I offer advice on all sorts of matters. I recommend books. I endorse sandwich fillings. I tell friends to watch films involving sharks in increasingly unlikely scenarios.
Advice is a marvellous thing, particularly as a copywriter. There are innumerable resources out there that provide valuable ideas for the inspiration and composition behind producing excellent copy.
The copywriting community is on the whole an incredibly generous environment. I suspect it comes in part from a natural instinct we have to defend the purpose of our role.
The awful assumption that ‘anyone can write’ is ignorant and offensive, but it does drive us to set and share very high standards for the profession.
One particular topic of discussion that has invariably become more prominent amongst copywriters is the idea of writing for social media.
And what seems to be the common thread in many of these exchanges is that writing for social media should not require a radically different approach than what we do already.
Naturally the platform is singular in not only it’s immediacy but also in its ephemerality. Our message goes from brain to finger to world to nothing in a matter of moments. Of course this means our words must work incredibly hard, make their impact and drive their purpose in an instant.
But surely this is the principle for everything we do? Our headlines, whether sitting on posters, ads or websites have far more permanence than a social media post but that is not to say that they will receive, or even deserve, any greater attention.
Writing for social media demands we are concise, but surely every other platform we write for demands the same?
Our style of writing, whether in the social space or otherwise, remains the same. Our copy must always be imaginative, engaging and persuasive regardless of where it will be seen. Yes, formats and structures will vary as the space dictates, but the fundamental principles of copywriting must remain in every tweet, every post, every Pintrest caption.
The idea that the social media audience is any more difficult to reach than a traditional media audience is frankly a myth. Copywriting has never had to work harder and that is true in every space it exists.
We must be careful to avoid perpetuating a fallacy about the ‘rules’ of writing for social media. There is no magical word count for the perfect tweet, and the gain or loss of followers is no incontrovertible indicator to the quality of our writing.
Social media deserves our thought, our inspiration and our full technical consideration. But there is not a single job in a copywriter’s inbox that requires anything less.
That’s my first bit of advice. My second is to go and see a film called ‘Shark-Pimp!’ You can probably guess what it’s about.
Follow Andrew Boulton on Twitter @Boultini
Andrew Boulton is a copywriter and shark film enthusiast at the Together Agency.
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