How to Leverage Social Sharing – Social Media Best Practices Series June 13, 2011 by Jamie Beckland best practices, social media best practice series, social sharing This is the first post in our social media best practices series, which looks at how to leverage Janrain’s solutions to drive your marketing metrics. One of the most common use cases for Janrain Engage is to promote your website content on external social networks through the use of our social sharing functionality. Sharing has come a long way from constrained widgets. Janrain offers unmatched flexibility and tracking for social sharing – from simultaneous network broadcasts to sharing from a mobile device. Fortunately, the process of implementing Janrain’s social sharing on your website is very straightforward. There are three main components that you have to define: the activity that triggers a sharing event, the content within the publish activity, and the links back to your existing analytics package for return visitor tracking. Let’s look at them individually. The Activity Event The process of a social share starts with a user activity. Most of the time, the activity will be a click event, on a sharing icon, button, or favicon. But, a triggered share can be prompted from any event. Some possible sharing events include: Reaching the end of an article:when a user has read an entire article, they are more likely to share it than a user who read just the first paragraph. You can implement a sharing trigger once the user scrolls to the bottom of a page. Here, Kodak allows users to share their projects. Commenting on a piece of content:when a user comments on a piece of content, the publication of that comment can trigger a recommended share event. In this case, the user is not done with the comment flow until they decide whether they want to share the comment or not. Here, the Bakersfield Californian allows users to share their comments on articles. Completing a sequence of events: a user may want to share when they have accomplished something on your site. Whether its getting to the end of a checkout process, viewing a video series, or interacting with advertiser elements on your site, every unique experience is potentially a shareable experience. Here, AMC allows users to choose which suspect is the killer on the TV show “The Killing.” The Publish Event Publishing a social share is the act of submitting that shared content to the social networks where the user has connected. Janrain’s sharing allows the user to post to multiple networks simultaneously, which increases overall sharing, as users link to multiple networks with one publish event. In addition, Janrain allows you to retain some control over brand perception by allowing users to publish immediately, or to put social shares into a moderation queue, and publish them later. In order to finalize a publish event, you have to determine a few things about what defaults the user should share. You’ll need to determine what the title and description of the event that the user shares should say. Most commonly, those will be driven by the page-level information you are already using, and pulled directly from the HTML on page. Of course, custom messaging is also possible. So, your content strategist should be involved in how social content is messaged for maximum clickthrough and SEO benefits. We also recommend that you prompt your users with a message to share to their network. Of course, the user will have the ability to customize the message they send out to their network, but this is a case where smart default copy can influence the tone and color of how your content is received by the user’s social graph. Default copy can be static or dynamic based on the page content or template, and could be the page or article title, and can also include an action from the user, like “I love…” or “I just read…” This prompts the user to think about the context they want to provide for their friends and contacts. The Analytics Setup Of course, the goal of users sharing your content is to drive more traffic back to your site. You will want to ensure that you are accurately tracking the return traffic from a sharing event. Janrain’s social sharing works with any analytics package. First, you must establish the proper campaign tracking identifier to append to the shared URL. In general, you will want to track several components, such as Campaign Name, Referrer, and Source, R. Most websites define the Campaign Name as “SocialMedia,” Referrer as “SocialShare,” and Source as the share location (e.g. “Checkout” or “ArticleEnd”). The campaign tracking append is embedded within the share trigger, as part of the URL that is shared. Simply place it at the end of the URL reference as a hard coded element in the share activity. That way, regardless of what specific page the user is on, the campaign tracking information will be automatically added. We also recommend that you shorten the URL after campaign tracking identifiers are appended. Janrain provides easy URL shortening through our rpx.me service. Now, you’re all set to allow users to share content in a way that adds more user profiles and more social media analytics onto your site. Janrain’s customers see an average of 13 return visitors for every link shared. With a well thought-out social sharing strategy, you can dramatically increase your site traffic from social media, and drive a more qualified referral visitor at the same time. Janrain’s strategic services can help you articulate the most valuable sharing experience for your users.