation is the process of finding and aggregating information about a specific topic, synthesizing it to be most relevant to your audience, and sharing it in an easily digestible manner. Curation can deliver many benefits including, establishing thought leadership and credibility, increasing visibility and driving social shares.
Actionable Tip: Read this previous PEN article to learn how to become a more effective content curator for your healthcare community.
4. Use Relevant Hashtags
If you are using social media to find and share health information, chances are high you are already using hashtags. Hashtags, a way for users to easily find similar themed content, are used regularly by millions of social media users on Instagram and Twitter.
Actionable Tip: For more information on using hashtags strategically, read Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Hashtags in Healthcare…But Were Afraid To Ask!
5. Grow Your Online Followers
The more people who follow you on social media, the more you can amplify your content and increase your social shares. A great way to find like-minded followers is to search using disease-specific hashtags or join a Twitter chat related to your disease or condition, such as #gyncsm, #lcsm, #bcsm, etc
Actionable Tip: Read 12 Keys to Finding, Growing, and Nurturing Your Online Community for more tips on how to grow your online followers.
6. Add Images To All Your Posts
When it comes to creating content to support your message, the type of content you create matters. Humans are visual creatures — 90% of information transmitted to your brain is visual — and because of this people are drawn to visual elements that attract their attention. Images are shared more often than text only posts. Visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.
Actionable Tip: Add an image to all your online posts — even those that aren’t obviously visual. Read this guide to creating your own eye-catching visuals.
7. Create Infographics
Information graphics or infographics are stand-alone graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge. They are a form of visual content that is highly shareable; consistently “liked” and shared on social media three times more than any other type of content. In fact, the words “infographic” and “infographics” are searched an average of 547,000 times per month in Google.
Actionable Tip: People are irresistibly drawn to facts, figures, and statistics. When you combine these with compelling graphics you have a persuasive tool to help your content cut through the online noise. A tool like canva.com will make it easy for even the novice designer to create interesting infographics.
8. Write Better Headlines
One of the ways to make your content more shareable is to write better headlines. Think about how many headlines you read every day while searching online or browsing social media. What makes you actually click on an article or post to read it? Quite often it’s the headline. Your headline is the first (perhaps only) impression you make on a prospective reader so it’s worth taking time to create a good one.
Actionable Tip: Use numbers in your headlines. Several research studies have shown that headlines with numbers tend to generate significantly more social shares and engagement (interestingly, research shows that headlines that contain odd numbers have a higher click-through rate than headlines with even numbers). When adding numbers to your title, use the numeral, not the word, as we tend to scan headlines online and a numeral makes your title more scannable.
9. Repurpose Your Best Content
Identify your top performing content in terms of shares, comments, likes, etc. Now brainstorm some ways in which you can take this content and turn into something else. For example, create an infographic to highlight key statistics, turn a quote into a graphic, or develop a downloadable eGuide.
Actionable Tip: There are so many possibilities to get more out of high-performing content and increase your shares. Read How To Create Six Unique Social Shares From Just One Piece of Content for ideas on how to repurpose your content.
10. Analyze What’s Working For Your Peers
Look at the type of content your peers are creating. Identify which content is performing well for them in terms of social shares, comments, likes, etc. Think about how you can take a piece of content they have created and add your own insight and expertise to make it more even more valuable to your followers. I don’t mean you should copy their content verbatim, but use it as inspiration for your own content.
Actionable Tip: I use Buzzsumo.com to see which popular content is most shared right now on social media. These are the topics people want to read about so it’s worth brainstorming ideas around this content.
As you can see, with a little imagination and creativity there are many ways to increase engagement and reach with your existing content. Try some or all of these tips and do let me know how it goes for you.
A Stanford Medicine X e-Patient scholar, Marie Ennis O’Connor is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, writer, and consultant on global trends in patient engagement, digital health and participatory medicine. A board member of the Patient Empowerment Foundation, a network of people, foundations, organizations and medical institutions dedicated to empowering patients worldwide, Marie’s work is informed by her passion for embedding the patient voice at the heart of healthcare values. She writes about the experience of transitioning from breast cancer patient to advocate on her award-winning blog Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer.