Hey Look! We got a Like! Oh and someone Retweeted us! Surely our audience thinks “We Rock!”.
But do they? How do you really know if you’re considered valuable to your customers and your audience.There’s a big difference between a Like and a Share.
Understand The Different Types of Sharing
When it comes down to the basics of understanding the value of your content, you have to first understand the types of sharing out there. At the center there are two kinds of sharing: organic sharing and paid sharing. While all content you produced technically can be considered paid content (you are using your own resources to produce it, house it, and distribute it), not all sharing is paid. This is why it’s not only important to understand the difference, but put strategies in place to benchmark, measure and set goals for differently, too
Fundamentally it’s all perceived by your audience differently too. When you and your team are sharing your content, you believe that content is valuable now, or will be for the next few days, weeks or months. Your customers or audience might have the same need currently and consider the content valuable, but a majority of your audience likely will not have that “need” right now. When your team shares the content you’re producing, it’s a lot like “push” messaging. You are dictating the message, just like the TV and Radio ads of old did. Luckily (or perhaps some view it as unlucky) we have mechanisms that allow our clients, customers and audience members to react to the push messages.
Paid Sharing: Your Team’s Efforts
While this concept would include actually paying for promotion, placements and shares, stop and take a step out of the thoughts of “pay per click” or “boosted posts”. Think about how what your team is sharing and promoting, not just on your own fan page, but on their own networks is affecting the proliferation and reach of your content. As stated before, this does have a different effect on the perception of value. Understanding the power of your employee’s networks can be a vital key to success.
The Authority Effect
Take, for example think of the difference in reach an article on your blog written by anyone on your team but then it is shared by someone who’s perceived as an authority and has a significant network of colleagues, friends and even students versus a junior team member. The difference in value here can be tremendous. Think about it, if Avinash Kaushick (Google’s Analytics Evangelist) was part of your team and shared your article about analytics to his network, how much more reach,and proliferation will happen as opposed to the junior team member? It’s not to say the junior team member shouldn’t share, it’s to say you should understand the power and even weight the effort differently if you truly want to understand the value of your content and your efforts.
The Ambassador Affect
The same goes for those in your audience you and your team have spent time with, developing them as ambassadors. This is still Paid Sharing as you are expending resources developing the relationship. Again, take into consideration the ‘authority’ this person wields in their network. Comparing the sharing of an ambassador who has the influence over a certain segment of your audience can be much more significant to your bottom line. Understanding the value the ambassador brings to the table is essential to understanding the true value of their sharing activities.
Organic Sharing: What Your Audience Deems Valuable
Organic sharing is valuable to understand in your efforts to meet your goals because this type of sharing you really have little control over. If you are implementing your content strategy correctly and have sharing buttons on your content, organic sharing can happen at any time. This is why it’s crucial to measure this type of sharing differently than any kind of paid efforts your are doing.
Thanks to the likes of Google, Bing, Baidu and the hundreds of other search engines available, if your content has been ‘spidered’ or ‘crawled’ by a search engine’s “bot”, it has an opportunity to rank and be presented to a searcher – any time, any place, any where. The article could be 3 years old, or the forum post be just 2 weeks old, the fact of how old it is, really doesn’t matter if the reader finds value in it and hits the “share” button of their choosing ‘now’. If that person wields any kind of authority in their own network, more organic sharing can happen, reach can broaden and suddenly your content is taking off and influencing a new segment of the market.
The key here? Make sure you are putting measurement steps in place to track this kind of sharing differently than what your own team shares (authority, ambassador or anyone on your team).
Think that your offline content isn’t all that valuable and can’t be shared and tracked? Think again! Bar codes on coupons, special landing pages on printed literature or for radio and TV ads, and QR Codes all can help in being able to measure the spread of your content. It’s all about planning to measure for it and understanding the value of it when the data is collected. Someone taking the time to snap the QR code, snip the coupon, type in the landing page address because of content they found or your content was shared with them demonstrates to your team how valuable this content can be to offline audiences as much as online.
So are you measuring and evaluating the different types of sharing to understand the true value of your content? If you are, I’d love to hear how and what’s most important to you.