Social Media Copywriting in 2020

Social Media Copywriting in 2020 - #TwitterSmarter chat with Lindo Myeni on January 9, 2020

We often forget that the most important thing about social media is writing the post in the first place. Think about it—how exactly should you phrase your message? Does it make a difference if you add an extra hashtag? What makes a tweet or a Facebook post engaging, and what has copywriting got to do with anything?

We quizzed social media consultant, strategist, and speaker, Lindo Myeni. For this week’s chat, we wanted to know the role of copywriting on social media management and the best practices for 2020.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Lindo Myeni
Topic: Social Media Copywriting in 2020
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: Is there an ideal character/word limit for various social media channels?

Back in 2017, Twitter increased its character limit from 140 to 280. This means we now have a lot more capacity to ramble on. That’s what a lot of our chatters spoke about. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

Like Rachel from Express Writers pointed out, the ideal length of a tweet often varies based on the situation. For example, an announcement or link tweet could be fewer than 140 characters, whereas a reply, as in during a Twitter chat, need to be more explanatory.

To put things in better perspective, our guest told us about Buddy Media’s research. Tweets between 71 and 100 characters get more attention and engagement than longer ones. It makes sense, too. No one’s got the time or the energy to read through large chunks of text.

For Facebook, the maximum character limit is 63,206. But if you post something that long, no one will read it. According to Lindo, the sweet spot is between 40 to 50 characters. Significantly less than Twitter, but that’s mostly because Facebook users engage more with your image than with your caption.

Instagram is similar to Facebook. Even though you can have up to 2200 characters in your caption, you’ll have a hard time capturing people’s attention for that long. Keep it short and to the point.

Chris made an excellent point about the length of your posts. If you can follow the Twitter mentality and use as little as you need across all social media channels, you’ll end up with crisp copy that people will want to engage with.

Twitter tip: If you have a longer story to tell, try using threaded tweets. They are elegant and work so well. You can make it a series of short tweets so they’re easy to read.

Q2: Should you repurpose your tweets on other social media?

Always. A great piece of content, like our guest said, is a high-quality value add to your other social platforms. However, it’s important that you think about the audience on that platform, and their requirements. Unless you customize your content to suit the particular platform you’re repurposing to, you won’t get as much as you could out of it.

Elena also mentioned the importance of knowing your audience when repurposing content. Do it if and as appropriate. But please, don’t share a screenshot of your tweet on Facebook. That’s just lazy and inefficient social media management.

To get a better idea of what you can repurpose and how, take a look at Gary Vee’s profile. As Alberto suggested, Gary takes a large piece of content, and breaks it down to many chunks that he posts across all of his social channels. That’s an excellent way to make sure you have content to publish regularly.

Q3: What are some ways to make your tweets easy to read?

Lindo’s top tip was to keep your tweets short. It’s worth investing time to edit and rephrase your tweets a few times before you send it off. Every little character saved will help you share a more succinct message. Remember, it’s ok not to use all 280 characters.

Another great tip came from Lance. He demonstrated the power of extra space. Most of us break down our tweet copy in the next line, but Lance goes a step further to make an extra space just to make it easier on the eyes. It’s an excellent way to be clear and take up a good amount of your audience’s screens if they’re on mobile.

Bernie shared a few more practical ideas like using bullet points, images and videos, threaded tweets, and breaking up your tweet into sections.

Q4: Does an ad copy differ from a regular social media copy?

It sure should. A regular social media post is intended for your current followers and audience. It’s a great way to grow and establish your brand and voice. An ad copy, however, is more of a promotion. That said, an ad copy doesn’t have to be overly salesy. Megha shared a few identifying factors. For instance, ads are often shorter and more direct than regular social media copy. They also include clear calls to action, and branded hashtags over popular hashtags.

On the larger scheme of things, though, your ad copy and regular social media copy should have the same voice. Once you’ve established your brand amongst your audience, they’ll know how you sound, what your policies and beliefs are, and how you interact with people. Your ad copy shouldn’t sound like a stranger.

Q5: What types of content work best on Twitter?

Twitter is primarily intended for conversations. Since it’s such a large network of eager minds, your content should either inform or prompt a discussion. Otherwise, you’re just wasting everyone’s time. Well said, Christine.

Our guest echoed what some of our other participants said. Including a lot of visual elements in your tweets—like vidoes, GIFs, and images—can help get more attention than plain text. These capture the viewer and make them pause scrolling.

Another great way to incite engagement is to ask open-ended questions. Lindo cited his friend who once just wondered, “What’s eating you up?” A range of responses streamed in and it even got the attention of Twitter itself!

Hannah shared a few other ideas as well, like telling stories on Twitter, including tips and best practices, sharing articles along with your opinion, and sharing your favourite quotes.

Q6: Share some tips to writing promotional social media posts.

The essential thing to remember is to speak your audience’s language. It doesn’t matter what you think they need. It doesn’t matter how your boss would say it. It only matters of it relates to your target demographic. Remember that whenever you create social media copy.

Ask yourself why you’re on social media. Your purpose is to give your audience interesting and useful content consistently. If you start with that in mind, you’ll automatically fine tune your copy to suit the platform.

Considering you’re writing promotional copy, you should also know your goals for each post. Like Bernie said, make sure you have a plan and understand what metrics you need to measure and how you’ll do it.

Q7: Are there any fool-proof techniques to social media copywriting?

Social media is a constantly changing beast. What works today doesn’t always work tomorrow. That’s why you should look at your analytics and understand what your metrics say. As Janice said, when you start thinking about your posts strategically, you’ll have a better grasp of how to write copy that works.

That also leads into what Lindo said about knowing your audience. The more familiar you are with your ideal reader and how they speak on social media, the more easy it becomes to write copy they can relate to. It’s not about guessing, but about making conscious word choices from what you’ve observed.

When you spend time listening to your audience, you’ll start to develop a persona for your ideal reader. This person is called your avatar. Madalyn shared an article about avatars and how to define your own. Take a look.

Q8: What are some don’ts when writing copy for Twitter?

Firstly, don’t ever post without re-reading what you wrote. It doesn’t look like Twitter’s bringing out the edit button any time soon, and so you don’t want a rogue tweet with blatant mistakes ruining your brand image. It takes only a few minutes to proofread, and perhaps, ask a colleague to look through it.

Trending topics are so popular. People love to jump on the bandwagon for some extra exposure. Beware, though. If you’ve misunderstood the meaning and history of a trending hashtag, then you’ll easily become the laughing stock on Twitter that day. As our guest emphasized, do your research.

Of course, don’t make everything about you. Sure, it’s your profile and people want to hear about you. But that’s not all they want. They also want to hear about industry news that’s relevant to you, how they can use your services or products to get the maximum benefit, and even about other businesses like yourself. Offer variety sensibly.

Here’re a few more tips our community members shared.

Don’t:

  • alienate parts of your audience by posting opinions on topics that don’t relate to you.
  • share links without telling people what it’s about and why they should read it.
  • use too many hashtags. Two is ideal, according to Twitter itself.
  • lose focus on who you’re speaking to.
  • use complex words and industry jargon. Keep your copy reader-friendly.
  • spam others or use impolite language.
  • flood your audience with suspense unless you have something valuable to offer
  • auto-post your Instagram posts to Twitter. It’s lazy, and your content gets cut as well.
  • discuss controversial topics unless you have the capacity to handle it.

Finally, as Mark said, don’t make promises you can’t keep. It’s like cheating your followers and it’s hard to win back an audience you’ve lost.

https://twitter.com/quitetheinsight/status/1215346630297358337

Well, folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading, and for more insights from our chat, check out this Twitter Moment Joana put together. If you’ve got some free time on Thursday, join us at 1pm ET for our next #TwitterSmarter chat.


About me, Narmadhaa:

I’m a writer of all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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