Attention is a rare and precious resource. It’s arguably more difficult than ever before to demand someone’s attention for any length of time.
Attention is now something that cannot be taken, only given. As marketers it is crucial to understand these facts in order to better perform our jobs in a digital world. We must now optimize on numerous fronts. We must be witty, pithy, catchy, exciting, controversial, bright, unexpected, or some combination of all.
And so we come to understand these truths, brush up on our writing skills, and dive headfirst into the realm of social media marketing. We educate ourselves and follow resources like Copyblogger, Problogger, and others. We find many of the old persuasive writing rules still hold (e.g. the purpose of the headline is still to get readers to read the first sentence). Upon further research, we find a bevy of tips and tricks for optimizing social media efforts for Stumble, Digg, RSS, etc.
But in the wake of SEO-ing, SMO-ing, and all other types of O-ing we face the danger of falling into a trap. We must always remember that the quality of the content is paramount and be vigilant not to sacrifice that quality upon the altar of optimization.
Certainly, the headline of your blog post is crucial and, of course, there are ways to tweak it for an increased likelihood of success on different social media channels. I also agree that hooking readers with powerful opening sentences or images is integral to social media success. But a fundamental tenet of social media is that you must engage your readers/viewers/consumers. It is unfortunate and frustrating to find a blog post that is just a series of hooks with no real meat. I have found more than one company blog attempting to play the social media game where each paragraph was just a teaser for the following paragraph. There was no payoff at the end. When methodically optimizing your writing for search engines, social news sites, social bookmarking sites, scanners, visual learners, and diagonal readers you might forget to optimize for the most important person of all: your reader.
Taken directly from the about page here at Copyblogger, copywriting is:
The process of writing words…with the ultimate intention of having the reader take some form of action.
If the purpose of your blog is to provide meaningful content on a subject, then don’t forget that one of the main actions you want your readers to take is to keep reading. Use your skills/tips/tricks at the beginning of your writing to snag the reader’s attention but then don’t be afraid to set those tricks aside and earn that attention with your quality content….with your meat. That is how to engage social media consumers and start to build a relationship with them that will lead to whatever ultimate goal you have.
Effective writing for new media is more than the sum of optimization efforts. The internet is not a commercial, pamphlet, catalog, brochure, radio ad, or magazine spread. Optimization is certainly key to your efforts, but remember that it might not always be best to sacrifice your quality content to the fickle gods of (insert-your-favorite-qualifier-here) optimization.