Beth McGough, Communications and Creative Services Manager
Easy reading is damn hard writing. But if it’s right, it’s easy. It’s the other way round, too. If it’s slovenly written, then it’s hard to read. It doesn’t give the reader what the careful writer can give the reader.
Social media writers, perhaps, need to be the most careful writers. Constrained by character counts and short attention spans, tweets and Facebook posts must be concise.
If a librarian has focused on developing strong academic writing skills it can be difficult to take the opposite approach to writing.
I won’t call academics long winded but…
…academia certainly values detailed writing.
In social media, writing needs to get to the essence of a message in 140 characters.
If you find yourself writing tweets for the library – or even for your personal accounts – the principles below will help you shift your mindset from academic writing to social writing.
1. Be hyper-focused on the audience. Whether writing for students or other librarians put them first as you craft social posts.
2. Intent. Consider intent from your point of view and the reader’s point of view. What is the purpose of the social message? Does it align with the purpose for which people use social media?
3. All posts should be useful, educational and/or entertaining. Adding to the conversation and providing content readers will benefit from are central to social media posts.
4. Casual but grammatically correct. Stay away from a formal academic voice. Social media is an opportunity to bring out the humanity in your messages.
5. Concise – no fluff. Use only the words necessary to get your point across. Not only is this a good writing practice but shorter social posts are easier to share.
6. Use images to extend your message. The importance of images in social posts cannot but ignored. Images will catch the reader’s attention and can be used to extend your message. Images should be carefully chosen to reflect the message. You can also take advantage of this extra space to add more text.
Like all writing, writing for social media is hard, but these principles will get you off to a good start.