Before social media entered the stage a marketer’s job was two-fold: write a compelling landing page and drive traffic to that landing page. But the internet has changed all of that.
Not so much the internet, but social media. In particular — networks like Twitter, Reddit, 4chan, and YouTube — the most potent platforms for transmitting and spreading an idea.
The influence these sites have had on web writing is huge. So huge that some online publishers have changed their editorial process to reflect this influence.
And some publishers are even launched to take advantage of social sites.
In this 8-minute episode you’ll discover:
- One way to get on the front page of Reddit
- A short history of the Overly Attached Girlfriend meme
- The Atlantic’s new social over SEO editorial policy
- Why SEO is still insanely important
The Show Notes
How This Social Media Thing Kicked Web Writing Right in the Feels
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Demian Farnworth: Howdy, and you are listening to Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I am Demian Farnworth, the Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media. I also happen to be the host of this show.
Thank you for listening.
Since 2001 I’ve been writing copy for the web. I’ve been in the web writing world long enough to have mastered the fundamentals of persuasive web writing. I’ve been writing copy for landing pages, sales letters, email newsletter subscription forms.
And the rules for writing persuasive copy remain:
But things have changed my friend.
Before social media entered the stage, a marketer’s job was two-fold: write a compelling landing page and drive traffic to that landing page.
And the internet has changed all of that.
Not so much the internet, but social media, in particular — networks like Twitter, Reddit, 4chan, and YouTube — the most potent platforms for transmitting and spreading an idea.
An idea that takes off is a meme. Often the most popular memes are silly and juvenile.
One Way to Get on the Front Page of Reddit
For example, a Reddit user named TrentonJ took this photograph of a bunch of young male teenagers laughing hysterically (six years after it was originally published), added some profane text and then submitted it to the subreddit /r/AdviceAnimals.
With just 278 upvotes in 27 days the photo failed to reach the home page. This was not a successful meme.
Twenty-six days later TrentonJ tried again. He changed the text (added even more profanity) and re-submitted the photo. This time it reached the front page with 13,850 upvotes in 48 hours.
That’s huge. But not as huge as the meme, known as Overly Attached Girlfriend.
A Short History of the Overly Attached Girlfriend Meme
Young woman responds to a Justin Bieber singing contest. Her song is about a clingy, stalker-like lover — an overly attached girlfriend.
“If I was your girlfriend / I’d never let you leave / without a small recording device / taped under your sleeve
“I’ll always be checking up on you / Hey, boy, who you talking to? / Spend a day with your girl, I’ll be calling you my husband.”
She takes her video, parks it on YouTube, someone shares it on Reddit, and in less than two days it has over 1.4 million times views.
And just four months later, the video was viewed over 12,600,000 times. But that’s not all. The video then generated a slew of image memes … my favorite one being a shot of the jealous girlfriend, with text that reads: “I was looking through your texts earlier. Who’s mom?”
The Atlantic’s New Social Over SEO Editorial Policy
And it was this sort of monstrous influence that social media has on content that convinced Atlantic Monthly to make social more important than SEO. Around the same time as these two memes were getting off the ground, AM adjusted their editorial strategy is to increase the viral chances of each article by running their headlines through three layers of editors.
First the Atlantic writers are responsible for coming up with their own headlines. This is no easy task, but there are certain methods you can use to create a viral-worthy headline.
Second, after the writer submits his or her article with the preferred headline, the channel editors often rewrite the headline.
And after that, the homepage editor might rewrite it, too. But that’s not all.
Those headlines you see at the Atlantic Monthly site will probably be different from what you see shared on Facebook or Twitter. What they are after are trying to find the most popular and shareable headline variation.
Why SEO is Still Insanely Important
Long ago discovery by search was dominant. But that’s not the case any longer. Now, discovery by social media rules. We let content come to us via our friends and via our social networks (for instance, people go to Reddit to discover the “news”).
Now I need to point out that search, when it comes to conversions, like turning leads into customers, search outranks social …
But we can’t dismiss the power that social can have on your content. Social allows for more opportunities to reach new audiences, new leads. New readers.
Which brings me back to the influence social media has on persuasive copy, and the influence that persuasive copy can have on social.
Which we’ll explore in the next episode of the Rough Draft.
Until then. Take care.