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5 Crucial Elements for Writing Great Social Media Posts

Joe Massengill
March 10, 2015
elements for writing social media posts

Writing great social media posts is more than just stringing together catchy words, hooks, and compelling calls-to-action; it’s an art form and one that should not be taken lightly.

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David Ogilvy, advertising genius in the golden age of Madison Avenue, wrote in his essential book of copywriting wisdom, Confessions of an Advertising Man:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

You may not be creating high-dollar advertisements for international brands, but as a small business owner, you need to do everything you can to communicate in a compelling and professional manner to clients and potential clients.

By applying a few copywriting principles to some of the most visible elements of your client communication, you will see a huge increase in client engagement, open rates, and click-through rates. Follow Ogilvy’s advice and focus your energy on writing compelling copy for your most essential elements of communication: email subject lines, posts to social media, and titles for your content marketing pieces.

Often, writing about business can seem stale or dull. Use these opportunities to create an impression on your clients and energize them with your copy skills.

Here are 5 essential elements of copywriting we use to make our clients look great, and that you can apply to your business for writing great social media posts and ads.

1. DO be compelling.

I am constantly competing for the attention of an audience when I share content. The best way to stand out is to answer the age-old question: What’s in it for me? I use this opportunity to concisely describe HOW the item I’m sharing will benefit the reader. This is the essence of copywriting, and there are so many different ways accomplish this. Here are just a few examples of ways I could promote our blog post “The 5 Most Overlooked Business Benefits of Social Media”:

Describe an amazing benefit the reader will receive.

”Get more client referrals with content marketing.”

Pose an interesting question that mentions additional benefits.

“Do you have time to take on more business?”

Simply display a thrilling excerpt from your work.

“…9 out of 10 people would use their realtor again, if only they could remember their name.”

2. DO NOT use weasel words.

“Weasel words” are words that are meant to give the impression that something meaningful has transpired but in reality, are pretty meaningless. No one is impressed with words like “maybe” or “hopefully” or “try.” Replace those wishy-washy terms and show off real grit with words like “guarantee” or “expect.” How does this work out in your headlines?

Let’s take a look:

Weasel Statement: H & H Realty tries to find you the best home for your dollar.

Non-weasel Statement: H & H Realty guarantees you the best home for your dollar.

Which statement seems more confident?

Social Media Field Guide

3. DO NOT use passive voice.

Don’t live in the past; live in the now. Your actions can be described in a way that is either “passive” or “active.” Active voice is a straightforward way of describing your actions. “I did this.” Passive voice employs a third party or an unknown agent to perform the action. “This was done.” Passive voice downplays the impressiveness of your accomplishments. What’s the difference in practice?

Passive Voice: “We were awarded the championship trophy.”

Active Voice:  “We won the championship trophy.”

Isn’t the active voice so much more powerful? Be bold and let your reader know when you’re responsible for something great.

4. DO cut out unnecessary words.

To avoid falling victim to tl;dr (Too Long; Didn’t Read), resist the temptation to communicate all the details of an idea to your reader. “Seven words or fewer” is the rule of thumb I try to follow when writing headlines or subject lines. This harsh word limit forces me to write the most compelling statement I can for a small space. I want readers to know immediately why the content I’m sharing is worth their time. Here is an example of two headlines that say the same thing — one just gets to the point faster.

Wordy: “We promise you will close more deals by using our product.”

To the point: “Close more deals with our product.”

Remember, this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it is a helpful way to push your writing further.

5. DO write and rewrite and write and rewrite and write and rewrite…

Unfortunately, my best idea is rarely my first idea. I wrote and edited 10 different titles for this blog post before choosing the one you see above. By writing, rewriting and refining my words, I’m forced to think of new ways to entice the reader.

This is what I started with:

Essential Copywriting Do’s & Dont’s for Your Business

Here’s the final product:

5 Crucial Elements for Writing Great Social Media Posts

Like most skills, writing improves the more you do it. So practice!

Keep these copywriting tips in mind, and with a little practice, your writing will be more compelling and more persuasive. Expect big boosts in your open and click-through rates as well. And if you don’t want to worry about it, just let us know and we’ll do it for you.

Social Media Field Guide

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