Lede-ing the Way to More Social Shares
Imagine that the technology has been perfected which will allow computers with advanced artificial intelligence to write news stories faster than humans and with the same level of accuracy and interest (which may be coming, by the way). To announce the breakthrough, a major news outlet takes to Twitter with one of the three following tweets:
- New advances in AI may allow computers to write news stories as well as humans
- Sorry journalists, you’ve just been replaced by computers
- The end of journalism (by humans, anyway)
Which of these would make you most likely to read the story and then share it? Honestly, all three would capture my attention quickly, but not everyone would be impacted as much as I would. Objectively, the second or third options would likely make the biggest impact on the general population. But they all say basically the same thing, so what’s the difference?
It’s a Snarky World
This is what’s called a “lede” (known as a “lead” before the 1970s), and it’s the opening sentences of a piece meant to draw the reader in. In the age of social media, the lede makes or breaks most stories.
Society today is conditioned to respond to humour, intrigue, conflict, and snark in headlines more than information. It’s all in the presentation, as they say. After you’ve written your stellar and epic content to share with the world, you have to get them to actually read it, which is where the lede becomes all-important (assuming that the content is worthy, of course).
Although they get tiresome, there are several types of headlines that seem to work consistently.
Blah blah blah, you won’t believe what happens next.
Blah blah blah, what they found was shocking.
Blah blah blah, you’re doing it wrong.
A quick search for any of those (without the blah part) will return countless ledes to stories every single day. You don’t have to use any of these – and honestly I would prefer that you didn’t – but you do need to make your lede grab attention.
The Story Gives the Details
Your lede shouldn’t give the fine details of the story, that’s what the content is for. It also doesn’t have to get directly to the point, although sometimes it will. It simply needs to be interesting enough to garner a click. At that point, your content needs to be worthy of your lede if you want it to get shared.
Before you share content socially, play around with the lede. We’re tempted to simply copy the headline or jot a quick blurb without much thought, leaning on the content itself to interest people, but they’ll likely never get to the content that way. Write out several options and think about which one would interest you the most, then try writing that one a few different ways. Then make your post.
I’ll bet you half a goat that you’ll see more interest.