Creating content for social media

Write as if you are talking to the reader

Content rules. Whether you’re tweeting, writing blog posts, or contributing to a LinkedIn group discussion, it is content that drives relevant social media conversations and connects your company to your social network. But creating content that your audience will want to read can be challenging.

Imagine you’re reading this paragraph in a consulting firm’s blog:

An organization’s business architecture revolves around five broad areas viz. the customer segment, scope of products or services, geographic coverage, strategic differentiation and profit pools. During the course of an M&A, organizations tend to alter one or more parameters of their business architecture which will impact their IT strategy needed to enhance customer reach, add efficiencies, reduce cost, add competitive advantage or enable business processes that could bolster any of the aforementioned.

Difficult to read*, isn’t it? Too often, businesses create content just like this and put it out to their social media channels. Then they wonder why they get so little engagement.

How can you write simply and well, so that others will want to connect with your company? These 15 tips will help you create engaging content:

  1. Before you start writing, decide the three main messages you want to get across to your reader. Stick to discussing these points in your piece, even if you find others equally compelling. Digress too often and you risk losing the reader’s interest.
  2. Write for the reader, not yourself. Be respectful of your reader’s intelligence and time by getting to the point quickly. Be sure to relate your topic to the reader’s needs.
  3. Write as if you were having a conversation with the reader. Avoid using too much technical jargon that may not be familiar to your reader. Plain English is always best.
  4. Avoid, as often as possible, overused business words and phrases that can make your writing appear dated.
  5. The title of your work is important. It should compel the reader to want to know more and should include the most important messages you want to get across. If you were writing about a new information technology solution, your title might be, “New Info Tech Solution Reduces Risk, Increases Return on Investment”.
  6. Hook your reader in the first paragraph. You can do this by asking a question or sketching a scenario in a few sentences.
  7. Most readers will skim and dive in to read only if something catches their eye. Use a mix of short and long sentences and lots of white space to make your writing more appealing.
  8. Use bullets, checklists, and subheads to guide your reader through your writing and keep them interested. You can also bold your main points so that they are more obvious as the reader skims.
  9. Avoid using the passive voice. For example, say, “Joe saw him.” rather than “He was seen by Joe.” The first is short and precise. The second is longer and therefore harder to read. Too much passive voice puts the reader to sleep.
  10. When you use technical terms or acronyms, define them on first use, even if you think your reader may be familiar with them.
  11. Make your points as simply as possible without dumbing down your topic. Don’t make your reader work too hard to understand what it is you’re trying to say. When reading gets too complex, readers bail out.
  12. Support your points with relevant examples, analogies, or short stories. This brings your content to life and lets readers to relate to it.
  13. Declutter your writing. When you’ve completed your first draft, go back and read it with an eye towards using shorter sentences and fewer words. For example, use “our books” in place of “the books that belong to us.”
  14. Proof and edit your work before publishing it. It’s easy to overlook this step if you’re on deadline. But rereading your work will allow you to spot things that need fixing – poor word choice, passive voice, typos, etc. These often aren’t obvious in the drafting stage.
  15. Close with a call to action. What is it that you want readers to do? Offer comments on your blog post? Contact your company for help?

There are many resources that can help you create compelling content.  I recommend my clients read On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Although not specifically written for social media, it is an excellent guide to the basics of good writing.

* If you like statistics, this passage has a Flesch-Kincaid reading level of 21.7 – well beyond college level – and a Flesch reading ease of 4 out of a possible 100 points.

Photo taken by Loraine Kasprzak at the Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ.

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    Loraine Kasprzak
    Loraine Kasprzak, Advantage Marketing’s Founder and Managing Director, is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and MBA with over 17 years of hands-on experience in marketing communications and strategy. Loraine has facilitated communications strategies and programs for a variety of clients, including engineering and environmental firms, healthcare and information technology companies, startups, and non-profits. She blogs about marketing and social media at http://www.advantage-marketingblog.com and can be reached at lkasprzak@advantage-marketing.com.
    Loraine Kasprzak

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    11 Responses to “15 Tips for Creating Engaging Content”

    1. Bolds, bullets, lists, underlines – you’re so right! Makes is far easier to read – which means people will read your content!

    2. Kristi Enigl says:

      Thanks Loraine. I was just about to post two blogs…now I am going to run them through your checklist!

    3. Jo Blowfield says:

      Thanks heaps Loraine. I have only put out one blog and will be using your checklist from now on : )

    4. Mary Kay Stafford says:

      I’m a recruiter and find these tips also apply to resume writing. AFter all, your resume is one of the most important marketing tools you will ever prepare.
      Thanks for the tips.

    5. Flavian says:

      With our fast paced world today people don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what you are trying to say. Using bullet points is definitely the way to go. Thanks for sharing.
      Flavian recently posted…Five Tips for Building Better Business RelationshipsMy Profile

    6. Grace Graham says:

      Hello Loraine,
      Great blog. I have used some of the tips you mentioned here. The next time I wrote and published my blog (my third) I got a fantastic response. I think because I wrote it in the style of how I would talk to my clients and also invited interaction by offering worksheets it really worked well. I love blogging and welcome any tips for improvement.
      Grace

    7. sue ritchie says:

      Thanks Loraine
      What sensible tips, and it’s good to see blogging tips that aren’t aimed soley at those professional bloggers who aim to make money from their blogging sites. Getting the right style can take some time, but it is worth persevering with. I will bear your advice in mind when i write my next blog post later :)
      sue ritchie recently posted…If this is all there is- is this enoughMy Profile

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