How to write so others respond

'If all of us are writers, who's doing the reading?'

Bless my father. His youthful curiosity never left him. 

This rhetorical reflection made by my late father came at a time during my teenage life in which I was toying with the idea of becoming a journalist. Despite his question finding voice at a time before blogging, and indeed social media, few would dispute its logic. Writers write to be read.

The moment someone interacts with your article - be it a like, share, or comment - your monologue turns into a dialogue and a conversation is born: expanding your idea, transforming it, sometimes even countering it.

We've covered how to write a killer social media bio in the past, however this time I'd like to help you understand what happens after you hit publish.

Write for Conversations

The idea of social writing is to make it, well...social. Therefore, the best way to naturally achieve this is to write a conversation starter piece rather than something to simply collect page views. 

A great way to do this is to link your posts to current events. Have a look on sites like The Week and see which headlines crossover into your area of expertise and start a dialogue around that. 

I'll test it on you now.

How would you choose to bounce back from a personal branding smear such as the one faced by Phillip Green who had his knighthood removed by Parliament? He is now labelled as a "billionaire spiv" in professional circles. Would you shy away? Would you try to make good on your charged wrongdoing?

In the right places, an article discussing issues raised in the above could allow a personal branding consultant like me to share expertise and challenge opinion. 

Ways to write for conversation include:

  • Expand upon or explain something in the news using the writer’s unique experience;
  • Offer insight into industry-specific trends;
  • Contain an intriguing deep-dive into something relevant to the professional world.

Market your posts

tell people about your posts opellomedia

This is where vital work comes in that only you can do. Unless you are a very fortunate literary magnet, chances are the readers won't come running. You have to get it out there to make sure people are seeing and paying attention.

  • Share your work on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Medium, Reddit, WhatsApp and whatever other social network makes most sense for your topic.
  • Share with colleagues if subject is relevant.
  • Tease out parts of your story (quotes, pull quotes) and tag social influencers to your posts to notify a person when he or she is talked about or when the article is highly relevant to their expertise.
  • Think about how to follow up on your points.

Simply put: once you’ve hit publish, you should change your mindset from scribe to salesperson.

Final words

If you remember nothing else, remember these tips: 

  1. Write about what people are talking about today
  2. Measure success on the conversations you’ve started not the views you’ve collected
  3. Finding an audience can be tricky — keep trying
  4. You are your own best distributor.

Any other questions? Leave them in the comments.

Posted by Richard Etienne.