How to Optimize: Dam Good Pictures and Provocative Titles
What to do? Leave a longish comment on someone else's post, or write your own post. The effort needed is about the same. I've seen comments that were plenty long enough to become posts themselves.
About the Same is NOT the Same
There is more to writing a long-form post than just length. Here, I'll go into what I do to select my title and my header image. I am not telling you what you should do, must do, or any crap like that.
I am not telling you what you should do, must do, or any crap like that.
This is what I do. Take from it what you will. Use the rest to wrap fish.
The Importance of Image and Title Selection
A newsfeed is a busy fast place. Will your connections even notice your post, let alone read it?
Think about it.
If they do notice it, will they choose to read it?
Their time is finite. If they read yours, they won’t read someone else's, and vice versa.
It’s the Writers’ law of Fang and Claw. It’s downright Darwin-esque.
You need to raise yourself above the clutter that is the newsfeed. How you do that is up to you. This is how I do it.
Optimizing the Title Image
I often spend as much time on Titles and Images than I do on writing the post. A picture will grab the eye much faster than text can. There are lots of free images you can use.
Find a D.A.M Good Picture. No that’s not a typo.
To me, the right picture needs to be D.A.M. good. That is, it must provide Drama, Action, and Mood. Of course, it has to match the post.
Some people start with the title. Some start with the image. Sometimes, like in "Kick a LinkedIn Publisher in the Nuts Today," the image makes you change the title.
This post was written tongue-in-cheek. The cartoon fit well. It also forced me to change the title.
What I mean by Drama
I like pictures with tension. For me, they are best if they force a visceral reaction. They have a beauty and an emotional appeal to them.
If you don't react to the image, don't bother with it. If you don't react to the image, neither will your readers.
What I mean by Action
The picture should suggest movement or some sort of progression. It must seem alive.
So far I have spent 20 minutes trying to describe what I mean. I've written and deleted at least 50 sentences. I guess this is one of those things where you just know it when you see it.
What I mean by Mood
This one is easier to explain. Your post has a mood. The image must match it. "Kick a LinkedIn Publisher in the Nuts Today," was quirky and tongue in cheek. The cartoon fit.
The Eddystone posts came at a turbulent time in location aware marketing. The question of iBeacons versus Eddystone shook the business. The painting of the lighthouse at Eddystone in a turbulent sea well matched the prevalent feeling.
A word about image sizes
It can be a chore to match your image sizes to the requirements of social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and beBee all need different sizes. LinkedIn, being the pain that it so often is, needs two sizes.
beBee is the most flexible of the platforms. You can use a wide variety of image sizes and they all will work well.
Rather than re-invent the wheel, here's a link to Social Media Examiner's Ultimate Guide 2016. I also included my cheat sheet.
Try to simplify your life.
If you use Medium and Twitter, make a 600X300 image for Twitter then re-size it to 1200X600 for Medium.
beBee uses a 3:2 aspect ratio. You can use a 600X400 image for both platforms. Just remember to re-size your image right in beBee’s publishing platform.
I'm lucky enough to have a graphic artist for a wife. When she upgraded to Adobe's Creative suite, I swiped her Creative Suite CS6. I use Photoshop to manipulate images.
You don't need a feature-rich beast like Photoshop to just resize and crop images. A quick Google search will yield lots of options. I'm pretty sure you will also find options listed in the comments once they start rolling in.
Canva seems to be the favorite.
Whatever you decide to use, just remember two things. First, use something that allows you to put text on the image. Second, choose text that is easily legible on whatever you put it on.
Images get scaled. Your red writing on a black background might look great on your Retina display laptop. It will look like crap on an older smartphone. It will also look bad when it’s shrunk down.
Keep your reader in mind. That doesn’t only apply to the writing part of this stuff.
Optimizing Titles For the Same Reasons as Images
I think of the image and the title as my salespeople. They have to sell people on reading the piece.
We used hemingwayapp.com to simplify our writing. We can use CoSchedule's "Headline Analyser" to write better titles.
A trial and error type of method
This is an educated guess combined with trial-and-error type of method. Just type in a title and hit analyse. The web app will give you a score and explain it.
Keep playing with it. Change this to that. See where the app says your title is weak.
Change again. Analyse again.
Keep analysing until you score at least 70. Once you get to 70, and if you're fed up of the game, you have your title.
A viable title needs a score of at least 70. Every point above that minimum is a lot better! Seventy-one is much better than 70. Seventy-seven is light-years ahead of 70.
The Headline Analyser is a good tool. Take it with a grain of salt.
Sometimes, a lower score with a current hot topic works better. Google’s announcement of the Eddystone beacons caused issues. The word, “Eddystone” had to be used. The Headline Analyser had no way of knowing that. It didn’t even know what an Eddystone was.
Lower down, there's a screen shot showing the process I took to nail down this post's title.
For client posts, I usually optimize sub-headings as well as titles. People skim, they don’t read.
Optimized sub-headings help stop the skimming and promote the reading.
Next up: Getting your ducks in a row pre-post
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