Week 9: Writing for the web and social media

Hey Folks,

It was great to hear from each of your groups on the great work you are doing. I’m enjoying the variety of projects taken on!

As discussed in class, you really ought to be posting content on your platforms and moving forward with checking and documenting analytics (I recommend you do this weekly). I know sometimes the hardest part of a campaign is just hitting “post”.

Now that you are actually posting content (you really should be at this point), I want to address a topic often overlooked but of significant importance to social media – copywriting & writing for the web/digital platforms.

This Mashable article highlights some of the overall things to consider with web writing.

In class we’re going to spend some time going over the concept of copywriting, and how to apply basic copywriting principles to your content to make it more effective.

Copywriting is the term we use to refer to writing (or copy) that is intended to persuade people to buy something. This short article on “what is copywriting” by my colleague gives a good intro.

Copywriting is the kind of writing you see in advertising and marketing. If you watch Mad Men, we’re talking about Peggy Olsen.

You need to read this Copywriting 101 by Copyblogger for class. CopyBlogger is arguably one of the best resources for writing on the web. When you have more time read their “5 P Approach to Copy that Crushes it”. If you find yourself really into writing, join their community for ongoing free resources – they are great professional development tools.

We’ve already talked about how to think strategically about the different types and format of content. Good copy is essential for effective content. If you’re not a strong writer, don’t sweat it. Writing is a skill that can easily be cultivated with practice.

As folks working in social media, we have to be comfortable with and skilled at writing copy that captures attention, imagination, and clicks 😉

In terms of writing for social media, I liken social posts to headlines.

Headline writing is a fairly specialized skill that takes loads of practice. I seriously respect headline and copywriters, but also recognize that this form of writing can be formulaic. I’ll go over some basic structures and key principles of headline and copywriting in class, but wanted to connect you to a few sources I use for inspiration:

Authority Blogger’s 102 Proven headline formula: Download the PDF.

Pro Copy Tips: 117 Headlines that have made money

You’ll notice that both copywriting and headlines share a common root: persuasion. If you’re in MIT, you know how evil persuasion is 😉 Just kidding. It’s awesome. In fact, you all need to read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion before you graduate and enter the workforce. Applying the author’s 6 principles of persuasion will make your job a lot easier 😉

Ok, back to persuasive writing and social media. We know that social media serves to support an organization’s vision, mission, goal, and objectives. Often that means influencing behaviour, opinions, and purchasing patterns. Remember Coca Cola’s Goal in their Liquid and Linked Strategy: “To own a disproportionate share are pop culture” (i.e. influence attitudes & behaviour) AND “Double their business by 20/20” (influence purchasing power). Every piece of content they produce supports these two goals and persuades to you engage, share, and like their content.

Persuasive writing is another skill that takes practice. The good news is, you’re already doing it. Most academic writing is rooted in persuasion, or at least argumentation. A good term paper will clearly state a thesis and guides the reader through a series of arguments that support it, ultimately convincing the reader to agree. So, the trick is to edit that 5000 work article down to140 characters 😉

In class we’ll go over some basic principles of copywriting, headlines, and persuasive writing. You’ll be able to apply what we discuss to your social media strategy so you can achieve your goals.


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