Stop using throwaway words in your social media posts
How often have you seen the following social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn:
“Quick shout out to my colleague who I’m proud to say has…”
“I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, but I just wondered…”
“Tooting our own horn a bit, but delighted to announce that…”
If your network is small and this throat-clearing doesn’t bother you, you might even read pass those first 10 words to discover the news. But how much better would it be, for you and your contacts, if you challenged yourself to make excellent use of the first five words? Or the first three words? What about the first two words of your status updates?
Maybe it doesn’t feel natural. But this isn’t in-person networking or a dinner party, where you have to ease into a conversation with back-and-forth niceties. Respect your contacts’ time and see if you can switch around what you’re writing to put the main idea upfront and get to the point immediately.
Recently I got the chance to work on some messaging for a cloud infrastructure startup called Senient Systems, and I was going to tell my LinkedIn contacts about this in much the same way I’ve written this sentence.
I wanted to let my contacts know, because I think what the company is developing is really unique in the data center space. But I paused for a second and switched around the sentence I was intending to put online. Donning my (very old) headline-writing hat helped, and I made myself work a little harder. Instead, I started the sentence as follows: “Data center technology that truly disrupts is rare…”
Now, I don’t know if enterprise IT excites you, but it’s a passion for a lot of people in my network, from my time as an IT journalist and technology copywriter. Actually, I can think of a dozen of my own contacts who’d be more likely to pay attention if the meaningful words “data center” were front and center in what they were reading.
I’m just restating something you already know about good writing: put your audience’s needs before your own, and get swiftly to the point.
This becomes even more necessary when people are viewing just an extract of your social media posts. For Facebook Groups, for example, community members might be viewing posts via email instead of on the web, and their email client might only show them the first few words.
And in its new redesign, LinkedIn, too, has scraped the latest bit of content that you like or share and included this as a snapshot on your profile, as you see here. See how “data center” still pops out at you even though just the tiniest bit of the status update is included in this profile snapshot?
Why not do an informal audit of the posts you and your colleagues have put onto social media recently? How often are you putting the meat up top? How often are you hiding your main point away, where it’s less likely to be seen?
Sheila Averbuch is the managing director of the content services agency ENNclick, with offices in Edinburgh, Scotland and Cork, Ireland. Get in touch with Sheila on + 441875341583 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Main image by Bruce Guenter on Flickr.
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