Social Copy: Keep It Real, Keep It Brief

less-is-more-copy

“Write like you speak. Edit like you’re being charged by the word.”

I read that (or a general approximation of that) years ago in an article about social media best practices. I can’t remember where it was published or who wrote it, but I owe them big time. I think about those words every (work) day and do my best to put them into practice.

Write like you speak.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when writing social copy is approaching it like other types of ad copy. Social media is not like other marketing vehicles in that communication is supposed to simulate conversations that happen in real life: sharing photos of your kids, cracking jokes with friends, chatting about what happened on your favorite show last night. Social is real life amplified (for better or worse).

This means you should talk like a human, because humans have evolved to spot ad copy easily and ignore it.  Talk like you do in real life. Imagine you’re sharing this blog post (and I hope you do!). Instead of saying:

Read this thought-provoking article from the greatest social media marketing mind of our time (@DaveJanjua) on how to write better social media marketing copy: http://bit.ly/1T55hQP

Pretend you’re saying this to someone in person. Out loud, construct the sentence you would use in a conversation. That might be something like:

Check out @DaveJanjua’s recent blog post about writing better social media marketing copy: http://bit.ly/1T55hQP

You’ve gotten the key message across, delivered the link, and managed to not sound like a SkyNet marketing executive. Awesome! Now here comes step two…

Edit like you’re being charged by the word.

Now that you sound like a human, sound like a human using social media. You’re competing for the attention of users who are likely being bombarded with information across multiple social platforms. Get to the point quickly. The fewer words the better. At Indeed we’ve found that tweets with 100 characters or less (not including links) drive higher engagement. The same is true for similarly short character counts on most social platforms.

Seriously, cut the fat. Instead of saying “tickets will be available on Tuesday,” say “tickets available Tuesday.” Don’t say “widgets are on sale,” say “widgets on sale.”

It’s not only a matter of being brief, it’s about being resourceful and not wasting words. You probably don’t even realize just how many extra words you use in everyday life that you don’t need. Like that last sentence I just wrote.

“You probably don’t even realize just how many extra words you use in everyday life that you don’t need.”

Ask yourself, “does this lose its intended meaning if I remove this word?” If the answer is no, you should probably get rid of that word.

So, back to that tweet copy you’re writing to share this article:

Check out @DaveJanjua’s recent blog post about writing better social media marketing copy: http://bit.ly/1T55hQP

You can cut that down to:

Check out @DaveJanjua’s blog post on writing better social copy: http://bit.ly/1T55hQP

Actually, this whole article could have been shortened: Write like you speak, because social is an extension of real life. Edit like you’re being charged by the word, because you only have a moment to capture your audience’s attention.

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