So what’s the big deal with writing specifically for social media, surely it’s the same as any other kind of copy? Time to think again! Social media is becoming an increasingly important platform for organisations to engage with their customers which makes it disappointing to see so many mistakes being made and so many companies missing the point of this opportunity.

However the good news is that with a little bit of thought you can avoid any potential pitfalls:

Remember you are representing a brand.

Just because social media is all about concise, pithy comments that get to the point, it’s no excuse for poor grammar and punctuation. Remember this should be treated as a shop window for your company. So sub-standard poorly conceived copy or even worse “text-speak” really won’t cut the mustard.

If your spelling is not always great, take your time, copy and paste from word. It’s very easy to do and will lessen the chance of an embarrassing mistake being “released into the wild” in front of all your followers.

Take your time.

Writing insightful shareable content in 140 characters or less is a skill, something that even the best copywriter can find difficult so it is worthwhile working on your tweet before you post it. Start by removing unnecessary words and repositioning the most pertinent ones, this can powerfully alter the structure of a sentence.

Think about what you are going to write before you commit it to the web. Knee jerk reactions and off the cuff remarks can be dangerous to an individual as well as the organisation they work for. It is important to exercise good judgement and common sense in these matters as the consequences of an ill conceived Tweet can be far reaching.

Write for individuals.

Although it looks increasingly important in terms of search engine ranking points, social media is all about connecting with individuals and not about second guessing what the Google algorithm wants to see. So just as in my last blog post, write for people not search engine robots.

What you are trying to do is engage people and share things your customers will find real value in. What you are not doing is looking to sell to people or constantly promote your brand, this really won’t do you any favours. Instead look for ways to interact with people, start a conversation to break down the barriers and show the human face of your organisation.

The world is watching.

Social media offers a window into what your customers are thinking about your company, sometimes this is good news but other times people could be saying negative things. You can’t brush this under the carpet and hope nobody notices, your actions (or inactions) are there for everybody to see. If you are clever and think fast it is possible to showcase your customer service skills and react to negative comments and gain some positive PR in the process.

Have fun with it.

Most successful social media campaigns have contributions from multiple members of a business, it is a chance for a company to show it is not a faceless organisation as well as showcasing employee expertise. So brief people on what they can do, keep things positive and exciting, a long list of don’ts will stifle creativity and actively discourage participation. Getting started with social media can seem daunting but by keeping things fun you stand a far better chance of encouraging involvement from your staff as well as interaction from customers.

To find out more about writing for social media read James Perrin’s excellent blog post on Koozai, Dan Zarrella’s research on Twitter link placement and the fab Ziggy Stardust Guide to Social Media Superstardom from Copyblogger.