“It’s like drinking from a fire hose,” people say about social media. We all know the problem: there’s so much information out there, how do I pick what to read? Or, from the writer’s side: there are so many writers competing for an audience out there, how do I make sure that readers pay attention to what I say–or that they even notice it?
I’ve been following on Twitter since May 2012, and I’ve noticed contributors using the same few strategies for getting attention over and over again. They must work. In fact, some of them hook me. But I’m always sorry afterwards. Even if the content I read was worthwhile and useful, I feel a little soiled because of the way the writer lured me in the first place. Those sordid strategies include:
- Scare tactics. If you called me up on the phone and asked, “Are termites eating your foundations?”, I’d say NO and hang up. I don’t respond to a hard sell. I know it’s not in my interest to do so. Same thing online. If the message is “Read this or your competitors will eat your lunch,” I’m beginning to skip right by that tweet without opening the link. I’ll take my chances on missing a bit of information just to avoid being taken for a sucker.
- Negativity. “How your blog is turning people off.” “The mistakes you’re making on Facebook.” Now, I’m not perfect. I know I have a lot to learn. But couldn’t you possibly present me with an opportunity to do better, instead of telling me that everything I’m doing is wrong?
- Arbitrary numbers. Nothing wrong with presenting a list of four questions, or top ten links, or twenty-two websites…except that everybody’s doing it. After a while, all these numbers run into each other and blur. They sound like a gimmick, and they are. Can we possibly save numbers for when they matter?
You may have noticed that the title of this blog entry uses all three of the strategies I think are being worked to death. How did you respond when you read the title? What do you think now? What are some different (and perhaps better) strategies for standing out and being read?
Note: this post first appeared in March 2013, in my personal blog.