Key Takeaways: Writing for Social Media

Throughout the month of May, the Public Relations Society of America National Capital Chapter (PRSA-NCC) is hosting a four-part writing workshop series, the first of which took place on May 1. The presenter, Anthony Shop of the digital services firm Social Driver, managed to condense what was originally an all-day, in-person workshop on writing for social media into a less than twohour webinar. Here are some key takeaways. 

Write for the algorithm. 

As marketers, most of us are familiar with writing for different audiences, but we usually don’t consider an algorithm to be part of an audience. However, understanding the algorithms that filter and score content is key when writing for social media. Even the most compelling writing won’t reach or engage very many people on social media if the platform does not assess it as such. You might ask, what are the algorithms looking for? This leads to the next takeaway  

Know how to optimize your content for the platform. 

The most widely used social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) favor content differently. A post that is optimized for Facebook may not be optimized for LinkedIn. For example, LinkedIn’s algorithm will deprioritize content that uses more than three hashtags, which LinkedIn considers to be “spammy.” However, Instagram does not penalize posts that have many hashtags. In fact, because hashtags are one of the main ways to search content on Instagram, you might fail to reach a segment of your audience by omitting a relevant hashtag. Thus, in order to write for an algorithm, you must first understand the algorithm you are writing for. 

Consider timing. 

In deciding when to post, be aware of how engagement on each platform varies throughout the day and week. For example, the highest engagement on Twitter occurs around 9 a.m. on weekdays, so tweeting toward the end of the day would not be considered a best practice. Your industry may also impact the best times to post. 

Write copy that engages people. 

Shop posed that there are six key engagement drivers: ease, elevate, empower, entertain, educate and entice. According to Shop, engaging copy for social media does one or ideally several of these things. Whether you’re offering a solution to a common problem (ease) or recognizing a partner organization for an accomplishment (elevate), try thinking about your writing in terms of these engagement drivers. 

Be engaged, too. 

When the goal is to engage an audience through likes, retweets, shares and comments, you might forget to participate yourself. After all, engagement on social media is ideally a two-way interaction. Offer insights on others’ ideas, join existing conversations, ask questions and reply to people who comment on your posts. Maybe writing a new article on a topic wouldn’t be as effective as responding to someone else’s. Remember to be an active member of the community you’re trying to reach.