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Marketing / Social media

Creating compelling social media content

Writing for social media is like fishing with a big net. You need a juicy worm to lure your readers away from all the other nets, and they won’t always bite. So how do you create alluring social media content for your target audience?

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As micro-business owners, we all know we should be busy on social media – building relationships, creating awareness, promoting our expertise and helping clients.

Social networks, from blogs, YouTube and Twitter to LinkedIn, Facebook, Google +, Four Square and whatever else appeared in the last five minutes, are low-cost and much more fun than cold calling.

They give you an opportunity to share your story (quickly) like never before, and create ongoing conversations around them. It’s the online equivalent of talkback radio. But like talkback, only a tiny percentage of your audience will respond by sharing, re-tweeting, voting, liking or leaving comments.

So how do you write content that will kick-start that conversation?

First of all, you need to commit to regularly creating social media content out of thin air – and that can be a bit scary when you’re a busy business owner. So, here are a few tips to get you started.

Tip 1. Understand the brief

What are you actually trying to achieve with your social media content? There’s a lot more to it than simply selling more stuff. Want to get new leads, build up a community, share the latest product information, conduct surveys, get feedback on new services or campaigns, manage complaints, or show your thought leadership? Social media can do all that – but probably not in the same 140 characters.

"Most of all, be yourself and avoid corporate jargon. There is no room for ‘leveraging stakeholder engagement’ in a Twitter conversation, and no excuse for it either."

Tip 2. Understand your audience

What does your reader actually need or want to know? What’s in it for them? You can’t just ask them to ‘like’ you, you need to give them a reason to let you clutter their status updates.

They’re already out there telling you what they want, so listen in on competitor Facebook pages and comments on industry forums or blogs. Your goal is to turn your audience into your very own army of ‘social evangelists’ who’ll do the hard work of spreading the word for you.

Tip 3. Mix it up and keep the conversation going

The most successful Facebook pages mix up the style of their posts to keep it interesting. For example, Monday is something interactive, perhaps a quick poll or competition. Wednesday offers valuable information or insights. Friday is a special offer promotion, just in time for the weekend.

Don’t forget to respond to comments, answer questions, and thank people for their re-tweets. Every time anyone makes another comment or clicks ‘like’, that’s another opportunity for their friends (and friends of friends) to find you – it all helps with social media optimisation.

Want more articles like this? Check out the social media section.

Tip 4. Strike the right tone

Your social tone of voice is going to be conversational, but it also needs to reflect your brand’s tone. By all means be funny, but not rude. Are your customers expecting professional or irreverent? Empathetic or witty?

Most of all, be yourself and avoid corporate jargon. There is no room for ‘leveraging stakeholder engagement’ in a Twitter conversation, and no excuse for it either.

Tip 5. Spelling and grammar matter

Poorly written status updates and blogs reflect badly on you and your network. Social media is faster than the speed of light, so you should still re-read your post before hitting send. Better still, ask someone else to read your social media content first.

Still stuck for social media content ideas?

Keep a list of ideas handy – you never know when inspiration may strike! Here are a few thoughts to get the ball rolling…

  • Offer your opinion on a relevant news or market issue.
  • Ask questions with a poll or survey.
  • Solve problems for your customers.
  • Offer special ‘VIP’ or ‘inner circle’ deals.
  • Review books, music, movies, trends, holiday destinations, bars or fashion – whatever is relevant to your reader.
  • Run a competition.
  • Pull together an industry insight piece.
  • Provide benchmarking reports.
  • Write a ‘how to’ tip sheet (without giving away all your secrets!)
  • Interview your clients or colleagues for a quick case study.

One more thing. Just do it

Staring at a black page waiting for inspiration to strike, whether a 140-character Tweet or a 300-word blog, is daunting for anyone. The trick is to start writing and see what happens – every post is a chance to learn what lures those fish in.

Sara Howard

is the Principal and senior writer at Writers Australia. She loves nothing more than pulling apart corporate waffle to find the hidden gem of an idea – and then bringing it to life so it resonates with customers, staff, donors or the general public. Connect with Sara on Twitter and LinkedIn

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