It’s the oldest trick in the digital marketing playbook: At the end of your post, at the beginning of your video, in the middle of your content, remind people to ‘like, comment, share or subscribe’ to your work.
You’ve seen it and you’ve probably done it too. I know I have. Because I believed that this was the only way to do it. I was encouraged to pursue this line of marketing by every digital marketer and coach out there.
Somewhere along the way, though, and especially after I started following the principles espoused by my own coach George Kao, my perspective shifted.
Why We Don’t Need to Ask People to Share our Content
Before I get into that, let’s look at the flip side.
Why do people ask others to share their content? Because it’s considered an effective call-to-action, right? I mean, how will people outside of our audience know that our content exists if other people don’t share it?
Actually, no. Let me explain. As I kept reading and learning the joy of consistent content creation, I realized a few important things:⠀
1. If the content is good and speaks for itself, people will automatically share it if they feel called to do it. No ask is needed. Think back to a post that you shared with your own audience. Remember how compelling it was, how powerful that you felt called to share it almost on instinct.
2. Every piece of content will reach the right audience at the right time. Whether we believe it or not, our audience is out there and they will find us and our content.⠀
3. Asking people to share feels too much like a sort of compulsion. Pressure, when exerted by an external force, will always face resistance. See how I wove in some Physics there; I can be smart at times.
4. When a person shares someone else’s content voluntarily, it automatically carries more weight and value.⠀⠀
The Danger of the Like Button
In his book Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport explains it thus:
If lots of people click the little heart icon under your latest Instagram post, it feels like the tribe is showing you approval. The other side of this evolutionary bargain, of course, is that a lack of positive feedback creates a sense of distress.
Think about it. How many times have you posted a picture on Instagram, a status update on Facebook, or a post on Medium and then waited for some sort of approval?
Whether that comes in the shape of likes on Facebook, hearts on Instagram, or the number of claps on Medium, the end result is the same: validation and a linking of that validation to our perceived value as creators.
Your Content is More Valuable than ‘Likes’
The Like button, apart from being the most passive form of engagement, is also a dangerous pitfall. It’s a repetitive loop. That means you start associating the quality of your content with the number of likes it has received.
But think about some of your best pieces of creative work- the ones you created in complete obscurity when nobody was watching. Do they not matter because they aren’t visible or don’t have enough likes?
That brings us to the next and possibly more important question:
Would you not create if you didn’t get any social media validation?
What I do instead
Over the last nine months, I’ve focused more on three things: ⠀
- Content creation: In the form of blog posts/Medium posts/social media posts
- Content engagement: When people respond to an idea/leave a comment/start a discussion, I engage with them deeply and completely
- Content sharing: Where I choose what I should curate/amplify and share on each channel so that it reaches the right audience
However, I have stepped away from doing the following. That includes asking people to:⠀⠀
- Bookmark/save my content
- Share my content on their stories/social media channels⠀
- Follow, like, comment, share or subscribe to my profile or channel on any platform
Focus on creating high-quality content and doing so in a way that provides deep nourishment to your soul. When you do this, forget about whether the article will go viral or reach a massive audience. Only think about the absolute joy that you get from the content itself.
All those likes, follows, comments, and shares? They will happen naturally and without your asking for them.
If you enjoyed this, I talk more about how to find joy in content creation & organic growth in my free Friday newsletter for content creators.