It’s not news that social media continues to influence both our personal lives and business lives — and those of your customers, clients, donors, volunteers, and supporters too.

According to Nielsen research, people are spending at least 36% of their time online in social media posting messages, sharing photos and videos, and researching topics driven by their passions and interest. If you’re not taking advantage of this behavior, my money says one of your competitors is.

As a small business or nonprofit organization, you play an important role in social media conversations. You need to actively participate, and provide entertaining but useful content to power up those conversations.

Sounds great, but how can you do this with all the other things already on your giant to-do list? As surprising as it sounds, there are two small things you can do that will have a greater impact than you may have imagined.

1. Start sharing yourself.

Let me ask you this: Do you want to increase your social following? Well, sharing useful content can have a direct impact on keeping your current customers and reaching new ones.

As you are part of the conversations going on in social media, it’s important to provide useful content to keep the conversation growing. When you share, it shows you are willing to participate and be an active part of the greater conversation.

It’s important to note that people on Facebook interact with each other differently from how they do on Twitter and LinkedIn. So what doesn’t work? Using the same message on all those social networks. Doing this, you become the company version of that nice but dull person you avoid at parties because they repeat the same bad joke or dull stories every time you see them.

Want to avoid this? Use our Simple Share feature and craft a unique message or abstract for each of the social networks you participate in, even if each of the posts contains a link back to the same article, blog post, or archived email. This small step shows that your business or organization cares enough to not repeat the same content on each of the different social networks.

2. Make it easy for your email subscribers to share.

Now ask yourself, Do you send your customers content to read/watch/listen to that they find interesting? If you answered yes, then you already have the raw material you need to put your army of advocates to work for you in social media.

How? Well, it’s human nature to want to share things that make us feel good or look smart. As a business or organization, you can provide your subscribers with good, helpful information that will make this happen.

After all, nearly three-quarters of consumers prefer to get information from a company in the form of a collection of articles over an ad, according to a CMO and Consumer Attitude Study conducted earlier this year.

To get your useful content shared, use tools that make it quick and easy for the reader, such as our own Share Bar.

Perhaps you’ve seen buttons or bars on email messages or blog posts that look like a collection of miniature social media icons. (They’re often called Chiclets, because they look like the chewing gum.) These buttons are for your readers to use to share your great content, on the spot, and usually with one click.

How come it works? Because your reader is willing to share, and because you’ve provided great content. It’s just that simple.

Have you found success in sharing your own content or getting your army of readers to share it for you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below about topics you had the best results with and what surprised you the most about the experience.