Writing for social media is all about conveying what you know in a way that generates trust and confidence in your brand. And if you can avoid the many pitfalls of posting on these platforms, you’ll give your brand even more opportunities to shine.
Let’s take examples from work with a few of our clients (Roost Real Estate and LunchDates) to demonstrate how to effectively communicate on social media.
- Know who you are
When writing for a brand, keep in mind that you’re representing it. Unless you explicitly sign your name as a known team member, the only identity that’s attached to the post or comment is the brand. This is particularly important to remember when you consider making “I” statements. Everything your brand posts and shares should feel like it’s coming from an inclusive group. The easiest way to achieve that is by using “we” instead of “I.”For example, the use of “we” in the following tweet emphasizes that Roost Real Estate knows all about the experience of buying a new home. If the tweet read, “I know there’s so much to love about a new home,” at best, it’s unclear who the speaker is, and at worst, it comes off as dismissive and exclusive. “We” is an inclusive word. It develops confidence and trust in your brand.
- Know who you’re talking to
You wouldn’t greet a 16-year-old the same way you’d greet a 60-year-old, right? “Know your audience” is a critically important rule for many media platforms, and social channels are no exception. Thanks to targeting, you can get a great sense of who you’re speaking to and how to effectively communicate with them.
For this sponsored post, our targeting is set to first-time homebuyers. Consequently, the copy in this post emphasizes the variety of homes Roost can connect buyers to and hints at how this variety lends itself to finding the buyer’s dream home. If we were targeting real estate investors instead, it would be best for this post to emphasize the variety of properties Roost represents instead.
Different consumer groups will have different relationships with your brand, and acknowledging that diversity by providing targeted content for each is a potent way of generating engagement and trust.
- Know where you are
What you say on Twitter is different than what you say on Instagram. You don’t want to be like that musician who thanks the wrong city because they can’t keep their tour dates straight. Your content should never reveal that it was really meant for some other platform. Take this tweet for example:
Twitter and Instagram are different platforms, but cross-posting content is fair game if you can do it well. To do that, you need to understand how these platforms function differently. Twitter has an infamous 140-character limit, while Instagram has a cushy 2,200-character limit. This means you don’t write for Instagram the way you write for Twitter. If you do, your message will be truncated, your audience won’t know what’s on the other side of that awesome link you included, and you’ll have to hope against hope that they’ll get curious and hop onto your other channels to figure out what you were attempting to do.
Now, if the above post looked something more like this…
That’s much better! Note that the link here is curated and directed by the copy, so people know exactly what they’re in for when they click-through, and they get rich media (that heartwarming picture) to add more to the story. This tweet was also posted on the LunchDates Instagram with longer copy and access to the link through their Insta bio. If this image had been directly crossposted from Instagram, the tweet would have lost the associated image, the copy and the article link. That’s a lot of content to lose.
- Know what you’re saying
Sharing knowledge on social media is an important capability for businesses and brands because it demonstrates your value to a consumer beyond just telling them that your services or products are for sale. Unfortunately, doing this is much trickier than just dumping all your information out to your followers. You want your information to be relevant and valuable to consumers, which means you might have to tell them why or how it is.
The caption in the above Roost Real Estate post accomplishes effective knowledge sharing. It tells you why you need to read about neutralizing a space and scaling furniture (to appeal to the masses, which is important when selling your home) and does it in just three quick sentences. At 269 characters, it doesn’t fit on Twitter, but lives great on Instagram, especially attached to the valuable images. Speaking of…
- Use pictures
Always consider using pictures in your posts. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and whether they’re from free image resources or your own assets, they reinforce and add life to your posts. At Snap, we talk about using images a lot. It’s one thing to write solid copy, but it’s another thing entirely to put together rich and engaging content. Images help bring your ideas together and give them meaning.For example, in this article, imagine if we had only described the referenced posts? Would the wall of text be as appealing? Would you have understood how the tip and example are connected? Images are important because, at the very least, they enhance messages and very often contain information only they can convey.
How does this connect to social? Most social platforms are visual, which means you’ll need images just to participate effectively.
In the above example from Twitter, we had 140 characters to promote an article (one that our client didn’t own) about trusting your Realtor while making sure that followers would keep Roost in mind as they read it. We’ve found that followers are very responsive to images featuring the Roost team—they’re awesome people, so it makes sense—and a picture of trustworthy people carries more weight than just saying, “Roost is a trustworthy team!” Twitter is a great platform for sending effective messages. You only have 140 characters to talk, but images and links make it much easier to convey your ideas.
Writing for social media is a lot more than just enjoying writing. It’s about leveraging words, images, links, hashtags and platforms to ensure that your message comes across. Remember to follow these five tips and you’ll be in a great position to succeed on all of your social channels.