Often when I talk to clients they tell me that they're worried about doing well with social media because they don't know how to Tweet or set up a blog. I quickly assure them that social media success has little to do with mastering technology. Give a 5 year old an iPad to play with and you'll see what I mean. Chances are they will show YOU how to use it.
Technology & social platforms are merely tools to carry your message to the online world. And now more than ever, they're easy to use, requiring little to no technical skill to get started. This is great news for small businesses and entrepreneurs. So what then is the secret to success in the social world?
If you want to master social media, become a great writer. [Tweet This]
Why does writing matter so much when it comes to standing out online?
We're being bombarded from every side with constant messages to the point that we've begun to ignore most of it. As Paul Jarvis put it, "Social media promotion is the new television ad."
That means it's harder than ever then to capture people's attention online. Knowing what to say and how to say it in a way that does that is an artform. And those who do it well are the most successful online, whether they're writing 140 character updates or 1,000 word essays.
Here are a few ideas to help you master the art of writing.
Know your audience.
Who are you writing for? Picture your ideal customer and write for them. Do the research to find out everything you can about them -- what they like, what they need, what problems they need solved. Social media serves a great purpose here as a listening tool. Hang out where they are online. What questions do they have (ask them)? Then answer those questions in your writing.
WRITE COMPELLING COPY.
Start by learning to write great headlines. On average 8 out of 10 people read headlines but only 2 out of 10 continue on to read the rest of the copy. A good headline will draw your reader in to read the rest of your message.
Write compelling copy to support your headlines. Skip the industry jargon. Put a dollar in a jar every time you're tempted to write "paradigm shift" or "think outside the box". Write in language your audience understands and connects with on an emotional and intellectual level.
Pay attention to grammar and typos. Regardless of how good your message is, poor grammar and constant typos will be a turn off to people. Use spell-check, have a trusted friend proofread your work and read your copy out loud before you hit the Publish button.
Write, don't text. (Yes, even on Facebook and Twitter.) Keep that jar handy and put a dollar in every time you're tempted to insert an "LOL" or "OMG" into your copy.
LEARN FROM THE PROs.
Everyone approaches writing in a different way. But those who have mastered the craft have a few things in common:
They make writing their job. The writer shows up every day to refine her craft. The more time you put into writing, the better you'll become. Start by writing every day for 10 minutes (minutes are easier in the beginning than a word count) and develop the writing habit.
They keep a notebook with them at all times. Write down ideas as they come to you. Don't (try to) store them in your head.
They read. Start with a book a month if you're not reading already. Work toward a book a week. You'll do yourself (and your readers) a disservice if you limit yourself to business or social media books, though. William Faulkner said it best:
“Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.”
HOW TO STAND OUT OUTLINE
Here are a few ways great writers stand out online:
- They consistently provide valuable content to their audience.
- They actively seek out ways to help people, even if it doesn't benefit them financially.
- They respond well to criticism and complaints.
- They treat their online platform as a two-way conversation, not a bullhorn.
Success doesn't happen overnight. But it's worth the effort. Focus on mastering the writing craft. You'll grow your social following, sell more products & services and develop a sustainable presence online.
That's why we're all here, right?
Here are some great books on writing:
by Chris Guillebeau
by Jeff Goins
by Steven Pressfield
by Anne Lamott
by Stephen King
by Brenda Ueland