Writing Effectively for Social Media Platforms
Writing for Facebook and Twitter is not the same as writing for your website or blog. If you are using the same writing style in all places you may notice that your engagement rates are not where you had hoped they would be. That’s because you’re not talking to people in the appropriate voice for the channel that you’re using.
Writing for Facebook
Facebook no longer imposes a character limit on their status updates, at least not one that anyone is ever likely to hit, but that doesn’t mean you should start using your status updates as your new blog space. The most engaging Facebook posts are under 80 characters – that’s even shorter than uber-limited 140-characters that Twitter allows you! Does this mean you have to keep your posts to 80 characters or less? No, of course not. But it does serve as a reminder as to what people are looking for on Facebook.
First and foremost, people are looking for “you” on Facebook. They want to know that the pages they’re interacting with are run by real people with real personalities. Work hard to avoid being overly stuffy or formal. Facebook is a fun, informal, and conversational platform, and that’s how people expect you to act. That’s not to say you should be unprofessional, but it is possible to be professional and fun at the same time.
So what should you be writing on Facebook? A good start is asking questions to spark dialogue. Posts that contain questions generate twice as many comments as posts that do not.
Along the same lines as question posts are Fill in the Blanks. Both types of updates are asking your followers to provide information. The first is by directly asking for it. The second is more playful. You might post, “I can’t believe my dog ate my ______” and then sit back and see what your fans come up with.
When creating a standard status update it’s best to keep it to no more than 4 lines, and 1-2 is better. People will be seeing your updates in the news feed on their home pages more often than they’ll see them on your Timeline. It’s helpful to keep them short enough that people will be able to see the entire update without having to click the “more” link to reveal the whole thing.
Be sure to stay positive whenever possible as well. Phrase your updates in a way that will make them “like”-able. There is no dislike button yet, so even if people agree with what you’re saying, they will likely not intereact with the post if it is written in a more negative tone.
Finally, keep in mind that not all of your content needs to be unique. Include links to photos, articles, and videos that your fans might want to share with their friends. If you see a photo or video that you think is funny, or an article that you think is interesting, chances are your fans will feel the same way about it. Share it on your page and give them the chance to do the same.
Writing for Twitter
Twitter has become the place for sharing links to great content. But, what you share on Twitter is not just about the value of the content that you’re sharing, but whether or not your tweets are getting noticed in the first place. So what gets a tweet noticed? A really great headline.
There is an old rule about headlines called the 80/20 rule. This rule says that 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will actually go on to read the content that the headline is describing. This rule applies to traditional headline environments like newspapers, magazines, and web pages. Once you move to email inboxes and Twitter feeds, the numbers get even worse due to the amount of competing headlines and the nature of the environment.
So how do you make sure your headlines are getting noticed and your content is getting clicked on? A good way to make sure your headlines offer a compelling reward to those who click them is by using the 4U approach which is taught in the American Writers & Artists accelerated copywriting program.
- Be USEFUL to the reader
- Provide the reader with a sense of URGENCY
- Convey the idea that the content is UNIQUE
- Do the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way
It’s also important to ensure that your headlines are as short as possible. This is not only because of Twitter’s 140-character limit, but also because you want to leave room for people to retweet your content with their own comments.
To learn more come to our webinar Social Media Content IS Different: What to Know.