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.