Oh my goodness we share a lot of links.
For whatever reason, this really struck me when I was looking at my social streams the other day. Tonnes of links on Twitter. On Facebook, I scoured for longer than I care to admit before I found a brand post that didn’t contain a link. Same story on Google+. And LinkedIn, still more links.
Links are good. They let us – you know – link to longer format content that we’ve curated from the web or spent time and effort to create ourselves.
Oftentimes, there’s more to a story than what we feel can be communicated in a relatively short social media update and links can serve as a means to get that complete story across.
Also, links are trackable. We know how often they’re clicked, where they’re clicked, the origin of their click, and more. All valuable intel.
This said, I think we all might be a little addicted to our blue-underlined friends.
And take note that I’m not discluding myself from this statement. I publish more than my share of links on social media as well. As a matter of fact, when this post is published, the first thing I’m going to do is share a link to it on a host of social media networks.
So, by now you’re probably wondering why I’m blathering on about sharing links, right?
I’m going on about it because there’s amazing social media content to be shared that is entirely link-less, and we could be doing our businesses, or the brands we work on, a great disservice by publishing so much link-ridden content.
Here are some of the problems with proposed solutions for breaking your addiction to links:
By driving your social media audience to a piece of linked content, you are also driving them away from the very place that you’re undoubtedly hoping for them to interact with you by leaving a ‘like’, sharing, commenting, +1-ing, pinning, favouriting or re-tweeting.
When they are on their preferred social media network, they are predisposed to behaving socially, and when you drive them away, you change that predisposition as you’re sending them to unfamiliar territory.
Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are hugely popular social media networks on mobile devices. Know why? Because they allow users to have a meaningful social experience without jumping around all over the web. It’s easy to favourite a photo because you can see the image right there, without leaving the app. As for Twitter, it’s dead simple to type 140 characters or less on a virtual keyboard in response to a tweet that shows up in your feed.
Learn a thing or two from these platforms and don’t make your audience link all over the web to get some value out of your content. On mobile devices, the sweet spot is providing bite-size content, offering tremendous value right in your post, and not asking too much by way of interaction.
People get lazy when publishing links to social media. How many links do you see get shared with anything more than the name of the article or page that is being linked to as the body of the update? My guess is very few. All of the value is on the other end of the link. Sure, if someone clicks-through, they’re going to revel in the tremendous value you’ve provided by sharing a link, but the proportion of people that click is likely relatively small to the number of people that see what you’ve published on their preferred social media network and move onto browsing the next update.
Give people some meat to sink their teeth into without requiring a click. Get creative to figure out how you can catch someone’s attention, inspire them to take further action, educate them, or make them feel something within the limitations that social media platforms place on us, and stop using links as a crutch for what is otherwise sub-par social media content.
Businesses that do what a thousand other similar businesses do on social media are doomed to a social existence of sameness and mediocrity at best.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ve got to do something that will set you apart, and that isn’t publishing a gaggle of uninspired links. Again, find ways to capture attention, inspire, educate, entertain and inform without resorting to a link on every post. Get creative and spend the time to create something different and amazing, and people will take notice.
What proportion of your business’ social media updates would you guess contain links?
How do you provide value on social media without links?
How do you make sure you are maximizing the value you provide when you DO publish links?
What brands do you look to for link-less social media content inspiration?
It would be awesome to hear what you think in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial