What do you do when the majority of your audience utters one of these phrases — “I’m swamped… “I’m way behind”… “I’m overloaded”… “My email is out of control…” a half dozen times each day?
You have to work around it! Because there’s no stopping it. You receive five times as much information daily as you did in 1986. Every day the average person produces six newspapers worth of information compared with just two and a half pages 24 years ago – nearly a 200-fold increase. Yipes stripes! So, you see, people really, truly are overloaded.
What does this mean for the chances that your wonderful, painstakingly created content will “go viral?” That’s what your boss keeps asking you to get to happen, right? How will you get your nonprofit shared?
If your content isn’t getting shared, here’s what you do:
- You figure out a killer way to capture their attention in much less time.
- You don’t butcher your content; you make it super easy to read
- You slay your readers with how valuable your content is to them.
- You give readers a vital incentive to share your content.
- You figure out a way to make it drop-dead easy for readers to share your content.
Here are 10 Killer Ways to Get Your Content Shared:
1. Add quality visuals to your content to make it fly faster than a speeding bullet.
TIP: Embed photos, videos or infographics in your articles.
In a world where people have what seems like increasingly limited time (if you don’t catch them within the first 2 to 10 seconds (depending on who you read) of reading your content, you’re not likely to catch them at all). Eye-catching visuals – photos, infographics, and videos – can make a huge difference as to whether your content gets looked at and shared.
For photos, your best bet is usually to feature real people. Don’t have a big budget? I used to ask my employees to bring in their family photos, provided they gave permission for their use. They were usually much less “canned” than stock photos. Check out Heidi Cohen’s 3 Tips to Make Your Photographs More Memorable.
Publishers featuring infographics grow traffic 12% faster than those that don’t. According to Kissmetrics, infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than a text article. And a whopping 65% of people are visual learners.
This holds true, by the way, for your in-person presentations. A study by the Wharton School of Business found that 67% of an audience is persuaded by a presentation that includes visuals, compared with just 50% when no visuals are included.
Sadly, when people just read words, they remember 20%. When they just listen, they remember only 10%. But people remember 80% of what they see and hear!
If that isn’t compelling evidence in favor of taking the time to add relevant visuals to your content, I don’t know what is!
Want some tools and tips to help you create and distribute your super, visually-enhanced content? Check these out:
- Canva.[FREE Version] Super useful for creating visual content, and fun to use. You can feel like a professional creating slides, blog graphics, Twitter headers, and infographics, etc.
- Tips to Take Super Social Media Photos. These come from Daniel Lemin, a professional photographer and senior business consultant with Convince and Convert. My favorite: Unusual angles. The rest in a nutshell: Lighting; background, and off-center framing.
- Buffer. [FREE Version] You can use Buffer to schedule and post your blog content to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and especially Twitter. With the latter, it’s not enough to share your posts just once or twice. That’s why Buffer enables you to schedule tweets to post throughout the day. Buffer also has analytics, so you can keep track of which posts were clicked on, favorited, retweeted, etc.
- BizSugar. [FREE] This is a tip gleaned from Joe Waters of Selfish Giving. He’s the king of cause marketing and makes the point that, while not every post should be shared here, it makes super sense to share content that’s about a partnership with business.
Why spend countless hours slaving over and perfecting your prose when so few of your readers are going to enjoy it? It’s a bad investment of your time and money. Instead, allocate a large chunk of your creative time and budget to producing visuals to accompany your written content.
Not even kryptonite will deter your readers from sharing content containing awesome visuals. Llamas on the loose, anyone?
MAKE IT EASY ON THE EYES
Use language, style and formatting that breaks up content and makes it easy to digest.
TIP: Use headlines, subheads, boldface, italics and underlines. People don’t read; they scan.
TIP: Begin with an outline to avoid overly wordy content.
The last thing you want is an article that looks like you dumped every word in the dictionary into it in one big pile of text. You need structure, so people know where to direct their gaze. Our brains prefer scannable content – short sentences; headlines; subheads; bullets; underlining; bold face; white space – to large blocks of text. Too much of the same thing – even if it’s a good thing – is too much. I like to pretend my article is several articles within an article. If folks scan the headlines, they get the gist. If they scan the subheads, they get the gist. If they scan just what’s bold faced, they get the gist. And so forth. And break up your text into bite-size chunks. One-word sentences are perfectly swell.
And when it comes to language, write at between a 6th and 8th grade level. Forget what you learned in English composition class. Folks have not come to you for a graduate school seminar or a grant proposal. You can test the readability of your web page here.
Be useful, interesting and engaging
TIP: Ask your receptionist what peoples’ most frequently asked questions are. Write content to answer those questions.
No doubt you’ve heard that whenever one person has a question, many others have the same one. So… if you give people answers they know their friends want as well, they’ll share them. Why? People love to be seen as knowledgeable and “in the know.” If you make them an expert, they’ll share to make themselves look good. Oh, and also to be helpful to their friends. People like to do that too! Here’s an example of a number of valuable pieces of content, all found on the website of the Heart and Stroke Foundation:
Use your content marketing to build trust
TIP: Create list posts of “How to” and “To-do”.
People dislike brands and companies that they don’t trust. If you are running a conservation nonprofit, make sure the content you post on your website or blog provides visitors with something like “5 Easy Ways to Conserve Water.” If you’re a human services nonprofit, help folks out with “10 tips on how to baby-proof your home” or “How to assure your aging parent gets adequate nutrition.” If they have a son, daughter, mother of father who can use some of this advice, your article will probably get shared. Here’s an example of a list shared via Twitter by the Monterey Bay Aquarium:Use every opportunity you have to develop trust and rapport with your visitors, and you will be repaid in numerous ways. This is also a great way to establish yourself as an expert and leader in your field.
Humanize your content by making it engaging or fun
TIP: Use humor, storytelling and language that gives you personality.
Humor shows off your authenticity. It connects to positive emotions. It makes people relax. It causes folks to trust you. “If you want to tell people the truth. Make them laugh. Otherwise they’ll kill you” — Oscar Wilde. Humor can be a gentle way to serve up your truth. See 9 Nonprofits That Get Web Humor for examples.
Stories connect emotionally. People relate naturally to stories; they’re the oldest form of human communication. Folks relate best to stories of failure and redemption. Your clients, perhaps? When people relate to your content, it’s because it connects to their emotions. Emotions connect to hearts. Hearts make people act. Hearts make people share. Heads makes people think. Then nothing happens. Obviously, that’s not what you want. Eschew the term papers, spreadsheets and pie charts. Go, instead, for the heart-wrenching emotional stories.
Don’t ignore popular culture and current events
TIP: Use what’s trending on popular culture and current events to prop up your content.
Did you notice how many bloggers piggybacked on the Ice Bucket Challenge to create their own, related post? I certainly did! Why? Because it was a trending topic online and all over social media. This is also called “newsjacking” and it’s a super effective tactic for breaking through the clutter. Use Google Trends to see what’s getting a lot of attention. Always consider what’s going on in the news that may relate to your mission. After all, most nonprofits are addressing unmet needs that pop up all the time in the news. Homelessness. Abuse. Drugs. Violence. Pollution. Injustice. Illiteracy. Hunger. If you can find a way to connect a news story to your content, do it!
Offer a compelling reason to share your content
TIP: Include a “hard to refuse” offer in your call to action.
Sometimes folks just need a gentle push to share your content. When I worked at a food bank we got sponsors to agree to do things like “provide a carton of eggs” for every retweet. Here are some examples of tweets with incentives to share:
Instill a sense of urgency to share.
TIP: Create a sense of scarcity
Borrow from the for-profit world and consider offers like “The first 5 people to share this post get a free tee shirt.” Or “For everyone who retweets this post today, XYZ company will purchase a meal for a hungry family.”
MAKE SHARING EASY
9. Include easy-to-find share buttons everywhere you can.
TIP: Include share buttons on your website home page, other pages where you have shareable content and blog post pages.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely come across content I’d like to share, only to discover there was no easy means to do so. How frustrating is that? It annoys your supporters (possibly causing you to lose out on future donations) and you blow your opportunity to get shared.
Give your readers tools that promote super easy content sharing. If people can share easily, they will do it more often. It’s best to concentrate on just a few key share buttons; the ones you know most of your constituents will use. There are two places for social media buttons on your website pages. One is for the buttons people use to find your social media profile (usually placed on a sidebar or at top/bottom of your web page). The other is for the buttons people use to share your current content (usually placed at the top and/or bottom of an article or post)
A recent article by John Haydon outlines how to make sure your social media buttons are found on a Google search. If you follow the instructions for adding code to your nonprofit’s website, your social media profiles (currently only for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Myspace) will appear in your Google Profile, like in the example below.
Don’t forget email. That’s still the number one way many people share.
TIP: Include a clickable link on your e-newsletter or blog post that allows people to easily forward your content via email.
While there are more and more folks using social media, almost all of them also use email. Email has three times as many user accounts as Twitter and Facebook combined. And many people consider email more personal than sharing via social networks. Plus, when it comes to sharing, you want the recipients to open what’s been shared. Folks are again three times more likely to do so if they receive something via email.
Getting your nonprofit content shared on social media is challenging, but if you put in place an intentional program that implements at least some of the tips shared in this article, you’ll be ahead of the game. If you have other sharing tips, let us know!