If you’re like me, you receive several requests each day to reshare information.
Often these requests are from people you’ve never heard of, or from people you barely interact with. How do you respond?
In this post, I share some of my own criteria for what makes content super shareable. In the comments, add how you decide to share (or not share) content.
How to Decide What to Share
You could make it simple for yourself and share everything you are asked to share. That’s not an approach I recommend, though.
Like it or not, what you share on your blog (and to lesser extent on social media) becomes associated with you. If you add something to your blog, it may even become associated with your brand. People may assume that sharing equals endorsement. That’s why I’m careful about sharing.
I try to be fair, but I can’t always test everything I’m asked to share. Evaluating something takes time. Sometimes, if it’s a book or a product, reviewing it can take a lot of time. Often, it takes extra time I don’t have.
So how do I decide what to share? Over the years, I’ve come up with some loose guidelines for myself. You might find them helpful too.
My Sharing Criteria
If you’re often asked to share information, it can be helpful to develop guidelines. With guidelines, I can scan a post or article and decide whether I want to pass it on.
Here are the 16 traits of super shareable content that I’ve developed:
- Relevant topic. A mistake people make when they ask me to share is sending me something that doesn’t make sense for my audience. When this happens, it’s clear that the would-be sharer has never read my blog. They probably don’t even follow me on social media.
- Timely. I rarely share outdated information. It’s not unusual for me to visit a blog and find out that it’s been months (and in some cases, years) since the owner has published a post. Unless the old content is exceptional, I don’t share it.
- Accurate. Once in a while I run across an article that I don’t agree with or that is just plain wrong. If a writer hasn’t done their homework, or if a piece conflicts with more reliable information, I don’t share it.
- Trusted source. I am more likely to share information from authors I know. The same is true for thought leaders. Information from trusted sources is also usually relevant and accurate.
- Reputable site. This is one area where appearances do count. If I look at the site and it looks trashy (poor design, more ads than content, etc.), I don’t share. Even worse is when someone asks me to share material and my firewall won’t even let me see the site. (It’s happened.)
- Good headline. A catchy headline has caught my attention more than once. If the post lives up to its catchy headline (sometimes they don’t), I often share it.
- Good lede. The lede of an article or post is the opening paragraph. The lede should engage the reader and make them want to read more. Also, the lede sometimes appears in social media when you reshare the post.
- Edited content. I’m pretty understanding about minor typos. We’re all human, after all. An article filled with typos and grammar mistakes is another matter. The mistakes are distracting and make the piece difficult to read. I’m not likely to share content that’s full of mistakes.
- Formatted for the web. Web content should be scannable. Yet, many writers still ignore formatting. I hate to see long blocks of nothing but text that make the content hard to read.
- Images. A good image draws the eye and builds interest. Like the lede, the image is often picked up when you share a post on social media. Having a good image makes your content more shareable.
- Not an overt sales pitch. Yes, you want to sell your product. I understand that. But don’t ask me to share your landing page unless you know I’m familiar with your product. If I haven’t reviewed it, I usually don’t share it.
- Active author. I often find new material to share when the author reaches out to me through social media or leaves a comment on a post. I’m more likely to find your web content if we’ve interacted.
- Unique. While some topics can be approached from many different angles, others cannot. Tired old topics with no new insights don’t make a good share. I like unique topics instead.
- Established site. While I do sometimes share posts from brand new sites, I hesitate a little when I see one. I’ve had too many experiences with new sites disappearing or becoming disreputable.
- Sharing buttons. It may seem obvious, social media buttons make sharing easier. Even established sites sometimes forget this. Other sites have sharing buttons, but not on the mobile version of their site. Since I often browse using my tablet, that’s a problem.
- Entertaining. Everybody loves to have fun and my readers are no exception. Humor is tricky, but if something makes me laugh without offending, I’m more likely to share it.
Do these criteria look a lot like the description of what makes quality web content? They should.
Quality is definitely on my mind when I think about what I’ll share and what I won’t share.
Final Thoughts on Social Sharing
Social sharing is an important part of how I market my freelancing business. It’s also personal.
While my guidelines help me, in the end the choice to share (or not share) is mine. Sometimes, I may share something simply because I want to. Other times, I may not share at all (and that’s okay too.)
Do you have social sharing criteria? If you do, let’s talk about them in the comments.