This article was originally written in September 2009 for Plugged In Lawyer, a blog about social media for lawyers.
Every expert with a blog/CMS has core content. Some gurus call it “cornerstone content,” some call it “flagship content” and some call it “pillar content.” It’s the tutorial-style content that you share on your site that demonstrates why you are the authority in your space.
This content has other purposes as well, but today, I’m talking about core content as in the stuff you strut to show that you’re the expert — the white papers, the case studies, the best practices guides, the eBooks, etc.
Because this is the content that demonstrates your expertise, and because the whole point of writing this content in the first place is to raise your profile, you want to make it darned easy for people to share the content with as many other people as possible. If it’s hard to share, the most compelling content in the world (and blog) will die on the vine because nobody sees it.
What do I mean by making your content shareable? I mean: (1) include sharing tools in the content; (2) make using those tools hyper-easy; and (3) for crying out loud, ask for the share.
There are at least two ways to do share your core content — the hard way and the easy way, of course. The hard way is only hard once and I can help you with it, if you email me at email@example.com. This set of sharing tools involves creating a series of hyperlinks behind graphical icons that you prominently display in your document. You can see an excellent example in this outstanding white paper — Email Marketing Best Practices published by Proteus Marketing.
Notice how Proteus displays obvious social media sharing options upfront in the Introduction at page 2. Abbreviated sharing links are included in the footer of every page in the body, also. This latter trick is especially important if you’re sharing sample portions of your core content, and not the entire document. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to share only sample portions, but trust me on this, there may be a time when this is a rationale marketing strategy and you’ll be glad that you thought to include sharing tools on every page.
The easier way to create shareable core content is to upload your content to a service like Scribd. Distributing your core content through a service like Scribd is always a good idea because it is an additional distribution channel where your content might be seen, but the fact that readers can easily share your content through the Scribd interface is icing on the cake. The downside, however, is that you only get generic sharing links and can’t leverage your links in the manner that I describe below.
JDSupra is a similar service to Scribd catering specifically to the legal industry. JDSupra offers the same generic sharing capabilities and limitations.
Leverage Your Sharing Links
A link to share surely increases the odds that your content will get shared, but what if I told you that you can and should take this one step further and pre-populate the sharing message? On Twitter, for example, your link would include your proposed tweet, including a shortened URL to your content. The tweeter has the option of revising the message before sending it, but doesn’t have to do any more than hit the update button, if desired.
The other upside to you writing the tweet is that you can spend some time crafting a message that is most likely to get re-tweeted again and again. The person sending the first tweet with the link to your content might jot a quick note that isn’t compelling enough to keep the viral train chugging.
Naturally your content has to be compelling enough that people want to share it, but if they are even just the slightest bit inclined to do so, leveraging your sharing tools by pre-populating the message pushes the odds in your favor to the greatest extent possible to get your content out in front of as many eyeballs as possible.
For Crying Out Loud, Ask For The Share
The other day, I received an email from one of my favorite blogs, Lawyerist, asking me to nominate them for the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 List. The guys at Lawyerist don’t know me. I just happen to be on their mailing list.
Be that as it may, I was more than happy to add my nomination because I think those guys really have it going on when it comes to blogging and other social media. I would never have thought to nominate them without a request, because I don’t happen to know it’s nomination time.
I have to tell you, though, I got a big giggle when I got to the nomination page and found the following statement:
We’ll ignore comments from authors suggesting their own blawgs. That’s just plain tacky.
That statement is, well, just plain stupid (or “stoopid” as one of my favorite real estate bloggers calls it). Just what exactly is wrong with self nominations? Are they less valid than asking strangers to do it for you?
My point to you and to the ABA Journal is that people today are busy and we’re all too happy to be told what to do, so we don’t have to think. If you want your content shared, ask. And while you’re at it, say “please.” Good manners have been statistically shown to increase your odds of getting re-tweeted. It will work for other requests to share your content, too.
And somebody should tell the ABA Journal that good blawgs might get missed because their publishers are too busy to troll for gratuitous nominations.
So, let’s review. You want your core content shared because you worked hard to create it in the first place. You are going to make it easy for readers to share your content; so easy in fact that they only have to lift one finger to make one keystroke. And you’re going to politely ask/suggest that the reader should share the content. That, my friends, is one very effective way to get your content distributed.