Business storytelling: what you can learn from journalists

Those who use exciting stories are captivating. However, many people make big mistakes in storytelling: they tire instead of enthusiasm. In this text, you will find the essential storytelling rules taught at journalism schools – and you will learn how to apply them to your business. 

What is storytelling – and why are so many people doing it the wrong way?

Maybe you just got an email again from someone who told you a sad story long and wide to want to sell you a product – and then you see great guys everywhere in your Facebook timeline Carts that used to be miserable like the church mice (which they spread out in a long text to get you signed up for a free webinar).

Yes, that’s storytelling too.

But not particularly imaginative. 

Because this type of storytelling is now predictable, annoying in the long run and can even provoke rejection – for example, if heavy topics such as depression, suicidal thoughts, or cancer are used too obviously to sell.

Therefore, a first warning: Those who go too flat in business storytelling can be shipwrecked!

However, doing without storytelling is not a solution. Because it works! (If you do it cleverly)

But how do you do it, right? And what happens when we tell stories? 

3 Effects of storytelling – and how it benefits your business

Suddenly everyone is a listening room full of people, you report essential things, give tips and instructions, give numbers, make the urgency of the topic clear – and look into tired eyes. 

But then you start talking about your grandma who once said this one sentence to you …

And that affects: Suddenly the audience looks interested. 

Why? 

I’m not a brain researcher – but I have been told that listening to a story activates many more areas than listening to facts. Senses are activated, feelings are evoked. It’s like the listener is witnessing the situation! 

Also: if a story begins, we want to know how it ends. And that immediately increases attention.

Even if only one concrete example is mentioned and a real person tells it, we pay attention: Because examples are storytelling on a small scale.

Journalists also learn this very quickly during their training: 10,000 traffic fatalities hardly trigger emotions unlike Katharina, 35, who had to die because she couldn’t avoid a ghost driver in time. Her 3-year-old daughter was sitting in the back seat.

That makes us swallow. Sympathize. And it does more to us than any number, no matter how high it could be.

That is why journalists are looking for specific examples – individual fates. And that’s why you should also talk about people if you want to illustrate a topic.

(And here’s a little test: don’t you MUST now know if the little girl survived in the back seat? I bet you want. Because: see above.)

  1. You create closeness – and that promotes sales.

As soon as you start talking about yourself, people listen to you. Especially when you talk about depths, crises and problems.

This affects two types of storytelling in particular:

  • The cause-effect principle:
  •  This is about the vivid explanation of why something is as it is. 
  • I live healthier today, BECAUSE … 
  • I only advise offline, BECAUSE … 
  • I only go hiking barefoot, BECAUSE … 
  • Usually, this “because” has to do with a negative experience. And of course, we have to talk about that if we want to explain why we are doing something. If we do this in a descriptive and exemplary manner, we do 1A storytelling.
  • The hero journey:
  •  The storytelling known from Hollywood is always about
    • a hero
    • a problem
    • overcoming the problem 
    • the change of the hero
    • a message associated with it

Most of the stories (of you, of customers, of friends) can be squeezed into this pattern!

What happens in the other person’s head in both cases: he or she develops empathy. You build a connection. Closeness arises.

And once there is proximity, the decision to buy is easier. Storytelling is, therefore, a great sales vehicle.

Is that manipulation?

Oh well. The Duden defines manipulation as “an impenetrable, skillful procedure that gives someone an advantage, wins something they want”. And then, I found this definition: “Influencing decisions without the decision-maker being aware of it.”

Accordingly, any sale is manipulative. 

But of course, the manipulation can take on different dimensions. For me, it is negative if dramatic stories evoke empathy, if we sympathize infinitely, then buy an incredibly expensive product – such as high-priced coaching – but the closeness builds up abruptly with the purchase of the product. The coaching ends turned out to be access to calls with dozens of other customers.

Then I have only one word for it: fooling around.

2. People remember you better.

Have you ever been to a lecture where you wrote a lot? And did the lecturer tell a little story about himself or another person in the middle of all his facts?

I would bet: two weeks later, you had to look in your notes to recall the information – but you still had the story in your ears.

Our brain sorts stories in a different, more critical drawer than pure facts. We remember them longer because they made more of an impression. We felt something when we heard them. It makes a big difference.

So if you want people to take an essential thing from a lecture, workshop, or seminar, the best thing to do is wrap them up in a story. It doesn’t have to be Hollywood drama – sometimes it is enough to give an example of a real person.

That’s working!

Listeners are also more likely to tell other people about you – because you impressed them more sustainably: “The X, who recently said something similar, take a look at their website!” 

Ten situations where you can use storytelling

  1. On your website 

Your homepage (in detail) and you’re about me page are ideal for storytelling. But be careful: Nobody wants to see too much text! That means that you shouldn’t spread a long story on the homepage. 

However, if you can say “I’ve been in this situation before” or “I’ve overcome a problem that you as a website visitor may know,” tell us about it! 

Warning: Do not tell any stories “because I am supposed to do storytelling”, but focus on the experiences that have something to do with your website visitor. In which he empathizes and with which he can do something.

2. In social media

Platte advertising posts have not worked for a long time. Therefore, you should try to get closer to potential customers as a person. What do you experience, what does it do to you, what insights can you share with others?

And if it’s just anecdotes from your everyday life: stories get to know you better.

For example:

  •  An observation from your everyday life from which you have drawn a conclusion (which has something to do with the life/business of your followers)
  • Something that just happened to you that made you think
  • An encounter with a person that triggers an eye-opening effect from which you have learned something

You mustn’t merely describe an event, but connect a message to it! Then the element “hero has changed” is fulfilled (even if only in tiny details) – and storytelling becomes a story.

3. In blog posts and books 

Have you noticed how many times I’ve given small examples in this blog post? How many times have I described situations to you? That is already storytelling, if only on a small scale. 

We all learn best from examples. That is why American non-fiction books are teeming with descriptions of individual cases.

4. In emails 

Many have come to believe that storytelling should be used in newsletter marketing. This can be seen in countless emails with subject lines such as “I finally did it!” Or “That was the worst birthday of my life”. 

If that piles up, I have to admit that at some point, it gets annoying.

So I advise you about the right balance. I often tell little episodes in the newsletter – but I don’t write every subject line to cry out for storytelling. And I often focus purely on imparting knowledge. In this way, I avoid the appearance of fatigue (“Oh, now there is a storyline byline – and when does something come here that helps me … ???”).

Nevertheless: Please don’t refrain from telling stories in your newsletter from time to time! It is precisely these emails that give me the most feedback.

5. Live in front of the camera.

Do you sometimes make videos for your business? Then get started with a short story next time – immediately! Do without “Welcome …”, “Great, I’m living!” And other fuss. You will quickly have more attention – and more people will hear what you have to say afterward because they have stayed with it longer.

6. Talking to potential customers

 If you want to convince people of yourself or something, examples, and small, “I know that” stories will help immensely.

Sometimes it is enough to tell about another customer who has already achieved what your counterpart wants to achieve. Packed in a little story, it will make a more significant impression than any good argument!

7. On landing pages

I tell you about me on almost every landing page, because people buy from people. So if I advertise a freebie or would like to invite you to an event, I can prove by telling a short story: I am familiar with the topic!

If you too can briefly outline that you have done something that has to do with the topic – then do it!

8. For presentations

PowerPoints are all well and good – but the moment you deviate from them and just tell an anecdote on the side may be the best in the entire presentation. 

For every presentation, think about: What point can I substantiate with an example? What eye-opening effect can I bring my listeners to by telling a story?

That will make a lot more impressive than any string of facts. 

9. During press work

If you’ve looked around this page a little, you’ll see that I preach one thing repeatedly: offer your stories to the press! 

My customers keep seeing that that’s precisely what works – and suddenly journalists report back when you send them stories in their inbox:

  • Chocolate sommelier Stefanie was able to tell on Impulse.de how, as a very young boss, she met the expectation that she should appear “nicer” – and how she overcame this problem
  • Qi-Gong expert Angela reported on woman.at how her mother had helped her out of the mess (a little later she was also allowed to give Qi-Gong tips on the site, which had never met with interest before)
  • Fitness coach Beatrice told in several magazines how she found life through sport after burnout and cancer diagnosis

10. On stage, prominent speakers know exactly: on stage, it is not a question of conveying as many facts as possible, but of sending one or two central thoughts that are remembered.

So I strongly recommend that you approach this central idea with a story! 

If we witness how the speaker concluded, we will still remember it weeks and even months later.

What journalists learn about storytelling – and what you should check out

Have a “hero.”

 Every journalist learns right at the beginning of his training: If you want to describe a problem, find a person to whom it applies. All articles, radio features, and television reports that go beyond news reporting take this rule of thumb to heart.

So if you want to use stories, don’t talk about “many people” having problem XY. It was about how Sabine, 47, was suddenly confronted with this problem, what it did to her – and how she could finally overcome it.

Do you want to tell a story about yourself, not someone else? Great, then you are the hero of your account!

Unfortunately, your topic mainly consists of facts and figures? Then find yourself a sample person who has an impact on these facts and figures – and use it to illustrate why the topic is so important!

Let something happen quickly

Who would watch a film where Tom Hanks flies calmly on an airplane over an island and then arrives at home in a good mood …? 

No, the plane crashes, of course, Hanks lands on a desert island – and suddenly has to fight like Robinson Crusoe for his survival and against going mad. 

Most Hollywood films work according to this principle: Often, something happens within the first five minutes that changes everything – and dominates the remaining 85 minutes. 

So what is the “plane crash” in your story? In your customers’? Every good story, no matter how small, needs a “Suddenly …”.

Again: It doesn’t always have to be the great story of suffering, the tragedy of your life – after all, there are enough small events that involve coping with a problem! If only as a convinced vegetarian you ended up in a small Argentinian town and suddenly had to find out: it was almost impossible to find something to eat that did not focus on a roasted pink piece of meat …

If you describe this vividly and according to the rules of storytelling (a hero is suddenly confronted with a problem and has to find a solution), you are sure to have open ears – without it having Hollywood potential.

By the way, journalists sometimes apply the “let something happen quickly” rule in the first sentence – even before we get to know the hero. Something like this: “It was a rainy Thursday afternoon when the horror came to Niederbüll.”

 The order of the elements mentioned here can, therefore, be changed! The main thing is that they are included in your story at all.

Say what the problem is

Ideally, when you tell a story, you should clearly state what the problem is here. If SUDDENLY something happened, you should take the whole thing to a higher level again, make the meaning clear: 

  • What is at stake here right now? 
  • Why does the problem have to be solved? 
  • What will happen if not …?

So you give your story additional depth. In the journalism school, I learned the following sentence, which describes this aspect of storytelling very well: “Get into the helicopter”.

That means: look at what has happened from above as if from an airplane. What more significant dimension do you see? What are the effects of what happened to the big picture?

 Journalists then often use a sentence like “Sabine Hansen is not an isolated case”. Then numbers usually follow, such as how many others are affected by the problem.

 You don’t have to stick to it blindly – but maybe you find an aspect that is “bigger” than the person and their problem? Then name it.

Describe small details

Good journalism describes vividly – in the right places. Many texts start with scenery in which little things are mentioned in detail. So readers can imagine the situation correctly.

This works especially if you want to make it exciting. If you work towards a SUDDENLY telling a story, you can build tension by describing: Where are we? How is it there? What can you hear, smell, feel?

This will “pull” your listeners into the story; they will be more attentive – because while they are empathizing with the situation, many different areas of their brains are active (unlike if they only had to process facts). 

Have a happy ending – and a message

When we hear about a problem, we want to know how it ends. Our brain is particularly satisfied when it hears a happy ending. Therefore, think of stories that have an outcome. What is still “work in progress” is not suitable for storytelling.

For example, it would be very unsatisfactory if Tom Hanks just lived on his lonely island at the end of the film. 

 A story needs development. And development also means: How did it end? How was the problem solved? What did that do to the hero?

The next time you read a magazine text, just pay attention: Does the author return to the hero and his problem at the end of the text? This is a classic journalistic trick to create a common thread.

Even if other people had their say in the middle part of the text – other people affected, experts, supporting actors: In the end, the journalist usually “closes the bag” and picks up on the scene described in the introduction. A typical exit describes what the hero does today, how the problem related has changed him or her.

Ideally, your story, therefore, has a message and makes it clear to me as a listener: Here, a change has occurred that has something to do with me. 

This also applies if the story did not turn out positive for the hero! He or she will have learned something anyway – and for the listener, that is something like a “happy ending.”

Five mistakes you should avoid when storytelling

  1. Avoid too many details.

Many of my tips tempt you to get lost in details. Describe what it takes. Add something here and there and there, because this and that, and that is somehow important.

In other words: getting into the LANTERN.

That is the death of good stories.

How do you know if your descriptions are still exciting?

By looking into the faces of your listeners (if that’s possible). How attentively do you listen?

The big challenge is just to give details that pull your audience into a situation that creates tension. 

Depending on the situation, you should handle this differently: In a short video in which you describe a short event, a few details are enough. You can take a little more time on stage, especially if the story has a larger dimension.

My tip: tell the story in front of a sample audience – or give your text to a few test readers! Ask them to tell you where to remind yourself to stay tuned honestly.

2. Avoid digressions

In journalistic research, I often wrote half a notebook – and ended up using only about 10 percent of my notes for the text. 

Because a vital journalist rule is: only select the people, events, and descriptions that are relevant to your core topic, your message.

This can go so far that protagonists are accompanied and interviewed and do not even appear in the text afterward because the experiences were not typical of the text’s essence. 

For example, if the topic is “single women are statistically more stressed than women in a relationship, even if it is a bad relationship,” the journalist needs someone who can best illustrate this. If it turns out that the selected protagonist is only semi-stressed, the story no longer works – and the journalist will look for someone else.

What you can learn from it: If you tell a story, concentrate on the CORE. 

If you know which message you want to end with, you should only choose the critical events and developments for this message. 

3. Avoid naming too many people.

Maybe you could tell several stories about the same phenomenon. Journalists do just that in many texts: they have two or three protagonists. However, the following rule applies: Each protagonist should illustrate a different aspect of the topic.

If we stick to the thesis that single mothers are stressed out, a journalist would, for example, choose a woman who lives alone with her child and only copes with everyday life with great effort – and a mother who is in a relationship that is more difficult than it should be everything is significantly less stressed.

Each protagonist stands for something and is carefully selected by journalists. It rarely takes two protagonists who have experienced the same thing!

For your first storytelling steps, I would recommend focusing on one protagonist so as not to confuse your audience or readers.

(Exception: there are a hero and an antagonist. If your hero has an opponent, you must include both in your story – after all, the antagonist embodies the hero’s problem.)

4. Don’t just tell THE ONE story.

Sure, if you bring along a good story that describes great why you are doing what you are doing, you should tell it repeatedly. It doesn’t matter whether you already have customers or are just at the beginning: a good justification story makes a difference.

But please don’t focus ONLY on that!

Because stories are suitable for so much more, you can make decisions understandable, lead listeners to an eye-opening moment, convey knowledge.

For me, storytelling is an addition. I use it here and there.

  • to illustrate a point
  • to work towards a conclusion / a message / a “moral from history.”
  • to create ties (“Yes! I feel the same way!”)
  • to create more interaction (nothing triggers more than small, unadorned stories from my life …) 

Therefore: Whenever you can explain something using an example that follows the sequence hero – problem – solution – change, you do real storytelling!

(With that, I would like to take away the high standards again: It doesn’t always have to be Hollywood material, even small anecdotes can work correctly!)

5. Don’t overdo it

One final request: don’t kill your audience. Because if from now on, you only come around the corner with blood-sweat-tear-stories, then I promise you: It will tire in the long run.

As a customer, I react grumpily when I realize that a person always uses their personal (dramatic) story exactly when it comes to selling. Then I feel manipulated – and I’m gone.

It is like everything in life: A healthy mix is ​​essential. 

Mr. Zuckerberg, take responsibility! Or why Facebook can never be an independent platform that provides users with the ultimate truth

Washington and Brussels call for far-reaching regulation for Facebook: Above all, it is the opinion of the world’s largest social network that politicians are suspicious of. But with increasing political intervention, the risk increases that Facebook will become an organ controlled by the state and special interests.

Don’t let the politicians lie – fact-checking is a must

It was only a matter of time before social networks themselves would become the subject of the US election campaign. Because at some point, a politician would demonstratively exceed the limits of what is still permitted on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook according to the company’s guidelines. And that has now happened: Twitter recently provided a tweet by the President of the United States about the susceptibility of postal elections to fraud with a “fact-checking label” and thus offered users further information on the subject, some of which was contrary to Trump’s post. Facebook even had a number of its posts deleted, which dealt with the problems of the left-wing militant network Antifa and which had used symbols that were also used by the National Socialists.

President Trump sees the measures as an interference with freedom of speech and wants to prevent such interference with the content published on the platforms in the future with the recently issued executive order “Protection against online censorship”. Meanwhile, leading employees of Facebook, parts of the advertising industry, many politicians and parts of the population of Facebook and Twitter are demanding exactly the opposite: “Intervene more in the content, don’t let the politicians lie – fact-checking is a must”, says they argue.

The current regulation of social networks in the United States

In general, a dispute has arisen in the USA about how social networks should deal with content. It is hardly surprising that there is no consensus in this polarized country about what is only keen rhetoric or perhaps a call for violence, and that in the hot climate a post is quickly referred to as a false message or disinformation, even though the content is only controversial. The Americans will elect their President in five months. And the political establishment is shaking with the influence that Facebook, Twitter and Youtube could have on the outcome of the elections. Whether politicians, lobbyists, civic associations, trade unions, advertisers or employees: in the end, they all want to be in charge of what can be posted on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube. Private opinion now needs state borders – social media regulation is required. Such efforts are also being made in Brussels.

But instead of regulation that offers politicians a gateway, it needed framework conditions that strengthen responsibilities and market mechanisms. Do we want the political influence on such essential opinion platforms like Facebook or YouTube to increase? Which opinion will be considered acceptable on Facebook in the future, if discussions about topics like racism, environmental protection or American politics often threaten the emotional, moralizing club of opinion?

What was needed rather than the influence of moralizing opinion leaders on Facebook would be a competition-promoting regulation that, first of all, transferred to Mark Zuckerberg what an entrepreneur had to carry: responsibility. Secondly, it would be a matter of adjusting the business model, in which the user would finally have to become a customer (today he is the product). And thirdly, any regulation should start from a responsible and courageous media consumer and strengthen them.

The current regulation of social networks in the United States dates back to the childhood days of the Internet. Long before Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook, the American legislature had already created the ideal legal conditions for its success. At that time, in 1996 – Zuckerberg was just eleven years old – the Communication Decency Act (CDA) was passed in the USA. It was the time of the first Internet service providers (ISP), and the main aim was to prevent pornographically but also other inappropriate content from poisoning the climate on the Internet. Article 230 decoupled the right to intervene from the obligation to be ultimately responsible for the remaining content:

According to popular belief, these 26 words created the Internet. They became the legal business foundation of Facebook, which was founded in 2004. The social network is still a neutral platform on which users post their content. The company assumes responsibility for this to a minimal extent by referring to Article 230. There are no limits to Facebook’s growth: Today, several hundred million posts are posted on Facebook every day; 2.8 billion people access the social network every month.

Facebook, like a publisher, has to take responsibility for what is seen on its pages is

However, Facebook generally only has to assume responsibility for what happens on the platform in exceptional cases. And if you don’t want that at all, you’d better retreat to the position of neutrality. Facebook’s impartiality or independence is an illusion. Of course, the company intervenes massively in the news feed – this is the stream of content that reaches the user on his own Facebook page. Facebook’s algorithms control what the user gets to see when and how often. Your goal is to keep the user on the page as long as possible. Because the longer he is on the page, the more advertising Facebook can show him. The more Facebook can learn from the user (via his posts, the likes distributed by him, the Internet pages that he uses when he has long left Facebook has, etc.), the more expensive it is to sell advertising space to advertisers. Ultimately, the user is the product that Facebook sells to the advertising industry.

The group is increasingly countering the criticism that is increasingly permeating Facebook that it is a platform for false information and campaigns for disinformation, with self-regulation: General rules of conduct, fact-checkers and a newly established oversight board are intended to walk the tightrope walk between freedom of movement resulting from the CDA law Manage opinions and exceed the limit of what is permissible. Facebook now pays a whole army of external, supposedly objective fact-checkers. They check controversial posts for their truthfulness. Depending on the result, Facebook removes such positions, or the algorithms ensure that they slide far down in the newsfeed and become virtually invisible. And the twenty-member oversight board, which is staffed by external experts is to decide in disputes and doubts whether the content has been rightly removed or marked with comments from Facebook.

Self-regulation

But this type of self-regulation is hugely problematic. First, Facebook is getting very close to publishing. Second, it is based on the false assumption that there is only one truth and that facts are separate from opinion. However, an allegedly objective assessment of a controversial claim does not necessarily refute the latter.

Against this background and given the increasing attempts by politicians to exert institutional influence on Facebook and its content, it would be time to create clear responsibilities: Facebook, like a publisher, has to take responsibility for what is seen on its pages is. This responsibility would mean Facebook’s duty to remove illegal content. It would also give the company the freedom to edit, classify (according to fact or opinion), curate and select content according to its style. That would massively change the face of Facebook today. Facebook could no longer hide behind the illusion of neutrality, and users could no longer be deceived by it. It would probably be assumed that Facebook would become less attractive as an advertising platform for the advertising industry. Users might be asked to checkout. But with that, they would finally become a product and a customer, and Facebook would become their product, not an advertiser.

At the same time, competition in the social network market should finally be stimulated: it should be possible to switch from Facebook, including all contacts and connections – the so-called social graph – to another social network. Just as in the mobile phone market the right to take the phone number to another provider that made the competition play properly, the portability of the social graph should be guaranteed. The design of the various social networks would then be guided more by user demand and not by politics and interest groups, as is to be feared in the future.

But the social media user cannot avoid one thing: he must act as a responsible and courageous media consumer. It is not brave to arbitrarily topple historical statues from the pedestal in virtual rooms, to ban opinions that deviate from the mainstream or to raise demands for the protection of minorities or the environment to a quasi-religion. It is also not brave to indulge in the illusion that there could be a Facebook that will provide users with the ultimate truth as an independent platform. Responsible citizens dare to deal with the ideas of dissenters on social networks, and they can do it rationally and critically.

How to write comments that bring visitors (but don’t make you a spammer)

I had to laugh.

A few days ago, I saw a funny photo, and I found the statement particularly apt.

In the photo, we see two older women chatting on the street:

I only dare to go out on the road. It has become too bad on the Internet.

Sometimes it is. People scold, swear, troll, and annoy so much on the Internet that the street is already safer than the Facebook timeline.

On the Internet, many people seem to be losing their manners.

You can see this on blogs too: comments that are pure spam, that offend or that are subliminally arrogant.

Comments are an excellent tool for getting new visitors – if you do it right, because almost every blog offers you the opportunity to leave your URL when you comment.

If the readers find you attractive, click on your link, and you have won a new reader.

Another feature of comments is almost as important: they create a relationship between you and the blogger. Usually, the blog comment is your first encounter with another blogger. So you should make a good impression.

But how do you write good comments?

1.Have a face

Have you ever had a date when you showed up in a Spiderman costume? Or as a Duckwin Duck with a cape and mask?

Of course not.

People with a mask are immediately suspicious. They are up to something or hide something under their cape. You don’t trust such a person.

It’s no different on the Internet.

If you comment, there should be a face – your face.

As a gravatar, do not use childhood heroes or other “masks”. You shouldn’t just use the gray silhouette, which is set by default.

Take a photo where you can sleep well and look beautiful and use it as a gravatar.

Everything else just makes people suspicious – and suspicious people don’t click your link.

2. Have a name

On the Internet, many people like to hide behind a pseudonym.

If it were legally possible, many would even like to blog with a pseudonym – but this is not possible due to the obligation to provide an imprint.

I am not a dating expert, but if you introduce yourself as “Master Yedi” on your date, then I am sure that the meeting will go wrong – unless you are lucky and your counterpart does not label yourself as schizophrenic.

Therefore, use your real name when commenting.

And no, please do not use your domain as a name: “Harry from CoachingDeluxe.de.”

That looks spammy. It looks like you want to put your domain in the comment as often as possible.

So don’t do that.

Just do it: “Harry”.

There is a separate field for the domain.

3. Don’t scatter links.

Links in comments are like fire: they can keep you warm and bring joy, but you can also burn your fingers on them.

So you should treat links to your blog very carefully.

My advice: leave it.

Sure, you may be able to contribute something to the discussion, but no matter how good the link is, it always leaves an impression on the blogger:

He just wants to spread his links.

Maybe some readers have this impression too. It is tough to post a link in the comment without acting like a spammer. And spammers immediately leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

Above all, you should refrain from comments such as: “Cool, I also wrote something on this topic [Link].”

Sincerely: who cares? You join the “me too” shouts at a flea market. You can be happy if the blogger unlocks your comment at all.

If you want to arouse interest and trust, leave the scattering of links in the comment field entirely.

There are better ways to get backlinks.

4. Don’t stink

Self-praise stinks, even on the Internet.

Some people love their voice so much that they can tell you for 15 minutes what they had breakfast and how tenderly the butter melted on their tongues.

Unfortunately, you can also see self-praise in blog comments. And to clarify: self-praise has lost nothing.

How to read comments like:

  • “I’ve been implementing all these tips for years. That’s why I have the leading blog in my niche. Have a look; there you can learn something. “
  • “Nothing new in this post, I’ve been doing everything for years.”
  • “Oh yes: I can make a good living from my blog income and only paid the deposit for my Mercedes SLK yesterday.”

My thought with such comments: Nice for you. You get an order. Pat your shoulder three times.

Seriously: hold yourself back in a comment with self-praise. Otherwise, you are immediately unappealing.

Oh yes: mockery, destructive criticism and sarcasm also stink.

5. Read the article

Yes, this is not a matter, of course.

This phenomenon is often seen on Facebook, where people only see the headline of the article, but are already diligently writing hate comments on Facebook or otherwise adding their mustard.

If you don’t want to go through as a mustard slingshot, then show with your comment that you’ve read the article.

So don’t write: “Great article.”

But: “I loved the example with the mustard. That made the problem so clear to me. “

Do you see the difference

Be as specific as possible and refer to the article – the more specific, the better, because then you can also start a dialogue.

6. Show appreciation

People love recognition.

And when you give others credit, it has a significant effect: people love you too.

Imagine your circle of friends, and a “new” comes into the round. He criticizes each of your friends, enumerates quick facts, and makes an effort to stand in a great light.

Then a second newcomer comes around, and he gives praise. He sincerely praises your friends’ shoes, their smiles and is interested in them.

Which person do you find more likable?

The second, of course. Those who give recognition also get recognition from others.

Therefore, you should always show appreciation in your comments. No, you shouldn’t crawl or slime in the other’s butt, but give honest praise.

As a reminder: When you put it in, you tell people what they want to hear. When you praise, you tell people what they don’t expect.

So your comment should contain a simple element: the compliment.

I don’t say that because I want you to praise me in the comments, but because it should be so. Compliments are the best way to make yourself accessible.

7. Increase the value

Now comes the coronation.

The most important aspect of a useful comment is that it offers added value. Ideally, your comment should increase the value of the article and not decrease it (as unfortunately, spam comments do).

You can deliver added value in the following variants:

  • Tell about personal experiences – Often, in a blog article, you only see one person’s skills. If you bring your expertise into the discussion, people will know that it works for others or that you can do it differently. A good experience report leads readers to this reaction: “Oh, he had the same problem as me. I’ll take a look at his blog. “
  • Ask meaningful questions – in your comments; you should ask questions that others might ask – then other readers will see the answer directly. You should also ask questions that are as specific and goal-oriented as possible. An excellent question is always: “How would you approach Problem X? I can’t get any further … “
  • Add a point – Many bloggers like to write list posts with a fixed number of points. If you can think of another, it would be the perfect material for comment. But please don’t be spiteful or with your big index finger. Just put your tip on the table. If you are lucky, the blogger will even add your comment to his article.

Improve the world

There are enough trolls and spammers on the Internet to make the web a place you don’t like to travel.

We can change that. We can start with ourselves and write comments that are not spammy. Comments that add value. Comments that give honest recognition and do not burst with self-praise.

In the end, only everyone can win: the blogger gets more comments. Good comments get you more attention. And you two enter into a dialogue.

What more do you want?

13 tips for sustainable forum link building

Forum links are the “cheapest” type of link building. You don’t have to spend money to buy backlinks or produce content that is worth linking. The only thing you need is a little bit of time and a good strategy. I would like to give you tips for a good plan in this article.

Sit down and think about all the topics that fit your website or product.

  • Who is interested in it?
  • What interests potential doubters?
  • Where is my product still used?

Tools such as answerthepublic.com are available for this.

If you have considered several questions, look for all forums that deal with these topics. Then it is time to select and create the user.

You can safely leave out forums that have not received a new post for several weeks. The effort here is not worth it, as these forums will “die” shortly. On the other hand, you should be aware that very active forums often have more meticulous admins and pay close attention to the links set. So: more effort, but more traffic/quality!

Also, you should pay attention to whether links are removed regularly or maybe only visible in logged-in mode. Here too: let it be, the effort is enormous, and the yield is much lower.

1. Choose the right forum.

The alpha and omega of a forum link in the topic of relevance. There is little point in putting a backlink to a nail salon in a forum about drills. Even if traffic should come through this backlink, the search intensity is undoubtedly not suitable.

And as we know, harmful user data has an impact on our rankings.

Therefore: Pay attention to the topic relevance! Only build links in forums that fit your product!

2. Complete your profile completely

Forum link building is a duel against the admins. If the admins think your link makes sense, if it offers added value to the thread and thus to the forum and the readers, they allow it. However, if your relationship looks unnatural and therefore stands out, the admins will take a closer look at your profile.

If the admins see a completely completed and well-kept profile, the doubts will be cancelled in many cases. However, if the profile picture is missing in your profile, for example, this does not appear dangerous.

If you say now: “No, so I’m not uploading pictures of myself in any forum”, this is of course completely understandable. If necessary, just take a picture of a cartoon or something that appeals to you. The main thing is that it is filled in?

  • Fill out your created profile completely. You want to act like a “real” and trustworthy user. In the absence of seriousness and conspicuous link building, your profile and the links you have set will most likely be removed.

3. Don’t post a link too soon.

You mustn’t place a link immediately after creating a profile. The admins are prepared for “bad” link builders. As already mentioned above, it is essential that you only link URLs that offer added value, otherwise the whole principle makes no sense.

How early you should post your first link also depends on the quality and activity. If you want to post a link in a forum in which over 200 posts are written every day, it is, of course, essential to write more posts before the connection is created than in a forum in which something is only posted every 3rd day.

A recommendation on my part is that you should set a link at the earliest two weeks after registering your profile. Also, depending on the activity of the forum, so many posts (questions AND answers) should be written before the link is set. Your account must be active and, as already mentioned several times, offer the forum real added value.

  • Don’t post your link too soon. Only write articles for the first 2-3 weeks and THEN put your link first.

4. High-quality posts

If you post in a forum (even without an integrated link), pay particular attention to the quality. Don’t just answer “yes” or “no”, but make an effort to write detailed answers. Again, it is essential to pay attention to the quality and activity of the forum. If you have a complicated question that requires background knowledge to be answered well, you shouldn’t respond with just one sentence. In general, you should vary here between detailed answers, which may answer more than just the question, and short, precise answers, which explain the issue directly.

You can also ask questions where you think there will be many answers and possibly a discussion in which you can interact a lot. Perhaps even with admins who also reply here?

If you want to show off here, you can also have your contributions checked in a WDF * IDF tool.

  • Pay attention to the quality of your posts. Do not write too high in “simple” forums. Likewise, you should not incorporate spelling mistakes into a linguistically high-quality forum. Adapt to the jargon of the forum. Also, a proper contribution should contain at least 100 words.

5. No duplicate content

Don’t ask the same questions everywhere and don’t answer the same on all forums. The forum operators also only want unique content and quickly notice if someone is doing clumsy link building here. Rethink your topic in every forum and use different issues.

6. Set the link correctly!

Simply writing a post and then posting the link is, in most cases too easy. The admins deal daily with link builders who just want to have a backlink, whether it brings traffic or not. Use only soft anchor texts (e.g. here ) or the URL. However, never use keyword anchor texts.

Also, pack the indecent link content (see the previous point).

Posts such as: “Hello guys, what do you say: http://www.swacash.com” Are anything but severe and are very likely to be removed.

  • Put your links only on soft anchor texts or the appropriate URL. But never on keyword anchors. Also, show that the link is related to the post, and it is essential to answer the question.

7. Time between links

If you would like to place several links in a forum, it is advisable to leave enough time between the links. If you initially only wrote posts for 2-3 weeks and then set 4 backlinks in a short time, this can quickly become apparent. Also, it will be very noticeable in the long term if you place a backlink to your page every two weeks, that is 26 backlinks a year. It is better to leave 2-3 months between setting the links (when setting links for a website).

Of course, this also applies if you have several users in one forum. If you want to do link building for your website and have found a suitable forum, it is, of course, useful to set up several backlinks here. If you now follow the previous rules, you should also take care to approach the whole thing with a time lag. For example, if you create four accounts in KW 20 and then post four backlinks for your website in KW 22, this is of course just as striking. So take care!?

  • Leave enough time between the links (min. 2-3 months) so that they don’t act too conspicuously. Even when using different accounts, you should take care not to post all links in a week.

8. Discuss on your contributions

Once you’ve posted your link, you should keep those threads going. Don’t just post a question, but also get the answers. Animate the discussion. Because: More answers mean more content, more content means better rankings and better rankings means more traffic?

There is also the trust factor of your user. Users who simply ask a question and then no longer respond to the answers appear unnatural. Stay in the discussion until the end.

  • Keep your threads up to date. Current threads are read and discussed more often. More readers will probably also get more clicks on your link.

9. Quote your old posts

In the course of your work on the forums, there will be lengthy discussions among your questions or posts. If so, it is not uncommon for your link to slip to the second page of the forum. It is advisable to quote your contribution (which contains the link) and bring it back to the first page. The advantage here is that the link may be displayed again and is therefore on two pages. Also, your contribution will be “updated” yet, and new readers will be made aware of your link directly.

  • Quote your posts to repost the link on the page and keep the post containing the link up to date.

10. Use multiple users in one forum

With niche products, in particular, it is difficult to find suitable and still active forums. It is therefore advisable to create several users in one forum. Another advantage is that “dialogues” can also be held here, which stimulates a discussion.

But what do you have to pay attention to:

11. Different email addresses

This is no longer possible in new forums, but especially in older forums, it was possible to register multiple users with the same email address. However, if you are noticed negatively with an email address, all will be blocked immediately. Annoying!

12. Use the TOR browser.

Many forums also pay attention to your IP addresses. The TOR browser is, therefore, an important “tool”. This is essential for very active forums and an essential prerequisite for not being noticed.

13. Different usernames

Actually, of course, but in some cases, it is still done wrong. Never use the same username, not even in different forums! Also, the usernames should not be similar either. If a “PascalP1985” is noticeable, then it is evident that “Pascal1985” should also be checked.

  • Be creative and don’t use 0815 usernames. The user names should also be different across forums.

Conclusion

Although link building is still widely discussed and has many followers, forum links are rarely talked about. But there is still a lot of potential right here to get honest and very high-quality traffic to your site. Only users who may be interested in your product write in forums that fit your topic. Use this collection of potential customers and get active. But be careful, because if you notice, all your work has been wasted.

I am aware that my article is intended to help precisely those people who are not in the mood for all forum operators.

In the end, I always advise one thing: only move in the forums of your branch in which you are a real expert. Because finally the backlinks don’t have to be the most important, but with a practical and active profile in the forums you also strengthen your expert status!

Organized into social distancing: the best tools for the home office

The topic of homework is present across all sectors like never before. But regardless of the blockage of contacts in times of coronavirus, the home office for self-organization and communication with dear colleagues presents you with entirely different challenges than in the office.

It is essential to stay focused on the kitchen table, childcare, and the seductive fridge. Digital workers are lucky enough to be able to fall back on numerous sophisticated solutions that help to keep track of the tasks and facilitate teamwork.

Communication and accessibility

If the “quickly go over there” to the neighboring office for informal consultation is missing, it is not only the social interaction that is lacking. Short meetings, which only take a few seconds on-site, can become time-consuming email correspondence, which causes confusion and frustration. This is where messenger programs like Slack or Microsoft Teams help, which keep the digital paths to the colleague around the corner short.

Microsoft Teams has recently grown in popularity and is experiencing high growth rates.

The structured chat overview facilitates personal arrangements as well as small contributions in working groups. You can easily share documents or set up surveys.

Slack and Microsoft teams also help with the display of the work rhythm. The colleagues are at the table right now, or you cannot answer because you are in a conference call?

With the help of these chat programs, you can easily keep your status (absent, busy) up to date and thus avoid “unwanted” disruptions.

TipAlways use only one chat program for work. If you always have to jump back and forth between Skype and Slack, you quickly lose track of what, where, when, and how it was communicated.

A precise (written) language also needs to be learned. The context is quickly lost in digital communication, and things can be misunderstood; after all, the others cannot see what you have on the screen yourself. Accuracy is essential in written communication, and the context should always be described. For example:

  • The URL / page
  • Screenshots help to visualize a problem.
  • Links to the “map” in the project management tool
  • The task you are currently working on
  • Customer feedback

Video conferencing

Meetings with the team are often so complex and time-critical that a real conversation (simultaneous communication) is essential.

Video conferencing is not the same as sitting in the same room with one person. However, this also creates a specific structure in working life.

When the kids are screaming and raging in the background: The Krisp app suppresses disturbing background noises in video calls.

Also, screens and self-made video presentations can be easily shared in Circuit (a German provider), SlackMicrosoft TeamsSkypeZoom, or Whereby, so everyone can follow them. This makes it easier to illustrate questions or to develop presentations seamlessly from everyone. 

Larger meetings can also be structured well if only the participants who are currently speaking activate their microphones. This improves the conversation quality for everyone and provides a clear framework for speaking out.

Record screenshot videos

Sometimes a problem can best be explained by recording a short video. In addition to the Mac app Screenflow, the cross-platform app Loom is particularly suitable for this.

Image source: Loom.com

Loom can be used to create short videos, among other things, in which you explain what you have worked on today. This helps teamwork tremendously. Project presentations can also be transmitted so wonderfully and in detail – an excellent tool for customer and project acquisition as well.

Project and time management 

Doing your work efficiently is perhaps the hardest job of all. Maybe you remember having to do some shopping. Or the whole daily rhythm changes because you start working an hour later. Also, the game console is only 2-3m away from the workplace. And then all the dystopian news that is difficult to avoid. Everything is just a click away.

You can list your own time and task organization in a TXT file or Evernote.

The Kanban board in Paymo. Screenshot: Dr. Web

Project management with the team is supported by tools such as Paymo, Trello, Hive, Monday.com, Notion, and Asana, which come with precise schedules and a progress bar.

If you want to know how to use the entire MS Office package in a goal-oriented way for self-organization, you can find helpful step-by-step instructions on calendar tools and Microsoft’s best to-do list helpers here.

Storage and data exchange

Up-to-dateness and networking are essential to give everyone involved mobile access to critical documents. Permanent synchronization of everyday processing objects must also be guaranteed at all times.

Numerous cloud services such as Owncloud (a German provider), Google Drive, One Drive, or Dropbox help here.

Services such as Safetransfer.eu or Wetransfer are available for the exchange of large amounts of data. About data security, in particular, it is advisable to rely on German providers.

Distractions, breaks, and productivity

The data exchange is running, all team members are well connected, but somehow the focus is missing at home? It can be challenging to find a productive rhythm within your own four walls.

If you have the feeling that you are prone to straying without the social control of the office and the precise structure of the working day, you will find helpful. Applications such as Rescue time or Stay Focused can monitor how much time is spent on which website – so time-wasters can be determined in a targeted manner.

Popular distractors such as Twitter and Facebook can be blocked here for a certain period. If you have thoughts like “the windows should be cleaned” in your home environment, you can note these ideas in note collections like Evernote – they are out of your mind at first, but are not lost. The same applies to work-related to-do lists or notes for later projects.

The Any.do calendar on iPhone.

But the opposite can also be the case: a project burns under your nails and you find yourself on your laptop until three in the morning? Even if mobile working makes it possible, everyone should take care to establish a permanently healthy working rhythm.

If you plan breaks early enough – for example, with a structured daily schedule in your calendar – and use them for exercise or creative distraction, you can concentrate on essential tasks throughout the day and have more of the well-deserved end of the day.

Mobile work – profit instead of makeshift replacement

To work satisfactorily in the home office, structure and communication are essential. This applies both to your work organization and to teamwork over distance.

With the conscious selection of the tools presented here, a clear framework can be put in place, which facilitates orientation and enables focus from the living room. Those who cycle through their day with balanced working and break times remain focused and reachable contacts at the same time. 

The most important thing is that all team members use the same tools to create synergies and facilitate agreements. With the time gained in this way, even new ideas for future meeting design can be drawn from the home office, which will make work processes more efficient – and will also make everyday work in the office easier!