For independent consultants, social media networks offer numerous benefits. These platforms provide an effective and economical way to help your consultancy reach dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of valuable users, from current and prospective clients to industry leaders and experts to potentially invaluable networking contacts. However, writing for social media is unlike more traditional forms of marketing writing; it's more conversational than declarative, more friendly than formal, and more social than promotional. Writing for social media requires certain considerations and strategies in order to be effective. Below are a few tips to help you become a more effective social media writer.
Facebook's dominance in the world of social media makes it a popular platform for businesses and independent consultants to connect with their fans and followers online. However, there's more to Facebook than simply creating a profile (or Page for your business) and sending a barrage of posts to whomever will listen; finding success on Facebook requires thoughtful and well-written content that combines social interaction with increased brand connection.
- Limit Your Length. Although Facebook post lengths are practically unlimited, the average social media user's attention span is not. Long, rambling posts are likely to quickly lose your readers, or cause them to skip your posts entirely. Keep your posts, short, punchy, and to the point, and not only are your followers more likely to read them, they're also more likely to comment on them and share them with their networks.
- Maintain a Level of Professionalism. To an extent, your Facebook page should represent your (and your consultancy's) personality. In some cases, humor and mild slang terminology might be appropriate, such as when reaching a young, creative target audience. However, keep in mind that you are still representing yourself as a professional, so at least make an attempt at proper spelling, grammar and punctuation.
- Engage Readers. Your followers subscribe to your Facebook page in part because they want to know what you have to say. However, a one-sided conversation can get boring after a while. Craft your Facebook posts so that they engage your followers and encourage them to interact with you. One effective tactic is asking questions or encouraging your followers to share their stories. Through your writing, make your followers feel that you truly care about what they think and what they're interested in.
With over 500 million active members as of July 2012, Twitter is quickly proving itself as an excellent online networking and marketing communications outlet. Though Twitter's 140-character limit means you'll have to craft your messages wisely, creative writing can make it possible to connect with your clients, colleagues and potential network connections through the site.
- Find Your Voice. Take the time to get to know your target audience, their needs, interests, and sense of humor - or lack thereof - and craft your writing accordingly. Whether you tweet as yourself or as your consultancy, consistency in your Twitter "personality" can help forge stronger relationships with your followers. Use this personality to speak to them in ways that they can connect with and relate to, and to provide content that's both relevant and valuable.
- Don't Limit Yourself to Text. Sometimes Twitter's 140-characters simply aren't enough to get your message across, and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Including links to images, videos, or websites in your Twitter posts increases engagement and makes your tweets more likely to be shared. However, a post that simply contains a link is unlikely to gain much attention, and may come across as suspicious; the key is to write a creative message that acts as a teaser to capture attention and encourage your followers to click the links.
- Interact with Followers. Perhaps even more than Facebook, Twitter encourages users to interact and directly communicate with the brands or businesses they follow. If your followers reach out to you with questions or comments, don't hesitate to respond to their tweets. Better yet, take the initiative yourself and respond to other tweets posted by your followers. Chances are that they'll appreciate the communication.
Although blogs are often labeled "content marketing," their interactive, highly sharable format also places them firmly in the "social media" category. However, business blogging requires writing and strategies that are somewhat unique in the field of social media, setting the format apart from traditional social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
- Find the Right Length. What's the ideal blog post length? The answer, as it often is, is: "It depends." Your industry, your reader demographics and your content topics should all be taken into consideration. As a general rule, blog posts should be at least 400-500 words in order to be effective for search engine optimization purposes. From there, it's up to you knowing your content - and knowing your readers. Are they the types who prefer smaller chunks of information, or who like to sit down and read longer, in-depth posts? Though there is no consensus for the maximum length, trying to keep your post limit at approximately 1000 words is a safe plan.
- Incorporate Relevant Keywords Wisely. Unlike other social media posts, blogs have the potential to be powerful tools in search engine optimization - particularly if your blog is hosted on your website. To gain the most benefit from this, use keywords and phrases in your posts that searchers might use to find you; for instance, if you're a tech consultant in Miami who specializes in enterprise networking, writing posts that allow you to use those keywords can help you in search engine rankings.
- Offer Content that Provides Value. On the surface, the goal of your blog is to promote your consultancy. However, simply talking about yourself with overtly self-promotional blog posts is a surefire way to create boring, uninteresting content that will not encourage readers to come back. Instead, focus on writing blog posts that are relevant to your consultancy and industry, but offer readers something in return for their continued patronage. This type of writing can take the form of "how-to" posts, blogs about the latest news and developments in the industry, or tips and tricks related to your field.
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