Just as one picture is worth a thousand words so is a word worth a thousand pictures, thoughts, likes and shares. Genuine content is the power engine of the social web that drives your social influence, segments a part of the web community in your favour and creates a loyal audience that is willing to track, share and follow your digital footprint. But how can you craft genuine content and build a successful content development strategy?
Let’s start with the basics, the 3 phases of content development, follow through and get results.
I. Pre-Content Development
- Hit the Target
Define and understand your audience, who is it that you are talking to, what are their likes and dislikes, what do they have in common? Your audience forms your ecosystem, a microcosm that you can study to figure out habits and attitudes. The target market is no longer concentrated and restricted; it branches out to new segments, friends and family of your audience forming a series of smaller eco-systems that you can now reach through viral sharing. So if you succeed in hitting your target chances are that your message will go viral and your voice will be heard to a greater extend.
- Decide your Aim
Comprehend your objective, what is it that you want to achieve through your message, why should your audience care, like and share? Pause before making any post, ask these questions and reread it, if you don’t have the answers, delete the post and write a new one. There is a reason you chose to write the post in the first place. Define that reason.
- State your Voice
Develop a Voice as a company or brand, a unique voice that suits your status. Your voice is your copywriting personality; you cannot change your personality overnight. Develop a voice that reflects your qualities and values and communicate it. Stick with it, your audience will learn to recognize it, admire and follow it.
- Evolve your Strategy
Once you begin posting on social media you need to create a pattern, decide how often you wish to feed your blog (if any), how many tweets to post per day or how many Facebook posts you are willing to create in order to increase impact. You can’t just randomly start posting whenever your feel like it whatever comes to mind. Create a time schedule and a thematic pattern to follow, people tend to easily follow patterns, use it to your advantage.
- Strike through Headlines
It’s really not a coincidence that you can go back through history just by reading old newspaper headlines. Almost 80% of readers will only read a copy if the headline grabs their attention. So, either you are writing a novel, a blog or a tiny Facebook post craft magnetic headlines to grab attention. Enrich headlines with a benefit, a promise, localize them. If your headline attracts the eye chances are that 3 out of 4 people will read your copy.
- Keep it Brilliantly Brief
Use short content, proper language and stick to the point. Twitter has given you a hint. 140 characters, that’s all it takes to get your message through. You now have a set of new canvasses to paint a picture with just a few words, use these canvasses wisely, turn your words into vibrant colours that attract attention, compel your audience to like, share and respond.
Long copies can also be fascinating; if you are reading this you have already read through 579 words but social media is a much smaller canvas. So, if you are a copywriter who tends to stretch his copies here is a trick. Write your copy and then reread it, eliminating all unnecessary words and adjectives and voila…you have already reduced the copy by almost 20%. Avoid sloppy writing, a messy copy conveys a chaotic business, a cluttered brand, but your brand is proficient and you are an expert. Reflect that in your writing by using proper grammar, punctuation and correct spelling.
- Activate your Writing
Use active sentences that allow the emphasis to be placed on what is really important, what/who is making things happen helping people grab information quickly and visualize the action right at hand. In such way you can spark interest and enhance engagement to the brand or company itself. E.g.
“This luxurious sea front hotel lures guests to indulge in a haven of serenity” instead of “Guests are lured to indulge…”
- Trigger the Mind
Be Creative, genuine, authentic and avoid repetitions. Everyone wants to read something original or a different point of view, a new spin of old favourites. Use attention grabbing sentences, funny or formal, trivial and informative whatever reflects your identity getting the user to click on a link, like and share.
- Numbers on the front Line
Facts get the message across and create security and security is a word you definitely want your audience to associate with your business. Still you need to use the appropriate content because users relate easier to numbers when the content is comprehensible. When talking about numbers keep in mind that presentation is everything so use it in your favour.
Instead of saying 25% of users will buy this product again, say 1 out of 4 users will definitely continue buying this product. Simple right?
Action: Alter wording. Result: Instant security.
- Convey Value
Do women care if their shampoo is balanced in pH (feature)? Most women don’t even know what this means. What they care about is that this particular shampoo gives body and volume without sacrificing moisture (benefit). So, it is important to convey value, promote benefits versus features. What will this product, service, business do for your audience, how will it benefit users? Features are equally important but on a second level. Promote the experience, not the route you follow to reach the experience, even if the route is planted with palm trees. What’s in it for your audience?
- Familiarity Breeds Engagement
Make the content relevant, you cannot write about hair when the company you are writing about sells shoes. Always create content around your subject, the industry, your competitors and become an expert in the field through constant research. Copywriters that deal with a variety of fields must be prepared to cover a great diversity of topics and themes all creatively correlated with a particular brand, product or company. Never lose focus, always keep the content relevant and help people relate. That’s how they respond, like, share, that is how you stay ahead of the game.
- Direct your Audience
What is it that you want your audience to do? Decide in which way you wish to direct them and ask for action, ask for a comment, a like, a choice, a click, ask them to somehow engage in action.
- Stay Updated
The digital world is rapidly evolving so make sure that your content is constantly updated just as a shop window display, it might be marvellous but there are only so many times that one can marvel the same display. Set reminders, update your status, upload new images, communicate with your audience, route an activity flow, the more activity you engage in, the better the exposure you will enjoy.
- Generate Conversation
Write a post that will raise conversation, positive comments and thoughts, be ready to engage in a dialogue and answer questions. You are not an encyclopedia so don’t simply state a fact; communicate the fact and its outcomes. State a suggestion, an opinion, a feeling, make people talk about it, admire it, interact on a person to person level and consequently promote your brand or company for you. That is the power of social media; use it on your behalf. Basically, all you need to do is create some buzz around your brand or company. In order, to measure the buzz that you have generated, use a tool that will facilitate your work such as WuzzRank Calculator from Web SEO Analytics which counts the performance of your strategy on social media from a scale from 1 to 10, similarly to a PageRank.
- Manage Coherence
Develop Continuity through content, your brand image and social media personality must be coherent, reflecting one another. The purpose of using social media is to enhance your brand image, establish and communicate your presence on the social web. Do not alter your presence, unify it…make your presence felt.
In a nutshell:
Social Media allows you to be “sociable” through your writing, reach your audience easily and convey your message. So much weight has been placed on company websites that we tend to forget that almost 85% of the factors that determine your website’s actual ranking in search engines come from activities happening outside the website itself. Actions taking place in the social networking community of which you are part. So don’t be shy, be sociable, approach the neighbours of the digital community through genuine copywriting.
This is your challenge, success is not an option but a choice.
How sociable can you be as a copywriter?