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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How to Write Articles That Go Viral | Daniel Zeevi, Social Media Today

I can't say I want everything I write in my Garblog--or any of it--to go "viral." To me, that would mean people with all kinds of interests and needs read an article of mine and then share it--and that process happens over and over again, endlessly. 

I just don't feel that need ... because I don't want just anyone--or everyone--to read what I write here. I want people to read my blog items, share them AND comment on them because they meet a particular need or interest of theirs. And the need or interest I usually focus on is communication and doing that communicating creatively and clearly--usually in writing. I want to help my blog readers do that. 

And readers with those needs and interests ... sure, may my posts go viral!

Anyway, based on what blogger Zeevi advises in this article, I think he would agree with that narrower objective.

Here are some excerpts and comments on his advice:

1. Understand Market Trends in Social Media
You should always check out what topics are hot on social media. You might be writing an article about a product, service, fiction or nonfiction. Regardless of what it is, it will need to be relevant today, or on the verge of being important tomorrow. ...
To me, that advice makes the point I was making above but from a different angle. It requires us as writers to find out the particular topics (about communication, writing and creatively, in my case) that our regular or potential readers want to read about now ... or tomorrow. 
2. Write Longer In-depth Content
In a study of the New York Times' most emailed list, data showed that longer content is more likely to get shared. This doesn't mean you need to stuff your content with filler, but obviously the more context provided by you, the more valuable the piece becomes to others. 
I was pleasantly surprised to read this that advice. I've read some other advice about blogging that that says articles should be short, that Web content in general should be short. While I am an advocate for clear, concise writing (or plain language) that carefully drops needless words, phrases and information, writers must make those decisions with their readers' needs in mind. 

The writer must provide enough information so the targeted readers learn or understand they purpose and key points of an article--and where to go if they want more information or want to react to the information they just read. 

As my blog has developed in the past year, for example, I don't often simply provide a short statement about an article that I'm sharing in this blog--and then link to it. It's more useful to my readers--and to me, to be honest--to study an article or website enough so I can highlight, summarize and comment on key points that mean something to me and, I hope, my readers. Or I provide additional information, advice and resources. 
6. Allow Your Content to be Easily Skimmed ...
Use a thumb image at the top of your articles to make the opening passage easier to digest and encouraging your readers to continue reading further. 
I'm not sure what Zeevi means by a thumb image or how it encourages readers besides providing some aesthetic appeal. I need to look into that. But that said, I agree with the heading. Subheads, bullet points and highlighted words help readers skim articles--and read them carefully, as well. Charts and tables also help!
8. Under Promise and Over Deliver on What You're Writing About ...
Let your audience know what you're going to write about and then give them 10 times the information they planned on receiving. Make your first point as strong as your last. Under promise and over deliver and your articles will go viral on social media. People crave interesting and useful content. 
I agree totally that you should highlight or summarize the main point of your article at the beginning, in the headline and first few paragraphs. Grab the attention of readers right away with information that aids readers in deciding if they want to read the rest of the article. Don't waste their time--and irritate them--by writing a mystery novel, at least if you're writing nonfiction. 

But as I wrote in response to Zeevi's point No. 2 above, don't burden readers with redundant, excessive facts, stories, information and details. Make sure that "10 times the information" Zeevi writes about is fresh within the article--and not just 10 ways of saying the same thing. 
9. Share That @#amp;
Unless it's actually a typographical error, Zeevi's heading here doesn't relate to his comments. That heading implies (to me, anyway) that you should cuss and swear--or write something that will offend your readers. Not usually a good idea. But that's not what his following text says. 
10. Ask For Feedback
Lastly, you'll want to test your article to make sure it is worthy content. You can do this by sending your article to several individuals that you trust for a little constructive criticism. ... One of the greatest ways to build traction and engagement with your content is to get your audience involved. ...
Yes! As Zeevi requests at the end of his article, please respond to mine!

Also, my website about clear, concise writing, Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide, provides advice and information that can help you follow some of Zeevi's suggestions. It describes a seven-step process:

  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.
Zeevi's article is featured today, Feb. 26, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Good Cause Communications, available at the Nonprofit Communications tab above and by free email subscription.

1 comment:

  1. In general for writing an article always start with an introduction, then the body and conclusion. But the main facts which are given in the above are a new allusion towards writing a complete and concise article.

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