I’ve been tracking shares for the last 6 weeks since installing the Visibli.Com bar. as outlined in this post. Visibli is set as the default link shortener in Bitli.Com and Tweetdeck. By shortening links using the default shortener before sharing in Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn, I’ve been able to track all shares and opens, and identify who has been doing the sharing and opening. Visibli allows full tracking and analytics, presented in an easy to read format.

The other area I have been placing close attention to is the networks of people sharing, in order to look at relevance to target audience, and what I’ve found is that a share in LinkedIn is worth 6 shares in the closest channel, (twitter.) A share in twitter is most likely to be shared, 5 x more than the other channels, followed by Facebook. Shares from Google+, as well as opens were very low, suggesting that whilst I have a reasonable number of connections in the channel, 95% of these are duplicated in other channels, indicating that they are either not visiting the channel day-to-day or make it their last destination.

Facebook friends make the most loyal connections, and are 3 x more likely to open a link shared in this channel, with the same people repeatedly sharing through likes.

My conclusion from this, and it’s not a totally scientific study is that Google+ is a just in case add on, but not the best place for sharing. Whilst it is worth having a +1 button for content sharing just in case, the real value of this channel is for hangouts, live events like meetings and sharing pre-recorded YouTube content.

Twitter is the channel for broadcast, search and browsers. As with shared jobs, I found that Twitter brought the highest volume of reach without the targeted relevance. The real value in Twitter is for introductions and first connections with strangers. Twitter will drive traffic and visitors, though these have the least relevance. Links are 5 x more likely to be opened when they are listed in the middle of the tweet. I’ve no idea why this is, but it seems to ring true based on the test.

Facebook is the place for ongoing¬†engagement, and building relationships both through the fan page and personal account. Shares are through likes, and these tend to come from the same people. It’s the place to share and post more unique content aimed at your closest followers.

LinkedIn brings the best return for shares because the audience is most likely to be specific. What i find works to get shares in LinkedIn is to post specific content for this audience on a weekly basis. My shares in LinkedIn are split between 50% from my account and personal network, and 50% from posting to groups. My advice for posting in to groups is to post no more than once a week. To post your link as a discussion, and to post a pre-shortened link you can track. Attaching your link manually to updates allows you to add an image to the post, and posts with an image are 3 times more likely to be opened and shared. Monitor which of your groups allow you to post, and either change or don’t post in to those groups who take your posts down.

Traffic significantly increases (although the relevance goes down), when you get featured as a top 10 page on the front of LinkedIn. The magic number in an average week to get front page listing as a most shared post is around 63 shares in LinkedIn. With the right groups and targeted content, this is achievable. If you want exposure, write with this in mind.

These are the experiences I have from my network, based on the data I have analysed. I’d recommend that you conduct the same tracking in order to understand your own network, and to get the best out of it. I always advocate test practice over best practice. Let me know how you get on.

Bill