I’ll never forget the day. I ran into my high school history teacher shortly after graduating college and landing my first public relations job. He asked me what I was doing now, and I told him I majored in communications/PR, and I get to talk for a living. His words were, “That’s perfect for you, Elaine, especially since you couldn’t keep your mouth shut in my class.”
As communicators, we have a problem. We over communicate. We want you to know how great our product or service is for you. We want to scream our message points from the rooftop, and, if you didn’t catch it the first time, we’ll scream it again with even better descriptors.
In the age of social media, we are forced to talk less and say more. We have to tweet our message in 140 characters. Seriously? I can use 140 characters worth of adjectives! Your Vine video must be six seconds or less. And Facebook posts must compete for attention with your crowded news feed, and that’s if your message makes it on the news feed. (See how to reach social media’s point of critical mass.)
How do we talk less and say more?
1) Have a goal. What do you want this Facebook post, tweet, or blog post to accomplish? What do you want your audience to do? Share the cause, purchase the product, or make a donation? You name it.
2) Write a great headline. Headline writing is an art, and here’s 3 Secrets to Writing a Killer Blog Post, which also includes the headline, to get you started.
3) Make every word count. We see and hear as many as 5,000 ads per day, which includes everything from your toothpaste and t-shirt label in the morning to the radio ads on the way to work and the search engine ads you view throughout the day. We’re bound to become immune to the clutter and only tune into the words that strike a chord.
4) Be direct and to the point. You have a millisecond to grab the reader’s attention, and once you have it, you need to move fast before they lose interest and move on to the next post or tweet. Address what the reader needs to know as quickly as possible.
5) Add graphics or photos. If you want to tell an effective story, tell it with a photo. People stop in their tracks when they see a compelling photo, not when they see award-winning copy.
6) Talk one on one. We are people talking to people, not an entity addressing the masses. Genuine conversations with real people is the appeal of social media.
7) Ask your reader to share. It’s not uncommon to ask readers to share the Facebook post, blog post or tweet when there’s a compelling message or call to action. Asking your audience to share increases your organic reach, which is a very good thing.
Summed up in Twitter fashion (132 characters)
Talk less, say more: Clearly communicate genuine content to spur readers into action. Photos draw people into your post. Pass it on!
My history teacher would be impressed. Too bad I can’t talk in 140 characters or less.
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