Why social shares aren't a vanity metric

Some people think that social shares—the number of times your content has been shared on social media—are just a vanity metric.

Sure, it makes you feel good to know that hundreds or even thousands of people have shared the blog post you worked so hard to write and publish a few weeks ago.

But social shares aren’t sales, webinar registrations, or email sign-ups. So aren’t you just wasting your time if you’re trying to get more of them?

No, you’re not.

And if you keep reading below, I’m going to tell you why. I’ll break down exactly why social shares aren’t just a vanity metric and why they matter if you want to grow your business online.



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1. More exposure to your audience

When people share your blog post, infographic, or video on social media, they make it visible to people in their social network. This means that your content gets exposed to more people.

But not just any kind of people.

People tend to be friends with people who are similar to them. So when people in your audience share your content, they expose it to people who have a higher-than-average chance of also being part of your audience.


an orange megaphone


Many of these people probably haven’t heard of your brand or seen your content before. So social shares help you expand your reach and connect with members of your audience you haven’t interacted with yet.

Related: The 5 best social media platforms for promoting your blog + free cheat sheet


2. More traffic to your blog or website

When someone shares your content on social media, not everyone who sees the share will be interested in checking it out. But some people will. And even if it’s a small percentage, it’ll still drive more traffic to your website or blog.


content upgrades


And what does more traffic mean? It means that you’ll have more people you can convert into leads or email subscribers. And when someone becomes a lead or email subscriber, you’ll have direct access to their inbox, you can build a relationship with them, and eventually, you can pitch to them.

So although social shares aren’t sales or email sign-ups, they can increase them by boosting traffic to your website or blog.

Related: How to increase blog traffic without Google + free email list cheat sheet


3. More momentum on social media

When people reshare your social shares, it sends an important signal to a social platform’s algorithm. It says, “Hey, pay attention to this content. Because it’s smokin’ hot!”

Okay, it probably doesn’t say it like that. But you get the idea.

Social media platforms want to keep their users happy. So they want to display content that their users actually want to see. And what’s a sign that a piece of content is valuable in some way? That other people are sharing it online.



Example of a social share that's been reshared


When a social platform’s algorithm sees that a social share has been reshared, it’s more likely to show the original share to more people.

Why is this important? Because it means that your content will get exposed to even more people in the sharer’s network. And as I mentioned before, when your content gets exposed to more people who have a good chance of being interested in your content, you get more traffic to your website or blog.

In other words, reshares of social shares amplify the effects of Reasons #1 and #2.

Related: The 5 best types of content to share on social media + 7 free social media copy templates



Need some help writing social media posts that attract and engage your audience?
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4. More social proof

As long as you make them visible on your website or blog, social shares also provide social proof for your content and brand. Specifically, when you use a tool or plugin that displays how many times your post has been shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, for example, it can boost how valuable your content and brand seem to other people who stumble across it.

For example, on my blog, I use the Social Warfare plugin to make it easy for people to share my blog posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. However, the plugin doesn’t just add social sharing buttons to my blog posts. It also displays the number of people who have shared that post on one of the platforms.


An example of social shares providing social proof


Why are these numbers important? If they’re high (in the multiple hundreds, or better yet, the thousands), they send a social signal. People see the high number and think, “Wow, lots of people have shared this! It must be good, so I should check it out too!” And if they do check it out, you’ll have a shot at converting them into leads and customers.

Of course, social proof doesn’t just make that one piece of content look good. It also makes your brand as a whole look good by showing people that your content is so high in quality that hundreds or thousands of people wanted to share it.

Related: How to write social media CTAs that boost traffic, leads, and sales + 80 CTA templates


5. Better SEO and search engine rankings

Social shares are also important because they improve your SEO (search engine optimization). Not sure why SEO is so important? Read about the benefits in my post about on-page SEO.

When you think of SEO or search engines, you’re probably most likely to think of Google. After all, it accounts for most of the searches people do online.

Now, Google says that social shares don’t directly influence SEO.

But they do indirectly influence SEO. That’s because social shares boost the metrics that Google does consider important for search engine rankings.

In particular, because social shares give your content more visibility and traffic, they boost the number of times people link to your content. To Google, these links are incredibly important. So by increasing your likelihood of getting links to your content from other sites, social shares indirectly enhance your SEO.


Google search engine


Of course, Google isn’t the only search engine in town. Google may dominate the search engine market, but Bing accounts for about 24% of searches. That’s still a lot.

And guess what? Social shares directly influence search rankings on Bing.

So no matter which search engine you’re trying to get traffic from, social shares matter. In fact, they can help your blog or website get a high ranking in search engines even if you haven’t optimized it for SEO.

Related: How to implement on-page SEO to boost blog post visibility + free blog post SEO ebook


Social shares matter for content marketing success

Because they aren’t sales, email sign-ups, or registrations, it’s easy to disregard social shares as vanity metrics.

But as I’ve shown you above, social shares can help you reach more members of your audience, boost your blog and website traffic, gain more leads and email subscribers, establish your credibility, and boost your search engine rankings.

And if you’ve been running a business for even just a few months, you know these things are pretty damn important. Because ultimately, they’re how you get more customers, make more sales, and build a thriving business.


Need some help writing social media posts that attract and engage your audience?
Download my 7 free social media copy templates + examples.

Send me the templates

5 reasons why social shares aren’t just a vanity metric + 7 free social media copy templates

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