Writing For Social Media: It’s Not About You

Google “writing, for social media,” and you’ll get about 5.5 million results. But read a dozen or so, and you’ll soon realize that the advice they offer is often vastly different.

Some say it’s more important to get content out there regularly than it is to make it perfect. Others claim just the opposite—that it’s even more important to be accurate, professional, and polished on social media—because there are “trolls” out there, just waiting for a chance to make you look bad.

Even advice that doesn’t seem to conflict on the surface can be challenging. For example: “copy has to be short.” While that doesn’t necessarily conflict with “write like people talk” (another thing “they” say), it can be hard to do both. Conversational writing is often longer—because most of us don’t speak in efficient, finely edited prose.

(The “short copy” folks surely would have stricken “efficient, finely” from the previous sentence—but I think it adds something. So block me.)

But I digress.

There seems to be one piece of social media writing wisdom that almost all can agree on: don’t spend your whole character count writing about yourself.

You may have a great product or service. You’re proud of it. You’re positive that it’s the solution to your audience’s problems, and there are dozens of features and benefits you want to brag about.

Don’t do it.

Consider today’s social media landscape, where people create cozy cocoons for themselves. They follow people and things that make them happy. They block whatever they don’t agree with, or upsets them. Feeds are flush with entertaining, funny, and fascinating content that keeps them engrossed—and in some cases, addicted. Right in the middle of it all, they see your post about how great thou art.

Face it: you’re competing with funny memes, cute animal videos, and scathing political takedowns. “Leverage our advanced solutions with proprietary technology” ain’t gonna cut it.

So how do you avoid getting swiped? Make it about them: let them know you understand their challenges. How they feel. What would make their lives a little easier. (The assumption here is that you’ve done your research, and actually know these things.)

And, by the way, you have something that can help them. Mention ONE really cool thing about your product or service that will make a difference in their lives. If they want more information about all those features and benefits that make you feel like a proud parent, offer them a way to do so—but don’t put them all in your post.

Take a cue from the memes, kitten videos, and political pundits. How do they get thousands of followers, shares, and retweets? By making people laugh. Giving them a warm and positive feeling. Or saying something that challenges them to think. The more your post sounds like an ad, the less likely they’ll engage.

Marketers used to enjoy captive audiences. Now, consumers are in control. To break through, you have to show them what makes you different.

Ironically, one way to do that is NOT make it all about you.

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