As a freelance writer and web content provider I have been exposed to many different ideas about SEO and social media marketing. 

Originally posted in Black Betty Blog on March 21, 2015.

As a freelance writer and web content provider I have been exposed to many different ideas about SEO and social media marketing. Some of the ones I mistrusted, such as keyword stuffing, later turned out to be “black hat” techniques according to Google. Other ones that I had recommended, such as writing blogs that a human would actually want to read, turned out to produce more sustainable, evergreen web content. Outdated ideas about social media could be the same thing, if we give it a second look.

1. Long articles get more shares but easy to read blogs get more clicks.

The website reader prefers short sentences that are straight to the point. The also seem to get numbered lists, how to articles and questions with answers. But people are more likely to share an article that is 1000 words or more. And the longer the reference is, the more likely they are to share it. Why is that? Are people just skimming the headlines and then sharing it on Facebook so that they seem smart? Are they being repurposed into an endless series of blogs and white papers? Seriously I’m asking.

2. People are more likely to like something they’re searching for or a celebrity’s post.

People would love a picture of a dead log if a celebrity posted it. But when you share the same thing with your following you’re lucky to get a few “likes.” This psychological phenomenon is known as the halo effect, whereby the viewer’s overall impression of the subject affects how they perceive it.

The Economist points out that the existence of the halo effect has long been recognized, “…we assume that because people are good at doing A they will be good at doing B, C and D (or the reverse—because they are bad at doing A they will be bad at doing B, C and D).”

halo effect smart art

If you have heard of someone before in photograph or on television, you’re brain instinctively categorizes them with people who you know in real life. Similarly when you’re thinking about a particular hashtag, keyword or category, you naturally associate them with people who you like. That’s why you’re more inclined to favorite pictures of their cat or dinner — or troll on someone you dislike.

3. Your coworkers would be aghast to see your social posts so censor yourself.

Some people only feel comfortable sharing with friends, family and a list of approved contacts. There’s all sorts of warnings about what is safe to post online and what needs to be filtered. Many features on social media allow you to control who sees your posts. The theory being that even a single picture of yourself enjoying an alcoholic beverage in public could be interpreted the wrong way by your coworkers and loved ones.

I’m not advocating any world’s dumbest criminal stuff in which the guilty party posts evidence online. I don’t even like it when people post pictures of their injuries. But believe it or not, your coworkers probably already know you are a human who may even enjoy funny cat pictures. It’s probably not necessary to filter your posts, and you have no way of knowing if it is working for sure anyway.

So the next time someone gives you a dire warning about social media, don’t automatically run outside and start panicking. There’s a whole world of search engine marketing that states otherwise. And anyway I would be much more concerned with Facebook monitoring your private messages. 😉

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