Get More Attention to Your Social Media Posts With These 3 Copywriting Hacks

Remember when Facebook decided to update its newsfeed algorithm so you pretty much had to pay any time you wanted to show up in your fans’ newsfeeds?

Sucked, didn’t it?

So now you’re faced with keeping a social media advertising budget, but making sure you get the absolute most out of the money you spend can be hard.

A major way to stand out, though, is to tweak the copywriting you’re using in your posts to say something different than what every other one of your competitors is saying.

It’s a lot easier than it sounds, and no intensive copywriting tutorials will be involved, I promise. In fact, I've got three copywriting hacks for your social media posts that you can test today. Let me show you how.

1. Say what your competitors aren’t (and maybe even what they’re afraid to)

It might sound a bit mystical at first, to figure out the things your competitors aren’t saying... but it’s actually pretty easy to figure this one out.

The thing is, as business owners (and especially as women, if I can say that), we tend to under-value what we do and the products and services we have for sale.

Denise Duffield-Thomas illustrates it perfectly in this video:

But the thing is, men and women both have the tendency to do this from time to time, which likely means that your competition probably isn’t tooting their own horn as loudly as they (or you) should be.

Because within every single industry, the vast majority of business owners and marketers unknowingly fall into saying exactly what everyone else is saying. They sell the same products, offer the same services, and say the same things about them.

This might make it “easy” when deciding what to write in your social media posts, because you can just check out what everyone else is writing. But when you sound no different from your competition, your prospective fans and customers aren’t going to notice or appreciate your differences, and it’s those differences that make you and your business worth their time and attention.

“Forge your own path and leave your own mark,” said Drew Eric Whitman in Cashvertising. “You don’t need permission from anybody to do things your way. You be the leader. You be the one people copy because what you’re doing is so unique. Shake people up in your industry. Why be just another person in your industry who does nothing new, nothing worth noting, nothing that gets people talking and buying?” (emphasis mine)

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media posts

This guy, for example. Not to hate on him, but he’s trying to use every emotional-ridden jargon word for his industry, and it’s killing him. Not to mention that pose. So cliche. And the screaming caps. Just no.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media Posts

Or this post. It’s way less painful to read and doesn’t make you cringe, but he could definitely be getting more (& better) attention, increasing his click throughs and leads.

But by breaking out of the industry norms and saying things in a way that shamelessly help the people behind these ads toot their own horns (in a non-douchey way, of course), we can really help these ads stand out.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media Posts

I can’t edit the bottom half, but look at the new top half I’ve written. I’ve taken out most of the jargon, spoken to pain points without using all caps, and make a promise I can deliver on if you click through.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media Posts

I open this ad with a hook that’s focused on a pain point so many aspiring travel writers feel threatened by. Then I “buddy up” to the reader to show that I share in their annoyance. Finally, I make a promise to let them see how people who have their dream job did it, so they can do it to. And suddenly, you’re clicking on it, aren’t you?

2. Ask only for the next step - not the main goal

Social media is social media.

It’s not a product shopping cart.

It can be tempting, though, to use the time and effort you spend on social media to go ahead and ask for the sale. After all, you don’t want to waste your time pansy-footing around when you’ve got a business to run and money to make, do you?

But that’s not what social media is for.

Getting people to click through to your site from social media is much less about getting the sale right away and much more about building up their momentum to keep clicking and subconsciously saying “Yes!” to you.

“You’re helping them focus on the benefit they want from the product rather than their hesitation to make the investment to own it,” said Tom Hopkins on Entrepreneur.

So by only asking for the next step (which might be to read a blog post or get a free ebook), you’ll generate more clicks and get more traffic to the pages you want people on.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media

Become an owner of an Allstate agency before I’m ever even a customer or in their professional HR pipeline in any way? Don’t think this ad is going to work on me, sorry.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media

On the flip side, though, even though I am in this guy’s ad network because I’ve visited his site, he isn’t asking me for much—just for an email subscription in exchange for his advice (which he knows I’ve already seen). It’s a much more likely step, isn’t it?

What’s more, when you do get people to your site, you’ll be able to pixel more visitors for your custom advertising audience even if you don’t ask for any kind of conversion or sale the first time they’re on your site, so you can continue to reach out to them via retargeting. (More on that from Facebook, here.)

This is particularly helpful for those of us who sell higher-priced items that usually aren’t purchased in a split decision after clicking through on an ad.

By exposing people to who you are, your expertise, and your offering over time, you build their trust instead of putting them off by asking for hundreds (or thousands) of dollars right away.

Max Chierruzi, CEO of AdEspresso, a Facebook advertising agency, said that when they started focusing on the next step instead of the major goal, their cost per click went down from $0.10 to $0.03 or $0.05.

They did this by targeting ads towards people who hadn’t visited their site to simply visit and receive value. Then, after they visited and were pixeled, they ran ads to get them to sign up for a lead magnet.

3. Use testimonials & customer photos as your ad content

Now this is something which is very much worth testing.

Social media is one of the best ways to advertise to your target demographics, especially when Facebook has so many pieces of demographic information you can sort through and target based on.

By using a testimonial from a person that most closely matches the target demographic you’re going after for a particular campaign, you immediately increase your relevance and credibility with those who see the ad.

“We’re comfortable with what we know, and what we know best is our own face,” said Kate Hakala.

Extending beyond just our face though, we also know our life situation, job, industry, and region better than others, so we tend to have higher trust towards things that seem to be affiliated with those things.

If you’re showing an ad on LinkedIn, for example, you can focus the testimonial text you use around the numbers you know your target audience there would be most concerned about during the workday, when they’re most likely to be on the site.

Copywriting Hacks for Social Media

In an article about how to hire more women, LinkedIn suggests placing images of women in the recruitment ads.

It's time to start hacking your social media posts

So now you’ve got three things to try to get more attention to your brand’s social media posts:

  • Use different language than your competitors.
  • Ask for only the next step, not the sale.
  • Use testimonials and ideal customer’s faces in your ads.

All three of these copywriting hacks for social media posts are fairly easy updates, and worth testing to improve your attention and ROI. Then, you can sit back and let those social media platforms work their magic.

3 Effortless Steps to Infuse Personality Into Your Brand

Absorbed. Connected. Engaged.

These are three things we all want our audience to feel when they read our website.

And the way to allow them to feel all of this? It comes down to your brand personality: the words you use, the images you share and the colours that tie it all together.

But what if, when it comes to personality, your website just… falls short?

Read on. Here, I’ll go into the detail of pinpointing exactly what your brand personality is, and how to use it effectively to attract, engage and connect.

1. Know your audience

Your brand will stand for nothing if it doesn’t connect with your audience.

Which is why it’s important to understand who they are, so you can tailor your messaging to them specifically.

Here’s an exercise that’ll help you understand them:

  1. Look at all the interactions you have with your audience: blog post comments, emails, social media interactions, call notes, etc.
  2. Go to sites your audience engages with that you might not (think forums like reddit.com, news sites, other sites in your niche) and make a list of the questions they ask, advice they want, struggles they detail.
  3. Write down what personality traits you notice, their profession, demographics, etc.

To organize your findings, create a spreadsheet with the following headings and copy and paste the relevant text you found in the steps above into each section:

  1. Problem/Struggles - What specific issues are they writing about? (for example, I don’t know how to start a Facebook group; Creating a header for my website’s a nightmare! or I have too many business ideas and don’t know which one to choose!)
  2. Desired solutions - Note those sentences that start with phrases like:  I want help with …, I really want someone to…, I wish I could…
  3. Service or post ideas - Using the text in the above two sections, write all the ideas you now have for services you could offer, or posts you could write, that help solve the problems your audience is struggling with.
  4. Demographic - In this section, write any details you find about their personalities/lives - age, location, cultural interests - anything that helps you define which demographic categories the majority of your audience falls into.

For your copy, the table you populated above is a goldmine of ideas. What patterns do you notice in the kinds of struggles they discuss? What pain points have you identified that you can you address as part of headlines, opening lines or sales copy? Also, what ideas do you have for blog posts, services and products as a result?

2. Simplify the complex

Your personality is yours and yours alone, but it’s never simple. With a personality (and history) that’s complex, how do you simplify this down to core messages that represent your brand and resonate with your target audience you’ve worked so hard to get to know?

The key to brand consistency is to repeat certain, relevant messages, so they stick in the minds of your audience and become associated with you and your brand.

You don’t have to share every detail. To figure out which parts of your personality are significant to share (and worthy of repetition), answer these questions:

  • What life experiences connect you with others? What difficulties have you experienced, and what risks have you taken (or not taken)?
  • What are your beliefs? What do you stand for?
  • What are your cultural influences?

Decide which stories/anecdotes are part of your bigger message, and most significant to the audience you most want to connect with. Start including these in your marketing messages.

From there, pinpoint your brand vocabulary down even further by paying attention to the words you use in your everyday communication. Try this exercise:

Keep a notebook (or app like Evernote) with you for a week and notice the words you use. Which ones do you use repeatedly? Which ones feel satisfying to say?

Jot these down.

Next, take a page on your website, or a blog post you’ve written, and edit it with the words and stories you noted. Slowly edit your work over time, and infuse your brand vocabulary into new work you create. Over time, with enough repetition of these words, your brand personality will start to shine.

Here are some examples where personality branding with consistent messaging and vocabulary works swimmingly:

Ashley Ambirge: Talks about life in Costa Rica and her experiences as an entrepreneur with a sarcastic and ever-entertaining tone. This connects her to her audience who are entrepreneurs (or aspiring to be) that enjoy the freedom that travel brings and the snarkiness of someone who tells it like it is. Her consistent message: smart businesses don’t do boring.

Danielle LaPorte: Her social media and blog updates consistently mention her spiritual side, her dog and her son. Is it a coincidence that her audience have these things in common with her? I think not. Her consistent message: it all gets back to desire.

Ramit Sethi: His audience largely consists of 20-30 year old men, so Ramit references his college scholarship applications, the bi-coastal life he lives and the fun he’s having in New York. His audience both relates to his past and wants his present to be their future. His consistent message: I will teach you to be rich.

How will you use the significant pieces of who you are to build consistency in your messaging and connect with your tribe? (Editor’s note: All three of these examples ended up on our 100 Best Sites for Solopreneurs list for a reason!)

3. Try something different

If writing isn’t your thing, find what medium is.

Whether it’s videos, podcasting, infographics, photos – find something that both you and your audience are comfortable with, that genuinely reflects your personality.

To discover which medium works best for your business, try these ideas:

  • Are you confident on camera? Rather than writing your blog posts, or having a PDF download for a teaching document, record videos instead. Don’t worry about “wowing” with technology in the beginning - get some videos out there and see how your audience reacts.
  • Do you interview experts as part of your business? Record the interviews and offer replays using voice alone - but don’t hesitate to offer the transcript for those who prefer to read.
  • Change text documents to infographics to appeal to visual learners.

What other interests do you have that you can bring into your business? For example, if you’re into photography but your business is unrelated, use your own photographs with text overlays as images on your site. It beats paying for them, amIright?

Being creative takes the limits away from how you present your material.

Branding takes less investment than you may think...

We often look at personality-driven brands and assume some huge branding exercise went into creating the brand we see today. While that is, indeed, sometimes the case, to create a brand around your personality doesn’t always require that level of investment. In fact, what the owners of brands like Ash Ambirge, Danielle LaPorte, and Ramit Sethi have done is decided to use their unique selling point - themselves - to differentiate their brands in the market.

In turn? This has meant their audience is always absorbed, connected and engaged.

Now, I’m curious: What aspects of your personality do you infuse in your writing to attract the kind of audience you most want to engage? Tell me below.

How to Get Your Own Copywriting Clients

In addition to proactively searching for writing jobs yourself, you can also market yourself so that future clients will come to you. Sounds pretty ideal, right? While it takes a little time, creativity and some good-old networking, you can successfully attract clients by putting yourself out there. Here are a few tips to get writing gigs by making them come to you.

Create an online portfolio: Having a physical copy of things you've written is great for in-person interviews, but you need to keep up with the digital age. Creating an online portfolio of your work is a must for getting freelance writing jobs (and full-time jobs too). Contrary to popular believe, you don't have to be a web guru to create your own website. There are many free and easy-to-use platforms out there such as Wix, Contently and WordPress where you can upload your information, photos, links and samples. You don't need anything too flashy or fancy, you just want a website that's easy to read and features your writing samples.

One Woman Shop Resource: Brandon Lee provides an in-depth look at the best portfolio-hosting options for copywriters on Sangsara.

Link to this portfolio everywhere: I have a "Hire Me" tab on my blog's navigation bar. While I wasn't looking for a full-time job, I kept this up for possible freelance writing opportunities. After a few months of having this up, I was contacted by the owner of a fashion boutique who wanted me to help with their SEO strategy and write copy for their store, website and blog. She found me through my blog and contacted me straight from my "Hire Me" page, so I'm living proof that this can work. If you don't have a blog and you're a writer, I suggest creating one. It's a great way to practice your writing, make connections and get your name out there.

One Woman Shop Tip: When guest blogging, include a link directly to this page in your author bio.

Use social media: Much like the tip above, make sure to link your online portfolio/resume to your social networks. They should definitely be on your LinkedIn, but also can be seen by many if you link them to your Twitter bio as well.

One Woman Shop Tip: Consider using standard words like "copywriter" in your bio- while we love fun job titles, they can limit you since most people search for more common terms.

Keep in touch with your connections: I always try to keep in touch with my past clients and organizations who I've worked with previously. Maybe that small agency you did a writing project for last month has another client who could use your help. If someone had a pleasant experience working with you, they are far more likely to hire you in the future or recommend your services to a friend.

One Woman Shop Tip: Use a site like Newsle to easily keep up with your network- when someone pops up on your radar, take a few minutes to reach out to them. 

How to Find a Copywriting Job

While copywriting may sound like an easy job (I partially blame the popularity of Mad Men), it actually requires a variety of different skills. In addition to being an excellent writer, you need to have a bit of wit, a lot of creativity and a persuasive tone. Whether you're writing for a website, blog or magazine, your basic goal as a copywriter is to effectively convey your product/company to the public and raise their interest.

Much like finding any type of job, looking for a legitimate copywriting job is not an easy task. Many of the positions advertised are poorly defined and offer low pay. So if you're looking to break into the freelance copywriting world, build up your list of clients, or just earn some extra cash with a freelance gig, here are some tips.

Search the big websites- the right way. Yes, this one is a given, but you'd be surprised how many people don't bother searching on large job search sites such as Monster and Indeed. The key to making the most of these websites is to properly utilize the search features to weed out results for jobs that are too junior, too senior, seem spammy, or just aren't relevant for you. For example, if you have just a few years of experience, look for "Junior Copywriter" or try "SEO Copywriter" if you have some experience with that. Incorporate keywords and their synonyms- for example, you might be happy with either a freelance or part-time role. You'll have fewer pages of search results to sift through and you'll find what you're actually looking for.

One Woman Shop Resource: Here are a few job searching Boolean basics that will get you targeted results more quickly.

Try niche websites. Sites such as Mediabistro and CommunicationJobs focus on a few specific areas, including social media.

One Woman Shop Resource: Minimize the amount of time you need to spend on these sites by setting up Google Alerts and/or Mentions with your keywords- like "copywriting AND chicago AND (part-time OR freelance)."

Use social media. Follow your favorite brands, companies and agencies on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. They often post job openings on their pages (especially if they don't want to pay the big bucks to advertise them on job search websites). Interact with them, re-tweet their articles and form relationships- this can lead to a possible job or even a short e-mail full of advice. Also follow accounts that post field-specific jobs daily, such as Get Copywriting Jobs or HooJobs.

One Woman Shop Resource: Use FollowerWonk to find even more relevant Twitter accounts for your area.

Cold-call companies (or cold-email). Lots of companies don't advertise all of their job openings on large sites- they tend to stick to posting open positions on their own company's website. Usually these are listed on their "Careers," "Work for Us" or "About Us" pages. If you don't see any of these pages, you can always go another route and pitch a job yourself. To do this, find a list of companies you admire in your area and spend some time on their site. After getting a good feel for the company, send an e-mail (the "cold call" of today’s generation) to the hiring director/HR manager. Introduce yourself and your background, focus on what you like about the company and the field, and ask if they have any openings for contract copywriting roles. Even if the company doesn't have any open spots right now, they might keep you in the loop for any upcoming vacancies. Either way, it's a great way to network!

One Woman Shop Resource: Use this great Google trick to find more openings in less time.

Offer up your services. This one is a little daring, but has certainly worked for many go-getters. Find websites, blogs and e-commerce shops that seem to be lacking good copywriting- or any copywriting at all. Come up with a short write-up of what copywriting services you offer and how that could benefit their company. Give concrete examples, include links to your previous work, and explain any confusing terms. Yes, this takes a little time, but if you're able to convince someone to hire you to help their company, then it's all worth it.

One Woman Shop Resource: Here's how to pitch a client without putting them on the defensive.

How do you nail down freelance copywriting gigs?

5 Ways to Jazz Up Your Web Copy

Not all of us can be stellar copywriters. Even if you’re writing to your target audience, you could still be making some basic mistakes. If you’re not ready to turn things over to a pro, here are some steps you can take to jazz up your web copy.

1. Take action

Your website’s traffic is meaningless if people aren’t buying your product or engaging on blog posts. But you can’t expect them to hire you if all you’ve given them is vague, cloudy copy!

Instead, use your writing to inspire action in your readers. That means choosing strong verbs, seeking out specific nouns, and avoiding the passive voice. Adjectives and adverbs might seem helpful. But if they’re generic or unnecessary, cut them out!

Verbs to watch out for: is, determine, acknowledge, establish, help, make, find. Replace them with words like show, signal, support, control, assist, create, discover, and investigate.

See the difference? You can probably picture someone doing the things in the second list. But the first? I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a vivid image of what it looks like to acknowledge something.

2. Emphasize the good stuff

Every sentence you write has an emphasis—even if you never use bold, italics, or the dreaded ALL CAPS. Thanks to the way we stress our words, the last word of a sentence is automatically emphasized. Because of this, most English speakers pay extra attention to the end of a sentence. That’s where they find the most important ideas.

You can highlight significant info or call your readers to action just by tweaking your last words. Give your homepage a quick facelift: restructure your sentences so the final words are ideas you want to stick in your readers’ minds.

3. Find your rhythm

Have you ever had a teacher who spoke in a total monotone? It was probably boring, right? The bad news is, you may be writing in a monotone without even realizing it.

To inject your writing with good rhythm, you need to pay attention to breath units. A breath unit is a group of words you can speak without taking a breath.

Take a minute to test the rhythm of your writing. Choose a section to read out loud, and print it out. As you read, draw a line between words when you need to stop for air.

The words between each set of lines are your breath units. Are they mostly long? Short? Ideally, you’ll have a healthy mix of both. Long breath units can overwhelm readers, and short ones can make you sound like a robot. Keep them balanced to create a killer rhythm you could dance a mamba to.

4. Get friendly with punctuation

You may not love grammar, but you can still use punctuation to give your writing some extra zing. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Dashes: These handy punctuation marks are perfect for getting your clients to pay attention—especially to the end of a sentence.
  • Commas: Use commas to create a pause if your breath units are getting too long.
  • Question marks: Sure, you know how a question mark works. But asking rhetorical questions will cause your readers to stop and ponder their individual situation. It can be a useful tactic for making them realize they could benefit from your service or product.
  • Semicolons: These guys may feel a little old fashioned, but they still work. Use a semicolon to separate two full sentences that are closely related in meaning; it gives your readers a place to pause while helping them make the connection between ideas.
  • Exclamation points: Keep these babies to a minimum. At best, you’ll sound forced and salesy. At worst, you’ll sound like a teenage fangirl at a One Direction concert.

5. Make it punchy

Most bloggers know the “rule” of tight copy when you’re writing for today’s ADD Internet audience. But short sentences have the added bonus of giving your writing some KA-POW!

The key to making this tip work is to vary your sentence lengths. If all your sentences are short, they’ll lose their punch. But if you throw in a few longer sentences, readers will feel the full weight of a short one.

Go through your website with these ideas in mind, and your copy will be sparkling in no time.

Do you have any quick tips to whip your copy into shape?