I’ve been copywriting for close to 8 years, professionally now. I started out with social media for a media brand and now lead the content marketing efforts for a tech company. My experience ranges from writing for social media through Facebook captions to website copy to blog writing. In all this time, I have come to identify a few key pointers for great copywriting for those of us who struggle with how to write content and social media copywriting. Through this blog, I’ll introduce you to helpful techniques and social media copywriting tips to take your content from good to great.
Start with an outline for long-form content
Starting an article is probably the hardest bit of writing. Here’s where creating a structure or a blueprint comes handy. Even before I started penning down this article, I drew up an outline which looked something like this:
- Use an Outline
- Rhyming Words
- Use storytelling
- Be real
- Be respectful
- Be conversational – use the first person
- Slash the “very very”
I find that this technique takes the stress out of writing (if that’s what you’re feeling). You know what your article is going to look like, you’ve got the main points in place, now just fill them in!
For website content, a technique that I use is the 5W1H technique – copy that answers the What, When, Where, Why, How questions. Let’s look at an example. Say, you’re writing about Comodo SSL Certificates. Your copy should answer the 5W1H
What – It is a digital certificate
When – Used when you have to secure your website for safe transactions, purchases
Where – Used on your website
Why – Security for your website, trust for customers, Google recognises your website as “safe” etc.
How – Install an SSL certificate by following these steps…
And just like that, I gave you a bonus tip – use examples in the copy! 🙂
Here’s another article I wrote a while back on 9 Stages of Creating More Effective Landing Copy that will help you with website copywriting.
Use Rhyming Words and Alliterations
This is probably my most used technique for taglines, social media copywriting, Facebook captions, and website hero banner content. It’s fail-safe, easy, effective and memorable! Here are some popular examples:
- Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
- An apple a day, keeps the doctor away
I remember years ago, when we were planning for an event, we were setting up a drawing booth as a fun element where attendees could have a caricature artist draw an illustration of them. I was asked to give a catchy line for the booth for which I then came up with – Fetch Your Sketch Here!
If you can’t think of rhyming words, opt for alliterations ie. words beginning with the same sound or letter. They have the same effect.
- Don’t dream it. Drive it. (Jaguar)
- Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline. (Maybelline)
- Intel Inside. (Intel)
Use Storytelling and Be Real
Storytelling has a reputation for being a great content technique, be it in design, art, theatre, or copy. Storytelling is everywhere – stories you were told as a kid, Netflix documentaries, TV advertisements, novels, letters. I like to use this technique, especially in blog writing. Blogs are personal opinions and most of the time, informal. It’s a great place to be real and use storytelling. Use storytelling to share a bit about yourself and engage audiences as I did here.
The key is to be authentic and be real.
Another important bit here is to use the active voice with a first-person point of view in writing. It makes your readers feel like you’re talking to them and gets them involved.
Sometimes, written words can come off as harsh, or sarcastic even though we don’t intend it to. This is because the tone is hard to convey in words. Most of us probably learned this the hard way when that email we sent in our first job was blunt or a bit curt.
I’ve found that the best way to write emails is to be respectful and use words that convey that. For example, let’s look at this email:
Send the document now, please.
Although the first one has the word “please”, the verb ‘send’ sounds like an order even if it wasn’t intended to. Let’s look at how we can modify this to sound respectful:
Request you to kindly share the document as soon as it is possible.
By modifying a few words to ‘request’, ‘kindly’ and ‘share’, I’ve managed to make the email polite and respectful.
Cut out the “very very”
This tip is great for spoken English as well and I love it, even more, when I see it in written content. All too often, we use the word ‘very’ to describe an object, a service or a product to convey effectiveness but in actuality, using ‘very’ just makes it lose emphasis. But what’s worse than a “very” is “very very”! Next time, instead of saying “it was a very nice holiday”, try saying “it was a wonderful holiday”. It’s effective and conveys the point better. Here’s a list of ways to avoid writing “very”.
You can find the full list here.
With these tips, you’ll be able to create content that’s interesting, apt and fantastic! Now jump back to my first point about creating an outline. You’ll see how the outline helped me organise my content yet, as I wrote the article, I also kept it flexible – I clubbed some points, edited out a few etc.
In parting, I’ll leave you with some common best practices for writing, namely:
- Avoid abbreviations (or as we used to call it, “SMS language”) like ‘gud’ for ‘good’, ‘luv’ for ‘love’ etc.
- Proofread everything! You’re bound to find some mistakes
- If possible, get someone else to proofread your content
- Look out for Homophones (words that sound exactly the same but are spelled differently) like you’re and your, stationery and stationary, their and there
- Be mindful of context, culture and situations. Do NOT use #BlackLivesMatter to promote your interests. It’s insensitive and disrespectful. See here examples of bad content marketing by popular brands.
- Content and SEO can go hand-in-hand. When you write a good article, you want to be found on the Internet. Look up ways to get your content ranked high through SEO keywords & best practices. Check out Your Guide To SEO Copywriting: 9 Ways to Write and Optimize Content for Google
Got more tips for us? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below. Check out more articles that can help you up your Marketing game!