Copywriting for Social Media?

I was intrigued by a blog post titled Copywriting for Social Media on Jason Fall‘s blog this morning.

Isn’t that post title an oxymoron?

I understand the need for careful crafting and re-crafting of messages for advertising – and recognize copywriting as a profession (especially since my brother Gary has been a copywriter for most of his entire career).  While social media involves lots of writing, I think it’s different than pure copywriting and I wouldn’t deign to break it out as a separate function.

So what’s different about social media?  Social media is all about communicating and you can’t separate the writing act from the communicating act.  In addition, the velocity of the messages is far greater, and the tone needs to be more informal, more human and not as ‘polished’ or edited as what is generally produced under a traditional copywriting campaign.

Velocity – I agree with Jason that when you write for social media you have to think in terms of 140-character ‘sound bites’.    Active social media practitioners need to produce many of these sound bites on a daily basis.  For example, when I was actively managing the social media properties (mainly Twitter and Facebook), I was producing 15 to 20 posts and interactions on a daily basis.  With that level of activity, you don’t have time to write, review and re-write the messages.  And you definitely don’t have time to bounce all of a day’s messages around with the ‘team’.

Tone - It is important to have the right tone in social media communications.  In many cases (as Jason points out), social media missives needs to be conversational and interactive.  Just like copywriters, it is critical for social media practitioners to make sure their writing tone matches the tone of the brand.  Getting the tone right means that you have to spend time with the brand and learn how the customers of the brand communicate.  And due to the velocity of the messages, you don’t always have the time to agonize or mull over what you want to write — you need to act like Nike and “just do it”.

I am also sharing links to these related posts on the copywriting topic that Jason included in his blog post: