Sales copywriting for social media… without being too salesy

What's In It For Me?

I recently received a request from a reader to talk about how sales copywriting should be used for social media.

If you’re using social media to build a brand (whether it be your business or your personal brand), you have to focus on creating value for your audience, and answering what’s in it for them. Social media is where you connect, not where you close. It’s that simple.

Create Value For Your Audience

How do you create value for your audience? It depends what your business is, but the good news is that it can be done in so many ways.

Here are a few ideas for posts a business could use for Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or a Facebook fan page.

  • A business providing a professional service could point people to a blog post that gives them tips or tricks for dealing with a common problem they encounter.
  • A retailer could share an offer to entice customers to visit - “10% off your purchase if you mention this Tweet - today only”.
  • Why not have some fun with what you share on social media? A restaurant could post “First person to visit us and dance Gangnam Style eats free!”. And for the record, I still smile when I hear that song.
  • An information marketer could point people to interesting content from people you follow or you give something of value away (e.g. an ebook or a white paper).

Whatever you’re communicating, just make sure it’s of value to your target audience.

The ways you can create value for your customer or audience are really endless. It all comes down to your creativity. And in my opinion, even making your audience smile counts as creating value.

Don’t Do These Things

Repeat after me:

“I will not tell people to check us out on Pinterest/YouTube/Wherever”.

“I will not tell people to go and like my Facebook page”.

“I will not tell people to buy my [insert thing that you sell].”

“I will not…”

You get the idea. Don’t tell people to do things on social media which serve you and the benefit to them is either unclear or isn’t stated.

You need to first give people a reason to do something, by offering them value, and then you can tell them where and how to get that slice of awesomeness (yes, that was the first time I’ve used that expression).

The opportunity to connect with you on different social media doesn’t in itself provide value for your audience.  Focus on the thing that provides them with value, and then tell them where to get it (which may be on your web site or another social media site).

Once You’ve Spread The Love

Can you make a sales pitch using social media? It depends on whether you’ve first provided value to your audience, and how you deliver your sales pitch.

If you’ve built trust and provided value, your audience will be more likely to reciprocate. I think it’s reasonable to use social media to start a sales pitch, but I don’t recommend going straight for the close.

Your social media post could arouse curiosity to get your audience to click on a link that takes them to a one-off sales page, or perhaps an opt-in series where you could first offer more value before directing them to a sales page.

But the social media post itself should not be so blunt and say ‘click here to buy my …’.

A Few More Things to Remember

When communicating through social media, you want to keep a few copywriting principles in mind. Given the limited space, I suggest focusing on headlines and calls to action within your social media posts.

Going back to the post on Tested Advertising Methods (I really do love that book), if you focus on the common elements of effective headlines you can’t go wrong:

  1. Appeal to the reader’s self interest – offer them a benefit
  2. Arouse their curiosity in the reader
  3. Shares news or information that they would value
  4. Offering a quick and easy solution to a problem they have

Also remember to write with a simple and clear style, and ALWAYS include a call to action.

Final Thoughts

Apologies if this post comes across as a rant. If you’re a regular reader of this blog I’m sure you were already thinking about how to create value for your existing and prospective customers. I applaud you for that.

I see so many businesses using social media in a very short-sighted way. But to look at it in a positive way, their mistakes are our opportunities to spread value and grow our audiences.

If you have friends or colleagues who would benefit from this post, please help spread the word. Oh, and if you and I aren’t connected yet on social media, let’s fix that! Cheers.


About The Author

Eric Moeller

Eric Moeller is the Managing Director of Copy Dojo, an agency which helps startups improve their sales copywriting to rapidly grow their business. He has two decades of experience in high tech marketing and product management. Eric has an MBA in marketing, and completed Seth Godin's altMBA in the summer of 2015.


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