It’s important not to be a one-writer/artist show on Facebook. It’s absolutely OK to share links from other writers or blogs and promote other people’s work if it’s something your fans would enjoy. The problems I see are when only links to a writer’s own content (sometimes to the exclusion of any other kind of content) are posted, writers too shy to post links to their own content, or posting links without showing fans how or why that’s relevant to your brand.
But beyond posting relevant links, and a good mix of the kinds of links you’re posting, how the link looks on Facebook can hinder how many clickthroughs your content receives.
First, you need to know when you share a photo or link from another Page or Profile, you won’t get credit for the interaction generated by that content. Not full credit anyway. The original poster will get the full credit for every Like, Comment and Share even if it’s on your Page. If I post a photo and twelve people share that photo—great! My friend Joe shared my photo and got ten Likes and one Share on my photo—super great because I get credit for all those interactions too. This is why it’s important to post your own content and not rely entirely on sharing content from others.
Lost Opportunities To Shine
The worst thing I see are people who post a link and run. They don’t stick around to make sure the link is going to appear in news feeds in an attractive way (you definitely want the bigger link share image instead of the thumbnail). They don’t give people a reason to click through. Auto-posting from other websites can be problematic because you have no idea how it’s going to appear until it’s already posted. Don’t be afraid to delete a post and try again to get it looking right.
This kind of link sharing is awful. Have I given you any reason at all to click on that? I see so many writers doing this. They don’t edit the link preview, don’t add a hook or editorial comment, no photo. Thumbs down.
Cosmetic Link-Sharing Tips
Having a great post title is only part of the equation. You need a great photo that appears properly as well. When words are cut off or the photo is off-centre, or is too small and only appears as a thumbnail, this is not your best foot forward. The news feed moves fast and is a competitive space.
Facebook usually (sometimes this is glitchy) provides a link preview box. When you paste a link URL into the status box, a larger box will appear with the website page you’ve linked to. Most parts of that box are editable. If the title is scrambled or garbled you can fix that, if there’s no link description or it’s the wrong description usually you can fix that. If the wrong image comes up, most of the time you can flip through other images or upload a different one. (I’m only advocating editing these details when it’s a link to your own content.)
All of these cosmetic type things give your link the best possible edge in a crowded news feed space. But what will really make it stand out is the hook. You have to give people a reason to click through to read the post.
Facebook penalizes anything it considers link-bait. What’s that? Link-bait are those hooks that entice you to click through without telling you anything about the content. “See what Miley did last week?” or “You won’t believe this until you see it for yourself.” <– That’s link-bait. Don’t do that.
Instead, just like you’re going to try and hook your reader on the first page, hook those reading your link to click through. What value are you offering? Why should they spend their precious five minutes reading your content? Sometimes you can quote the post, ask a question, offer a small piece of the wisdom — there are lots of ways to do this. Be creative.
Get some writer friends together and test out your links on each other. Would they click through if they didn’t know you? How could you craft more compelling hooks?
What if it’s not your link?
Sometimes you post a link to a news article or another blog because you’re looking to get a discussion going. A friend is a mommy blogger and she posted a link to a news item where a home daycare provider was charged for calling Children’s Aid. That’s a news item that would be both interesting and relevant to her readers, and one people will likely form an opinion about. People will read the article, but the point or objective in posting that content was to get a discussion going.
You craft your hook based on the kind of interaction you’re looking for. The hook crafted to generate discussion will look different than the hook crafted to drive traffic to a blog.
So, here’s a link I posted that really wasn’t effective. The smaller thumbnail showed up and definitely did not draw people in at all. I’m also giving people a reason NOT to click *slaps wrist* Bad writer.
I wrote this hook mainly to get people to laugh, but it sparked a pretty interesting discussion among my tech friends which then reached friends of friends (and then the discussion went over my head – but that’s OK). 😀
I shared this link and it did very well in driving traffic. Can you see how different the hooks were for each link I shared and reflected what actions I wanted people to take. I should have taken an extra second and tweaked the link description so it wasn’t cut off.
Do you struggle to write effective hooks, or forget to edit link previews?
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