Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Improve Your Writing Style: Solve Their Problem, Not Yours

I was recently inspired by this simple yet insightful post by Jonathan Greene from MarketingSherpa on how a small change in how you phrase items can mean the difference in the response you get on social media.

Too many companies are too focused on what they want when they post updates on their social channels and don't focus enough on how their message will help the people that they are targeting. 
Just because you tweet, doesn't mean I care.

He provides a simple example of a tweet from the food chain Publix (I'm paraphrasing the tweets):
"Trying to eat for more fish? Try this. Featured meal of the week cod sauté..."

He contrasts this with a tweet from a clothing retailer: "Get ready for Saturday tailgates with the new hoodie from xxx. Shop now at 

Notice how in the first example, Publix has phrased their tweet in a way that seems like it genuinely wants to help its audience while the retailer is just straight out selling. It's more concerned with its own problem of selling hoodies. I believe that this messaging is OK for the odd tweet but that won't win loyal followers if that's the only tune you're singing.

How will this benefit them or solve their problem?

Jonathan believes that when creating content for your social media channels you should ask yourself this question: "Why should someone engage with you rather than someone else?”. While I think that is valid, I would suggest that when writing something that you would like your audience to read and engage in, ask yourself "how will this benefit them or solve their problem?". Either they will respond or it will just get lost in a wave of tweets and posts that people are exposed to online and on their mobile devices. You need to decide if you want to take a few extra minutes and put yourself in their shoes or take the easy way out and craft a message where you only think of what you need. 

Here's another great example from Starbucks:

It's clear what the benefits are from joining their loyalty program (which I'm a proud member of).

Other things to consider when crafting messages for your audience:

  • If they share it with their social network, will it make them look good? No one will want to share content just because you ask them to. Even if they are following you and you add the two words  "Please RT". 
  • How do I want my audience to perceive our organization (or yourself if you take a personal approach)? Do you want to be seen as a stuffy, high and mighty corporation that is only out to make money or a company that values its audience and wants to create a two way communication flow?
The bottom line is that you need to decide how you want to be perceived by your audience. Some simple steps and a different approach can increase your social media engagement and reach as well as create customer advocates. While this may not have a direct impact on sales, it will definitely influence revenue growth as you increase the number of people you're able to influence. 

Something to think about.

Chad H.

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