Find your business’s voice on social media

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Creating compelling copy is an art. Deciding what to say can be hard. The red pen plays both the hero and the villain, whether writing copy for blogs, print ads, radio scripts, or social media posts.

Social media is not so much an art. It’s a troublesome upstart that’s burst into the room and shaken everyone in there by the shoulders. I said troublesome, but that’s only if you’re unprepared and unaware of how to conduct yourself – which you shouldn’t be.

Social media should now, in 2016, be a cornerstone of your digital marketing.

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According to Statista, 2.22 billion people are on social media. That’s 31 per cent of the world’s population – it’s mainstream.

Given its importance to business marketing, posts should be left to the experts. You wouldn’t let someone less qualified write the tag line for a print ad that’s placed at Piccadilly Circus or Times Square, would you?

Social media might have appeared in the last decade or so, but we can take many lessons from copywriters of the past and apply their theories to it: Robert Collier, David Ogilvy, Eugene Schwartz et al, whose ideas about good copy transcend eras and remain equally relevant today.

They were such visionaries that even though their respective heydays were between the 1950s and 70s, they’d probably take to writing for social media and digital platforms like a duck to water.

“Before you put pen to paper, before you ring for your stenographer, decide in your own mind what effect you want to produce on your reader — what feeling you must arouse in him.” — Robert Collier

 

Nowadays, copywriters need to be versatile, creating good copy for different media that’s viewed on smartphones by busy people with ever-shortening attention spans.

Social is a two-way communication portal that if mastered – whether seriously or tongue-in-cheek – on the correct social platform, can yield tangible results for a business.

Finding a tone of voice across these platforms is central to the marketability of a brand – you’ve just got to take different things into consideration, depending on where your writing will sit. Here’s how you can get it right.

Brief every writer

It’s no good having a team of writers, each with a different writing style. Get everyone on the same page by creating a thorough brief that outlines what you want to achieve, who you are speaking to, whether you’ll speak formally or informally, and the best time of day to publish posts.

This is more difficult to achieve in an agency scenario, where numerous writers will work on a single client with little time to spare. If you’re in-house, however, sticking to a brief will be no problem.

Mimic your audience’s way of speaking

“I don’t know the rules of grammar. If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.” — David Ogilvy

Listen to Ogilvy: speak to your audience as they’d speak to you. If your audience uses street talk, your posts should echo that. The way you speak will also depend on the social network you use. If you’re not sure which is right for you, our blog on choosing the right social network for your business will help.

Decide what you will (and won’t) tweet about

This should be outlined in the brief. A quick Google search on ‘bad social media examples’ will throw up hundreds, if not thousands, of instances of where social media has gone wrong and you don’t want to be among them.

Whether you’re posting your own blogs, retweeting posts from other sources, or simply posting an opinion, you should make sure it’s relevant to your audience and not detrimental to your cause.

Don’t be too salesy

“Tap a single overwhelming desire existing in the hearts of thousands of people who are actively seeking to satisfy it at this very moment.” — Eugene Schwartz

Discovery content is more effective than overly sales-led content. Be yourself. Share content you know your audience will like. Don’t get in people’s faces. Avoid it being about sell, sell, sell…

It’s the same principal as door-to-door sales: you’re less likely to buy from someone who’s forcing something on you, compared to discovering a product naturally and making an informed decision that way. Stick to the rule of three with your posts – ask, tell, sell – and you won’t go far wrong.

Be nice, crazy, quirky, funny…

Don’t be too serious. Even if your products aren’t the most exciting, find an angle that’s funny or quirky. Be a little bit different. If, however, that’s not really within your company remit, just stick to being as helpful as you can.

Our blog on the wittiest brand responses on social media will give you some idea as to what’s acceptable and what’s not!

Help your followers out

“The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife.” — David Ogilvy

It’s not all about you. Your customers are real people too. They’ll want to know about your products, either by asking you questions, or by using your social media feeds to gauge if you’re a company they trust or not.

Be honest with followers. What Ogilvy means in the quote above is that you wouldn’t lie to your wife (or should that be shouldn’t lie to your wife!), so why lie to customers?

Use scheduling tools to plan ahead

Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are your best options. To sign up, all you need to do is log in using your social profile (they both currently support Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn). Once you’re in, you can schedule your posts for a time that suits you and your audience, or use the multi-feed options to monitor the conversations about you.

You can not only find a voice with what you say, but also when you say them. There are hundreds of articles out there that outline the best times to post, and analytics services will show you when you get the best engagement rates.

Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.

The words and images you choose should not be done so on a whim, but with purpose. Get the tone and timing right and you should see your results flourish – check out our in-the-moment social media guide for more insight into how you can make social media work for you.

The quote above is from Leo Burnett, an advertising executive who died in 1971. If you take nothing else from this post but that, you’ll have learned a little about how copywriting theories can be applied to your social media.

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