TV writers spend a good time promoting upcoming newscasts so the audience tunes in later or stay tuned. They are the best at teasing stories because TV is a very competitive environment: nothing is easier than changing channels.
The internet offers a similar environment now, with so much content competing for the same keywords and reader´s short attention span.
The 7 rules of a good tease are useful when you promote your content in social networks:
A tease is not a summary of your story
A tease is about how you hook your audience for a click, so keeping them curious is essential. Wether your story is hard news, funny or important for humanity your goal remains the same: to make the audience curious about it so they want to come to you to learn more.
Don’t use the 5 W´s
The 5 W´s of journalism are the reason why the audience becomes curious about your story. Tease it without mentioning the Who, Where, When, Why, What when they are key. Don´t take away the reasons why a reader would want to read more.
“Officials cannot agree on how to make federal school lunch programs efficient” is not a tease, it violates rule #1 in this post. And #2 and #3 and all of them because is says too much and is boring. But School cafeteria food fight becomes and all out food war as the Washington Post titled is a powerful tease.
Don´t answer a question
Or solve a mystery. Do you know if quinoa has gluten? The answer is no. Click for details.
I don’t need to, anymore. Delete “The answer is…” from any tease.
Tease the right angle of a story
Not all the information is teasable. Actually, when I was working on TV and our edit team was on the daily process of choosing stories to cover, one of the selection factors was: “How would we tease it?”
This is a very fast way to realize how much interest there is for your audience in a story when it is not hard news.
Let´s take the quinoa example. If the only thing you have in store for the readers is guessing about gluten you are probably selling yourself short. Dig deeper and decide if the fact that quinoa has gluten is relevant to your audience.
This is a good angle and a good tease: What links apples to school success? makes a nutrition story more appealing to the audience by highlighting a direct benefit for the audience.
Keep it short
A tease is not intended to deliver the information, it cannot be very long. The reason why this happens in TV is mainly because teases need to fit in a few seconds of the programming. This “shortness” makes a TV tease perfect for the internet, where the attention spam is very short.
A good tease does not need to exceed one line of copy, it is the length of a tweet, a meta description, and of any social network post. Between 140 like Tweets and 160 characters like a meta description is long enough.
Make it sexy
Teases are sexy. They try to create an impact, to be captivating. Good teasers play with words, and these words need to be even better written when a tease is meant for online content because they don’t necessarily come with an image or the image is not always great (they may not be in TV either, althoug they are supposed to).
How will it look like once published?
Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Linkedin, etc. will pull the first lines and picture when you copy a link to promote your content. You need to know how it will look like before you hit publish.
The answer to the question implied in the tease is revealed in the first line of the article, so there is no need to click anywhere to find out.