What’s the secret to writing online, digital content that drives results online? For the Web? For social media platforms? Unfortunately, there’s not a silver bullet. Some of it is trial and error – testing different styles of messages and different types of content with your target audiences. What works for one business, may not work for another. What works for B2B, may differ than what works for B2C. However, there are a few tricks of the trade and we share those here.
First Things First
Before you ever start writing, you need to understand your audience and you must clearly define your goals. This may sound easy, but it’s more difficult than most people think. This step, done correctly, actually takes hours of research, as well as a good look at your overarching business plan, marketing strategies and key initiatives.
Developing a Content Strategy
When you’re taking a road trip to an unfamiliar destination, you don’t just get in the car and start driving. You generally look at a map or search for directions on Google.
The same principle applies to writing for social media. Content strategy serves as your roadmap for what to post. You will want to consider your content sources, such as original content (blogs), value added content (guest blogs or thought leadership), licensed content (whitepapers or videos), existing content (curated from an industry source) or RSS feeds.
As you begin writing content to share with your audience, refer to this checklist as a litmus test for what resonates with them.
- Why does this information matter? Is it relevant?
- What’s the value to your audience?
- Is it compelling? Does it break through the clutter?
- Is it simple and understandable?
- Is it aligned with your strategy, goals and objectives?
- Is there a clear call to action?
You will also want to consider the frequency of distributing your content. This is where knowing your audience comes into play. A good rule of thumb to follow: “You can always ramp up, but it’s hard to ramp down.”
Again, start slow and post one original piece of content weekly. Then, supplement original content with value-added content from other relevant sources.
Creating your Message
One key piece of advice when writing for social media is to be authentic. Original content, whether it’s a blog post or status update, should reflect the voice of your brand.
Your message should also appeal to emotions that incite action, demonstrates with fact-based logic and cites credible sources. Write in active voice and personalize your message to encourage a two-way dialogue. (Remember – what’s in it for them?)
Use visuals, such as infographs, to convey valuable, easily digested messages. Your audience is inundated with thousands of messages daily and quick message consumption and retention is key.
Writing Tips for the Web
Content consumption online, whether on a PC or mobile device, continues to climb. How do you break through the clutter when writing blog posts and other web content?
Follow these tips presented by Ann Wylie during a recent IABC Workshop:
- Use 1-2 sentence paragraphs, approximately 42 words
- Write 25 word introductions
- Think bits and bytes, the rule of 30 [Christina – is there a link to this? Couldn’t find the info on Ann’s site]
- Kill adjectives
- Use the most shareable words
- Include links to avoid over-explanation
- Keep it tight – average reader time is 2 minutes
Success from social media and online content is measured by metrics like sentiment, engagement and influence. When you use a clear call to action, site visitors convert to leads by either signing up for a newsletter, downloading a whitepaper or requesting more information.
And if you’re really successful, you may experience the effects of the Third Circle Concept. Author Scott Stratten describes this as content sharing as it approaching virality – where it reaches an audience without any relationship to the brand or individual who created it. Stratten recommends writing online content with the Third Circle in mind.
Did you enjoy this three-part blog series but still need help developing your social media content strategy? If so, contact me for a complimentary, consultation today!