Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Strategies for Social Media and Web Copy

Strategies for Social Media and Web Copy
For Web copy to be successful, it has to lead a reader through the content with a goal. The goal is simply what do we want the reader to do once they have read the copy. If you spend time to share valuable information but fail to lead them to the next step, you are losing a potential customer. In other words like a salesman, you have to close. You will measure the success of your copy by the number of conversions.

This is a collection of successful strategies that should be applied to Web pages, blogs, Facebook fan pages, and other social media content to help improve your conversion rates. These rules have been taken from successful multi-million dollar marketers like Joe Sugarman and Maria Veloso.

Keep it simple
People who visit Web sites don’t read—they scan. In most cases, you have 15 to 30 seconds to gain their interest and provide a reason why they should stay at your site and turn their scanning into a comprehensive read.
· Keep sentence structure simple.
· Don’t be wordy.
· Get to point—provide a pain and a solution (multiple pains and confusions can cause confusion).
· Don’t waste time placing information that can be left out without changing the meaning of the copy.
· Write at a seventh grade level knowing that everyone who visits your site doesn’t have a degree in English literature. (Microsoft Word’s spell checker has a tool which you can turn on that grades the reading level of your document. Shoot for a Flesch grade level score of 7.0 to 8.0.)
-Write conversationally.
-Don’t be afraid to throw out some grammar rules, but not so many that you appear incompetent.
-Use contractions, they are less formal and tend to relax language.
-Write like you talk.

The headline may be the most important part of your copy. It must capture the attention of people who search for answers in search engines like Google. It can be fun, but it also needs to ensure the reader that if they read on, they are going to be introduced to a solution.
· Headlines should be short.
· Should draw reader to the subheadline.
· A headline should help define the content.
· Write out a list of possible headlines and then choose the best.
· Use an editorial approach to create your headline.
-Sales approaches come across as pushy and you want it to be conversational, not pushy.
· Does the headline work with the subheadline, paragraph headings, and content to get the viewer past the five second test and convinces them to read on?

The subheadline is almost as important as the headline, but it has a different job.
· It provides the opportunity to expand the headline.
· Gives more information about the content.

Photo or drawing
One of the types of learners uses visual cues like pictures to acquire knowledge. Pictures are an important part of social media. Always include a caption with your picture, as it is nearly always read.

Copy rules

The idea of copy is to keep on a slippery slope. It’s important to maintain the readers’ interest and lead them to the end of the copy. The end of the copy should instruct the reader what they should do next, so think of copy as writing a sales process. You must interest the reader and in the end you must close the reader.

Therefore an important discussion must take place prior to writing the copy. What is the goal of the copy? What must the reader to do to measure success?

The first sentence
The appearance of text on the page can make the difference of a potential customer reading on or leaving. Once again simple is better. Paragraph block should be smaller because they are less intimidating. Large blocks of text represent time and complication.

Sugarman recommends writing a short sentence to start the actual copy. The sentence should be a point and immediately generate interest to get the reader to proceed to the second sentence. The second sentence builds to the third sentence and so on from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph.

Paragraph headings
Like I mentioned earlier, Web users don’t read, they scan. Give your visitors visual cues in which they can quickly find the information they need on the page. Headings also break copy into chunks so the copy looks less intimidating.

Earlier, I looked at why you should have an image and a caption included with your copy. There are people who learn visually. Bullets are another tool that reach out to different learning types. They quickly bring out the main points and summarize content.

Pain, solution, action
In keeping content consistent with the Sandler sales technique, pain must be addressed. Pains are the first part of the slippery slope needed to be successful with Web copy. It’s important to focus mainly on one pain to avoid confusion and information overload. Remember if someone found your content via the Web, they were probably looking for a solution to a single pain. Focus on that pain and let the pain lead the reader to the solution.

The solution should create enough interest without giving up entirely what your product does. Remember, the idea with any product is not to give up all the pizzazz up in one paragraph because there will be other products who solve the same pains. When final negotiations begin, you will need some pleasant surprises which sell your product through additional pains which may arise. This pizzazz can be presented later and should depend on the goal of the original copy.
Finally there is the action. What do you want the reader to do once they are finished reading the copy? This is what is called the close in the sales world. Copy needs to close as well. It may be as simple as leaving a comment in a comment form for feedback. If you have a product or idea to sell, you will ask them leave information about themselves so they can be contacted by a sales rep. You might ask them to order online. Regardless of what it is, the reader must be instructed what to do at the end of the content.

There are many different response devices for use on the Web—coupon, toll-free numbers, opt in, offer, ordering information, information request forms, or release of a publication or information in exchange of lead information. It may be to contact someone and express support or feedback.

Remember, we are all sales people in life. When you write, you want people to buy into what you write by considering the points you make. Take advantage of what you know about the sales process and place it in your copy while relaxing the tone to be conversational—not pushy.

Finally, there has to be a good distribution of keywords in your content. Keywords should be conservatively used in the headline, subheadlines, and content so the pages get indexed for searches. Don’t overuse keywords as they will complicate the writing and violate search engine algorithms, which could hurt your search chances. Keywords should be used sparingly, but don’t forget to use them. They are key to attracting people to your copy.

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent post! I occasionally teach a course in technical writing and am often amused when students are surprised that their reader may not read their every word.

    I notice that you don't mention color here. Is this not something you use to create or reinforce a visual hierarchy (all the better to scan a document with)?