I'm a free spirit creatively, and until recently--okay, until yesterday--I felt free to start a blog post in a variety of ways: with a quote, a list, some bullet points, or in any way that struck my fancy. But when some Facebook friends posted my blog post link, I realized something important… Faceb
--- this is where the Facebook excerpt ends ---
What I realized is that when you post a link on Facebook, it creates a 300 character excerpt so that your friends and fans can read it and decide whether to click on the link or not. On that particular blog post I had been exceptionally clever, putting two different lists in the first 300 characters. Facebook turned those lists into a paragraph so the excerpt appeared choppy, and poorly written.
As we write to be read, and social media is a major vehicle for getting our blog posts (via links) in front of potential readers, it behooves us (yes, I said behooves--what a fun word), to keep in mind how various social media sites and search engines display content related to our links.
Facebook displays the first 300 characters of the post, along with a photo. So make the opening count. Start with a strong paragraph and leave the lists for later in the post. For this blog post, I chose to create a little suspense, by saying "I realized something important..." just as the 300 characters were up. Also be sure to use a powerful photo. One that's striking, that catches the eye, that piques the curiosity, or is pertinent to the post. (Since writing this post, I discovered that the excerpt is editable if I post the link. However, the above advice still stands because the hope is that lots of people will be sharing your link, and you won't be able to edit their excerpt, so you want a strong opening.)
The new peronalized online newspaper creator, Paper.li, which "aggregates, curates, categorizes and transforms social media news and activity streams from Twitter and Facebook into personalized online newspapers" uses the first 200 characters of your blog post, along with the photo.
Google, the leading search engine, has the ability to show your web page in its sidebar. When you hover the cursor over the magnifying glass beside your main link, it will show your web page on the right sidebar. Does your page look appealing? Professional? Inviting? It's something to think about.
Every site approaches how they present links, and the site content they lead to, differently. This is not something you need to worry about, or rewrite your content for, but it is important to be aware of how the major social media sites and search engines, such as Google, Facebook, and YouTube (which just happen to be the top three sites on the Internet according to Alexa.com) treat your links.
On many sites, like YouTube, a link is still just a link. But as the Internet evolves, sites like Facebook and Google have attached content to links that appear on their site in order to be of greater benefit to the people who use them.
The more aware you are, the better choices you can make.
Learn about the 2011 S.H.I.N.E. Online Blogging Challenge.