Six Persuasive Writing Tips for Social Media

Tip 1 Writing is communicating ideas. Make it an automatic step to consider if an idea deserves presentation to your target audience; also known as a 'Who cares?' test.

Ever tried scoring potential ideas before starting to write? Maybe on a scale of one to ten, making ten extremely interesting to the target audience and zero being indifference. Unless an idea scores, say, six or greater, move along to another idea that does make the grade. This same testing can be applied to a) farmers' posts and b) business competitors' posts. Then compare and contrast what is being regarded as interesting by each group. Are most businesses in tune with their farmer audiences?

Thanks to platform algorithms watching your account's every move and trying to serve audiences with the most interesting content, posting content that proves uninteresting to the audience depresses the account's running engagement rate which in turn directly reduces the number of follower impressions you are being given by the platform. Not quite be interesting or be invisible, but almost.

Tip 2 The world of marketing has changed in regard to the use of the call to action. Always, always having a call to action has been a marketing constant but on social media expectations have changed.

As links aren’t often followed (0.1% is close to stratospheric performance, 0.01% is reasonable) listening to audiences in this purest of ways shows that they aren’t appreciating frequent requests to follow links.

Better to use calls to action sparingly, and then in the form of a minimalist link, not one that artificially boosts with an adjective. The motivation should be a perceived benefit to the potential clicker at the landing end of the link.

Social media is a powerful communication platform in its own right and marketing messages can be communicated over time without inconveniencing the user with repeated requests to vacate their favourite social media platform.

Tip 3 Write short and use the shorter word whenever there is a choice. A number of pieces of large-scale Twitter research have shown that even when the character limit was 140, using 120 characters or 100 characters or even fewer, was consistently more successful as a means of achieving interactions (engagement) from users. Attention spans are said to be shrinking; follow the trend.

Tip 4 Tell strong stories by using a subject, verb and object in each sentence. A simple writing skill, yet scan through a timeline or newsfeed and see how many social media posts aren’t telling a story.

Deploying headline-speak, issuing instructions ("Check out ..."), or inserting hashtags that break up the flow are examples of message-weakening social media writing. Simple good English is all that's needed.

Tip 5 Adjectives are the chilli sauce of persuasive writing; overdo them at your peril. Straight facts are all that’s usually required to communicate something of interest. More almost always becomes less when boosting adjectives are added.

Ten examples of often over-used adjectives are:

  • Brilliant
  • Effective
  • Efficient
  • Great
  • Innovative
  • New
  • Superb
  • Unique
  • Very
  • Wonderful

  • Of course these and others like them are a core part of language, and will sometimes be precisely the right word – but when persuasive writing is the goal, if in doubt, try hard to leave it out.

    Tip 6 Persuasive writing on social media isn’t synonymous with either selling or debating, it's simply making every message wholly believable.

    From the marketing perspective it's usually communicating a fact or facts in a way that is positive for the business. That is achieved by using the best words in a credible way. If the audience absorbed the whole of the message in a positive way then that writing was persuasive and the communication objective was achieved. But if the audience never read through the whole message, or did but then thought 'they would say that, wouldn't they' then the words need some more work.

    Tip 6b Never put words in capitals. And never, never use an exclamation mark. Both are poor writing techniques for business; business writing power should always come from the words you choose to use.