Just a Book, Part 4 – “Everybody Writes”
If you’ve been reading along, congrats to reaching the fourth and final installment in our Just a Book 2017 blog series featuring Ann Handley’s, “Everybody Writes.”
Now that we’ve covered everything from the philosophy of writing to grammar rules and publishing tips, it’s time to dig a little deeper on writing for social, web and email. Because while you may be a marketer by title, Ann helps us to figure out what it really means to write like one.
Here are some of our favorite strategies from Ann:
Writing for Social
“Remember: think dialogue, not monologue. Social sites are often condemned for encouraging banal and useless noise, such as “Eating a burrito for lunch.’ But they provide rich opportunity to share updates that offer context or reveal character.” (Page 190)
Though only about a decade old, social media platforms have transformed the way businesses interact with their customers. Instead of picking up the phone or sending an email, customers are now just a few clicks (or swipes) away from connecting with their favorite brands. Curious how you can make the most of social? Check out the following tips:
- Twitter: While you may be interacting with strangers, at the end of the day, they’re still people. Write as if you’re chatting with a friend or family member to establish rapport. Twitter also offers the opportunity to tell people what you’re all about. Share what your company stands for and how it’s improving the world to give followers insight into your bigger story.
- Facebook: When it comes to Facebook, focus on quality over quantity. The more targeted your approach is, the better chance you’ll have of increasing sales. And remember, brevity is your friend. Short posts – 100-140 characters – and appropriately-sized images – 800×600 pixels – will drive the most engagement.
- LinkedIn: With company pages, individual profiles and even showcase pages that highlight specific products and services, there’s a lot happening on LinkedIn. To stand out from the competition, optimize your profile with keyword-rich descriptions in addition to a steady stream of relevant news. It’s also a good idea to encourage employee advocacy since sharing important updates can boost both reach and engagement.
Writing for Web
“It’s tempting to go overboard – and arcade-ify your landing page by adding all manner of bells and whistles. Instead, go for simple and clean, with stupid-obvious navigation. As I’ve said elsewhere in this book: less is so often more.” (Page 227)
There’s a lot to consider when writing for web. To churn out top notch copy for Walker Sands’ own websites, our content team has turned toward these tips on more than one occasion. For home pages, keep your audience top of mind. Speaking directly to your audience’s motivations will help you demonstrate how you can solve their problems. Even something as small as adding in words your audience uses can help earn their trust – and ultimately their business.
As far as landing pages go, pay special attention to three key elements – the where, what and why. Carefully explaining where visitors have landed, what you’re providing and why they need to take next steps will make for a simple yet effective landing page. Curious how to tackle an “About Us” page? Ann suggests focusing less on your company and more on who your employees are in relation to the visitor. Showing the human side of your employees while also including customer testimonials can help ensure you connect things back to the reader.
Writing for Email
“Rethink your email content, to reconsider what you’re sending, and why, and how you’re communicating . . . swap places with your recipient and write an email you would open.” (Page 219)
According to a study from Radicati Group, more than 265 billion emails are expected to be sent each day in 2017. By 2021, that number could reach 319 billion. To break through the noise, try keeping things concise. For example, short subject lines can boost open rate. The same goes for email copy. Rather than writing a drawn-out paragraph, get straight to the point to avoid wasting your reader’s time. When appropriate, you can even go casual and use a recipient’s first name. Last but not least, finish things off with a specific call to action.
To take your writing to the next level, check out pages 181-261 of “Everybody Writes.” You can also watch our video on the final section of Ann’s book.
Learn more about Just a Book with Ann Handley here.