So, you’ve chosen to dedicate some time and energy to promoting your business.
You sit yourself down, open up your platform of choice and start typing… Only you don’t.
“What do I say?”
“Where do I start?”
“Why would anyone be interested in what I’ve got to say?” (yep, I’ve heard that one!)
At this stage, you'll do one of two things:
1. Blast out all the features for every product or service your business offers and how great you are
2. Give up, put the kettle on, and get lost in a world of piano playing cats (it’s research, right?)
But it doesn’t have to be like that…
One of the most common worries business owners have when I first meet them is they don’t know what to say on social media.
There are millions of articles online about writing for social media (301,000,000 at the time of writing).
But so many of them focus on being persuasive, using hashtags, or finding the right image.
That's great, if you know what to write in the first place.
But if your mind is one big blank space, then no end of technique is going to help you.
Try these simple tips to get started and make your writing more effective.
1. Make time
Start, as always, by making time to do the job properly. Plan time into your week to think about your marketing: What are your objectives? What do you need to do to get there? This way, whatever you write will connect with your objectives and be consistent. My blog post, Making Time for Marketing, gives you more tips to help with this.
2. Know your audience
Once you’ve made time to write, the first thing to do is think about your audience.
Who are they?
What do they want to know?
Where are they in their buying journey or decision making?
This last one can be a bit tricky but try to imagine your online presence is a shop on the high street.
Some people glance in the window and walk on; some are in the shop exploring what's there, and some ask questions. Some of the people who come into the shop will even buy from you.
These people are at different stages of the buying journey and need different information to help them.
A simple example of this is buying a new car. At the beginning a buyer notices what the car looks like and messages about how a make or model will make them feel. Later, they want detail about the features and performance of specific models. Finally, when buying, they need information about servicing and after sales.
3. Write for your audience not for yourself
Now think about what people want to know. When you meet people face to face, what questions do they ask about your product or service?
What needs, worries, or desires do they have that you can help with?
The Golden Rule: Put yourself in your reader’s shoes.
This isn’t about all the stuff you want to tell people about your business and how great you are. This is about how their life will become better, easier, or more fun when they buy from you.
To explain in more detail…
A client of mine is a garden designer. She creates comprehensive, detailed plans by hand – like an architect’s drawings.
Her social media was all about the plans: what’s in them and how they’re drawn. An entire plan shown in Instagram looks very complicated! It’s a lot of black lines and very tiny writing.
As harsh as it sounds, no one cares what goes into the plan.
People care about having a patio big enough to fit a table and chairs on. They care about space for the kids to play and something interesting cover a neighbour’s brick wall.
Those are the things to talk about, not the plan itself. The plan is just the vehicle to get the customer what they want.
Talking about the process of getting to the ideal garden is fine. Behind the scenes stuff is interesting and builds relationships. But it must be written with the reader in mind.
4. Be consistent
Don't try to create new content every time you post.
Your potential customers pass hundreds, if not thousands, of 'shops' every day. The job of your online presence is to connect with them so they pause to find out more.
Telling the same story consistently is a good thing. Changing what you say and how you say it every time you post will only confuse people.
You will answer the same questions over and over when you talk about your business so keep sharing those answers.
It's OK to repeat yourself, as long as what you say is relevant and interesting to your audience (there I go again…repeating myself!).
5. Be clear on your goal
Finally, be crystal clear about why you are writing your post or blog.
What do you want people to do (or feel) as a result of reading it? Do you want your audience to:
smile (sometimes it’s ok to simply brighten someone’s day)
click to book or find out more?
Stay focused on the purpose of your post and stick to one purpose only. Combining multiple objectives into a single post will confuse your reader.
It will also rob you of a post you can use another time and why would you do that?!
6. Check and double check
Whether it’s an article for your website or a Tweet, always check what you’ve written before you publish. Poor spelling and grammar reflect badly on your business, and if your writing is unclear, no one will read it.
Ask a colleague to check your writing, or use one of the online tools available. They’re free to use and very straightforward.
I use Hemmingway and Grammarly. Hemmingway checks your writing for readability, highlighting sentences which are too long or too complicated for a reader to quickly understand, and Grammarly checks spelling and grammar (as you’d expect!).
Check them out and see if they work for you.
Now give it a go!
Now you’re inspired, give it a go. Block time in your diary to write your social media posts for next week, or draft a new article for your website.
I’d love to know how you get on and which of the tips you find most useful so let me know in the comments.
If you’re a business owner struggling to manage your own marketing, get in touch to arrange a free Discovery Call.