Join us as we outline a set of effective and often original copywriting techniques to help you achieve your key objectives on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
Tweets are like haikus for social media copywriters – by forcing us to work with a limited character count they can help us be clearer and more efficient. They can also be infuriatingly difficult to write.
To earn re-tweets, speak your followers’ language
There’s a common misconception that the key to earning re-tweets is coming up with an outstandingly interesting or funny tweet. It certainly feels good to produce a real gem of a tweet – but to get consistent results from a busy daily schedule of posts, you’re going to need a strategy that helps even your most run-of-the-mill tweets attract engagement.
People don’t generally re-tweet things for the sake of adding other people’s voices to their own Twitter feed; rather, most of us re-tweet when someone else has found a better way to express our own thoughts or feelings. As such, the way to maximise your re-tweets is to write tweets that resonate with your audience.
To make your tweets thematically relevant to your followers, you need to understand what they’re doing and how they’re feeling. You can then tap into topical events and shared experiences that matter to your audience – from elections and major sporting events to holidays and heatwaves. Even very simple approaches like mentioning the time of day can have the desired effect. Here are some examples from the field:
Identifying resonant themes for your tweets is a great step towards encouraging engagement, but it’s not much use if your tweet is written in language your followers wouldn’t use or identify with. The best way to identify the right language to use? Analyse your audience.
Select a random sample of your Twitter followers, compile several tweets from each profile in a document and try to pick out some trends. You might consider:
• The ratio of tweets expressing opinions/emotions to tweets sharing information, etc.
• How complex is the language used?
• How often are emojis used, if at all?
• How often is humour used?
No doubt you’ll be able to add a number of your own illuminating questions to this list. The answers you arrive at will help you form a linguistic blueprint for tweets that speak your followers’ language.
Making brand and campaign taglines stick
Twitter provides great opportunities to hammer home your brand and campaign taglines.
For starters, you can use insert your taglines into tweets as hashtags – paired with suitable copy and rich content. Here’s a good example from Domino’s:
Using taglines in hashtags can be a powerful technique, as it has the potential to contextualise your key messaging within the very same “live” setting your followers are participating in.
LinkedIn Pulse has recently emerged as an essential web content platform, particularly for B2B brands. Here are some tips on how to equip your Pulse articles to engage and convert readers.
Make every word count to engage busy B2B professionals
Ask any B2B professional whether they’re busy, and nine times out of ten you’ll get a “yes”. LinkedIn’s core audience perceives itself as time-pressured, so it’s important that your articles provide a quick payoff. Try to include actionable insights or stimulating information within a few sentences, and then consistently throughout the rest of the article. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should be aiming for brevity; it just means it’s especially important to make every word count.
One way to squeeze more value into your writing is to audit your articles, sentence-by-sentence, to identify the words, phrases, sentences or whole paragraphs that fail to communicate a new and useful meaning. When you’ve identified the waffle, cut it out and replace it with more efficient phrasings.
Make your think-pieces snappy through use of structure
Of course, not all LinkedIn Pulse articles are guides or features – many of us write think-pieces too, which needn’t necessarily contain any actionable tips or learnings whatsoever. Nonetheless, you can still build quick pay-offs into your think-pieces through your use of structure.
You’ll often find newspaper think-pieces in which the author builds arguments and supporting context up throughout the article, before delivering their headline idea somewhere in the middle or at the end. This can be a powerful structural device – but it’s ill-suited to holding readers’ attention on LinkedIn.
We recommend a less subtle approach. Spell out your message in the intro to the article; immediately itemise the main points of your argument; then add in a hook to motivate your audience to keep reading. Here’s an example:
LinkedIn Think-Piece Writers Need to Get to the Point
We’ll just come out and say it: LinkedIn Pulse commentators need to cut the waffle. Why? Because rambling posts make ill use of readers’ time, LinkedIn users tend to navigate away within the first 200 words of an article, and above all, inefficient writing reflects poorly on its authors. Oh, and it also annoys our office cat…
Let’s break down how this intro is structured. We’ve started off with a strong, simple statement of our argument (in-fact, we could simplify it further by deleting “We’ll just come out and say it:”). Next, we list the key points behind the argument, which would be expanded upon in the body of the article. Finally, we round off the intro with a colourful allusion designed to pique the reader’s curiosity.
This approach may lack the literary sparkle of more creative think-piece structures, but most of us simply don’t have the time or budget to fill a busy content schedule with works of real artistry. For day-to-day content, we need a reliable method to keep readers engaged – and an argument-first article structure is just that.
Tips for increasing CTR from LinkedIn Pulse to external sites
Unless you’re using LinkedIn as a standalone social selling platform, you’ll probably want to use your LinkedIn Pulse articles to drive traffic to your site.
There are various strategies you can use to increase CTR to your site from a LinkedIn Pulse article – for example, posting a stub article on LinkedIn that leads through to a longer read on your website blog. These tips will help you to create click-through-friendly copy that complements your chosen strategy:
• Emphasise value with language that evokes the benefits the reader will gain by clicking through to your site. Use verbs like ‘gain’, ‘learn’, ‘acquire’, ‘reveal’, ‘inspire’, ‘discover’.
• Establish topicality by setting the content you’re linking to within the context of topical issues and recognisable names/organisations, e.g. “Matt Cutts says Google Search is cracking down on manipulation of search rankings. Here’s our short guide to what this might mean for SEOs:”
• Quote content from your landing page to show the reader the great standard of the content that’s waiting for them at the other end of the link.
• Make sure your landing page content meets expectations.
Where other social media inherently force or encourage certain forms and styles, Facebook is a relatively loose medium for copywriters. Broadly speaking, anything goes.
Captioning content to boost engagement
Perhaps the most prominent trend in copywriting for Facebook is the use of post copy as a sort of caption for rich media or links to content.
Like photo captions, these snippets of copy can vary significantly in form. Some provide a reaction (often humorous) to the accompanying content; some briefly introduce it; others highlight an excerpt or important quote. The type of caption used should be tailored to the content and its audience.
Alongside the article title, excerpt and featured image, the copy used in a Facebook post is one the few signals a user received on what the content is and why they should engage with it. Think of this copy as an opportunity to highlight the value that you couldn’t quite squeeze into the title or featured image. Here’s an example:
Content title: NASA Releases New Images from Juno Probe
Content excerpt: NASA has just released some of the most detailed photographs of Jupiter ever taken. The $1 billion Juno probe captured the images while orbiting the gas giant…
Image: Shows the probe orbiting Jupiter
Caption/post copy: So that’s what the South Pole of Jupiter looks like!
The components all clearly refer to the same content, but they also refer to separate selling points. The title quite rightly gives us the headline (never resort to writing clickbait), the excerpt expands on the title with impressive details, the image foregrounds the Juno probe itself, and the caption puts the cherry on top with its reference to another juicy content detail.
Ticking off separate selling points with a post’s title, image, excerpt and caption can help attract engagement from a broader spread of users.
Write about your target audience’s deepest “likes” to boost ad engagement
Facebook’s ad targeting down to page like level represents a bit of an open goal for ad copywriters: it allows us to appeal to niche audiences by speaking about our brands, products or services in the same breath as their favourite things. You could write:
• [for users who like ‘denims’, ‘levi’s’, etc.] Love Levi’s but hate the price? Then get the same build quality at half the price in the TrueBlue Denim sale.
• [for users who like ‘Katherine Jenkins’] Valentino Vibrato, opera singer, just finished touring with Katherine Jenkins. Catch his headline show at the Bradford Alhambra on 17/02/18.
• [For users who like ‘Poland’] – Discover Poland’s hidden gem: the historic city of Gdansk. Discounted flights from London Gatwick now on sale!
With a max photo description length of 2,200 characters and space for up to 30 hashtags, Instagram is a more welcoming platform than many copywriters realise.
Build your brand by treating Instagram like a blog
Instagram appeals to our curiosity – or to put it more frankly, our nosiness. The app is so appealing because it can give us a rose-tinted window onto the lives of others and the brands we admire. It follows, therefore, that many of Instagram’s greatest successes have belonged to users who embraced the intimacy of the medium and used it to tell their stories.
To let your followers into your world, treat selected Instagram posts as blog entries detailing your brand’s story and all its sub-plots. The following ingredients can all contribute to a compelling Insta-blog:
• Inspirational/interesting content – don’t invite your followers into your world only to paint it as a drab one!
• Use ‘I’ or ‘we’ – to use third person here would be to miss the point entirely
• Use emotive language – if something was difficult, hilarious, heart-breaking or exhilarating, don’t be afraid to say so
The key to this approach is to treat your Instagram profile like an ongoing, brand-sponsored documentary, designed to keep your viewers hooked with exclusive insight and compelling storylines. Let your followers in as much as you can without infringing your social media policy.