5 Rules for More Effective Social Media Writing

3 July 2013 - 6:00, by , in Online Marketing, No comments

Unfortunately, there is no one magic formula for social media writing for business that will automatically create more likes, comments, follows, engage more readers, or gain a new customer in a snap. However, through my years developing and managing social media strategies, as well as day to day social activities for various brands, I have found that there are most definitely some stead-fast rules I would recommend social media marketers/managers start to live by. I come across so many updates, tweets, and posts that have so much potential to be effective social media writing, but the posts fall flat because of some key elements that were overlooked.

In this post, I will outline my 5 most important rules for social media marketers to live by for effective social media writing in business posts.

Effective Social Media Writing Rule #1: Choose the Right Content

Of all the rules for more effective social media writing, choosing the right content is the most important, by far. The content is what you will center your post around. You may have some posts from time to time that do not link to any media, and are strictly words – but for the most part, you’re going to be linking to an outside article, including a picture, or guiding your reader to a landing page.

Know Your Audience

The most helpful ingredient in choosing the right content is knowing what will interest your audience. Once you develop your buyer persona, you can easily decide topics for original posts, filter and choose third party articles, and decide which offers will be most appealing.

Here are some ideas on the kinds of content you should be posting:

  • Articles or images that relate to your overall industry  – Ex. A social media agency posting an article regarding the state of social media today, with various stats
  • Articles or images that relate directly to your product or service (but not your brand specifically) – Ex. A car wax product posting info regarding DIY ways to wax your car like a pro at home
  • Articles or images that provide value – Ex. “how-tos”, infographics, guide books, free offers, webinars, etc.
  • Articles or images that evoke emotion of some kind – Ex. Dove dish soap using images of otters covered in their gentle soap to show their contribution to the BP oil spill

social media writing content

Follow the 10-4-1 Rule

As a general rule from The B2B Social Media Book by Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey Cohen, (in order for your social media writing to be successful) out every 15 social media posts:

  • 10 should be relevant articles from third party blogs
  • 4 should be original content from your own blog
  • 1 should be an offer that leads to a landing page

Have a Goal

What your goal is for the post should alter the kind of content you are posting. Do you want a lot of “likes”, shares, comments, increase in followers, conversation, click-throughs to your website? Whether you post an image, a quote, a helpful article, a controversial article, or a free offer will change the outcome of your post. So, be thoughtful in how you want your post to affect the goal.

Effective Social Media Writing Rule #2: Develop a Distinct Voice and Tone

Just as the author of a book, a radio or tv personality, or talented speaker has a particular style or cadence in the way they speak that is distinctive and unique to them, your social media writing should show your personality and the personality behind the brand. Your followers should come to know and expect the kinds of posts they will get from you.

For example, I previously ran the social media efforts for an incredible health drink called Mamma Chia, and took an extensive amount of time to get the voice and tone of the company’s Founder just right; as, she was the entire essence of the brand. She was positive, up beat, happy, healthy, and all about “spreading the love”. So, every article and post, every response to a follower, and every visible online activity had to mirror that voice and replicate that tone. I always asked myself if all of my social media writing was “spreading the love” of health, happiness, and chia seeds.

Effective Social Media Writing Rule #3: Get to the Point

As an overall rule of thumb for effective social media writing, just KISS (keep it simple, silly).

Keep the Platform in Mind

Aside from strategically keeping your post short and simple, there are obviously constraints in length based on which platform you are posting to. Twitter, with a 140 character limit, forces you to keep your post to the bare minimum – which actually tends to be a good thing. Obvioulsy Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ allow you a bit more wiggle room on the subject, but keep in mind that most social media reports emphasize that shorter posts are better for conversion.

Make it Conversational

Social Media should be engaging and welcome conversation from your fans, followers and customers. You can be a little more casual on social media than in traditional marketing methods. Take advantage of this, try to get on a peer level with your customers and develop a loyal relationship.

For example, try to integrate some humor into your posts – of course only when appropriate, and don’t cross any unprofessional or offensive lines. Perhaps a line of soaps or toys for babies could post a funny “motherhood” meme on their Facebook page to encourage sharing from their audience.

Include a CTA (call-to-action)

Tell your audience what to do when they come across your post. Social Media writing, at its core, should be the driving force to guide the viewer to take action on your social media channels. Tell them to click a link, ask a question, insert an intriguing image.

Your social media CTAs should:

  • Tell them to click a link to an article
  • Ask them a question
  • Offer them something of value
  • Describe an image you have attached

Effective Social Media Writing Rule #4: Double Check Your Spelling and Grammar

No matter how “conversational” or “casual” you choose to get in your social media writing and posting, please for the love of professionalism – make sure that you don’t have any spelling or grammatical errors. Your social media writing still represents a corporate brand, personal brand, or a business – so the proper use of spelling and grammar remains essential. Unless you are making an extremely obvious pun or play on words that includes a misspelled word, it is important to respect the witten word.

While you’re at it, cut out the slang and emojis.

If you are writing for a professional business, your social media writing should not include slang, abbreviations, or emojis.

Effective Social Media Writing Rule #5: Include a Visual

People naturally gravitate towards visuals over words. The image you include (if applicable) should support your social media writing and help you to limit the amount of verbiage you need to get your point across.

Here are examples of ways to include visuals in your posts:

  • Attach an image AS your post, and include a descriptive caption
  • Including a thumbnail with the link you are attaching – I always recommend doing this
  • Link to an image or infographic – this mainly refers to twitter where you won’t automatically see the image in the news feed

As a social media marketer/strategizer/manager, you should always be looking for ways to increase your effectiveness; especially when it comes to your social media writing skills. Following the 5 rules above will help to ensure you reach the goal you have set for each post, any benchmarks you’ve set, as well as your overall social media posting strategy.

Do you have any “rules to live by” for social media writing that I missed? Please feel free to let me know in the comment section!



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