FIND YOUR READER

The Creator’s Guide to Promoting Your Stories on Social Media

Apply strategic social media thinking to your work

Photo: Chris Barbalis/Unsplash

Publishing an article you’re proud of takes hard work. But your efforts shouldn’t end once you’ve hit the publish button on your latest story. Your writing won’t make an impact if people don’t see it, so now it’s your job to ensure that your piece gets all the clicks and shares. (And if you’re feeling weird about self-promotion, there’s a guide for that.)

Here’s your guide to crafting tweets that reflect the quality of your writing.

  1. Tease the advice the audience will take away from the piece. Sharing the article’s most meaningful peg will compel people to click and share. This works particularly well with service or lifestyle content, as you can see in these tweets from Creators Hub, Medium’s blog for writers. To help craft the perfect tweet, consider: What will this piece teach readers about their lives?

2. Identify a question, or two, that the piece answers or poses to the reader. Questions spark curiosity, and make for thoughtful social copy. This tweet brings out a few questions from a piece about memoir writing that might encourage the audience to tell their own stories.

3. Try a list to frame key takeaways. Lists take up space in your readers’ Twitter feeds, making them more likely to catch someone’s eye midscroll. The list should stand alone as a simple guide to the main takeaways of the piece. When writing social copy, pretend you’re in school again, sharing SparkNotes with a classmate. This is particularly easy if the piece itself is written in list format, like this one: “3 Things Never to Say to Someone Involved With a Cult.” The social copy below isolates and numbers those three items and prompts the reader to learn more.

Here’s another menu of key elements to saying “no” at work.

4. Find a quote. Engaging readers on social doesn’t mean you have to rewrite your piece in new words. Direct quotes from the piece often make for foolproof social copy. The tweet below identifies a key aspect of the writer’s argument that wouldn’t have held up as strongly if it were paraphrased. If you’re promoting a reported piece, you can also tweet with quotes from your sources.

5. Lean into your online community. Twitter is home to a growing community of writers on and off Medium. Showing your support for fellow writers on Twitter can make them more loyal readers of your content. Ask openly for writing advice using the hashtags #WritingCommunity and #MediumWriters. (There are lots of related tags out there — these are two I see more frequently.) Once you tap into the community, thread a list of the best stories you’ve read this week. Writers will thank you and likely reward you with support for your work.

If you’re a long-form writer, it may be challenging to adapt to the built-in brevity of Twitter. Here’s some good news for you. Though Twitter prizes conciseness, you don’t have to limit your promotion of one story to a single tweet. A thread can be your secret weapon. It gets you past the 280-character limit and illuminates the depth and breadth of your coverage.

Any audience editor will recommend that you draft the thread and proofread it before you go live. Other basic best practices include: numbering each tweet in the thread, sharing the link to your story multiple times throughout the thread, and ensuring that each tweet in the thread could stand on its own if it’s retweeted.

As you’re drafting your tweets, keep these strategies in mind to increase the effectiveness of your thread:

  1. Step into your audience’s shoes. Imagine that you didn’t write the tweet. Would you share it if you saw it on your feed? If the copy strikes a nerve and makes you think, you’re on the right track.
  2. Give readers some background. This is the moment to add context for your readers beyond what’s in the article. You might share insights that didn’t make it into the final piece, or let your audience know what inspired you to write. I love this example from writer Sara Benincasa, whose thread is chock-full of personal experiences and snapshots — including visuals — from the writing process.

3. Share screenshots or images from your piece. Tweets with images allow you to draw readers’ attention to aspects of your piece you want to highlight. Here’s an example:

4. Tag your sources. Give credit to those who helped your piece come to life. This creates opportunities for them to retweet and share your work and gives readers a window into your process.

5. Pay attention to the numbers. Become your own audience editor by paying attention to engagement. Try promoting the same article multiple times with different copy to test the responses of your followers — and take note of what works. You can aim to replicate elements of your tweets that have already done numbers, or those of your favorite writers. If you have a newsletter, track click-through rates and note the subject lines that work well.

6. Use hashtags. The strategic use of hashtags can help you connect with members of your writing community and help users who may not follow you identify your brand. Simply drop a hashtag in front of a key word wherever it appears in your social copy. If you’re writing about the Oscars, for example, use #Oscars; if you’re writing about Mother’s Day, use #MothersDay. Remember to limit it to one or two hashtags per tweet; too many hashtags can interfere with readability.

7. Add emojis. Still feeling like your tweet needs more pizazz? Emojis will help it stand out on the feed.

Understanding the importance of engagement is essential to growing your profile as a writer. This list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to share social media promotion plans that work for you in the comments of this post or tag @MediumCreators on Twitter with your words of wisdom. Happy tweeting!

Assistant Audience Editor at Medium

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