You see, users from social news sites have very short attention spans while browsing these sites. They’re generally there to read multiple news stories and articles, and they don’t want to spend an enormous amount of time on any one story. Thus, it’s important to keep content in a simple format so these users can digest the information as quickly and easily as possible.
Formatting linkbait in the proper way is one of the key ingredients of an overall successful campaign. You can have a great article that would otherwise provide an excellent resource, but if it reads like a novel you won’t be able to keep the attention of many of these readers long enough for them to finish it, let alone link back to it. Here are some useful tips for formatting your linkbait content.
Use paragraph headers. When possible, use headers for new paragraphs or topical changes (for example, this paragraph starts with a header). This allows people to easily scan the page for the information most useful to them, and most of the time readers can actually get the meat from the article by only reading the headings, if they choose.
Leverage lists. There’s a reason that top 10 lists work really well on social news sites. Even though some people have been predicting their demise for years, it’s a psychological thing that will never go away. People skim content online like never before. Lists make it easy for them to skim that content.
Say it in pictures. Pictures really do say a thousand words. When possible, use pictures in lieu of lengthy paragraphs. Pictures work very well on social news sites and I often see pictures go popular on their own.
Now, of course these tips don’t work in every situation. There is no one cookie-cutter approach to social media marketing, and all situations are different. There are times when in-depth articles can actually work better then simplifying information. The more time you spend on social news sites, the better you’ll understand when and how to format each linkbait article. However, you can usually never go wrong with keeping it simple…stupid.
Cameron Olthuis is the Founder and CEO of Factive Media and writes regularly on social media issues for a number of respected publications. The Let’s Get Social column appears Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.