(This column first appeared on RIMOFTHEWORLD.net on July 31, 2011.)
As an only child, I was a little late to the sharing party. Playing at home, there was no need to go halves or wait my turn. So when my classmate, Charlotte, grabbed the Colorforms from me during playtime, I smacked her in the face. Confronted about my selfishness by a kind and gentle preschool teacher, I quickly recognized the error of my ways and apologized to my shell-shocked peer.
Online and in the real world, you should listen as much as you talk—carefully considering the receiver before sharing any message. This is especially important since Google has recently re-calibrated algorithms to weigh interaction in addition to quantity of raw content to rank search results. Although the X-Robots that crawl across programming code can’t subjectively evaluate content, they now calculate the value of posts and associated authors based on how people respond to them.
Are you unsure about whether your content is valuable? If so, take this brief quiz:
- Do people “like” your Facebook status updates?
- Are connections asking for your input on LinkedIn?
- Does anyone retweet your Twitter posts?
- Is anyone commenting on your blog?
If you answered “no” to any of the above, consider the adage:
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If your online content falls on deaf ears, are you posting anything at all?
The new gold standard in social media is engagement. That’s why you see so many share-widgets displayed near videos you watch, songs you listen to and articles you read. But when should you click on them to share with your own network and which sharing icons and hyperlinks should you include on your own website and blog platform?
The following is hardly an exhaustive list. But these are currently the most popular ways to share (in alphabetical order). I suggest you select a few instead of cluttering your website with dozens of icons:
Google+, which is currently in beta-testing
Forward only what you consider valuable. If you can’t find time to read an article, don’t assume your friends and colleagues are less busy than you. Also, resist the urge to forward cat videos unless you own a pet store.
Pikimal and Google+ Circles will make it easy to cherry-pick recipients, since they will enable you to share with friends while sparing business associates. But both are currently in beta-testing. So unless you’ve been invited to take a trial run, your posts will go to your entire network. And over-posting could land your email address in spam folders.
The best thing about sharing is that it doesn’t cost a thing. Anyone can take advantage of free sharing-icon software, which is easy to download and embed on websites and blogs. Here are a few great options:
On a Limited Budget
Hire a graphic designer to create custom icons to complement your brand identity. Talented artists should be able to use your logo for inspiration, so the social bookmarks won’t clutter your webpage. But be forewarned that if you go this route, the icons won’t be immediately recognizable. If you post the light blue Twitter image, or even just the iconic “T,” everyone knows what it stands for. If you alter the color and style of sharing networks to match your website, you could potentially lose a few “shares.”
The Sky’s the Limit
Rather than using someone else’s sharing application, create your own. The only reason so many applications exist is because it pays to keep people logged onto your system instead of clicking on and off of it. Sites like Twitter and Facebook, for example, are profitable because they deliver impressive traffic patterns. Just thought I’d share…
Until next time, I’ll be Bowling for Business.