By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning content writer and author who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
Social media can eat up a lot of time. And I don’t just mean the time you spend scrolling through posts.
Writing them takes time.
How can you know that your posts are worth the minutes and hours? This checklist can help. These tips help you save time as you write because they focus on key writing mechanics that are specific to social media.
Make sure your post is helpful –whether it informs, entertains, inspires, instructs, or otherwise adds value.
There’s too much mediocre content on the web. You’ll stand out simply if you offer quality.
As you write, ask this: what value does this content (no matter how short it is) provide for my reader?
If you can’t answer that question, don’t post it.
It follows social media checklist Tip #1 that if you write to add value to your reader, then your focus on what your reader needs. One beauty of social media is that you can target different segments of your readership in different posts. Take advantage of that! Know your reader (or readers) and write to their needs. They’ll respond and interact with you.
Short and pithy – make each character count, specific to the platform. That’s 90-100 characters on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter – and 175-200 characters or less on Instagram and Pinterest. Yes, those numbers are shorter than the limits. Your readers will thank you with likes, retweets, and comments.
Traffic, traffic, traffic: that’s the refrain in online writing. Your website is your online hub; your social media sites are the feeders to that hub. Write so that you drive traffic to your website by including links to your pages wherever you can (without being annoying). Links provide an opportunity for your reader to learn more.
Passive voice: it’s a no-no. Ditto with highbrow language. Use a conversational tone instead. And be sure to write in first person (I, me, we, us) and second person (you, yours) – as a participant in the conversation, not as an observer.
As a corollary to #5, know that readers don’t want to just be “preached to” or “spoken at.” They want respect. Social media is a way to connect with your audience, encourage discussion, and build a relationship. Use your posts to invite feedback, as in “How do you reach local mothers with your services? Here is one way I reach out. [include your link] Tell us how you connect with them.”
Further, while it can be tempting to “write it and leave it,” don’t. Take some time to read the comments and respond. By doing so you create a conversation … which builds a relationship … which breeds respect.
Share images, slides, video that reinforce your written content. Visuals can increase reader engagement by 65%.
Social media platforms use search engines. Pull out that list of keywords and targeted topics for your brand or cause – and use them in your posts. A word of caution: focus on one keyword or one topic at a time. Keep it short, as per social media checklist Tip #3.
Your first grade teacher was right: always check your work. Spell check and grammar check mean you have no excuse.
No need to say more.
More Writing Tips for Social Media
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