Digital Natives

Learning how to write for social media is imperative because digital is everything now. Social media marketing has become a crucial factor in any business’ marketing plans and goals. Being able to utilize social media to the fullest extent requires one to understand the platforms, the requirements, restrictions, styles, audiences and so much more.

The great thing about understanding social media is that we can get messages delivered to a very large audience, very quickly. Posts on social media can go viral within split seconds because everything is so fast paced, which is exactly what the audience wants. In order to be a part of that we need to understand how to write effective content for each platform and audience.

Social media is a part of our everyday lives, so as brands why would we not want to build a strong online presence and more personal relationship with our audience and consumers.

St. Clair College ADV Tweet

Virtual-RealityCurious about your future? Look no further! Enroll in the most updated digital ad program @stclaircollege to start your career #StClairADV

This tweet is 138 characters, which is longer than a favorable tweet, but the information is relevant and the use of tagging and a hashtag accounts for the extra length.

First, we have to consider the platform that we are writing for, in this case it’s Twitter. Taking the twitter provisions into consideration, I made my tweet as short as I could, but the use of tagging and a hashtag added quite a few extra characters. Although I am almost at the max character limit, the tweet would still be effective because my message is strong, and the tag and hashtag simply support my message.

Before creating the content for the message, we must define our audience. Our target audience is graduating high school students interested in enrolling in a very up to date digital advertising program.

Now that we know who we are writing to, what platform we’re writing for and why we’re writing this content, we can move on to the writing part.

Writing tweets for a brand isn’t as simple as one would think. I considered the brand persona of St. Clair and actually took a look at some of the different Twitter accounts associated with St. Clair in attempt to embody the tone and style.

I wanted to use a capturing image that is extremely relevant to the topic of the tweet, so I chose a picture of a classroom with students using virtual reality goggles. As we all know, St. Clair ADV just started incorporating VR into the curriculum last year and it has evolved even more since then. I think that this image will grab my audiences’ attention and peak interest in what this is all about. This image is very important to the success of my tweet because people retain images much faster and longer than they retain words.

Now that I have caught my readers’ attention, we move on to the text. I used a problem-agitate-solve style tweet/headline because I know that my audience has a problem and I want to give them a convincing solution.

I practiced plain language writing by using short sentences, relatable terms, a tag and a hashtag that are simple and relevant to my tweet. I wanted the tone of my tweet to be informative, but not boring and encouraging/inspiring in hopes that my readers will click on the @stclairadv tag to find out more info about the program and what it has to offer.

I also came up with a secondary tweet after the fact that takes a completely different spin on things by keeping it super short and somewhat sarcastic. This tweet embodies more of a sarcastic-humor vibe with a little dig at competing schools with advertising programs. The purpose of this tweet is more to “plant a seed” and spark a conversation between readers and even other schools. This tweet is a little riskier because the purpose is ultimately to get our readers to enroll in the program, but this tweet is just funny and might create some buzz around the St. Clair Ad program.

“@stclairadv does virtual reality…hbu? #educationdoneright”

Social media brand voice

This is the identity of the brand. Your brand persona, tone, language and purpose must be executed with fluidity amongst all social media channels. However, your brand’s personality also needs to be a chameleon and morph itself to fit each social platform.

Before going ahead with writing any content, you need to have an established brand identity. There are four key elements when analyzing the brand voice:

Character/Persona

  • Your business’ attitudes, values, strengths, visions
  • Evaluate comparisons (example: masculine or feminine/ young or mature / professional or goofy)
  • What do you want your audience to think of when they think of your brand?
  • What type of emotion do you want to evoke every time someone thinks of your brand?
  • Think about descriptive words
  • Some branding personas can include: exciting, humble, professional, influential, prestigious

Example: Cereal brands that use mascots such as the “Silly Rabit” for Trix Are for Kids. This portrays the brand as a fun-loving, youthful and somewhat silly brand. Many brands that target young children/families as their audience will use a mascot or character to portray their brand because it’s very relatable and fun for the audience.

Tone

  • Factors to consider: are you serious, funny, sarcastic, morbid, charming, happy, etc.
  • Consider: diction
  • Consider: writing style
  • Consider: Does your brand use jargon or slang, how do you use punctuation, will you be formal or casual, will you use emoji’s, what kind (if any) of humor will you incorporate)

Tone is about getting rid of the monotone crap that we write for the search engines and the robots, and replacing it with a style and tone that is relatable to the human audience.

Example: Using tragic situations in attempt to sell commercial products is tacky. (Referring to the Twin Towers example)

Language

  • Do not assume your audiences’ level of literacy
  • Use plain language terms, short sentences, phrases, etc.
  • Use relatable jargon or slang
  • Humanize your brand to be at the same level as your audience

Example: Taco Bell’s tweets “You better love Taco Bell”, “#WhyISmile Taco Bell exists” are not promoting the brand or using technical business acumen, but instead simply tweeting as if they were one of us, regular people.

Purpose

  • Establish why your brand is on social media
  • Examples: To sell a product/service, inform, educate, entertain, promote etc.
  • You need to know your purpose or else your content won’t make sense

Example: Home Depot’s motive is to help people build/renovate/fix their homes, so when they heard of a natural disaster that left a town in shambles, they decided to take action on social media. Home Depot used Twitter to connect with Red Cross in order to reach out and help the community build itself up again.

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.