Which is more important, the link or your description? Right now, for you, the link probably seems vastly more important. But the description you write is what provides context, which is important to your friends (and for you if you revisit the link later). That’s why social sites prompt you to write something when you post. Assuming you are going to bother to write something, what’s the best way to describe a link?
What to write
In short, write why you think the link is memorable. That may not be your first impulse, but it’s a great way to balance reaction and description. The reason you think a link is memorable provides “why” and “what” in a meaningful way without being wordy. It creates context that is appreciated by your friends, and it’s helpful if you come back to it later.
If why you think a link is memorable seems like a hard question to answer, try
- Why is this link especially interesting?
- What did I learn?
- How does this relate to my view of the world?
Or make up your own alternative question. What makes something memorable for you? By answering why, you provide context for your friends, and for yourself if you revisit the link later.
Optional detail: Title and identifying fields
If there’s space, sending a title along with the link helps describe what the link is about. It can also help you find and fix things if the link changes or the content gets relocated.
Most times a title or name is all that is needed, but occasionally that’s not specific enough. When it could be ambiguous, consider including the author, artist, release year, address or other identification to help specify. Link content can change or become unavailable. Some titles may be available from more than one place, which could be different. Including identifying fields makes it clear what you are referencing.
When you have space in your description, include a title and identifying fields.
Optional detail: Rating
If you bother to share a link, it’s most likely above average quality or so bad it’s worth special mention. In either case, since you have enough perspective to know that not everything you share is The Awesomest Thing, consider including a rating.
The big advantage of a rating is it provides differentiation between something everybody absolutely must check out, and something that’s worth the time but can be skipped if things are really busy. The rating allows you to share more without overloading people because they can tell how important things are. A rating also helps find your best stuff later.
Including a rating respects people’s time and helps you organize. Stars are good because they don’t get confused with numbers or letters in the rest of the description.
Optional detail: Keywords
Keywords are a concise way to add another dimension to your description. For example if a video is appropriate for children, adding a “kid ok” keyword will go a long way towards letting parents know when a link is ok to click in the living room. It also helps everybody find content appropriate for sharing at all ages.
How effective a keyword is depends on what kind of a link you are sharing, but if you choose wisely and keep a list readily available, you can easily communicate a wealth of information with minimum text.
Consistent keywords add a whole other level to the description of the links you share.
Including a description when sharing a link creates context for your readers and for search. A well structured description will help your friends and yourself.
Looking for an app to handle link descriptions well? Try membic.