Repackaging articles: it's my job.
This doesn't mean I change the meaning of your work or discredit your decisions with your own pieces. It simply means I make them look (for lack of a better term) 'prettier.'
Think of it this way: you create, and I wrap the gift. I just add the bows and ribbons. It's still the same content on the inside – just a little more pizzazz on the outside.
As Social Media Director for my Odyssey team, I decided to compose a list of helpful tips to benefit not only my community, but others as well.
A little attention to detail goes a long way.
1. Headlines vs. Titles
What makes a headline different from a title? Think news.
Even if your article has nothing to do with current events, it's still important to format it as such. People love to learn something new.
For example, think about click-bait. As annoying as it can be, it still peaks interest. Why? It appeals to a sense of curiosity.
Aside from a cover photo, your headline is the first thing people see. Try something different with your editorials, short stories or poetry.
Viewers are much more likely to click on "Poetry On Odyssey: A Morning Of Peace" than they are to click on "A Morning Of Peace," since it gives no indication of structure.
Is it a short story? A video? A dry humor joke? They don't know, and they have little desire to figure it out.
Social media users are lazy (myself included), so giving a heads up as to what they're getting themselves into will prevent them from scrolling past, without losing any of your own creativity along the way!
Often referred to as a "teaser," the sub-headline does just that. It's an extension of the headline.This is your chance to be more specific with your piece, without giving everything away.
A good rule of thumb is to scan your article for a line that gives a little more detail: just enough to keep people engaged.
It should be an independent clause or a statement that makes an impact all on its own. Format it to flow with the headline and ask yourself, "Would I click on this?"
3. Cover Photos.
If you love photography, take advantage of the opportunity to use your own work.
Whatever you do, stray away from the typical silhouette of a girl in a dramatized landscape. I know "finding yourself" is a popular aesthetic right now, but there are other ways to represent that than with the last scene in a modern rom-com.
4. White Space
Creating a decent amount of white space can be tricky at first. Because writing your article on a laptop is formatted differently than when being viewed on a mobile device, you want to break up your paragraphs accordingly.
The easiest way to do this is to check the "Preview" tab and analyze how it will look in mobile format. Few viewers want to read a five-paragraph essay, so be sure you're giving their eyes a break!
5. Page Breaks.
Similar to white space, a page break is something little that goes a long way.
It can separate your introduction from your first point in a list, your conclusion from your final point or different ideas within an article. It just depends on your material. Play around with one or two and see if they flow with the text.
6. Bold and Italics.
Although basic, bold and italic fonts are extremely effective in emphasizing main points.
Let's say you have an explanation paragraph (giving background information, advice, etc.) and you want your viewer to take away something specific from what you just wrote. Try separating the "moral of the story" from the main paragraph.
Keep it short, sweet and to the point.
Much like highlighting or underlining important information, too much can easily become overkill.
Use them wisely.
7. Closing Engagement.
A popular trend right now is to include a page break at the end of a list, with a brief conclusion or ending engagement.
Another effective tool is to include information about how an individual can get involved. An article about a celebrity doing charity work may call for a link to donate, just as an article about suicide prevention may include a phone number to the hotline.
Controversial and political topics especially call for an engagement opportunity. Suggest contacting a local representative or link a petition as an option to make a change.
People love to know when they make a difference, so give them the chance to engage with the material!
8. Meta Descriptions.
This is what pops when your article appears on a search engine. Make sure your meta title is as simple as possible in relation to your topic (not necessarily the same as the headline, but it can be).
This way, it's more likely to show as a result when people search for related topics.
The meta description should serve as a longer subhead for your meta title. Using a portion of your introduction to tease the tone of your article will give viewers a feel of your style.
Honestly, go nuts. You can never have too many. The more attached to an article, the more likely viewers will be to find it.
For this article, I'll be tagging 'Write,' 'Writing,' 'Tips For Writing,' 'Writing Tips,' 'The Odyssey,' 'The Odyssey Online,' etc. It's saying the same thing, but in different ways to give me more options.
I'll also include the names of different sharing platforms, different types of articles, and each of my individual points.
Think outside the box. Let's say you've composed the "Ultimate Party Playlist" and you're trying to add some tags.
Don't settle for 'music,' 'party,' and 'playlist.' Add the plurals of tags and extensions like 'college,' 'high school,' 'pool party,' 'house party,' etc. Include details about the target audience as well as the topic itself.
Get descriptive, include it all and then some. If you can think of it, tag it.
10. Social Media Brief.
Not to be confused with your message in your saved share for social media, your social media brief is another form of engagement.
It serves a similar purpose as the sub headline: to tease the story. If desired, you make your sub headline and brief the same statement, but if you're torn between two quotes, this gives you an opportunity to use both!
11. Saved Shares.
Avoid at all costs asking your social media friends to '"like and share."
I promise you, it's already implied. The goal is to come across as personable, yet professional – and desperately asking for views doesn't help the latter.
If it's a personal piece, give a little background as to why you chose to write it. If not, include some sort of engagement like a rhetorical or answer-seeking question instead.
12. Platform Sharing.
Know your audience. Use age and culture appropriate messages in your posts depending on platform and friends/followers.
No matter what, use hashtags. Take advantage of Facebook groups and don't hesitate to send a direct message to pages that could benefit from sharing your material.
Snapchat has made life easier for writers everywhere by including the option to link a webpage to a snap. Click the paperclip icon, attach the URL, and post it on your story.
Aside from holiday-specific material, don't be afraid to share old pieces more than just when they pop up on your Facebook memories.
If you write an article about winter break, it's OK to share it more than just once throughout vacation. Remind people of what you're proud of by keeping your work relevant and alive.
Get in contact with your team's Social Media Director for more tips. If you don't have one in your community, then hello, my name is Jackie; it's nice to meet you!