Copywriting and Social Media: Making the Connection
This is a guest post by Angie Haggstrom, an exceptional copywriter, coach, and content consultant.
You can spend years crafting the perfect social media strategy, and you can network the hell out if it, but if you don’t incorporate the right copywriting techniques, all will be lost. No, I’m not saying you have to create all your content like a sales letter, but copywriters use several methods to woo a target audience that can help you significantly.
Decide What You Want
Now you’re likely screaming at me ‘Traffic! Traffic! Traffic!’, but are you sure that’s what you really want? I mean…traffic is just traffic. You’ll have to be a little more specific than that.
Do you just want to create a buzz? Generate links to move traffic and improve your rankings? Do you want to sell a particular product? Do you want to grow a signup list that will allow you to sell into the long term and build loyalty?
Once you know exactly what it is you want you have to decide the ‘who’. Will you choose a specific segment of your target audience? Do you want to spread your reach and target a slightly different customer than you have previously? Think carefully because you can’t go forward without knowing the answer.
After the ‘what’ and the ‘who’, it’s time to decide the ‘how’. To make this easy for you, I’ve broken down the various types of content.
Link Bait VS Buzz Content
Before we get too far, there’s one set of important definitions you’ll need to know. Link bait is a piece of content created specifically to encourage people to link back to you. Buzz or viral content, on the other hand, gets people talking about you, your company, and what you’re doing.
While link bait can often generate a buzz, and viral content can often generate links, there’s a big difference between the two. Your topic choice and writing style for each type will also vary, so keep this difference in mind as you go.
A popular method for a number of years, article marketing tends to use basic, inexpensive, and short articles that include the right anchor text. These are then distributed to lots (if not hundreds) of article marketing distribution sites. The idea is that each of these sites gives your website a link in addition to any outside websites that pull your article from the distribution site for content.
There is no doubt that this type of thing generates links, but I don’t think it has the effect you want it to. Why?
- Not many of these links are quality.
- What kinds of websites use this as content?
- Duplicate content — Google gives the original the ‘link juice’ and ‘discounts’ or ‘filters’ the rest.
- How do you get your article to stick out from the thousands like it already out there?
- You’re making visitors jump through more hoops (i.e. make more clicks and go through more pages) to find your website, where they’ll have to make more clicks to get through the conversion funnel. The more clicks they have to make, the less likely they are to convert.
- Is this type of content how you want to introduce your company to others?
- When was the last time you rushed to read an article on one of these sites?
Now, if you have a brand new site, this can be great to create a ‘link base’, but if you rely on one type of links, you’re asking for trouble. What happens when Google changes its mind and these links no longer count? If you think it can’t happen, consider the history behind ‘nofollow’ or ‘paid links’.
My solution? ‘Content Placement’
Guest Posting and Content Placement
If you want good quality links, you go to good quality websites right? The trick is convincing these types of sites to add a link to your website. So, how do you do that? Well, either you have a good relationship with the site owner, you ask politely for them to add it (Hey CNN, mind linking to my site?), or you *cough* buy links *cough* and risk the wrath of the almighty Google (and if the majority of your traffic comes through search, buying links could be a deadly mistake).
To get around it, guest posting or having one of these authority sites host some of your content is a great option. Google gets fresh, quality content, the site owner gets content he didn’t have to pay for, his readers get something interesting to read from a fresh angle, and you get a link. In addition to a great quality link, you’ll find the content placement method is ideal for targeting traffic, building your authority, and improving your reputation.
So, how do you go about it? First, figure out what your target audience is reading. If you’re looking to simply generate authority in your field, try a complimentary industry. If you want to attract web designers, try Smashing Magazine. If you’re trying to attract clients or customers who just happen to be new parents, try places like ‘Today’s Parenting’. If you’re an SEO simply needing a quality link, consider writing for YOUmoz. (I’m just throwing these names out there…you’d have to work something out with them. I don’t know if these ones will give links for certain.)
Then you’ll either need to study these targets, their writer’s guidelines, and choose a relevant topic/writing style, or have someone craft the piece for you. Once you know what you have for content, it’s time to pitch your idea to the editor or site owner through their preferred channels and work out a deal.
I should mention that authority sites don’t just accept any type of content you have thrown together. You need to match their unique publication and supply them with content that will be of value to their readers (a feature article).
There are four types of press releases, and each are created with a different purpose in mind:
Social Media Optimized (SMO) Press Releases — These are created specifically to be shared via social media networks like Twitter and Facebook. They have bulleted points at the start of the release, short titles suitable for Twitter and other character limited sites, alternative media such as video, RSS, social media sharing buttons, keywords, and tons of other quick features.
Please note one important thing: If your news isn’t particularly interesting, it generally doesn’t create a buzz. This style is often left for important news that directly affects a particular industry or segment or combined with an SEO press release.
Search Engine Optimized (SEO) Press Releases — These are created specifically with link building in mind. They’re optimized with your personally chosen keywords and linked to specific URLs within your website to help improve its rankings. Then they’re distributed on a set number of channels to get the optimum amount of syndication.
Social Media Friendly SEO Press Releases — This is a combination of the SMO and the SEO press release. There is a shortened, keyword optimized title, appropriate linking, and an SM friendly summary. It may or may not have video and images attached, and receives extensive distribution/syndication to help generate links as well as a general buzz around your business.
Traditional Press Releases — These are written according to traditional AP or Chicago style and are designed specifically with newspapers and television stations in mind. These rarely generate links with the exception of possibly one to your main home page in the contact section. Lastly, it is important to note that whether these stories are covered or not depends on the news agency itself.
White Papers, Reports, Case Studies and Research
While this style of content often works best for both links and traffic, the topic you choose and how in-depth you cover the subject will ultimately determine what it generates the most. Resource papers and those which give people important information often generate links well into the future because they remain relevant and rare. Other papers such as case studies tend to be dated and are often best used for buzz content and as highly effective advertising material.
Regardless which style you use, it’s a good opportunity to boost your RSS readership, email list, or follow you on a particular social network. After all, if you’re going to all the work and expense to have one done up, and you’re not asking for anything permanent, it’s a fair trade.
Blog Posts, Pillar Content and Feature Articles
This is where link bait and buzz content really comes into play. With link bait, you’re looking to create something that stands out. This could be a constructive rant, arguing against the norm, something funny or cute, resourceful, breaking news (a slanted editorial angle), or something completely out of the ordinary that’s never been done before.
Pillar content are resource pieces that people will refer back to time and again. And while they qualify as link bait and buzz content, these pieces are often linked to well into the future, giving you a constant trickle of fresh link juice. The little hook with this is that it needs to be unique.
With buzz content, you want to consider arguing against the norm (slightly outrageous, but verifiable and sensible), something completely out of the ordinary, or a breaking news item. The other tactic is to involve your readers, name drop, or simply give away something through a contest.
With this, you need to have a solid social media presence and connections with a decent social media presence before releasing either type of major content. Otherwise, you could have the best piece in the world, and it won’t take off for you.
Also, you’ll need to have content between these pieces that aren’t exactly earth shattering. The idea behind it is that this type of content keeps things fresh, keep readers coming back, and keeps the site indexed without getting taxing on your readership (they’re going to stop getting excited if you always have something amazing). This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but don’t expect everything to take off, or expect your network to promote everything.
While this type of content isn’t usually known for generating links back to your site, it can definitely generate a buzz if you do it right. The idea is to create a quality newsletter with the goal of becoming the industry’s best newsletter, filled with quality content that people want to read and learn from. This gets people talking about you and helps to generate authority within your industry. And, you can alternatively use some of the content on your blog or in your article section to get a little more mileage from these types of publications.
Creating social media content, and making the right connections with it, is all about knowing your market, knowing what catches their attention, and how it catches them. Once you have that and combine it with a solid social media presence, there’s nothing stopping you.
As the Senior Copywriter, Coach and Content Consultant of Angie’s Copywriting, Angie Haggstrom combines SEO, Social Media, branding and other techniques together with quality copywriting services to provide high-end content for companies of all sizes. Feel free to contact her through her site, catch her on Twitter, or email her at angie [at] angiescopywriting [do(t)] com.