It often feels as if all the hostile bad actors and ominous algorithm changes on big social platforms put an expiration date on best practices. Your strategy for getting that copy to the top of the newsfeed only works until it doesn't, right? Not entirely.
As an extension of solid communication skills, good, clear and direct writing will always be a highly valued skill on social. That's why we've rounded up a trio of expert social communicators to speak at PR News' Writing Boot Camp, taking place on Nov. 7 at New York's Yale Club. We'll hear from experts about the similarities—and differences—that must be observed in order to craft perfect social copy for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
We caught up with Devon Harris, brand strategist at Twitter, ahead of her session at the boot camp to learn about some new and evergreen strategies for making sure your brand copy reaches—and resonates—with as many people as possible.
The Biggest Mistake Brands Make
Harris says that the biggest mistake brands make on Twitter is trying to do too much in a single tweet. "The beauty of Twitter is really that you can tweet as many times as you want to get your message across," says Harris. "Each tweet should have its own objective and not try to do too much heavy lifting. One objective per tweet, or one ask of the audience, is really the best way to go."
To that end, is there a perfect strategy for scheduling those posts, a hidden rhythm that pays respect to optimal times of day (and is somehow different than the recommended scheduling times from schedulers like Buffer)? Harris recommends that more brands start using Twitter's tweet-threading product, which works when brands reply to their own tweets, and threads those tweets together in your timeline.
"So if you’re talking about the same topic or you have the same campaign running and you want to make sure that everybody’s seeing every piece of information in one place, you can actually tweet out a few hours apart," Harris says.
"Starting with their morning commute, maybe 7 or 8 a.m., a few hours apart going throughout the whole day, you can simply thread them together. If people want to see more information about the campaign, they can scroll up in that same tweet. Keep them a few hours apart, reach different audiences at key points in their day, maybe during their commute, lunch, 3 p.m. when people take their break or get some more coffee. Peak times are also when people are on their phones and watching t.v., maybe 8 or 9 p.m."
280 Characters Can Clutter Your Point
Different brands have different philosophies on this, but most agree that just because there’s a 280 character limit on Twitter now doesn’t mean you should always use it. What has the data been telling Twitter about engagement relative to character use?
"We actually worked with our research team to look into exactly that," Harris said.
"We just got results back that, even though we extended to 280 characters and that’s a possibility for you, it’s most effective for brands especially to keep their copy pretty short for active consumers and people tweeting as well. If you think of how you use social media—the feed moves fast, people are scrolling by, so what’s really going to get their thumb to stop in feed? That short, really engaging copy. We found that tweets between 50-100 characters actually see better results than tweets with under 50 and above 100."
She notes that there are clear exceptions to the rule—a Nike tweet naturally draws people in, and people want to read what they have to say. What's more, a breaking news story might need all 280 characters in order to get the message across. "Just think—what exactly is the message that I want people to take away from this? What do I want them to do?" advises Harris. "That’s where you can include your hashtag or link. And if you have an opportunity to include a visual, that should be an extension of your copy and answer the question of what you want people to feel or see in tandem with this."
Follow Devon: @DevonHarris
Follow Justin: @Joffaloff