When I first joined Google+ a little over two years ago, I was a link litterer. I was one of those jerks who would just pop on my profile or a community and link my blog, hoping that someone clicked the link and bemoaning fate when inevitably no one did. But then something happened. I started actually interacting with some amazing people. Then I started to learn a thing or two from these people and it mattered how my posts were received. I started to take note of how the best of them posted and what drew me in as a reader. The following post/rant is my attempt to rehabilitate fellow link litters by remembering the following:
- Build Relationships with Your Readers
- Time is Money
- Toss Out a Carrot
- Make Your Post Stand Out
- Format for E-mail
Build Relationships with Your Readers
Don’t just “hit it and quit it.” This isn’t some random one-night stand. As an author/blogger, you want to build a relationship with the reader. Don’t just drop your link in a community or on your profile. This will not entice people to click your link. In fact, it might actually cause people to mute you.
Post an excerpt (or heck the whole post [more on this later]) with the link. Ask questions and engage the other G-Plussers. Don’t be a douche. People hate link litter.
Time is Money
Here’s a conversation that I witnessed in a community.
Blogger: * posts link to blog post *
- Reader: “What’s the link about?”
- Blogger: “Well click the link and find out.”
- Reader: “Nope. Sorry not worth it.”
Time is money. That old adage has never been truer. In the glut of information that is available, time is the most valuable commodity for most people. We just don’t have the time to go clicking every random link that someone posts.
The above blogger just didn’t get that. He was still stuck in the “mysterious is better” phase. Rather than provide value or interest for the reader, he was just lazy. I think he subscribed to the “if you build it, they will come” mentality. I hate to break some bloggers’ hearts but that only happens in Kevin Costner movies.
When linking your post, you have to do something to set your link apart. You have to make the reader WANT to click the link. In addition once they click the link, you have to provide content that is at least one of the following:
- Adds value
The more of these aspects that a post has the more likely it is that a potential reader is to come back for more.
Toss Out a Carrot
Earlier, I mentioned providing an excerpt or a transcript the whole post with the link. A really well chosen excerpt can be just the carrot that someone needs to click the link.
Just in case it’s not clear, when I say to post the transcript, this applies only to your own content. When posting a link to someone else’s content, only provide an excerpt unless they give you permission to post a transcript. When sharing someone else’s stuff, be sure to add your own thoughts and commentary.
Posting a transcript may seem counter-intuitive at first glance. I would argue that it’s not. Google+ is about building relationships and interactions. Providing the whole transcript of the post with the link is more likely to start an in-depth discussion about the topic on the thread. Be sure to participate in this discussion. You can also embed the Google+ discussion at the bottom of the blog post (only if it is a public post). If people like what you are saying they are more likely to visit your blog/author page and look around.
Make Your Post Stand Out
If possible, upload a picture with your link. Why is this? Because pictures standout in the stream. Even though Google+ ‘s layout is more appealing and easy on the eyes than all other social media out there, sometimes your link can get lost in the glut of information.
Notice the image I used with this post. I choose this image because I knew this was going to be a post on the longer side and I wanted to interject a little bit of humor into it. Plus since the underlying theme of this is to not be a douche, why use a picture of one of the biggest ever?
The point is that the picture draws your eye (much like white space in a newspaper ad) to it. I could be scrolling down my Google+ page and, honestly, I slow down for every picture. Think of it as the book cover to your post.
Format for E-Mail
This is one that I haven’t really seen addressed anywhere before and maybe it is just a personal problem. But maybe, just maybe, there are other people out there who have the same issue. I get my Google+ communities sent to my emails. I do this because during a busy day, I may not be able to get on Google+. Sometimes, I just miss posts. I’m a member of some really great communities and I love the information that I am provided.
When I can’t get on Google+, I routinely check my email (whether by phone or pc) to scan through the messages. I’ll delete the ones that have no interest for me and I’ll star the ones that I want to read later.
When you just drop your link and provide no commentary or explanation, or you share someone else’s link with no commentary or explanation, all that the email says is “so and so shared a post with you”. That’s it. No carrot. No interesting, valuable, or engaging content. Just “so and so shared a post with you”. There are very few people that I will blindly click their links. These are people that have built a relationship with not only me but with all their readers.
Here are two examples:
Which one are you more likely to click?
When linking your content on Google+, decide what kind of reader you want to target? Are you looking for a one-night stand or a long-term relationship?
* DISCLAIMER – My name is Erin and I used to be a link litterer. *