As a social media agency, we spend a lot of time typing.
Sure, most of it’s emails or finding the right combination of words to get that perfect gif in Slack, but a lot of it’s copy for feeds, ads, and blogs.
There’s well-deserved and understandable importance placed upon imagery. Pictures are the first item that our mind looks at when viewing an ad. In order of what our eyes are drawn to, it goes:
Body of text
When you look at it that way, copy doesn’t seem to matter. It’s the last thing to be looked at, and exciting imagery coupled with a strong headline might be enough as they are.
And that’s exactly where companies go wrong.
Simply because a larger body of text is viewed last doesn’t mean that it’s the least important. This is the space for you to elaborate on your product/service, create intrigue, and guide the consumer toward your call to action. For those people who do want to find out more, the body of text is the most important aspect of the ad, and if it’s lacking, then you’re losing customers.
There’s a handy (albeit not very catchy) guideline called AIDA which can be applied to writing the perfect ad:
Attention - Why should your audience stop scrolling? What makes your advert stand out from the rest of the feed? Social media is a fast-paced world and if you haven’t grabbed their attention immediately, your ad will be lost to the ether.
Interest - Once you’ve caught their eye, you need to create interest. This is where you offer enticing details about your product/service and allow the user to peak into what it is you’re offering.
Desire - This is where you seal the deal. Why should they click? What’s so special that they should leave their current app/website and go to yours? Why do they need what you’re offering? This is where words like ‘limited time offer’, ‘last chance’, and ‘this weekend only’ come into play to create a sense of urgency there and then.
Action - Close the sale with a compelling CTA and seal the deal.
Copy for social media will heavily depend on your brand. All copy will, but Facebook and Instagram will be how most people judge your brand from the start.
There’s nothing more important than a first impression, and 9 times out of 10 social media will be just that for your audience.
For social, it can be important to create a persona and to describe this persona in a sentence or two.
“Fun, playful dog-food brand who’s knowledgable about pet-food but also, down to earth”
“The go-to fitness brand for information and motivation, focused on results, passion, and health.”
“A young, dynamic, and energetic technology company who’s always on the cusp of new research with a strong desire to help their consumers.”
The more specific you can be, the more consistent your branding will be, and the easier it will be to write copy and find imagery.
Always refer to this persona with everything you write from posts to bios to direct messages to comments. If you write from this persona, then you won’t confuse your audience as to who you are. As well as this, your audience will feel more connected to you as they understand your character.
For the majority of posts, you’ll want to keep it short and sweet. The job of post copy is to add value to the image without taking away from it.
There’ll be some times where you’ll want to write longer paragraphs, but keep these few and far between one another. If you’re constantly bombarding your audience fat chunks of text, they won’t read any of them.
Blogs are different.
With more space to play with, you not only have a larger arsenal at your hands, but you also face a bigger challenge. For any audience, spending 2-5 seconds reading an ad they don’t engage with is hard enough, so getting them to stick with a 2000 word piece from start to finish is difficult, to say the least.
Firstly, work out why you’re writing long-form content. You may not need to write them at all and instead, your time could be spent elsewhere. It all depends on your business and your product/service.
Long-form content can be great for explaining what you’re selling as well as about your brand, thought-leadership pieces, and increasing your SEO.
Yet, it takes time, patience, and skill. Bad long-form content can damage your brand more than aid it, and for the time it takes, you have to be confident you’re doing it for the right reasons and that it will deliver your desired outcome.
Start punchy. Don’t use a gradual build-up with the most exciting information in the beginning because people won’t read that far.
Long-form content should be like a rollercoaster; starting at the big dip with a few interesting twists and turns to connect the time between the loops and the drops.
You don’t need to drop the most important information at the start, but start with something engaging; anecdotes, relatable information, shocking news, facts, etc.
If you’re writing for SEO purposes, keep a keyword or phrase in the first paragraph. If you’re writing about your product/service/brand, start with an interesting fact. If it’s a thought-leadership piece or about some interesting news, start strong with facts, opinions, or anecdotes. Offer value immediately, and then drip-feed the rest throughout
Lastly, keep things brief. Cut out any and all waffle. If it doesn’t have value, it doesn’t deserve a place in your piece. End of.
That’s another thing, separate your topics with headings. It makes it easier for people to navigate your article and looks friendlier on the page.
How else would you have known this is the conclusion without that handy text above? Smart.
Writing is still a big part of social media, and getting it right can mean the difference between a strong, stable brand viewed as thought-leaders in their industry or just another company who’s still confused as to what they are. If your copy isn’t confident and consistent, then that’s exactly how your audience will see you.