If you’re not sharing, then why do we care?

In this day of viral marketing and social technology, when you have website redesigns, it used to be prudent to simply have at least one of three things on your website to show you were in touch with the latest technology:

  • Print this page
  • Email this page
  • Save this page

Now, people expect more…much more. With the introduction of RSS feeds and social media sharing, it’s much easier to promote your blog, photos, or even website virally without contracting a programmer to make it work. Just log onto Google or Yahoo and look up “Share Social Media” and you’ll come across at least two free options for you to look at: AddThis and ShareThis. Just add these little widgets to any of your pages will allow users who come to your site to repost your information and, in essence, act as your brand ambassador and gives you justification that your information was relevant to someone. 

Through sharing widgets, you will be able to focus on attracting the biggest audience with multiple entry points. Make it easier on your users and help add to their experience by giving them the convenience of sharing your information on sites like Digg, Del.ici.ious, Technorati, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Yahoo, Myspace, Google Reader, and many other sites with social bookmarking capability. The rapid dispersal of information is the rule of the game today.

But you don’t need to have a widget on your website. Perhaps the simpliest and most common way of sharing with people is through the use of RSS feeds. What is an RSS feed? Wikipedia defines it as:

RSS is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a “feed,” “web feed,”or “channel”) includes full or summarized text plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content quickly and automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.

By simply having this, you can have fans of your content stream it onto their readers…perhaps the most common being Google Reader and they can track what you’re saying, what you’re doing, and then post it on their site or social areas to help promote your brand. An RSS feed is much more customizable too because the user who receives your RSS feed could develop an application or website that would simply take your content (which is what the feed would produce) and manipulate it to be displayed in a certain way – the data would be exactly how you wrote it, but the front-end appearance could deviate from how it appears on your site.

Here are some interesting insights that were taken from ShareThis.com’s most recent study with Forrester Research. It’s interesting to note that emails are still a highly used form of sharing, but it seems that there are some pros and cons for sending email:

  • While still the primary source for sharing, emails are used by 69% of adults.
  • 84% of people still copy and paste the web address and send it to their friends.
  • Sharing increases site traffic 2x, thus increasing ad dollars or revenues for publishers.
  • Men are more likely to recommendations and videos than women.
  • Women are more likely to share products or ideas they like via easy or direct sharing methods (ie. texting).

Source: ShareThis.com

There are many ways to share your information. Make sure that you’re exposing your audience to the most convenient and productive way possible. Whether it’s via email, share widgets, or simply allowing them to forward a page to their friend by text, sharing will help create brand ambassadors. And it’s these guys that will begin to care about your product and evangelize your campaign.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."