Effective writing is key to getting noticed on social media, says Sara Gilbert, founder of Strategist in Montreal.
“There’s no magic formula,” Gilbert says. “It takes just two minutes to create a post that will get you noticed.”
Gilbert offers the following advice on how you can master the “two-minute drill,” which applies to all social-media platforms:
> Get to the point
Brevity is the most important element of writing for social media, Gilbert says. That works on a mechanical level, as well as a cultural level.
With Twitter, for example, you are limited to only 140 characters per “tweet.” So, you don’t have much margin for extra babble.
It’s also important to be precise because, as Gilbert says: “People in the web world don’t always read; they scan.”
> Capture attention
Create eye-catching headlines that urge social media “scanners” to read more.
One effective strategy is to pose questions in a headline, then offer the answer in your post. For example: “How can you maximize returns and minimize your risk?”
Another strategy is to create a headline that proposes a step-by-step solution in the form of a numbered list. For example: “Four ways to get a bigger income-tax refund.”
Says Gilbert: “Headlines are going to make or break your social-media success.”
> Isolate key points
If you are struggling to come up with a catchy headline for your post or an attractive tweet, pick a sentence or idea directly from the article.
This strategy gives readers a taste of the information in the story and helps entice them to click. It also shows that you have isolated the important information from the other details.
“[Some] people will just share an article without saying why it would be useful to read,” Gilbert says. “Tell people why they should read it and why it is important.”
> Shorten addresses
Social media posts often include links to other, more detailed information, so your audience can learn more about a subject.
Some web addresses or URLs are excessively long and difficult to include in a short post.
The solution: use a URL shortener. These services are available online, free of charge. They reduce lengthy addresses, freeing up more space for you to include your comments.
As a bonus, these services are equipped with analytics, which can tell you how many people have clicked on your link.