Help! What writing styles should I use on different social media platforms? Part 2

Help! What writing styles should I use on different social media platforms? Part 2Last week, Amanda from Birmingham wrote in the following question:
“I want to be sure I get my writing style right for platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and so-on. I run a small arts and crafts business from home and I have a business page set up for that on Facebook. Do I need to differentiate my style from one to another and if so how?”

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How to add value (and traffic) to retweets and shares

Write longer comments and tweets to get better trafficIf you use social media a lot you’ll often find yourself sharing and retweeting not only your own posts, tweets and articles, but also other people’s. Sharing helps to spread the word – but there’s so much more mileage you can get with just a few extra words.

I have found this out by accident, really, by watching my visits / reads stats here on HTWB. Posts of my own that I share get significantly higher traffic if I write a short (in the case of Twitter, very short) piece to accompany the title and URL, than they do if I just share title and URL alone.

Again in the case of Twitter where realistically the limit is 120 characters max, often it’s better not to use the title, but instead write a “teaser” line that’s more personal and less direct than a title can be.

For example … my recent article Restaurant jargon: gastronomic terms demystified got a respectable number of visits from Twitter when I tweeted the title with the link. But when I tweeted You’ll never be able to read a menu and keep a straight face again the visits shot up by about 40 percent.

Sometimes there’s only room on Twitter  for you to insert a couple of words. But even that can spark extra interest in the tweet, among your followers. For example (my comments in caps)…

BBC News – Sweden: Wedding ring ‘found on carrot’ after 16 years // 24 CARROT GOLD?

Brains of rats connected allowing them to share information via internet // AH, SO WE HAVE THE RATNET NOW

Edinburgh Zoo Pandas Listen To Marvin Gaye’s Mood Music Before Hanky Panky // MARVIN GAYE? MEH

BBC News – ‘Oldest marathon man’ Fauja Singh runs last 10km race // WONDERFUL MAN!

How to make a money vision board! // GREAT IDEA TO INSPIRE YOUR BUSINESS

As you know, Pinterest is mainly about sharing images rather than getting people to link through and read something. I get much more traffic from Pinterest now that I write a short descriptive piece of the article concerned and make it clear what I want readers to do next, rather than just look at the picture. For example…

This is the pin I wrote for the restaurant jargon article …

Restaurant jargon: gastronomic terms demystified, part 1 … I love eating out – don’t you? But so often we can be disappointed by the realities emerging from the yummy-sounding jargon on the menus. Here is part one of my, er, interpretations of those terms. Please add your thoughts to these ….!

The cover of my new book How To Smile Through Cancer, with these words to describe it and make it clear that it’s a new book, not a picture:

How To Smile Through Cancer … Despite many cancers now becoming much more survivable, in itself it is not funny. What can be funny, though, are the often hilarious things that can happen when dealing with doctors, nurses, hospitals, chemo-baldness, prostheses, ultra-sound tests, examinations and loads more ancillary issues which invariably you trip over while going through your cancer journey. That’s what this new book is all about…

And another article which got a lot of traffic from Pinterest, OK, hands up! Who stole SOCIAL?

OK. Hands up! Who stole SOCIAL? …If you’re fond of writing, there’s nothing more irritating than a bunch of knobhead technofreaks coming along and snatching a perfectly respectable word to use for their own nefarious purposes … read on for some laughs with humorist and business writer Suzan St Maur from

Do the same for your shares of other people’s articles, posts, tweets, etc. and help increase their traffic too

About an article in the Harvard Business Review, based on Don’t anesthetize your colleagues with bad writing

This is an interesting follow-up of an article (not one of mine, sadly!) called “Don’t anesthetize your colleagues with bad writing” that appeared in the Harvard Business Review a while ago – there’s a link to the original article further down on this page FYI…

About an article written by a colleague whose opinions I respect very much, How to fix three common online marketing mistakes …

Good article by my friend and client Ann Handley from the US site Do you agree with what she says about social media?

About another article, Writing with personality for a business blog

Really excellent blog post by a friend of my son’s, who has graduated from Uni and got a job in Social Media, God help him… 😉

About a case study of employees with disabilities, Best practice case studies, the National Trust

The National Trust run a course called Passport to Your Future, the aim of which is to encourage people from a diverse range of backgrounds to think about working in the Heritage sector. This is the story of one young man who benefited hugely from the scheme

blogging,writing,blog writing,business,newsletter,,How To Write Better,Suzan St MaurAnd so-on. It’s not rocket science; it merely takes a little longer to add a sentence or two to explain why you like the post or article, and why others should like it. It’s almost a courtesy; and it shows that the share has been done by a live human, not a software robot. It really does increase traffic, too.

What are your experiences with shares and how much to write about them?

More ways to generate value (and traffic): (instant downloads)

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English
The MAMBA Way to make your words sell“…how to think  your way to superbly successful sales writing

photo credit: kdonovan_gaddy via photopin cc

Pinterest spam: newsflash! (Well, newsflush.)

After I posted here about spammers on Pinterest recently, a number of interesting comments ensued and one comment, in particular, spurred me on to further action, as I found it worrying:

I’ve reported about 1000 spam pins so far, and they just keep coming. The real problem (imho) is that Pinterest doesn’t have a firm policy in place to deal with spam. They block links when they’ve confirmed it is a spam link, but that is it. No blocking accounts that are obviously spam, no stopping those accounts from continuing to spread the mess, nothing. Pinterest is a great idea, but if their attitude is to ignore the issue, and to restrict people like myself that have been trying to report it, then I’m not going to be around much longer (from reader Wendy Janzen.)

Enough already: I contacted Pinterest direct

I emailed as follows:

Hi guys
Here in the UK we’re all going mad about Pinterest – we love it! – but we’ve been worried lately about spam creeping into it.
I posted about this on my site recently and it has developed into quite a lively discussion.
Could you be very kind and post a comment on it, to let us all know how you’re handling the spam issue?
Here’s the link –
Thanks in anticipation
With all good wishes
Suze St Maur

Quick reply – shame its content wasn’t quite so sharp

Here’s what I assume is their marketing agency replied within less than 24 hours (win) but with typical PR waffle (fail) ….

Hi Suze –
Thanks for getting in touch and apologies for the delayed response! We appreciate your concern and want to make sure you know we take spam in the community very seriously. Below is a comment/statement for your reference.
As a growing service, Pinterest is not immune to challenges faced by sites across the web including spam. However, it is a tremendous priority for us to quickly address them. Our engineers are actively working to manage issues as they arise and are revisiting the nature of public feeds on the site to make it harder for fake or harmful content to get into them.
Also, want to make sure you saw that Pinterest also addressed how users can help protect themselves from spam in a blog post last week:
Please let me know if you have any other questions – hope this helps!
The Outcast Agency

Thanks Erica (and it’s no fault of yours!), but much as we feel for Pinterest’s troubled immune system where spammers are concerned, don’t your clients think maybe someone should have seen that one coming, and plumbed in a more robust filtering system in the first place?

Yours Pinterpuzzled

Suze and the HTWBers xx

UPDATE APRIL 25th: Watch out – the spammers are getting clever on Pinterest, mixing up genuine pins with spam ones. And I even found one yesterday that went through to a virus warning. Come on, Pinterpals – get your act together before spammers and hackers take the whole damned site over!

Newflash to help you with your writing!!!

“Super Speeches”…how to write and deliver them well

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

Hello, Pinterspammers … no, we’re not that stupid

Maybe I’ve missed something, but it’s only in the last couple of weeks that I’ve noticed the spam surge on Pinterest. Have you?

If not, here’s what to look out for…

Someone with a fairly exotic name will follow you, or like one of your pins. They probably won’t have repinned one of your pins, though.

You decide to follow them back, and click on one of their pretty pins, like this one, say:







But when you click through to the final image, you get something like this (and I have seen ads for types of bread, L’Oreal cosmetics and numerous others – I suspect this one is a spammy job, too):








Happily the Pinterpolice appear to be on the case. When I clicked on this cute little doggy’s pic on a suspect board…







…I got through to this:








If you haven’t run across these types before, here are the characteristics of the spammers’ boards so you don’t waste time on them:

**As I said, a slightly – but not overly – exotic name, female, accompanied by a picture of a pretty young woman.

**Many of the spammers have a description line that says “follow me if you like Jennifer Lopez/Madonna,” or something like “I’m just amazing.”

**They will have a few followers, but be following hundreds or even into thousands.

**The vast majority of the ones I’ve seen have loads of boards – 351 seems a popular number.

**There will only be one pin for each board (occasionally there’s a second one.)

**The titles of the boards will bear little or no relation to the nature of the pictures pinned, e.g. one called “food I love” will show a picture of a garden or pair of shoes

**If you come across one of these Pinterspammers, you’ll find a “report pin” button to the right of the large image, which you access by clicking on the smaller pic on the person’s board. If enough of us report the spammers they might get the hint and stop cluttering up our inboxes …

A friend of mine got one today that metamorphosed into an ad for knock-off Gucci bags. Various reports are coming in of other spam delights What has been your experience of Pinterspam so far?

Write right for Pinterest and beyond:

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

Pinterest: boost your pinterpix with some great pinterwords

With all the fuss going on about the exponential growth of Pinterest and how to do everything with it short of performing micro-surgery or splitting the atom, I’ve been quietly observing and thinking about how to write for it. Yes, I know it’s visually based but words matter here as much as they do everywhere.

A picture is worth a thousand words – PLUS…

My take on creating really good Pins is to enhance your images with some great captions and hooks. With these you can add some extra spice and intrigue into your images and encourage readers to look into the stories further … especially useful if you’re using Pinterest with an eye on business.

Remember that you’re limited to a total of 500 characters. That’s somewhere around 80 – 90 words, but your Pinterest screen will cut you off when you go over the limit so you’ll know when to stop anyway.

Add your own hook to media headlines to flag up the main issue

My hooks are in capital letters. Media headlines are in italics.

BE WARNED: “Painful womb condition endometriosis linked to higher risk of ovarian cancer.”

SHEER INSPIRATION: “In diary extracts raw with emotion, Shane Spall reveals how her film star husband overcame ‘terminal’ cancer and is now fulfilling a vow he made to her on his deathbed”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHALING? (THIS BREAKS MY HEART) “Japan has ended its whaling season with less than a third of its annual target, said the country’s Fisheries Agency.” The whaling ships headed home from the Antarctic Ocean this week with 266 minke whales and one fin whale, falling short of its quota of about 900. The agency blamed “sabotage” by anti-whaling activists for the shortfall.”

I OFTEN WONDERED WHY I FIND MYSELF HUMMING A SONG: “Earworms: Why songs get stuck in our heads”

Use an intriguing mini-headline and catchy and/or useful caption for your own Pins

HERE’S A BIG MAC FOR PEOPLE WITH A SWEET TOOTH … brilliant birthday cake by my clever cousin in Ottawa … especially love the fries with ketchup! She makes fab cakes and other desserts to order… (pic of one of my cousin’s amazing cakes…)

ONE OF MY TENANTS: Gypsy Vanner – Anglo Arabian cross (Mom’s in the background.) Now 6 months old and “practising how to be a stallion” … what a handsome little chap he was as a newborn, here! (pic of baby horse)

NO-NO: when grooming horses’ feet, stand to one side facing their rear end. If horsey, here, raises his/her right hind leg in a hurry that fetlock will go smack into the rider’s face. Ouch… (pic of someone grooming horse’s feet the wrong way)

EVER HEARD OF THE “CANADIAN HORSE?” This is “Charbon,” a stallion I met (but declined a ride on – was too chicken…) who typifies this vigorous breed. More than 100K of these horses were exported to the USA during its Civil War, and the breed is said to have influenced even the mighty US Morgan horse. Was threatened with extinction in the 20th century but now is flourishing again in Canada and beyond.

Use your own sense of humor to enhance already amusing images

WHAT NEXT – COSMETIC BOTOX FOR BEARS? “Brown bear exfoliates using rock as a tool”

YOU PUT BUBBLE BATH IN? I HATE BUBBLE BATH … grrrr  (pic of tiger underwater with bubbles, snarling ferociously)

IS THIS A MEXICAN HAIRLESS PUPPY WITH A BAD CASE OF MANGE? OH, SORRY … Chanel is making eyebrow art a thing… (pic of model with jewel-studded eyebrows)

JUST GO AWAY. I’VE GOT A HANGOVER. (pic of one of my dogs in my bed…)

WHY MY CONTAINER CORN WAS A BIT STUNTED LAST SUMMER (pic of one of my cats asleep in a plant pot)

Infographics: pictures or tortures?

Increasingly I’m seeing infographics on Pinterest and although they are an interesting phenomenon in themselves (I’ll be doing a post about how to write for those soon, so watch this space) I wonder just how many Pinterfolks click through to the final, final image to read all those lovely bits of tiny text spread around in a cute diagrammatic format.

Especially when there are clearer, more viewable images about other stuff on their Pinterest home pages which don’t require a powerful magnifying glass to view.

Much as I’m longing to spout an opinion on infographics here, I will zip my lip and shut up. For now.

Using images that may be subject to copyright restrictions

I know that this isn’t about writing but as everyone is chewing on this one right now, here is my take on it. I have asked many, many people – several of whom are experts in this or that – what the b*lls-out reality is here.

I have received widely varying responses but one comes through loud and clear – wait until a case is brought and a judge makes a ruling.

In the meantime, what do I do about an image I put up on Pinterest but didn’t photograph myself (where an attribution is possible?) I thank the copyright owner for the kind loan of the image and include a link to his/her/their website. Probably counts for diddly squat in a court of law but at least it’s honesty on my part and hopefully may enhance business traffic through to the copyright owners.

Some useful Pinterest resources

Here are some blog posts and other resources you may find helpful if you’re just starting out on Pinterest, and even if you’re an existing user these links might be handy for you too.

Pinterest? But what about my writing?

This may be of Pinterest to you

Pinterest: measuring your pinfluence

5 industries that should be on Pinterest right now

Sourcing great images for Pinterest

5 ways brands can use Pinterest to boost consumer engagement

Why I’m not putting all my eggs in the Pinterest basket just yet

Pinterest being taken over by marketers? Don’t make me laugh

Can Pinterest become a small business’s new best friend?

What is your experience of Pinterest so far? Would love to know and share your thoughts. (And if you want to follow me on Pinterest, click here. Especially if you enjoy a good chuckle…)

Now, let’s pin up your  writing!

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand