Casting for “click bait” on social media

From dud to viral: Making social media work for you
By alicia Anstead, Writer Editor-in-Chief | Published: June 3, 2014


Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 6.21.06 AMIf you’re like us here at The Writer, you’re constantly scanning Facebook pages and Twitter feeds for high-level news and insights about the field of writing. You may even pause to marvel at, respond to or “favorite” a well-written tweet. Because everyone on our team participates in social media in one way or another, our eyes also gravitate toward stories that help us figure out how to do it better, how to increase engagement or answer why we should do Facebook and Twitter at all.

Two stories in the social media smog caught my attention this week. This one, from Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab is about the power communicators behind Twitter feeds of seven leading news organizations such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and CNN. You don’t have to be a social media genius to know that manually written tweets move faster and do better than automated ones. But, the Nieman story posits, many news organizations — and we would add writers — “struggle with the return-on-investment question — is the extra engagement worth the extra effort?” The story doesn’t exactly answer that question, but reading about the real-life voices and strategies behind the accounts may add muscle to your own social media spit.

In a similar vein, The New York Times takes a deeper look at what makes a video go viral. You can strive for a megahit on YouTube, but more often you get a dud. Authors, who increasingly use video to promote their books and personal brands, need to think about video as a powerful if elusive tool. It’s “powerful enough to topple dictatorships and profitable enough to merit multibillion-dollar investments,” the article points out. “But scientists are only beginning to explore the psychological motivations that turn a link into ‘click bait’ and propel a piece of content to Internet fame.” The best advice? “Traffic in emotion.” Be funny. Be sad. The key is to arouse. Get emotional, baby.

Writers have a distinct advantage over others when it comes to social media. We can easily imagine a story in 140 characters. We can tap into emotion. And we understand the importance of being strategic. What are the ways you optimize your voice and presence in social media? What works for you? What can we teach our colleagues in newsrooms about making the technology work for you?