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Writing for Social Media

Writing for the socials is different. These tips will help you keeping your followers engaged.
Vivien Götz

Writing for the socials is different. People have less time. They don’t pay as much attention, and if they find your content boring, they’ll quickly move on. Consequently, you should keep a few things in mind when you are writing for social media. These are our best tips on how to write engaging social media posts and how to address younger audiences: 

8 Tips for Writing on Social Media 

  1. Keep it short and simple
    Social media is not the place for lengthy and convoluted sentences. Don’t use complicated phrases. If there are several words to choose from, use the shortest one. You should also try not to overburden your sentences. One thought per sentence, not more. 
  1. Be as direct as possible 
    Don’t beat around the bush and don’t use lengthy introductions. Say what you want to say. As direct and straightforward as possible. 
  1. Keep it personal 
    Social media is casual. It is not a business newsletter and you can be less formal than on websites or in newspapers. Social media platforms are about engagement and building a relationship with your audience. Your writing should reflect that. Use pronouns such as “We”, “I” and “You” to engage with your audience and create a sense of community through language.
  1. Use emojis and hashtags – but consciously
    Emojis and Hashtags are part of the communication culture online, so you should use them. They save space and characters, but they are also useful tools to structure your texts and call visual attention to important points. At the same time you should not overdo it. If your text is crowded with emojis and hashtags, it will look confusing and people won’t read it. 
  1. Call to action (personal stories/experiences) 
    Your posts on social media should always contain a “Call to Action”, or CTAs. CTAs are usually the last sentences of a post. They should encourage your audience to react to your content, to share their thoughts and to engage with your post. A good call to action can be a thought provoking question or statement, followed by an invitation for your followers to share their thoughts. CTAs tend to be the most successful when they evoke people’s emotions and ask for personal experiences. 
  1. Know your audience 
    Even if you stick to the rules above, there are still tons of options to finetune the intonation, with which you are addressing your audience. To do that successfully you must know who your audience is. Who are you addressing with your content? What are their interests and demographics? Once you have answered these questions, always keep them in mind. Your posts and your writing style should always be catered towards your audience. 
  1. Reply with empathy 
    If your followers are responding to your CTAs, engage with them. That does not mean that you have to answer every comment. But if there are especially long answers or clever and enriching points, react to that. Such reactions show your followers that you care, which will in turn increase their investment in your content. 

    You can also react directly to input from followers in the form of posts or videos and even mention them. This creates a more interactive relationship with your followers, will drive traffic on your posts and enhance their sense of community. 
  1. Spelling and grammar 
    Being less formal on social media does not mean that you shouldn’t care about grammar or spelling. Posting content full of mistakes creates a sloppy image and can seriously damage your credibility. 

How to Write for a Young Audience  

All the guidelines above also apply, when you are addressing a young audience. But there are a few extra things to keep in mind. Especially when you are not in the same age group as your target audience: 

  1. Don’t try to be something you’re not 
    If you are not 18 anymore, don’t try to sound like an 18-year old. It probably won’t work and at worst it can make you sound untrustworthy and/or embarrassing (or cringe, as the younger demographic might say). Talk to your younger audience at eye level, without trying to sound exactly like them. 
  1. Questions and answers 
    Young people are growing up in a world where things are changing really quickly. They are most likely used to thinking about their surroundings in questions of “How?” and “Why?”. You can try to reach them by choosing questions that are important to them and providing answers. 
  1. What is relevant to their reality? 
    Not every nuance of a discussion that might seem important from a journalistic point of view is also important to young people. When you are dealing with topics, try to think about how it is affecting their reality and their perspective in life. Try to link your content back to what has relevance in their lives.
About author
Vivien Götz

Vivien Götz is a German journalist, mainly covering climate change, science and politics. She is a fellow of the Young Journalist Programme (JONA) of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and volunteers as a data-analyst for the German NGO Netzwerk Chancen. She is a M.A. candidate for International Relations and Development Policy.

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