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Engaging Fans and Facebook Users

Today I am going to write about something which seems to be sweeping the Facebook world and is completely irksome and insulting to me, and maybe you, too.

In the past month or so, status updates from companies we follow or “suggested posts” have gone from normal to trying really super hard to get us to click on the links.  The problem is, a bunch of the companies are not following the number one rule of writing:

“SHOW DON’T TELL”.

Here are some results from my news feed tonight:

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Don’t tell me that I will be shocked. Don’t tell me I won’t believe what comes next. Don’t tell me what is next is brilliant.  Don’t even tell me there is a “next” to watch.  Don’t tell me how I will feel or what I will think. I can do that for myself, thank you very much. I joined Facebook on my own, I have a job, I got through school and life, all on my own. I know what is shocking to myself and I know what I believe and don’t believe.  I don’t need you to tell me this.

I know there is a next because there is a link or a video or a screenshot.

This kind of writing is similar to how many people used to write content on their websites.  I have been developing websites for 17 years.  Years ago, many companies would proudly display on their home page:

“Welcome to our website!  Please click on the links to learn more about our company!”

That was fine when no one knew how to use the Internet, or a web site, or a computer, but now, frankly, it’s insulting.  Telling someone how to click on your links is like being a passenger in a car, and telling the driver, “OK before you put the car into reverse to back out, put your right foot on the brake and hold it down. Next, put the car into reverse but don’t let go of the brake until you look behind you. Ok, great, now don’t press on the gas to much…” etc – You get the picture.  Mom, I know how to do this! I have been driving for more than 6 months!!!

Be provocative. Give information but not too much.  Write in a way that is intriguing! Here is one status update that I DID click on because I WAS shocked at the status update and wanted to see how they justified the update!:

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I watched those two compete last night and win.  Really, not a real sport? So I had to click on the link to see what they meant. They didn’t tell me if I would agree or not – Slate was being provocative. This is real writing.  This is real social media. This is how it is done.

When you write your status updates, be controversial. Be interesting. Be intriguing.  But don’t be condescending. And then, your user base will be happy, and so will your CEO.