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passing-informationPassing along ideas is what the Web is all about. When you post information to the Web, or discover something of interest that someone else has posted, you want to share it, tell your friends, and get the word out. You see this all the time with articles, of course, but it works well for events, discounts and all things funny or clever.

What I want to talk about in this post is how to share the information we create or discover in a way that makes it compelling for others to read. After all; there is no sense in taking the effort to share if there is little chance that your recipient will take a look.

A few weeks ago I shared some insight into adding personalization to your posts in order to make them more compelling to our readers. The same rules apply when sharing a link, and especially when sharing by email.

We have learned from Twitter and Facebook that adding a brief descriptive introduction to our posts makes it more likely that others will participate. Whenever you share a link in Facebook, for instance, you are provided with a comment box in which to add your own comment. Twitter works the same way, allowing a very brief comment to be included so that others will know what the link is about. Incorporating these skills into our other communications is a great way to get our audience to engage with us, particularly in email.

spam-exampleI get forwarded emails all the time, and a good percentage of these are links to articles that my friends and associates want me to see. I appreciate them, but sometimes all I get is a single link, with no explanation or no lead in that tells me what I am getting into. I hate getting these…

Why? Well, for starters it creates some apprehension against even clicking on the link in the first place. After all, this is how a lot of phishing sites deliver their spam; an email with a lone link, lurking about in the off case I will just click it out of curiosity. I never do, and neither should you.

My point is this; without a brief introduction to the link you are now competing with spam emails for attention, and if you are like me you usually discard them without a second look. You don’t want that happening to your communications.

Another reason is that as the reader you are committing me to look at the link ‘cold’, which means you have missed an opportunity to influence my perspective on what I may be reading. By sharing your enthusiasm, sympathy, or excitement about an article you are linking to, your readers will instantly become more interested. And that makes for good business!

We are constantly barraged with information, and when it takes more than a second or two to process the ‘hows’, ‘whys’ and ‘whats’ of a message we often tune out or discard it. This happens whether you are on Twitter, reading an email, on the phone or speaking in person. The best way to get your audience to engage with you is to engage them first, and all it takes is a quick introduction of the information you want to share to turn it into a conversation.

Here’s my protocol for success, in the context of an email. Let’s assume you are forwarding a link to your blog post, or to an interesting article you have found on the Internet.

Make your subject line descriptive of the action you are taking, just like you would start a conversation in person: ‘Here’s an Interesting article for you to read’. But don’t stop there; add a descriptive line in the body of your message, ahead of the link. Something that conveys your feelings about the article whether you are excited, empathetic, or displeased. Something that connects your reader to the story and either makes it important to them or generates some interest: ‘I read this and thought you would be interested because you have had a similar experience’.

The more personal you can make it, the better.

The idea is two fold: 1) you are working to generate genuine interest, and 2) you’re trying to persuade or prepare your recipient’s perception. After all, you’re not just passing this along for no good reason; you have a communications objective whether it is to sell, persuade, or build friendship. To engage your audience you need to engage them first; Start the conversation with a compelling introduction.

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