Good link posts vs bad link post

Every now and again I come across someone who is critical of this form of micro blogging. They usually argue that all link posts are bad, but personally I’ve found it to be a mixed bag with higher and lower quality. This means there must be some factors which separate good link posts and bad link posts.

In truth, I think that a good link post is similar to a good blog post, it provides the reader with some for of value. Be that

  • entertainment
  • education or whatever, in every case you feel that you got value from that blog post/link post. In terms of link posts, I can identify three forms of value I get from good link posts.

1. Discovery via one link post

This is where a link is shared and it leads me to an article I wouldn’t have read before. In a situation like this, simply sharing the link on social media might have the same effect but the link post usually makes it stand out more in my RSS feed.

2. Discovery via the hive mind

This is where a link is shared once and it passes me by, perhaps the topic sounds boring or the title isn’t very descriptive/interesting. However, soon it seems that everyone is sharing the same links and I finally give into the pressure and try it out. In this case, it might be quote that the final person shares that makes me crack, but again it is usually the fact that something is being linked everywhere rather than how the link post actually is formatted.

3. Commentary

The third category is where someone takes a link but goes further, they add their unique take or insight on the story. Perhaps it is their own story or whatever, regardless, the value in this case is both the original article and the additional commentary. The previous two cases have value in the curation, this last one has value in the link post. That’s why I usually try and write a link post like this, one which has some additional value or insight. That because I think there is a common trait in bad link posts.

The same old, same old

The common trait in bad posts is that this link post has no value. Either the link doesn’t pass on value or the commentary doesn’t. Perhaps it’s because I’ve come across the article already, the article isn’t that interesting to me, or the commentary doesn’t really add anything. In this case the more the article gets linked, the worse quality usually comes with it. It’s usually the same old talking points and I’m more likely to have read it or just not be interested in it.

Steal don’t copy

Another way to put it would be that you should steal (like an artist) and take some else’s link but not just copy it. Add

  • your own insight,
  • your favourite quote (and why)
  • an experience that was similar (or completely the opposite)
  • what questions you have
  • some related links
  • something else

So basically, make sure you give value with your linking and everyone wins. Or don’t and just write for you and you’ll be happy anyway.

Chris J Wilson @ChrisJWilson
Micro.blog