Don’t just write. Ignite.

English: Buttons with just three holes. Italia...

You work like a crazy person, obsessing about the appropriate, attractive graphic, the relevance and utility, even entertainment value, of the content, the “grab” of the headline, inclusion of targeted hashtags….everything. Now, ready to post….how do you light a fire underneath it?

You’ve heard a lot from me about Content Shock…now I’m going to move onto what Mark Schaefer (whom I quote in the title of this post…) calls Content Ignition. Over the next few posts you’re going to find out about some very specific actions you can take. Not every one is right for each post, but there are enough options to cover most every scenario you run into. Overall, you need to do whatever you can to make it easy for others to share what you publish.

The first one is one of the simplest. Add social sharing buttons to your content site. In my work with companies of various sizes, I find about half of them don’t have these buttons on their web sites. Without these, you’re almost challenging your readers to share the content! A study by Seven Boats showed that content with sharing buttons is 700 percent more likely to spread than content without those buttons.

Ensure your button widget doesn’t require multiple clicks (or some kind of email collection step…more about this next…) to complete the share, or use just the bare link as a snippet in a Tweet. Some widgets only Tweet the link without any author or site information, which is a missed opportunity. Also, make sure the widget you use enables sharing by email, as that is preferred by some personality types.

The next tip is to unlock your content….tear down the walls between you and your audience! I mentioned above that a lot of companies throw a barrier between their premium content and their audience by forcing them into trading email and other information for access.

I get the logic here. It’s give and take: I give you access to my great, valuable stuff and you provide me something of value – your email address. Now I can send you offers and updates and the like. The problem is this turns a lot of people away (or forces them to lie by providing a bogus address…). The number varies by industry, but research states that between 25 – 90 percent of your customers turn away if they need to register first to obtain what they’re looking for. One user interface experiment by a large enterprise found that removing the registration barrier for content access increased sales by $300 million! Wow….

So why would you want to throw cold water on your customers in their drive to get to your content? This is the edge of a larger question: If I give away my premium content (I spent a LOT of resources to create this stuff!), am I just giving away my business?

If you follow my blog, receive my newsletter and check my web site regularly for new resources, in the space of several hours you can learn a lot about Social Media, Network Dynamics, Cognitive Research that drives Content Strategy and more. These are all core competencies for my business. Yet, somebody calls me every week willing to pay for Social Marketing Strategy analysis and coaching. I’m regularly asked to speak on and train on these topics.

Does this make sense? How can I make money dispensing advice in these areas when I’m giving it up online and live all the time?

Business relationships are built on trust. They always have been. For centuries you were limited by scale – time and geography – and you could only create trust with those you actually knew in the small area in which you moved. The Social web is gift to businesses everywhere who learn how to work well with it. Now you can build relationships and trust with others far and wide. You become known by your voice, your views and your expertise….but the only way to do that is by giving them enough free, great content to know you and trust you.

Grow by giving it way! Unleash it! Tear down the walls!

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