How to Write Copy for Social Media

When it comes to business communication, I have seen it all. I have written speeches for CEOs, developed product and service brochures, come up with copy for ads, websites, and jingles – and everything in between.

But some of the things that made me successful as a business communicator and copywriter were the things that prevented me from communicating well in social media. Even after some considerable time using social media, I found it easy to slip into a more formal business style for communicating.

Fundamentally there is a dividing line between writing in the voice of the brand and writing in the voice of the customer. I call this the “mirror of intent” – for your communication can go either way. Do you want authority or do you want authenticity? When you know which side of the mirror you stand, you can adjust your style accordingly. But be warned – both approaches are valid for different types of communication. And both take practice and discipline.

The graphic below explains five ways you can deliver on your intent.

These are my observations and were inspired by discussions with the wise and articulate community evangelist, Marilyn Pratt – but perhaps there is something I have missed. Share your experience by leaving a comment!

Comments

  1. Ivan Walsh says:

    Good stuff, Gavin.
    Is there a high res image of this I can share?
    Ivan

  2. Gavin Heaton says:

    Thanks Ivan – you should be able to download a PDF from Slideshare. Let me know if you have any problems!

  3. cafedave says:

    I like the mirror metaphor as a way of understanding the two ways of speaking. I’m currently working on a presentation about the relationship between learning to write effective email and learning to write for social media, so this resonates with some of my thinking.

  4. You need to have the right balance in copy for social media. It should be conversational, but professional. Social media is a less formal way to communicate, but you still need to keep the brand reputation in mind. You don’t want to be caught being too informal.

  5. Social media is definately not a fad like many people thought. It has become so important, that it is now even being considered into search engine results by Google. Needless to say, we must consider this when writing copy.

  6. I don’t think a lot of people are aware of the difference. Both approaches are indeed applicable for various types of communication – and this what tends to confuse people. What you said about wanting authority or authenticity explained it all.

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