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May 22 / Matt Saccaro

Want traffic from Facebook? Better write a good lead

Facebook is the key to writing good leads.

No, really.

Tens of thousands of articles are shared on Facebook each day and it’s the lead that determines which ones get clicked and which ones don’t.

Try this experiment to test your leads: Take any of your articles, post it to Facebook, and see what your lead—the brief part of the article that appears on Facebook—looks like. Is it a summary of past events that really doesn’t have anything to do with the meat of your article? Or is it an enticing, forward-looking statement that pertains to the story you’re telling?  The former will garner few clicks, the latter many.

As King Kaufman and others have blogged and vlogged about repeatedly here, a lead isn’t supposed to be background information. It’s supposed to be a one- or two-sentence introduction to the main point of your article to get the reader interested and engaged.

For example, let’s look at a recent article I wrote about how Wikipedia has taken a jab at the UFC by removing the wiki page for a UFC event and marking several others for deletion.

When I posted it to Facebook the preview was as follows:

Wikipedia has taken a shot at the UFC. The online encyclopedia has deemed that the first UFC on FUEL event is unworthy of having its own Wikipedia page and is contemplating deletion of the other FUEL event pages

Not to brag, but this tells the reader everything they need to know. It doesn’t start with the history of Wikipedia nor does it begin with how the UFC came to be on the FUEL network in the first place. It just gets to the point, and that’s what a lead is supposed to do.

Facebook status updates typically show about 35 to 40 words. That’s what you have to work with if you want to grab the attention of people on the largest social network. Don’t waste those words with a weak lead.

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Matt Saccaro is an MMA Programming Coordinator for Bleacher Report.

  • Tmurrayhowell

    Excellent advice. Out of curiosity (and I see it spelled inconsistently one way or the other) is it “lead” or “lede.” To be honest, I had never seen it spelled “lede” until the last year or so, and that includes all the way through post-graduate Journalism school.

  • Jobs in Pakistan

    Wow, great idea, I have facebook fan page I’m really glad to found this useful stuff. Now I’m going try this. Thanks for sharing.