How do you get your followers to share your content? It is a simple question that lacks a simple answer.

However, it is not as complicated as you think. Let’s understand the psychology of social sharing.

If you have not read part one of this series on how email marketing can improve your engagement with your followers as well as grow your follower base, I suggest you to go through it before continuing with this article.

Part 2: Understanding why people like, comment and share social media posts.
In an interesting study conducted by The New York Times Customer Insight Group, it was discovered that there are five key reasons people decide to share something with others. This study on the psychology of sharing and word-of-mouth movements uncovers an important opportunity for you as an influencer who wants to do a better job growing your audience.

By understanding why people share, you can better assess your own content, and its ability to result in sustainable growth and traffic to your blog as well as social media channels.

These important insights may be all that you are missing in growing a high-traffic to your social media channels.

(a) To bring valuable and entertaining content to others.
 49% say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action.
(b) To define ourselves to others. 68% share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about.
(c) To grow and nourish our relationships. 78% share information online because it lets them stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
(d) Self-fulfillment. 69% share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world.
(e) To get the word out about causes or brands. 84% share because it is a way to support causes or issues they care about.

In addition to the 5 above, 73% of respondents said that they process information more deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully when they share it. You would not share something then realise it is the wrong thing to share right? After all, your online reputation is at stake when you share the content that backfires.

So, what do you do with all of this? How do you actually apply it to your content? There are four big ways to do it.

1. Bring Value To Your Readers – Every Time

If your readers are sharing content that they know, like, and trust, then one of the most important aspects of our content has to be the sheer value that it offers your readers. Ask yourself, “what are my readers really getting in exchange for their time spent consuming my content? It is worth their time?

A common mistake for bloggers is creating content that resembles a press release. Or products reviews that sounded more like hard selling rather than, useful information such how-to, what-if and other content angles that have better relevance to your audience.

Options you might consider:

  • How can you make your content more practical and actionable for your readers. Readers love putting advice into action.

  • How you continually supply your readers with new and unique content that has never been “done” before.

As if that wasn’t enough, you also need to realize that good content comes with a high entertainment factor. Rather than a generic stock image, consider custom graphics or charts that present your content to readers in a brand new way.

Entertaining content is easy to share and easy to love because it brings delight and surprise to your readers. You don’t go online to make you frown right?
Above all, always remember that the value you provide and the entertainment you offer can instantly make your content more shareable.

2. Help Your Readers Define Themselves
I love online sports, but I frequently miss sweating out on the court competing for the win.

There is something about the physical intensity and the adrenalin rush of sports that I that defines who I am. They are important indicators of how I define myself. Similarly, so does the content I choose to share. 

This is an important reality to consider. I mean really, when is the last time you asked yourself how your content would help your readers “identify themselves.” Probably never, but yet it is one of the most common reasons people share content with their friends.

For example, this post by Optimizely is a great example of how users can identify themselves with your content. In the post, the author offers an opportunity for the reader to discover if they are, in-fact, a data-driven marketer.

This identity dilemma gives readers a direct opportunity to define themselves to others by reading the post, and then sharing it with their own audience. By sharing it, they very well could be defining themselves as a data-drive marketer, and if that’s the case it is good motivation for them to tell others.

Of course, to do this well you need to make sure that each piece of content you create has a single specific takeaway or point that your readers can focus on.
Without focus, it will be difficult for your audience to identify with your content in a direct way.

3. Connect Your Readers To Others
Your readers have an instinctual need to connect with others. Just look at the success of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. People like people.

In social media, our connections with others is directly related to the content that we consume and share with our online network.Here’s a small example: when is the last time that you left a comment on a post if it does not connect with you? Probably never. When we attach a conversation to a piece of content, it is because we are connected to either the content in the post or the person posting it.

In addition, some readers will actually share their comment with a social share. The Facebook and Google+ commenting utilities (link) prove how closely these two things that are connected.

4. Make Them Feel More Valuable
In the New York Times study one respondent was quoted as saying that she enjoyed “getting comments that I sent great information and that my friends will forward it to their friends because it’s so helpful. It makes me feel valuable.”

This is pretty cool! Not only can your content help your readers become a subject matter expert in their field, but it can also help them look like one for their peers.
More often than not, posts of your followers in their own social media channels could be relevant to your audience as well. For example, I see one of my followers talking about challenges she faced during her trimester. I would totally share that to the rest of my followers if I am a parenting blog. This let them know that their opinion matters and increasing their overall value to others.

Now that you have read recap of our first coffee session with experts on how to engage and grow your audience. Give these tips a go and let us know how it fares for you.

Signing out for now, Richard.

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