If you post on social media, you're a writer. Being a writer is an important distinction to make. You're a writer because you publish what you share online for public consumption. Once you press "post" the content is no longer in your hands. And even though you can delete your social media content, as long as someone took a screenshot or shared your content, it will continue to exist.
When you begin to think of yourself as a writer, the social media landscape changes. No longer does it seem appropriate to slap content together and see what happens. No, every writer follows a style guide and those who write social media content should follow a stylebook as well.
So where do you start? Let's take this article from Social Media Today: 6 Secrets of Generating Huge Returns from Social Media. How would you write social media content?
Step 1: See if someone has done part of the work for you.
When possible, click the "share" buttons on the blog and see what pops up. Share buttons are a good place to start if you need ideas for writing. If you wrote the blog on your website, skip Step 1 and move to Step 2.
As you can see from the screenshots above, either no text is provided or the text is very generic and a regurgitation of the article title. The auto-text is unhelpful, so you need to start from scratch.
Step 2: Read the article.
If you've already read it once, re-read the key sections. Many times the article holds the key pieces you need to write an effective social media post.
The title of this article alone reveals that there are six secrets. The title should get your wheels turning. Can your social media content play off of the secrets? Should you reveal a few and then leave your reader hanging so they'll click for more?
The article also has some great images. Maybe one of the images can be saved separately so the social media post can also have an image. The image of the dog on the skateboard is particularly great. Social media loves animals and using that image could be the first step toward a great post.
Step 3: Sum up the article.
It's a lot easier to write social media content when you know exactly what you're trying to talk about. Get the BIG picture down on paper and it will be a lot easier for you to figure out how to write something that people want to read. The summary of this article:
To achieve social media success, it's all about the type of content you share. Are you listening to your audience and providing them with content that is valuable? Make them say, "Yes, I'm glad I'm following you because you help and give back to me. It's not just about you."
Step 4: Find a great quote.
It can be incredibly helpful to start writing your social media content with a great quote from the article. Even if you don't use the quote in the end, having the quote down on paper can be a good source of inspiration.
"Pay attention to what your fans are telling you... Your goal is to let people know that you care and have something of value to offer."
The quote above matches the article summary quite nicely, but it's rather dull. That's where Step 5 comes in.
Step 5: Get creative.
Begin trying different things. The best way to write social media content is just to start writing. Try out a few different options and then compare.
"Would you rather buy a skateboard after watching a dog ride it or after hearing that the wheels have been tested over two hundred times? According to the six secrets of success, stick with the dog: LINK"
"Everyone is looking for the secret formula to social media success. These six tips might not be secret, but they'll help you "sell the sizzle." LINK"
"Do you want to be the next social media powerhouse? If your answer is "Yes!" then you don't want to miss these industry secrets: LINK"
"Are you ready for 6 secrets to social media ROI? First, it starts with sharable content. Then, it's about engaging your audience. After, you 'sell the sizzle.' Next, you... LINK"
Throughout the creative process, ask yourself the following questions:
- Would I be interested in this?
- If someone else wrote this, would I click on it?
- Does this sound too cheesy or desperate?
- Is it fun?
Step 6: Write a unique social media post for every platform.
If you have a successful creative brainstorming session, you hopefully have a few great posts to choose between. Use these different content options to help you write a unique post for each platform. Keep in mind these tips:
- Facebook: When possible, don't write more than five lines or 400 characters with spaces. Speak in a friendly and casual tone. Use image posts more often than link posts or text-only posts. Use formatting such as paragraph spacing and list format.
- Twitter: You have 140 characters so keep it short and sweet. The best tweets are under 115 characters in length. Tweets are very news friendly, so headlines work well. Don't forget to add a trending hashtag.
- LinkedIn: This network is for professionals. Write social media content for LinkedIn as a news brief or an internal information email to your customers. Think about how you would sell the article to a CEO.
- Instagram: Keep it short and casual and love the hashtags. Over 11 hashtags per Instagram post is your best bet. Don't worry about the text so much as choosing the best hashtags.
At the end of the day, as long as you remember that every time you write social media, you're a published author, you'll be fine. It's about putting out quality content in the right way.