We look at the importance of ‘selling’ your stories when posting to social media, in order to boost sharing.
In our guide to making a story go viral from last week, we touched on the idea of the ‘social lede’ as an important factor in determining how popular your story is when first posted on Facebook or Twitter.
We see great examples of well-headlined stories getting huge shares in Spike every day, and that has helped us understand the important role of finding a shareable nugget in your story.
Here are four examples to further explain the concept of the social lede, and the importance of presentation of stories on Facebook and Twitter.
1) Mashable’s coverage of Floyd Mayweather’s fight against Marcos Maidana was the second most-tweeted story of last month.
The story ended up with over 50,000 tweets in September, over 10,000 of which came straight from this one Mashable tweet, showing the potential there is to ‘seed’ viral stories amongst your subscribers and fans. It’s hard to imagine such engagement had the headline been ‘Floyd Mayweather wins fight against Marcos Maidana’, especially on Twitter, where quirky facts and quick takeaways are hugely popular.
The clever headline has made it much more interesting to non-boxing fans, while retaining the essence of the story. This is something that many traditional news sites are getting used to balancing. As former washingtonpost.com Executive Editor Jim Brady put it in a recent interview:
“…a headline doesn’t have to tell you everything about the story. For traditional news organizations, the headline for the movie “Old Yeller” would have been “Dog Shot.” It’s OK for the headline to draw people in without giving away the ending. It’s the same issue with the traditional inverted pyramid. That structure is designed to get people to leave sooner. ”
2) The below BBC News story is one of the most shared stories on Facebook in the last seven days, according to NewsWhip Insights. What makes it so popular?
Human perseverance and positive news stories are known to drive sharing, and this amazing story of a man taking his first steps after a serious injury is a perfect example. BBC News’ huge Facebook subscriber base also helps improve its reach.
But the BBC social media team have made some tweaks to help the story’s presentation. The very short video gets right to the point of the whole story – a man walking again for the first time. The accompanying copy is doesn’t overload readers with the facts or whole story of the case. Instead, they provide a shortened URL for readers to click through to read the rest of the story, which is well reported.
In all, the message ‘watch this man walk again’ is a legitimate ‘stop the scroll’ moment for many on Facebook.
3) Here’s an example from the Guardian, which our Insights data has recorded getting over 9,900 Facebook shares since October 15.
This is a technical story, but one which the Guardian does a good job of explaining as succinctly as possible. There’s not much repetition of reporting anywhere in the accompanying text, the headline, or the description. The post’s image is large enough to ensure it’s the larger of the two sizes on Facebook. In all, an interesting story that will be shared heavily within a certain circle of readers interested in energy and science.
4) Here’s a final example from Twitter, effectively illustrating a before and after:
The story is one of the most tweeted of the last seven days. The author’s initial tweet undersold the story – it wasn’t direct enough, and probably sounded too ‘salesy’ for most readers.
A second effort, with the all important graph, and a much more direct accompanying description, was far more successful.
How Can I Improve My Social Ledes?
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