Writing effectively for online media and social networks is an evolving art. As print becomes redundant, social media emerges to fill the gap with its short form communication style that is meant to engage non-readers. There are numerous articles with tips on writing for the web and writing-guides and rules for individual platforms like Twitter and Blogs. But there is definite dearth of information on the actual process of writing:
OK, so you have set up a Twitter account. What next? What should you talk about 4 times a day? What language and style should you use? Where do you get the ideas?
Instant messaging. Twittering. Facebook updates, Blog posts, all provide social platforms for businesses to communicate with their customers in a more informal environment while effectively promoting their cause. For the social media writer it can be an onerous task to consistently deliver such effective messages in a conversational style. Here are some tips on making the process a little easier.
7 STEPS TO WRITING EFFECTIVE SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGES:
Define Your Core Audience:
Assuming that you are a subject-matter-expert or at least have good understanding of the topic you plan to write about, the first step in the process is to get to know your target audience (customers). Your marketing department (or your client’s marketing department) should have detailed profile of the customers. Your first order of business should be to get acquainted with them- where they live, what are their likes and dislikes, their media habits and their buying and consumption behavior is all information that will give you clues to the topics they would be interested in. These consumer insights will help you in using the right references and language to keep your audience engaged.
Identify and Select the Social Networks:
Based on your research you can now match the consumer with the social networks they are most likely to be found on. Pick the most relevant platforms that cover your consumer spectrum. Select your platforms wisely because the choice of your medium also sends out a message about who you are!
Monitor Conversation & Analyze the Environment:
Before you start setting up your profile on these social networks, spend some time monitoring relevant conversations. Use tools like Keotag , Radian6 and Google Alerts to find conversations based on your keywords. Get a good sense of the topics that your consumers find engaging. What language and keywords are they using? Decide on a tone and personality that represents your brand and your consumer.
Know the Rules:
Understand the rules and protocol of the community before you venture in. Each social media network has its own written and unwritten rules. Facebook has different rules for Business/Fan pages than for individual pages and Twitter users have certain expectations.
Write Down Your Goals:
Like all marketing campaigns, social media marketing initiatives should always be based on goals. Articulating your goals and setting key performance indicators for each element in your marketing mix is crucial to success. The goals will also guide you in crafting the right message and measuring its effectiveness.
Gather Your Stories:
Before you arrive at the party, it’s a good idea to rake up interesting stories and information about your subject to keep people engaged. Accumulate enough material that will last you while. Identify all the sources for finding information (websites, blogs, news sites, press releases) and organize them in a spreadsheet. Keep a section for topical messages. As you proceed to write, take the cues from your audience and expand on stories that spark their interest.
Follow the Thirds Rule:
Remember not to talk about you and your company all the time; it is sure to turn your audience off. Divide the conversations in thirds (the Twitter rule): about you/company, about them (consumers) and general industry information that your readers might be interested in.
If done right, social media marketing provides enormous opportunities for businesses to promote their brand and products. It is when companies get into it without forethought and planning that it can backfire and become a liability- a mess that is much more difficult to clean than to create!