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Social Media Marketing for Small Business: 6 Tips to Help Influence Content Sharing

With Hanukkah in full swing and Christmas coming up next week, most people are either wrapping up the last of their holiday shopping, or else they're getting ready to start (gotta love those last minute shoppers!). For those of us who are mentally moving beyond the holidays, our thoughts are shifting from gifts and button-busting meals to resolutions and self-improvement.

As someone who has been involved in social media as a hobby since I got my first Hayes modem (circa 1992) -- they didn't call it "social media" then, but that's what it was -- my own resolutions from a professional standpoint are, not surprisingly, focused on where I can learn more, do more, share more and interact more. I've got it down on the personal side; if you're a Facebook friend of mine, then you're well aware of what my thoughts are on a range of topics that run the gamut from politics to pop culture. My professional opportunities, however, lie mostly on LinkedIn and Twitter... I may share the occasional Bing Ads blog post on those channels, but I'm more of a lurker than anything else.

As 2015 approaches, my resolution for the new year is to get better at sharing content on both Twitter and LinkedIn, both things I'm writing myself, as well as things that pique my interest and that I think my audience will appreciate. The interaction piece should follow on as a direct result, so I'm not going to worry too much about that -- if I share it, they will comment (I hope!).

In the spirit of setting the tone for the new year, I'm revisiting this series of posts on social media marketing with some tips to help you, Dear Reader, when it comes to planning out your own content calendar. Without further ado, here's a quick list of a few things to keep in mind when you're brainstorming your next blog post or curating your list of content to share with your own networks:

1.) Appeal to consumer’s motivation to connect with each other, not just with your brand. Social is not about the relationship between a brand and a consumer, but about the relationship between a content consumer and their followers; your message has to be something they want to share with their networks.

2.) Trust is the cost of entry for getting shared. Your audience has to not only trust you, they have to trust you enough to bring you and your content into the lives of people they care about… friends, family, colleagues. If you haven't established yourself as a consistently reliable source of useful, entertaining or otherwise valuable information, you've got some groundwork laying to do first.

3.) Keep it simple. Your message needs to be both worthy of sharing and straightforward. Sharing means you’re ceding control of the message -- the more direct you are, the less muddled it’ll get.

4.) Have a sense of humor. Humorous content is oftentimes the most viral… people love to share info, they REALLY love to share funny stuff because they enjoy getting the credit for being responsible for putting a smile on someone's face, or, better yet, making them laugh (out loud even) ;).

5.) Embrace a sense of urgency. Stress the importance of immediate action… e.g. Groupon gives a small window of time to respond. Convey the importance, offer a benefit for sharing quickly -- things set aside are forgotten.

6.) Don't ignore Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram. Although Facebook and Twitter solidly hold the top two spots, respectively, in terms of overall number of users, these 3 networks are vying for the crown of fastest growth. If you have the time and resources to dedicate to expanding your social footprint, keep these guys in mind as you determine what your next move will be. 

Questions? Comments? Ping me on Twitter... I promise I'll respond.