Stop Raising Billboards
People are more than blank billboards, so why do some sites focus more on getting a retweet than response?
The way most sites go about sharing via social media is cheap. They treat visitors like blank billboards. Billboards just waiting to republish a title and link to their content. These billboards “drive traffic” to the content, and raise more billboards to repeat the process. At least that’s what the marketing plan says will ideally happen. Just one question. At what stage does the actual person come in?
You Rarely Just “Do”
The genius of people is that they often react to what they experience. It takes a boring person to simply “Go to the beach”. The average person “Goes to the beach, and has a great time” or something similar. Notice the difference?
When you make something no one hates, no one loves it. – Tibor Kalman
Complacency should scare you. Reactions are part of how we communicate. Embrace this when adding a share option for your site. Facebook dabbles a bit in this idea by the binary option of “Liking” Facebook content. The problem with this on most person sites is that it leaves out a whole range of middle ground. The act of liking (or abstaining from) is not definitive. Does someone chose not to like a post because they had issue with it? Or just because they didn’t understand it? The absence of feedback in this case is ambiguous.
One of the features that our team was particularly proud of integrating a ways back was the Twitter feedback bar. You can see an example in use at the bottom of this post. Since including it on our theme, we almost instantly noticed a significant boost in tweets for posts. In contrast, options like “ShareThis” have reached a point on par with banner ads. At this rate, will we develop blindness to plug-n-play social media links too?
In the time since launching the original tutorial, a number of other sites have started to integrate options for meaningful reaction. This means that instead of just reading an article, you can now vote for tone and reaction. You can also see what other people think. Buzzfeed does more of the same.
But is it any good?
Don’t force people to become your billboards. Give them a platform to construct their own way of sharing your content, complete with a full range of reactions. We include negative options in the Twitter feedback bar available on post pages. Saving face is stupid if the result is publishing crap. Negative feedback is just as useful as the positive. Better to have someone tell you via tweet than by wondering where all the traffic went.
Traffic is a Byproduct
Don’t let your site fall into the trap of limited billboard response. It betrays the type of interaction dedicated fans will use. I don’t stop reading a blog if one of the articles sucks. Readership is rarely that fragile. Use the reactions to your advantage. These are the types of share actions that benefit in more than one way. First, the link is shown to more audience. Second, you receive meaningful feedback as to the quality of what was shared. Winning all around.
For your next project, give it a thought. You’ll see realistic responses, and get one step closer to substantial engagement rather than just unfeeling evangelism.