Sue Keogh gives an overview of her Copywriting Conference 2015 breakout sessions on creating shareable content.
Thanks to everyone who came to my sessions at #CopyCon15. So great to be among fellow copywriters who all understand the importance of clear, compelling writing; I did chuckle at the way we all winced in unison at a slide which contained a mix up between ‘away’ and ‘a way’. We were all on the same wavelength and that made the conference such fun.
The breakout sessions I ran focused on shareable content. Here is a simple rundown of the topics covered.
1. Get your content social media ready
This is about rolling things back a bit. So before we’re worrying about how to craft the perfect tweet we’re focusing on making the content shareable in the first place.
This means ensuring that if someone takes the link and shares it on Facebook, LinkedIn or other platforms, there will be some compelling content to pull through. So:
- Describe…everything! We’re talking alt tags, we’re talking titles on images, we’re talking generous descriptions on YouTube videos. We’re also saying it’s important with links – give links the same name as the content you’re linking to. ‘Click here’ doesn’t mean anything and anyway it’s a redundant term now that we’re tapping and scrolling with our fingers rather than a mouse.
- Pay (a lot of) attention to titles. You’ve read the piece, because you wrote it! But the reader has only the title to go on. So make sure it says enough about the content to draw them in. Try to tease, hint at something enticing beyond. Make sure it works when seen in isolation and not attached to the fuller piece.
- Be specific, not abstract. Get those keywords in your titles and summaries so people can see at a glance what your piece of content is about. This isn’t just about SEO, this is about writing for humans. If your blog post is about Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes but you don’t point this out, how would any poetry fans pick up on it?
2. Use the right language
In your tweets and posts there are certain words you can use which will increase the likelihood of people understanding and sharing your content.
Be bossy. Words like find out, discover, watch and read are very direct, and with a fast-moving environment like social media, people respond very well to being told what to do. Sometimes even ‘don’t to this’ has a positive effect because people love doing the opposite of what they’re told.
- Be positive and helpful. Just like in real life, no one wants to hang out with a miseryguts who only thinks of themselves. Content with words in like ‘great’, ‘how to’ and ‘top’ are frequently shared on social media. We like the good stuff, we like learning how to do things and we like being helpful, and as such we like sharing this sort of content.
- Ask questions which invite comment. This doesn’t mean in every tweet asking people to share their thoughts – that will come across as desperate. But it’s about asking open questions on topics where everyone has an opinion and can answer without having to think too hard.
Think Thomas Cook asking if people prefer a window seat or aisle seat:
Or BBC Sport at the height of the football season publishing two posts on Facebook: ‘Great weekend for ___________’ and ‘Terrible weekend for ____________’:
3. Think about layout
This is about those final tweaks you can make to your posts to make them that little bit more readable. If people can understand your content they’re much more likely to share it.
Keep it tidy. Take a couple of seconds before you click publish to see if you can make your post less cluttered – cut back on the hashtags, trim any redundant phrases, swap long words for short ones. Punctuation is your pal!
- Front load your content. This goes for any content on the web but is useful for social media posts too. Our eyes naturally read from left to right, so by putting those keywords at the beginning you’ll be making your post even easier to find for anyone scanning through their feed when on the bus.
- Make words and pictures work together. Don’t just repeat what’s in the picture, think how can you put both items together to make an even better post.
Thanks to the organisers for having me along. If you’d like to keep in touch then you can reach me via the Sookio website and on Twitter. Do sign up to our mailing list too so you get a monthly blast of tips and tricks on creating great digital content.