5 steps for overcoming social media writers block


On the surface, writing for social media should be easy. I mean, how hard can it be to write 140 characters (or less), right? The thing is, for those of us that do it for a living—day in, day out—coming up with interesting, witty and entertaining ways to convey complex subject matter in one sentence or less can be quite challenging.


If you’re finding yourself lacking inspiration, this blog post by Hootsuite offers some pretty good tips on combatting social media writer’s block—but to be honest, I don’t think they’re necessary. While I’ll be the first to admit that writing for social media is hard, I very rarely encounter writer’s block—primarily because I just write until something good comes out. Here’s my approach, in case something about it might work for you next time you’re dealing with creative constipation:


Step 1: Grab a pen and notebook.

I’m not sure why, but there’s something about jotting down ideas on a lined piece of paper that works for me. I very rarely stay in the lines—and I end up doubling my workload by eventually typing everything onto my computer—but it gets my creative juices flowing (and often gets me away from my desk, which is nice).


Step 2: Boil down the message.

If you’re writing tweets to promote a 30-page report, there’s no way you can convey everything in 140 characters. That’s why it’s so important to find out precisely what the report is saying—and why people should read it. What can readers find within these 30 pages that they can’t find anywhere else? What major business challenge can it help them solve? What’s in it for them?


Step 3: Brainstorm.

Take your boiled-down messages and brainstorm strong words and/or phrases that can make your social media posts more impactful (and, hopefully, a little more entertaining). Don’t overthink it—just write. And write. And write. Until you have a full page of material.


Step 4: Write your posts.

Again, don’t let your brain get in the way here. Just dump everything in your head onto paper without worrying about word counts or the total number of posts required. If you require six posts, write 60—six of them are bound to be workable.


Step 5: Step away.

If you have the luxury of doing something else (preferably mindless) before your posts are due, I highly encourage you to step away from them and let your brain sit for a bit. Once you return to the posts with fresh eyes, it will be easier to determine which posts are workable—and what tweaks are required to make them stellar.


The best thing about writing is that it’s never final—it can be worked and reworked until it conveys the message you need it to convey. So whether you’re writing a social media post or a lengthy whitepaper, don’t get hung up on the words. You can always come back and fix them later.


What is your process for writing social media posts? Please share! I’d love to hear.



Tips for writing effective Twitter ads

Advertising on social media is somewhat of an art. You want your ads to be engaging (visually and content-wise)—but at the same time they need to be clear, with a strong call to action.


If you’re not seeing the traction you’d like from your recent Twitter campaigns, this blog post—posted by the social media giant itself—offers five pretty good tips for writing effective Twitter ads. In our experience, many of the tips highlighted in the article—such conveying a sense of urgency, offering something for free (particularly content) and phrasing ads in the form of a question—are all effective strategies to garner likes, responses and retweets. That said, we have a few things we’d like to add to the list:


  • A consistent, memorable and (in some cases) unique hashtag—particularly when you’re advertising an event or report—can go a long way. In these cases, your hashtag should be a tool to help your readers learn more about the thing you’re advertising (and help you keep track of who’s Tweeting about you).


  • Don’t be afraid to lighten things up. A little bit of humour and wit can not only make your ad stand out but—if it’s funny enough—it can also stick in your reader’s mind.


  • Include interesting visuals. An engaging photo—or interesting gif—can really make a good ad great.


Do you advertise on Twitter? If so, what content tips/tricks keep your readers coming back for more?


Does your email really need a sign-off?

How much time could you save in a day if you completely threw email etiquette out the window? We’re talking no greeting, no sign-off and keeping the whole thing to three sentences or fewer. Could you do it?


This notion was introduced recently in The Atlantic and, while the author admits that the steps above could potentially come off as curt—and, consequently, rub some people the wrong way—they wouldn’t, if everyone was on the same page.


I’m not sure I agree with his line of thinking. Sure, you might be able to shave off a few seconds here or there by forgoing the word “hello”, but at what cost? When you’re receiving countless email demands a day—with very little face-to-face contact and urgent deadlines—is a simple “hi” or “thank you” too much to ask for?


What do you think? Should we rewrite the book on email etiquette? Or preserve a sense of cordiality?



The upside of procrastination

Procrastination may actually be conducive to creativity, because “when you put off a task, you buy yourself time to engage in divergent thinking rather than foreclosing on one particular idea. As a result, you consider a wider range of original concepts and ultimately choose a more novel direction.”

Business writing 101

What writing skills are today’s marketing graduates missing—and what types of business writing do you wish you had a chance to learn in school?

The most essential B2B writing skill

While writing may be a much-anticipated creative outlet—a bullet on your job description that you actually look forward to—when you write for a company, that piece of work isn’t yours.

The end of the (written) word as we know it?

As someone who prefers writing over speaking any day of the week, one Rosemary O’Connor quote has always resonated with me:


“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”


If you feel the same way, then you may have a similar reaction to Facebook’s prediction that, in five years’ time, the written word will be out—at least when it comes to social media—and video will become the communication method of choice.


According to the social media giant, the number of text updates has already started to diminish, while video is on the rise. As someone who gets clunky in front of a camera—who trips over her words, can’t remember what she wanted to say, and says “like”, “um” and “uh” an embarrassingly inordinate amount of times in one sentence—I can’t imagine a day when I’d ever turn a camera on myself to announce a mundane update in my life.


That said, I understand the whole notion of “show, don’t tell”—and while it may be difficult to capture many of life’s personal, spontaneous moments on camera, I definitely see how businesses could start relying more on video when it comes to social media marketing.


What do you think? Could the written word eventually become extinct? What would that type of world even LOOK like?