The Headline Economy
Today, we live life in a stream of updates, posts, statuses and tweets. With this constant flow, it’s critical to get information across in an eye-catching way, but also, crucial to work within the boundaries of each platform and cater to specific audiences.
In a recent post, we wrote Four Steps to Deliver More Value in your Social Stream about customizing your stream to deliver more value to your audience. Networks differ, and the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn vary on many dimensions. Brian Solis recently posted statistics on user demographics for each social network. While the average age of a Facebook user is around 38 and they tend to friend people they know in the real world, the average age of a LinkedIn member is about 45 and they often connect with people they have never met for professional networking.
Despite audience/usage differences, the starkest difference between these networks is their limitation of character length. So we are forced to consider the “Headline Economy.” Think about it. On Twitter, you have exactly 140 characters to work your magic: capture attention and draw your audience in amongst a sea of other messages. Within those characters, you have to get eyeballs, tell a story, and hopefully invite an action to dig deeper. On Facebook, you have a little more leeway on character limits (about 400 characters), but still have to make sure that every word counts, and counts in a way that resonates with the people who read your updates.
With these restrictions, it seems that today’s messages are boiled down to a succession of headlines, fighting for the attention of readers. Customers are forced to become scanners and action is based purely on a few enticing characters. Questions follow – Are facts coming second to presentation? How will the world of journalism cater to this new attention span? Will we have to learn new skills in writing the perfect headline.
The ‘stream’ is becoming the accepted UI of content consumption. Have you ever stared at a real stream of water and tried to focus on one spot – not easy. How do you expect your readers to do the same with your twitter and Facebook accounts? You are one source of content they receive. Give them something to focus on. Make your headline standout.
Below is a very basic example of a few easy things you can do to add more relevance, branding and SEO prior to distributing your content to your social networks (Dlvr.it can automate much of the work to save time).
1. Simple Twitter item fed via a feed.
2. The same tweet but enhanced with branding and SEO.
“Dlvr.it Blog” was added as a prefix and “#Social_Media” was included as a postfix hashtag to help add more structure to the tweet while making it more findable in search.
Our advice for attracting readers? Keep it catchy, enticing, and most importantly relevant. Continue to fill streams with a variety of content, thought and invitation for discussion. Use filters and hashtags to provide context for your readers. These are the best ways to leverage the “Headline Economy.”