Writing for the Web vs. Writing for Social Media

When writing for the web we have to understand our audience, our business, our objectives, who we are, why we’re doing it and what we want our audience to take from it. There are four key factors we consider when writing web content:

  • Brevity
  • Using plain language writing
  • Practicing the f-pattern in all writing
  • Using short sentences that are easy to read
  • Simplicity
  • Simple structure
  • Easy to navigate
  • Do the “Ralph Test” to check your plain language efforts
  • Neat/clean layout
  • Make the content obvious, the reader shouldn’t have to guess what they’re looking at
  • Clarity
  • Know your audience
  • Make it clear your product/service does
  • Know what your audience wants
  • Tell your audience what you want (ask/tell them why)
  • Humanity
  • Become a part of your audience
  • Use language that speaks on the same level as your audience
  • Do not clutter your content with acumen that your audience won’t understand

Writing for the web also includes the other strategies such as incorporating images/videos, links, calls to action, quotes and whatever other supporting elements there are to make your story interesting.

Writing for social is a little bit different…

Writing for social media requires you to understand each individual platform you are using. All social media platforms are very unique and have certain requirements that need to be met in order for your content to be relevant and successful. Social media is different than web writing because you have much less freedom. Social platforms are all designed differently and for a specific purpose, so before you write for that platform you need to understand the regulations and restrictions that it comes with.

When writing for social media you must also keep in mind how your audience is viewing this information. Mobile apps are obviously viewed on mobile devices, usually when people are waiting for something/bored/on the toilet etc. so you need to figure out how you can quickly and effectively capture their attention in the ocean of other posts on their news feeds.

The written, but somewhat unwritten rules of writing for social media:

Twitter:

  • 140-character limit, BUT using 100 characters is proven favorable
  • Hashtagging can be a useful tactic to be a part of the conversation, but no one wants to see 140 characters of hash tags
  • Humanize your tweets (a.k.a don’t always tweet promos/business info, come down to human level and have some conversation)

Instagram:

  • The purpose of Instagram was sharing images with friends
  • Instagram has innovated a lot to become more versatile with sharing 60 second videos, live streams, stories, long description boxes etc.
  • Your audience has high expectations
  • Use high quality images/videos
  • Utilize the description box to engage your audience with comments/likes/shares/reposts
  • Use visuals as emotional triggers to join or start a conversation

Facebook:

  • Posts under 250 characters have much higher engagement rates
  • Don’t post something just to post it, stick around and see how your users are interacting. This is an opportunity to have a conversation.
  • Visual images can be useful to attract attention to the written content
  • Short videos are highly viewed

YouTube:

  • Think Headlines
  • The title of the video, description box and tags are very important elements
  • Your title/headline in combination with your cover image are what will get your users to watch your video
  • The description box can be used to further describe the content of the video and include any other relevant information such as links to other channels, videos, websites, social channels, etc.

Overall, writing for social media means understanding the platform and using it in a way that engages your audience quickly. This content must be easy to scan, interesting, relevant and simple enough for your users to understand.

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