SHO-time. A user-centric canvas for Sharing Optimisation

Recently I was invited to give a keynote at Social Media Day about ‘social amplification’, so I decided to apply my user-centric thinking framework to the day’s theme and come up with something useful.

Social Amplification

Yes, as organisations we produce loads of stuff. But whether the output is content, advertising, tools or even our product, it’s increasingly important that it ‘travels’.
(Social) marketing is moving from ‘Be where they are’ and ‘Be where they care’ to ‘Know where they share’.
(thank you @faris for inspiration).

So for the talk, I developed a canvas for SHO aka Sharing Optimisation. It’s a synthesis of my experience running workshops and it’s pretty pragmatic. It’s not predictive, but meant to guide and trigger our thinking. It’s something that can easily be embedded into a team’s culture. Because the reality is: we’re not all Buzzfeed and very few of us can afford 7 behavioural psychologists and a bespoke analytics tool.

So here are the 6 steps (version 0.3).

1. Who

Building ‘characters’ for your organisation’s story (I prefer the word ‘character’ to the marketing-term ‘persona’) is a useful tool. When you do that, designing a person’s network will help with Sharing Optimisation. It will help us understand the person in a networked context.

The tool, I’ve found, is as silly as simple, i.e. draw 2 circles around your character. Fill in the gaps.

2. Why

The crux. Obviously.

I’ve been a huge fan of Clay Christensen’s Jobs To Be Done methodology. It trains you in digging deeper and I’ve found you can also apply this thinking to Sharing Needs.

Starting with your characters, you can do simple exercises to extract Sharing Needs aka Sharing Stories.

3. What

The creative part. Forget frameworks.

But if 1 and 2 are the parameters, if they are part of the ‘briefing’, it should be easier to find the overlap between people’s sharing needs and you as an organisation. With sharing needs in mind, you will come up with different (content/ad/product/…) ideas.

4. Where

The channel mix. The fragmentation of channels is real. It’s nearly impossible to hit them all correctly. And people use different channels for different needs.

Getting your characters and needs right will help you with making choices. Where would your target audiences mainly share?

5. How

Buzzfeed looks at ‘sharing statements’ to identify sharing needs. I’ve found that you can also use these ‘sharing statements’ as a briefing for the creative, the copy, the images.

In other words: how can you include language or imagery that would trigger the share?

It’s worth the exercise. I’ve done it with clients and increased the sharing ratio of their content with up to 100%.

6. Data

I’ve not completely cracked this, I feel. But one thing I know is that in this subject matter the data should feed the rest of the loop. Yes, business objectives are key. Yes, reach will remain important. Yes, predictive tools are the future!

But on a day-to-day basis, people who deal with ‘social amplification’ can do worse than using data to understand sharing, to get to the Why. For content for instance, that could mean looking at share-ratio instead of reach. I’ve noticed that just that little change can have an impact on the culture of a team.

And culture is where it’s at eventually. But that’s for another story.


This is SHO aka Sharing Optimisation v0.3. If you have used this or something similar, give me a shout and we’ll make version 0.4 etc.

Originally published at on March 24, 2016.

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