How-to: Craft Champion Social Copy
A major component of leading a social business unit is the ability to effectively educate colleagues. In fact, many large organizations with dozens of employees deployed in social now employ social media instructors. These individuals are tasked with educating new hires about social media and company policies during onboarding, as well as serving as a nimble function that keeps marketing and communications teams up to speed on the latest developments in the industry – technologies, social network changes, best practices, etc.
Every industry has its fundamentals whether it’s the 5 Ps of marketing (sometimes 6 or 7) or the press release in public relations. Social media is no different, but because the industry is so new, debate continues about best practices and methodologies. I’ve been fortunate to work in several industries and have been forced figure out how to communicate social media principles to people who had little or no experience. More importantly, I first had to determine which principles would be effective no matter the industry – retail, software, auto, etc.
So, here’s what I’ve found to be the most effective way to teach others how to consistently craft compelling copy. Copywriters, creative directors, community managers and social media gurus listen up! There are hundreds of articles about how to write for social and craft the perfect Facebook post or terrific tweet (419 million last year alone). Sometimes there’s 5 ways, sometimes 10 – the lack of standardization is a bit ridiculous. Let’s keep it simple (huge K.I.S.S. method fan). Consider these three key principles for crafting champion social copy: be concise, clear and connect. Success comes as a result of the combination of the three and placing greater emphasis on any one element is challenging and reduces effectiveness.
It’s time someone told you and for you to accept it. A political science professor once said this to our class and it is phenomenally spot-on for social media: no one cares as much as you do and nobody has a lot of time. Not only don’t people care as much as the person whose job it is to promote the company, social networks’ algorithms regulate how often content is shown to users – good luck breaking through. Next, no one has the time or patience to read an opus of a Facebook post and try to decipher what it means. So get to the point quickly and with tact. And, btw, “concise” does NOT mean short. Length depends on the target audience. Remember, if you can convey the concept successfully in 10 words, don’t use 20. Pro Tip: after 5 years of writing social copy and discussions with dozens of community managers, shorter copy works well for men and slightly more verbose text is a bull’s-eye for women.
In attempting to be concise, clarity is often sacrificed. It’s easy for writers to lose sight of the great context of a post because they’re so close to the topic and perform the task so often. Remember, social content is shared with people who are not “in the funnel,” a fan of your brand page or searching for you on Google. To capture the attention of the unassuming user and ensure the primary audience “gets it,” always ask yourself, “If this is the first time I’m hearing about this topic or first time I’m encountering this brand, will I understand what is being said quickly and easily?” This technique is called transference. Naturally there are exceptions, but transference sets a fine barometer to ensure a variety of audiences will be able to comprehend your content.
Radio was the tell me generation. TV was the show me generation. Social is the give me right now, right this second generation. After spending so much time and money planning, building and buying your way to consumers, it is absolutely critical to make sure you connect them to whatever it is you’re talking about. Connecting can be in the form of a link, hashtag, retweet, etc. And you don’t always need an overt CTA like “click the link below…” I’ve tried overt and no-vert, both have been successful. It depends on the context and social media channel so use discretion. Overt is ideal for web copy in a large canvas digital environment. If the user can’t figure out to click on the bitly link next to the word “SALE” in your Facebook post featuring a huge hero image plastered with the word “SALE” then you have bigger issues than a lack of bitly clicks. Interestingly, no matter the industry, instructing users to “like this post if…” seems to work all the time and spike your likes. Yes, it’s tacky technique but it’s worth revisiting since likes have greater significance now with the release of Graph Search.
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