How to Punch Up Your Social Media Copy

At 85, Charlotte Nushy, my favorite aunt, is “starting to get old.” The other day she was telling me that, though she’s not bedridden, she does spend a lot of time in bed because her back aches when she sits up for too long.

Then she interrupted herself to exclaim, “Shut up, whiner! Who cares?”

“Shut up, whiner! Who cares?” is my new social media motto. Blogging about your products and services, executive speech, expanded office space or new vice president? Shut up! Who cares?

Here are five ways to make your social media copy a resource instead of a bore with blogs, tweets and other status updates that are relevant, valuable and interesting to your fans and followers:

1. Be an informer, not a meformer: “How do you find time to tweet?” my speakers’ network queried subscribers.

“I don’t have time not to tweet,” I wrote back.

That’s because the people I follow on Twitter serve as sort of a virtual research team. They scour the Web, finding new studies, resources and insights so I don’t have to.

That is, they’re “informers,” or the 20% of Twitter users who tweet information, such as links to articles and blog postings, according to a Rutgers study. They’re not “meformers,” or the 80% of us who let the world know that we’re “eating a sandwich now.”

Not surprisingly, informers have nearly three times as many followers than meformers, according to the study. Which are you?

2. Think solutions, not services.

How can business bloggers become informers instead of meformers?

Focus on the customer, not on the company. Don’t let your posts sound like a series of press releases. Instead, ask, “What problems can I solve? What expertise can I share? What issues can I weigh in on?”

Think like a magazine editor. “Blog like you’re the best trade magazine in your industry,” says Kipp Bodnar, inbound marketing manager at Hubspot.

Promote resources, not products and services. Think white papers, studies, webinars and conference speeches.

“They don’t really care about your products,” says Rick Burnes, inbound marketing manager at HubSpot. “What they’re interested in is solutions to their problems.”

The good news: Offering tips and techniques that serve your customers also help you position your organization as the expert in the field.

3. Transform news and events into insights. Alan Weiss (@BentleyGTCSpeed) is the consultant’s consultant.

He’s also a model tweeter. Instead of blah-blahing about what he ate for dinner or bragging that he’s tweeting from the Imperial Suite at the Park Hyatt-Vendôme, he spins news items and everyday events into insights and ideas. For example:

“1 call gets me new Bentley. 4 calls required for new file cabinet! Don’t put hurdles in the way of business!”

“From my HP buyer: ‘We hire consultants so we don’t breathe our own exhaust.’”

“Football’s Patriots keep scoring, even when far ahead. Lesson: Never lose your edge, never coast. Build ‘killer gaps.’”

“Best holiday retail season ever. Don’t look know, recover is accelerating. Will you be in vanguard or the dust?”

4. Write for your reader. Your Facebook, Twitter and blog readers aren’t necessarily the same people. And they don’t necessarily read at the same level:

• Facebook fans are most likely to share articles with headlines written at the fifth-grade level, according to research by viral marketing scientist Dan Zarrella.

• Twitter followers are most likely to retweet tweets written at the 6.5 grade level.

• And your blog posts? If you’re writing a business-to-business blog, use the language of the business, Zarrella suggests: “Online content doesn’t need to appeal to a mass audience to be successful. If you’re trying to reach a niche audience, you don’t need to dumb down your content.”

5. Remember the magic word. Mom was right: In social media as well as on the playground or in the office, the more you talk about yourself, the fewer friends you’re likely to have.

Using TweetPsyche data on more than 60,000 Twitter users, Zarrella looked at self-reference on Twitter. He found that Twitter users who didn’t talk about themselves much tended to have more users. And in another study, Zarrella found that “you” is the most retweeted word in the English language.

So focus on your fans and followers, not on your organization and its stuff. In social media as in so much else in life, better “you” than “me.” PRN

To learn more social media best practices, don't miss PR News' Facebook Conference on May 24.


Ann Wylie (@AnnWylie) consults with organizations looking to improve their communications skills. She can be reached at [email protected].

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