They compel people to engage with them. And they drive traffic.
You just have to know how to “guide” people from the social media “image” to your website.
In this post, we look at 3 ways to “Dangle the Carrot” – 3 ways to tease the click out of someone – be they on Pinterest, Facebook, Google Plus or any social media platform. It's all about providing great content but leaving them wanting more!
Let's face it. All social media platforms are visual. Images are becoming one of the key features of Google+, Facebook, and of course Pinterest and Instagram. Even LinkedIn has become more visual, featuring images on their newsfeed, and Twitter provides great real estate for images and video on a platform that is famous for being about 140 characters.
So why do images work so well?
Firstly, our eye is drawn to the image before all other parts of a post. Sure the description and the title are very important, but what is the first thing you are drawn to? The image.
From the moment we are born we learn visually. It's innately natural for us to be drawn to an image first, just like babies are drawn to simple black and white contrasts and eventually faces. In fact, if we can make sense of the image, we don't even need to take the next step, which is to look to the title and the description to see if we are interested in reading something or “clicking through”. Sometimes we “click” on the basis of the image alone.
Use graphics, photos and words to give your image immediate meaning and make it “clickable”
Click to Tweet and I will sure to give you a virtual high five over on Twitter!
Want to know more about this? Read this awesome post by the Buffer Team.
Why “Dangle the Carrot”?
To Dangle the Carrot is to tempt, motivate, or lure someone into taking action. For example, “the mother used the old carrot on the stick trick to get her son to eat his dinner by promising ice-cream for dessert”. It comes from the theory that mules or donkey's would be lured to move by hanging a carrot on a stick in front of them – just far enough away so it would encourage them to move towards the carrot.
Except in our case, we are actually going to let the donkey get the carrot. Whatever you promise (or hint at), you must deliver! It's ok to tease, but you can't leave them hanging (literally!).
Let's look at some examples – 3 types of images that encourage us to click:
Carrot #1: The “Blog Post” Image
When searching for an example of this one I knew exactly where to look. It was straight to the Styling You blog for me, and true to form, Nikki had provided me with a great example. Famous for her fashion and styling posts, her weekly mouth-watering recipe is also becoming a weekend ritual for many of her readers (including me).
Jump to Facebook and does she give away all of her secrets? Nooooooo. Nikki is a master of the art of the tease. Case in point, this image she posted (on the right). She is also the master of taking great photos but that's for another day. How can you resist clicking on this and heading straight to her website (where she really wants you to be?). I couldn't. I also couldn't resist getting lost in a recipe vortex. Thanks Nikki. If you can't find me later, I will be heading out to get the ingredients for mulled wine, key lime pie and flourless peanut butter chocolate cake (oh please, the only word missing from this is “salted” but we all know that the peanut butter will manage that task).
Note: if you are one of my female readers, head to Nikki's blog. The recipes are a side bonus for the posts packed full of styling, fashion, beauty and lifestyle advice for real women”¦and one of Australia's most popular blogs).
But you get my drift? A great image with a simple overlay to give you the extra info you need, is all that it takes (ie this image clicks through to the recipe to make it). Use my favourite tool Picmonkey to create the overlay and BAM – you have the pied piper of images, set to bring everyone over to your blog.
Engagement tip: Ask a question. Note how Nikki also asks what everyone is planning to cook up on the weekend? We love talking about ourselves. Ask Questions!
Carrot #2: The “Extended Mix” Image
You all remember those dodgy infommercials with the “But Wait, there's more” line at the end. Well, no, we are not going to do that.
But we are going to talk about how to do this in a fun, clever and cheeky way. And the basis of this tip is to provide great value on an image and then to provide an option for even MORE great value (ie the “Extended Mix”). There are two steps.
Step 1: Produce an image that is helpful. It can be a short checklist, a super helpful tip, a how-to image (using photos to describe a process) – anything that will “teach” or help someone to solve a problem in your niche. Here is a great example from The Beauty Department. They do some fabulous “how-to” images that are embedded in blog posts. This one was all about creating your own DIY Beach Wave Texture Spray. The image in yellow below was featured on Pinterest, and it lists the basic ingredients of the DIY spray – but leaves you wanting to know more about exactly how to make it:
Sure, I could make something up from this image, but it really is a teaser for the full step-by-step process (which can be found by clicking the image), which is where we find Step 2: embed the image into a blog post that provides further, extended information that adds more value to the reader.
Think about how you can create images that will lead people to an “extended mix” of the topic on your website – will it lead to a chapter of your book? Or a new product? Or your new webinar? or an optin for your list?
Carrot #3 – The “Breaking News” Image
You may have read my post about 4 words that help to get more shares on Facebook. Warning: I a going to give you a spoiler here if you haven't read it. The 4 words were “We Love New Stuff”. We love to share “new” content. Just like it is human nature to tell someone some new info or a story or to gossip, it is human nature to want to share “new” content on Facebook. You can read about it here.
But when you couple “new stuff” with “breaking news” you have a double-hit of shareable goodness. Here is an example:
Just last week, I was grabbing the link to the Facebook Page Guidelines to send to a client. I usually do a quick once-over when I do this to see if anything has changed, and it had – Facebook had removed the rule about having to restrict your Timeline Cover Photo to 20% Text. I quickly checked online and there had been some early posts about it, and I had an old copy of the guidelines so I could see that it had definitely been removed.
So I created a quick” Breaking News” image using a stock photo and posted it online just to let my readers know. The result? I was surprised to see 69 shares, 16 likes and a number of comments on my page as well as the many pages that shared it.
Think about your own industry or niche. Are there opportunities for you to post out about new information, breaking news or red hot tips?
They can be from your own research/business or they can be found by keeping an eye on “bigger” websites or brands that routinely post out about breaking news. There is no harm in re-posting “breaking” content but be sure to credit the source if you find out about it from another source.
All I did was put the information into a “shareable” image that would catch people's eye in the facebook newsfeed. One or two Facebook Pages with big following's reposted the image and the share-juice grew from there.
Tease Tip: If I wanted to, I could have made this more of a “tease” by embedding the actual breaking news into a blog post so that people would be forced to click through. But in this case I was happy with the Facebook Shares.
What have you seen lately that made you want to click? Have you produced any images that have resulted in great engagement? As always, I would love to hear your success stories in the comments below.
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