You may have heard of content and websites being “search engine optimized,” but have you ever considered whether your digital content is socially optimized?

Companies and brands often have a wealth of content on their digital platforms, ranging from patient-centric websites to educational PDFs and information-rich blogs. And while this information may be incredibly helpful to those visitors who find it, a lack of social sharing options can mean engagement with that content often begins and ends on the page.

Chances are, if users find your information relevant enough to read, they might know someone else who would find the article useful. Are you making that information easy to share? If not, you could be missing out on an important means of advertising: the word-of-mouth, user-generated share.

It’s no longer enough to simply have a social presence to push target audiences to your carefully crafted websites. All platforms — and Facebook in particular — are continuing to reduce the organic reach of business social posts in favor of user-generated content. This means your content strategy should focus on making all content easy for users to share — whether it’s a Facebook post or an article on a website.

Luckily, there are three simple steps you can take to help users share content in a way that will allow your relevant readers to find it:

Start With Quality Content

The saying goes, “You can buy a like, but you can’t fake a share.” In order for people to want to share your content, it has to be relevant to them. Start by getting to know your audience. You’ll need to understand the types of people (personas) who would want to find your content and how they go about looking for that information. Does your audience prefer blogs, or are they having conversations on Twitter? Understanding your readers’ search behavior will help you determine your content’s form and tone.

Next, conduct social listening as part of an audit of your existing content. What are people saying about your brand? What information are they looking for? What do they need that you can provide? Once you’ve identified your audience’s needs, compare that with your existing content. If what you have will help them, proceed to steps two and three. If you don’t have content your audience wants, create content that fills a need.

Give Them a Way to Share

Add one clear call-to-action to each of your social posts to promote engagement and social sharing widgets on each of your website pages to encourage readers to spread the word.

The reason for not allowing readers to share information usually boils down to control, especially in the healthcare and pharma industries. You want to ensure that, when your information is shared, it is done in a compliant way. Intouch’s social media team can assist you — both with creating relevant content and with using tools like SocialQueue™, and share»send»save® to help you remain compliant while still being social-friendly. Sharing shouldn’t be a chore, so make it easy on your readers by giving them a clear action to take and a button to click.

Optimize Your Open Graph Data to Promote Further Sharing

In lieu of using a share button, users often opt to copy and paste a URL into a post on their social account. On platforms such as Facebook, a link preview will automatically generate with a photo, title and snippet of the content on the page. This content is pulled from Open Graph tags (the social media form of metadata), and it is customizable.

Yet, many websites do not optimize their Open Graph (OG) content to make it more visually appealing to users. As a result, Facebook automatically creates its own version by using any photo and content it can find through a quick scrape of the indicated webpage. The default photo and description usually do not describe the content in a way that makes other users want to read or re-share the information.

Therefore, if you want your content to have a chance at being shared beyond the first user who found it interesting, take the time to optimize the OG data for each of your website’s pages. The data should feature an appealing image, an attention-grabbing title and an enticing description that will inspire other users to read and share the content to their own networks. By making user-generated shares more attractive for other users to share, you will expand the reach of your content outside of your immediate social fans or website readers.

Bottom line: Optimizing your content for social sharing makes it easy and appealing for your readers to do the sharing for you, helping your ideal audience find you.