You may have seen them before.
Probably on your LinkedIn feed.
Each sentence is its own paragraph.
Each paragraph is one sentence.
They’re filled with personal stories.
People call these things broetry.
This is an example of a broem.
While single-sentence paragraphs are the distinguishing hallmark of broems, the style also typically features short sentences, often about the same length. They often begin with an attention-grabbing, clickbait sentence, typically include a personal anecdote, and conclude with an inspirational life lesson.
They’re known for generating enormous numbers of views and reactions on LinkedIn — and for inspiring annoyance.
Origins of a New Literary Form
Broetry first proliferated on LinkedIn in 2017 when BuzzFeed says it applied the term to the style of writing, comparing it to employee handbook haikus or an e.e. cummings motivational poster. Broety might also refer to a masculine style of poetry. It seems to have seen a renaissance this year, judging from commentary, mostly unfavorable. The style is even becoming popular for blog posts.
Marketers who write broems say the style is extremely effective. It’s tailor-made for mobile devices and short attention spans of today’s social media users. Josh Fetchter, co-founder of BAMF Media, said he racked up more than 100 million followers for himself and clients with broetry. “People say, ‘This is very third grade-level writing style’ and I say, ‘Good luck doing it,’” he told BuzzFeed.
Writers Despise Broems
Other content marketers call the single-sentence paragraphs monotonous. Broems are full of clichés and corny stories that alienate readers. They seem to strive to be inspirational but more often come across as banal gibberish.
“As marketers and writers, it’s wildly important that we differentiate “what’s popular” from “what’s valuable,” writes Cole Schafer at Honey Copy. “While today, broems might be a popular way to get more eyes on our work, sooner or later we have to ask ourselves… but at what cost?”
Marketers and writes should ask themselves what they want to be remembered for, Schafer says. Probably not for their broems.
Writing for Algorithms, Not Humans
Broetry games the LinkedIn algorithm by increasing dwell time as viewers take longer to scroll through the line breaks, says Carina Rampelt, a writer and strategist at Find A Way Media. But readers tire of one-sentence paragraphs with the same number of words. Much like clickbait posts, broems fail to meet expectations of their hyped up introductions.
“While the form might drive engagement and clicks, it can undermine your goals in the long term,” Rampelt warns. Broety is a passing fad, much like the clickbait headlines, she concludes.
A better strategy: Write paragraphs and sentences of varying lengths. Reserve single-sentence paragraphs for emphasis.
In addition to writing personal anecdotes, cite external sources such as scientific data and studies, historical anecdotes, or current events.
Tell stories where you and your brand aren’t the center of attention.
Bottom Line: Broetry is well-suited for mobile devices and short-attention spans of today’s social media users and can be highly effective for gaining engagement. But that success may be more from gaming LinkedIn’s algorithm rather than inspiring or informing views. Broems can be downright annoying and irritate readers and may ultimately fail to achieve business goals.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.