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5 Simple Tips for Small Business to Boost Social Shares Shares have become the social media marketing equivalent of gold, especially for small businesses.

By Kimberly de Silva

This story originally appeared on Bizness Apps

Plume Creative | Getty Images

Shares have become the social media marketing equivalent of gold, especially for small businesses. Each share is a chain reaction where brand messaging is relayed to an entirely new audience, which can greatly help generate leads and sales. As it stands, Facebook is the undisputed king of social shares, making up for over 90 percent of shared articles in the first half of last year.

Shares are what can bring brand messaging to a worldwide level. Take Poo-Pourri for example: they started off as a small company that sold toilet deodorizers, not exactly the most glamorous or exciting product. But after releasing some humorous video content, they quickly gained popularity. One of their YouTube videos boasts over 39 million views!

So what are the tips and tricks to help boost your content strategy and take engagement to the next level, like Poo-Pourri?

1. Create compelling headlines

One of the most important elements, if not the most important, of your social content is the headline. This is what grabs people's attention. Creating bland and boring headlines is one of the biggest sales-killers of online business. Your headline needs to be enticing, but also clearly explain what sort of information you will be sharing. This is one of the best ways for small businesses to set themselves apart on social media.

Buzzfeed is a site that has truly mastered the tantalizing headline. They post multiple articles a day, and each one features a title that is designed to grab attention by using humor, asking an enticing question, or providing unusual or interesting information.

The reason that Buzzfeed articles are so popular and are shared thousands of times per day is because the site utilizes the concept of "thinking fast and slow" with their content. This model means the headline allows readers to think fast, meaning it's short and simple to understand, and typically piques some interest. Then the body of the content requires a slower, more concentrated thinking, like reading the full-length article.

This tactic attracts audiences because it is easy to browse through and read headlines quickly without much effort before diving into the deeper content.

This simple example illustrates the importance of nailing the headline. With attention spans shortening even more thanks to the ever-increasing amount of distractions online, using a striking headline will do wonders to increase clicks and shares, as long as you don't fall into the clickbait trap.

2. Choose effective visuals

Including a visual element like a picture, video, or gif exponentially increases engagement. In fact, Buzzsumo found that updates with images resulted in 2.3 times the engagement than those without.

Like the adage says, a picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure that including a visual really does add something of value to your post. And don't limit visuals to just images; adding videos to your post grows your organic reach by as much as 135 percent!

Southwest Airline's feed offers a great example of utilizing beautiful and eye-catching content that highlights their brand and "wows" your customers; their posts incite wanderlust with professional shots of captivating, travel-themed visuals:

3. Research industry issues

When you are releasing content, it is vital to provide something that is beneficial to your audience. If what you share is purely self-promotional or you're just sharing boring and irrelevant content, it won't get you very far. Before you start creating, you need to conduct a little research to find out what is buzzing in the industry.

Think With Google is an incredibly user-friendly tool that allows you to conduct market research so you can check out what's trending and what searches are being made by your customers. If you notice your audience is consistently searching for specific information, consider providing a solution to their problem by providing relevant social content.

4. Post at the right times

Scheduling out your posts so they are released during high traffic times can really help to boost shares and views. There has been a good deal of research conducted in regards the best times to share content on social media sites. Interestingly, the data concluded that each social media site has differing peak times.

For instance, Facebook posts receive higher engagement on the Thursdays, Fridays and the weekends and between 1 to 4 p.m. Twitter, on the other hand, is more active during the day from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., with higher activity during the week. Instagram has better engagement in the mornings and on Mondays, with lower engagement during the afternoon hours.

It's important to create a reliable system that keeps your marketing plan on track so you can carefully craft content for the right platform and distribute it at the right time. For this purpose, utilizing a task management software like Workzone ensures that you never miss a deadline, and enables you to seamlessly collaborate with your entire marketing team -- including copywriters, graphic designers and media outreach staff -- so you can keep your content plan on schedule.

5. Look for common threads in successful posts

Take a good look at the most shared content in your field; notice any similarities? It's quite likely that the posts share something in common, whether it's the subject, industry focus or even just overall style.

With some critical investigation, try to detect a common theme in your competitors' content that viewers like. For example, even though Red Bull is just an energy drink, it found that sharing content related to extreme sports resonated well with their audience. The brand linked their product by sponsoring athletes and events, and they regularly share videos and photos of the impressive stunts performed, while featuring gear and signage with the Red Bull logo:

It's important to find what speaks to your audience, whether it is the type of content you share or the valuable information. Once you find that niche that keeps people coming back, always be striving to improve and impress.

In conclusion

Consistently gaining social shares is one of the best ways to bring small businesses to the next level. Simply releasing content on social media and hoping for the best is not going to bring in great results. You need to strategize your methodology beforehand and plan for maximum engagement on social media.

Capture your audience's attention with exciting headlines and include visuals that will catch the eye. Give your audience exactly what they want by discovering the topics they are looking for and make sure you post at the most opportune time.

Once you've released some content and experienced high engagement or shares, you will want to keep the momentum going by continuously releasing successful posts. Do a little research and keep track of the analytics on your posts so you can continue to release high-value content that gets shared.

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