Questions You Should Ask Before You Post
When deciding what your business should share on different social media platforms, it’s important to take into consideration the mood of the social media network as well as your audience. I was on LinkedIn yesterday and someone had posted a picture of a cat doing something forgettable (I honestly can’t remember what the cat was up to). I didn’t mind, but I thought it was an odd status update for LinkedIn, and there was a flurry of comments encouraging the poster to save the cat pictures for Facebook, Instagram, etc.
The standards for email copy, website copy, and social media copy are different and there are things you should think about before you write the copy. Not only that, you don’t always want to put the same copy up everywhere. While some overlap is common and appropriate, you also want to keep your copy specific, innovative and fresh. So before you go posting, here are some questions to consider.
- What Platform Rules Exist? – Each platform has its own rules that you should keep in mind before you create the copy for that medium.
- Should Your Content Be Short or Long? – Some social media platforms require different lengths of content. As you know, with Twitter, you only have 140 characters to get your point across. And if you want your tweet to be retweetable, it’s best to make them shorter than 140. With Facebook you have a bit more space, as with others. Remember, though, that if you write too much on Facebook you will end up with the dreaded ellipse (… more) and you will lose a good percentage of the readers who won’t bother clicking to get the rest of your brilliant post. On your blog you technically have unlimited space. So consider which social media you’re writing for before you write the copy.
- Which Subset of Your Audience Is Here? – Every person who is a member of your target audience does not have access to you via every single social media network. Some will be on Twitter, some on Pinterest and some will only want to read your blog. It’s up to them, and something you should think about. You can study which subset of your audience is following you on each social media network so you can focus the copy more toward them. Also, I strongly encourage you to try to entice people back to your blog. That’s where people will really get to know more about you, have a chance to sign up for your stuff (although they can do this with Facebook, LinkedIn, you don’t control those platforms so you want to bring them back to your website whenever possible).
- Is the Platform Buttoned-Up (Liked LinkedIn) or More Free Like Twitter? – Some platforms are more serious and professional. That means that sharing that picture of the cat hung up in the blinds might not be a good idea on LinkedIn, whereas sharing it on Facebook might be fine if you can relate it somehow to your business. On the other hand, your business needs to maintain its identity wherever you post. I think about it like this: you are you whether you show up at a picnic in Bermuda shorts or at a wedding in a tuxedo. You don’t change your identity just because you change how you present yourself. Same with your business and your social media presence.
- Should You Use #Hashtags? – I used to see them only on Twitter, but now I see them on Facebook, Instagram, etc. I think one or two well-chosen hashtags can be really helpful, conveying the essence of your post. But if your post ends with #LoveThis #MeanIt #CouldNotLiveWithoutIt #WishIHadMore #CanYouBelieveILiveThisLife #WishMyDaddyWereHere #Heaven then, unless you are trying to be funny/ironic, you aren’t being selective or creative enough. Even if you are trying to be funny/ironic, remember that some of your audience won’t “get it” and/or won’t think you’re funny. Your teenagers might get away with that but your business posts should probably be more focused.
- Is the Platform Visually Based? – Yes, it’s true that Twitter is trying to be more visual, as is Facebook. But, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat still lead the charge on being visual. Those three platforms would not do well with just a text-based update. You should consider that prior to creating the content. Also, if you have something you want to say within a graphic, I recommend Canva.com on your computer or WordSwag on your iPhone. Canva is free and WordSwag is cheap. Both will help tremendously if you’re going to up your visual game.
- What Is Your Objective? – What is the point of your update or share? Do you know what you are hoping to achieve? Do you have a well thought out, specific, numbers-driven objective in which you can measure results? Even if it’s not a specific, numbers-driven objective, your posts should still fit strategically with what you want to accomplish.
- What Kind of Call to Action Should You Include? – You should always include a CTA (Call to Action), but how you do it on each social media network is what’s important. I think it’s great to post CTA’s like, “Like us on Facebook” or “Check out our website and subscribe to our newsletter for more helpful information.” Just as important to consider, what type of CTA would tick off your audience, or would get you kicked out of the social media network? Avoid those. I had a business post a spammy ad for cheap sunglasses to my Facebook wall and when I tried to delete the post, Facebook said they were having technical trouble and couldn’t delete it then. I will NEVER EVER do business with anyone who does something spammy to me on social media. And you should never ever do something spammy, either. The downside risk just isn’t worth it.
- Is Your Copy Sharable? – A really important factor for social media copy is whether or not it’s shareable. Shorter, visually oriented, relatable content is better to post on social media when you want it to be shared. Remember that if you’ve posted a 3 minute video on Facebook, almost no one will endure to the end and relatively few will want to share. Even if you post “wait for it…” if I have to wait more than a few seconds I’m out. Do me and your audience a favor and edit yourself so we get the biggest payoff for our limited time and attention. Otherwise, it’s easy to be forgettable like 99.9% of the posters out there.
Creating copy for social media is different from writing keyword-rich articles, just like writing Twitter posts is different from writing keyword-rich articles. As you create your content strategy, think and post carefully to make sure you give your business its greatest chance at success.
Thought experiment: without going back to Facebook now, think about the stuff you’ve seen/read/consumed in the past 24 hours. Which businesses do you remember seeing? What did they say or what value did they bring? What about Twitter? What business posts do you remember? Why do you remember them? Did you follow any of them back to the company’s website? Why?
Here’s what I remember: On Facebook, someone shared a video from Business Insider of Tony Robbins talking about how to break through a plateau. I liked it and shared it. On Reddit, someone shared a clip from a TED Talk about monkeys not receiving equal pay for equal work. It was interesting and funny and I shared it. On LinkedIn Charles Duhigg shared a short video talking about 5 ways to be more productive/get stuff done. I liked it and shared it. I don’t remember anything from Instagram or Twitter that I liked so much I shared it.
Here’s my point: everyone is different and your business’ audience is unique to you. Consider the platform, consider your audience, and consider how you want to present your business to the world and what you want to accomplish with your posts. If you do that, you’re much more likely to achieve what you really want when you post to social media.
If you need help thinking through your social media strategy, email me.