A Social Media Moment: The Importance of Sharing on Facebook

With my arrival to the Meso Foundation, I have decided to offer a new segment from time to time here on the blog. With “A Social Media Moment” we offer a quick tutorial and commentary on getting the most out of social media in order to raise awareness in the pursuit of a cure. —TM

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At the Meso Foundation we are all about mesothelioma awareness, and in our social media initiative one of our most powerful and influential tools is Facebook. With both a Group Page and a Fan Page, we are reaching out to the world with our message and advocacy, but in the brief time I’ve been on board I have noticed a trend that tends to go overlooked in one of our most powerful platforms. What I see is people going to our respective pages and “Liking” what they see (which is great – please keep doing that!) but not sharing what they like.

What’s the difference? Quite a bit, actually.

First, you’ll hear many seasoned social media experts go on (and on…) about the importance (or, no kidding — Return on Investment) of a “Like” on Facebook. The “Like” is very important in that it is easily trackable, and when you like a page or a news item — be it our own Foundation’s page, a friend’s funny picture of the day, or a song shared via Spotify — it is a trackable statistic. At a glance, you can see how many times your page or news item has been liked, and your own profile page lets your network know that you have liked something today.

This is where a “Like” on its own falls short. Let’s say, for example, a posting like “Pro-Asbestos Lobbying Institute Announces Its Closing” goes live on our blog. We post a link on Facebook back to the post, and you like it. The statistic shows up on the article itself and might appear on your profile page, depending on which “look” your Facebook timeline falls into.  Still, it is a statistic and one you can see at a glance…but how is that helping to spread awareness? Clicking the “Like” option on Facebook is still a terrific option, but what this does — and why it is so important to do, particularly for when you like Fan and Group pages — is that you become “subscribed” to that particular image, status update, or news item, so that you are notified once anyone comments or likes it as well. Good to know when you want to track topic interest or a conversation, but by itself not enough to raise awareness.

Sharing an item on Facebook, while not as easily trackable as a “Like,” is a far more powerful ways and means in spreading your message. Unlike the “Like” where your network subscribes to an item, with a “Share” members of your Facebook network will literally take the entire item — link, title, associated images — and place it in both their feeds and on their profile wall. This way, not only do they see it on their wall, but so will everyone in their respective networks.

Sharing an item is just as easy as liking an item. Look at the options on a Facebook post, and you should see they read from left-to-right is Like, Comment, and finally Share. Click on “Share” and add your own note or comment to the item.  Now instead of just a link and a public statistic, when shared the item itself is distributed throughout your network and, potentially, networks of your friends. At a glance people see the image, the story, or the full status update, offering direct access to blogposts and other websites outside of Facebook. “Sharing” is tapping into the networking potential of Facebook; and with enough shares, it is very easy to see how quickly one story can go viral. This potential all starts with one person sharing.

We at the Meso Foundation still appreciate it when we get “Likes.” It is an informal way of knowing when a particular blog column or news item resonates with our community. “Sharing” our news and what we do at the Meso Foundation, however, is what we strive for as this is our most effective means on Facebook to spread our message of mesothelioma awareness and call for action. The more people share our status updates, our news postings, and our photos and videos, the more assurance we have that our message is extending beyond our circles and more into your own. So the next time you are visiting us on Facebook and giving us a “Like” go one step further and “Share” that item (or items) on our page that caught your eye. It may surprise you just how far-reaching that simple gesture of sharing will go.

Besides, it’s something we’re taught all through life — it’s good to share. Right?

If you have any questions concerning a social media outlet or would like input on a networking strategy in order to reach more people concerning mesothelioma, drop me a line at tmorris@curemeso.org or leave a comment here and I will cover it in a future blogpost. 

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