I’m a writer at heart, and I tend towards longer form pieces like essays and blog posts. Put another way, I’m not always great at communicating with brevity. There are many topics that absolutely need longer form context to adequately communicate a more substantive message. But, if we’re being honest with ourselves, there are just as many topics where a good editor would make the communication far more fluid.
This is one of the reasons I have a love/hate relationship with social media marketing.
I love it because it invites that brevity and clarity of thought. I hate it because that brevity and clarity of thought are very difficult to achieve. Along with that, the writer runs the risk of whittling down topics that are better left to the longer form context. It also invites terms like “clickbait” where a brief, snappy quip is used to grab attention and pull the reader into the longer piece even if the quip didn’t have all that much to do with the post itself.
But, setting aside the pitfalls that social media can bring for marketers, I want to look at the great opportunity it provides. That opportunity can be summed up in a phrase that you might be thinking to yourself at this very moment as you read this blog post…
…get to the point.
What’s Your Message?
One of the great powers of marketing on social media is that it compels you to distill your message down to its essence. Yes, attention spans are shorter. More importantly, there’s simply an overabundance of content out there at all times. If your post is not immediately engaging, there’s another one below it that will grab the customer’s attention. With each post, you need to consider what you are trying to say and how you can communicate that clearly and succinctly.
By the way, this isn’t solely a copywriting function. That’s surely a key aspect here, but this notion of message clarity should also inform your creative decisions on social media. Can you communicate something better through an image or video than you can through written copy? Is an emoji a better way to engage your audience with that specific message? It’s called “social” media for a reason, and you should always be looking for the most engaging way to communicate your message and connect with your audience.
At all times, keep in mind that you should strive for a personal connection with your audience. There’s a spectrum here, but the overriding issue is that your audience needs to connect with the personality and the culture of your organization through your social media presence. Now, if you represent a law firm, the “voice” you use on your social pages may be substantially different than the “voice” of another organization, such as a restaurant or retailer. I’m not saying that you have to completely eschew professionalism. However, if you’re a law firm, I don’t think your social content should sound exactly like your legal briefs.
If you’ve spent much time on social media, you may have seen the phrase “TL;DR” from time to time. It stands for “Too Long. Didn’t Read.” At the heart of this is the point I’m trying to make. Social media invites brands to distill their message and communicate in a personal way.
Mobilize Your Team
At this point, you may have questions about your organization’s social strategy and how you can best implement these best practices. Great! I’d encourage you to get with your team and consider how you can be more personal in your brand messaging on social media and how you can more clearly distill the social messages you send.
A great idea is to have a social content calendar. We do this for our agency and for our social media clients. This is where you can plan out your social posts and have the content proofed and edited for clarity. It’s a great idea to have a couple team members who monitor and edit this calendar each week. You don’t want too large of a team, otherwise you lose the mobility necessary to quickly implement your strategy on social media. But if you have no plan, you run the risk of not communicating your brand messages clearly.
At the same time, even with a social content calendar, your team needs to be prepared and able to quickly respond as needed. Social media is fast, and you can’t always plan things a week in advance. In fact, you can’t always plan things a day or even an hour in advance! So all your social media team members need to be good editors and copywriters themselves. That way, they can carry these themes through even when they have to quickly address a situation that pops up.
Social media is not about dumbing down or shortening your message until it no longer reflects its fundamental meaning. Instead, it’s about drilling down to the essence of your message and delivering it in a clear and concise fashion.
That’s the point.
Aaron Charles is a content specialist at Villing & Co.