A Digital Copywriter's Guide toSocial Media Copywriting

What It Is, Why It Matters, and How You Can Get Started

A Digital Copywriter's Guide toSocial Media Copywriting

What It Is, Why It Matters, and How You Can Get Started

As a copywriter, perhaps you’ve thought about writing for social media, but you aren’t sure how to get started.

This guide will give you some background on the beginnings of social media and how companies use it.

The guide will look at the opportunity that social media writing presents and dig into ways to get started.

At the end of the guide, you’ll see an example of one way to find and work with clients.

What Is Social Media?

“Social media” is the broad term used to describe online platforms where users create and share content, build communities, and interact with each other based on the design of the platform.

You’re undoubtedly familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, three of the most popular social media platforms.

But social media doesn’t stop there. There are messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat… media sharing platforms like YouTube and Instagram… interactive apps like TikTok and Snapchat… discussion forums… social bookmarking sites… review networks… and more!

It wasn’t all that long ago that most companies looked at social media with a healthy amount of skepticism, if not outright suspicion. But times have changed. Nowadays, many companies use social media as a key part of their marketing strategy.

Understanding the Content Continuum

Since companies are using social media to help build their business, it helps to understand how social media fits into the content continuum. This continuum follows the buyer’s journey and sales funnel.

Social Media Ad ScreenshotStage one is content that builds traffic, awareness, and leads. As a social media writer, you will work to gain attention for your client. You want their customers (and potential customers) to learn more about who they are and the products and services they sell. Success at this stage means the audience keeps engaging with the company’s social posts. Eventually, they may decide they’re ready to make a purchase.

Stage two posts lead to direct sales pages. For example, see the Facebook ad from Vitagene.com. When you click on the ad, it goes to their sales page (see the second image) where your reader can place an order.

Stage three copy is usually the sales page itself, not the posts you see on social media. Depending on your client’s needs, you may write both the social media posts and the sales pages. Or they may have a different writer who handles their sales.

Social Media Funnel Call to Action

The final stage is about helping your client retain their audience on the various platforms. These posts may provide more information about the company… helpful tips for using their products… a look at causes the company champions… or polls, surveys, or questions that invite the audience to respond and engage.

To understand which type of platform to use for which audience, it helps to understand the different social media available.

Types of Social Media

Typically, when we hear “social media,” the first names that come to mind are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. However, the International Journal of Market Research lists 13 different social media. The chart shows each of those types and provides an example of each.

Type of Social Media Examples
Blogs The Huffington Post
Business Networks LinkedIn
Collaborative Projects Wikipedia
Enterprise Social Networks Yammer
Forums Gaia Online
Micro-blogs Twitter
Photo Sharing* Flickr
Products and Service Reviews Amazon
Social Bookmarking Pinterest
Social Gaming World of Warcraft
Social Networks* Facebook
Video Sharing* Youtube
Virtual Worlds SecondLife

The bolded text in the chart identifies where copywriters traditionally find themselves doing social media work. Copywriters with other specialties, such as blogging, are included in the chart above. But typically, those are different disciplines than social media.

Although some copywriters focus on a single network or platform, many writers find the skills overlap and often write for multiple types of social media.

HubSpot lists those marked with an asterisk (*) as the types of social media used in marketing today. They classify some as “interactive media,” but those fall into areas already on the list.

History of Social Media

The number of people using the most popular social media platforms is so big, it’s a little hard to wrap your head around.

Although it took a while to become part of everyday social media, LinkedIn was actually one of the first social media sites, opening in late 2002. It focused on employment and hiring in its early years, but the site’s focus has expanded to members connecting for many business-related purposes.

As of January 2022, LinkedIn has 66.8 million members in the United States. Marketing professionals also rank it as the fifth most popular platform for business use of social media. In addition, B2B companies find LinkedIn more helpful than their B2C counterparts.

The next major player on the scene that’s still active today was Facebook. Launched in 2004 for university students, it opened to everyone in 2006. Facebook had 2.9 billion active users worldwide as of January 2022. It’s also the platform marketers see as providing the greatest return on investment.

Twitter launched in 2006 with the unique distinction of allowing only 140-character micro-blogs as a post. In 2017, it doubled that length. Along with text messages, Twitter led to widespread use of emojis and shorthand words substituting for phrases, like “LOL” and “OMG.”

Instagram was the next major platform. The site started in 2010 as a smartphone-only application using only photo and video sharing. In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg bought the company, and now it falls under the Meta umbrella.

The final major social media site we’ll mention here is Snapchat. This community is best known for its 24-hour stories. Users post stories, photos, or videos that last for one day before disappearing. This gives a here-and-gone urgency to Snapchat posts.

Key Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing is popular because of the depth of benefits it can provide.

Social Media Marketing Example - Anytime of day our nightIt’s the only place you can market 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in a world where someone is always awake and buying.

Having a digital presence with websites and emails is important, but social media provides the chance for continual engagement with your audience — even while you’re sleeping.

It’s also a very cost-effective means of getting the word out.

For example, in July 2020, Manny’s Deli tweeted asking followers to order dinner and support them. As a result, they received 20 million media impressions and 500,000 engagements across all channels, and sales increased by 1,500 percent.

Although results like this are unusual, it shows the power of reach social media marketing can have.

Because of behind-the-scenes analytics, businesses can direct social media to their desired audience. For example, using Facebook’s paid social media tools, a business can target ads based on profile information, users, and demographic data.

Which Social Media Site Is Best?

That’s not always the most straightforward question to answer. But here are some guidelines to help you pick the right social media platform for each situation.

Every year HubSpot updates a report called “Not Another State of Marketing Report,” full of helpful information on marketing trends.

Here are some key facts from their 2021 report:

  • 80% of companies use Instagram and Facebook.
  • Twitter (61%) and YouTube (59%) are the next most popular.
  • 41% say they use LinkedIn for marketing.
  • 42% of marketers say they get the most ROI from Facebook.
  • Instagram follows at 31% for ROI.
  • 91% of companies use customer feedback from Facebook to make decisions.

What The Opportunity Is Like for Writers

Social Media Investment ChartDigital marketing is the most popular way for companies to market their business today. And social media is the most popular digital marketing channel, with more than 80% of companies reporting using it as part of their marketing mix.

Hootsuite reports companies announced they’re mostly planning to increase spending on social media. However, most intend to maintain spending for Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. In addition, they’re planning to increase spending on Twitter, TikTok, and other platforms with less market share (and potentially less competition).

Copywriters can use one or a combination of strategies to build their business. Let’s look at some primary methods to choose from.

Specialize in Social Media Consulting

If you focus on social media consulting, you can expect to work with companies to create and sometimes execute strategies.

This option is ideal for writers with a broad background in various social media platforms. You’ll help your clients plan for the types of posts, the topics, the frequency, and the overall interaction on their channels. And then you may work on retainer to help them implement those plans.

Often you may find your clients are those with an immature or nonexistent social media presence. They understand the value of marketing through social media, haven’t developed a strategy yet, and want to.

They may have an in-house employee who occasionally tweets or posts on Facebook or LinkedIn. But this kind of business is likely looking to improve results. In that case, you would develop the strategy, and the socially active employee would execute it.

This path requires a deep knowledge of general social media marketing practices. But it doesn’t require you to be an expert in specific services.

With this type of work, you might charge $3,000 to $5,000 to design a strategy. Or you might do one-time services, such as setting up or running a specific campaign — services that could run in the $500 to $2,000 range. Or you might be hired on retainer to maintain and monitor the overall strategy. Depending on posting schedules and the number of sites included, monthly retainers can start at around $1,000 per month. Larger businesses may expect to pay larger retainers for experienced expert writers.

Become a Dedicated Social Media Writer

If you’re less interested in strategy and more interested in the short-form writing that social media demands, you might work with a company to create their social media posts.

Fees for single posts can range from $50 to $200.

In this case, it’s very likely that you’ll be brought in on retainer, and depending on the number of posts needed each month, you could find yourself charging $1,000, $2,000, even $3,000 a month.

Your client may also ask you to monitor and respond to comments, which would, of course, be an additional fee.

Include Social Media with Other Services

Another option is to add social media services to the suite of writing options you offer.

Adding social media as an additional revenue generator gives you greater flexibility. With this model, if your client changes focus from one quarter to the next, you retain your value by shifting with their priorities.

An additional benefit of providing several types of copywriting services to one client is having a connected digital marketing strategy.

For example, you may write a semi-monthly blog article that feeds a weekly newsletter. Material from both may be included in social media posts. Those posts may lead back to landing pages or their website.

Being part of each of these means you’ll have a better feel for the goals of their entire marketing plan. It becomes easier to suggest strategies or changes in social media that support their total effort.

Revenue potential can quickly become $3,000 to $5,000 a month. Two or three clients on this kind of multi-pronged retainer can put you on track for a six-figure income year.

Use Social Media to Promote Your Own Business

This strategy is beneficial when reaching out to partners and prospects. Your work for your own business becomes your portfolio. They see how you write and your process for using social media. They see that you believe social media is effective and that you understand the medium.

Promoting your writing business through social media also helps you learn the platforms and how people respond.

If you have a freelancing website, you can also use social media to advertise your site. In addition, you can direct prospective clients to samples of your writing. This strategy is a bit more helpful on LinkedIn but can also work on Facebook and other platforms.

Although this doesn’t directly produce income, the ROI comes from the clients you potentially gain.

Use Social Media to Promote a Personal Money-Making Website

Some freelance writers build monetized websites around a topic they enjoy writing about. You can make money from this strategy in several ways.

These sites can help generate affiliate relationships where you receive a small compensation when someone who buys from your partner.

One of the most common examples of this is Amazon affiliate marketing. For instance, one of your blog posts may be a book review that links back to that book on Amazon. You may post about your book review on Facebook with a link back to your review page. If your reader follows your links and buys the book, you get a small fee in return.

You may also develop webinars for your website that promote information products you’ve created. (Or the webinars themselves could be offered for a fee.)

One way to lead customers to the webinar is to talk about it on social media.

You can also generate ad revenue… create joint ventures… offer sponsored posts… The ways to monetize are fairly extensive.

When you’re promoting your own business, you make the decisions about which social media platforms to use and how you’ll present yourself and your business on those sites.

Accomplishing these activities for your business gives you greater insight into the work your clients may need from you. This understanding improves your ability to make recommendations to your client and to talk from a position of experience about the different options.

Now that you’ve decided to focus on writing for social media, you may wonder what skills you need. So, let’s talk about that in the next section.

A Roadmap for Getting Started

The skills for getting started in social media aren’t difficult. But there are a couple of keys to remember:

  • Respect your audience — they engage when they want to.
  • Write interesting content.
  • Pair content with visual elements.
  • Deliver value… It’s essential that you give more often than you sell.

Quality, relevance, and credibility are the most important elements behind a social media presence. Avoid posting just to post. Instead, create a plan, so that each post is positioned to accomplish a specific goal.

Develop Short-Form Writing Skills

Micro-blogs such as Twitter require short-form writing.

The skill is capturing attention and influencing action with a minimum number of words. Many times, the desired action is for readers to like and share your content.

Short-form writing is also critical to social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

The goal is for the reader to be able to see everything at a glance. Then they share what is most interesting to them, which extends your reach.

Learn to Write Longer Posts, Too

Most of the posts you use on social media need to be shorter. This is because you have only a second of a person’s attention while they’re scrolling.

But you also want to sprinkle in some longer posts when possible, such as articles and blog posts. You may include a link to your longer-form content on micro-blogs, like Twitter, but other networks allow you to publish longer content.

In fact, LinkedIn has a publishing platform, which allows you to share full articles with your followers without asking them to leave LinkedIn.

Understand the Role of Images, Graphics, and Pictures

As a writer, you’ll focus primarily on the quality of written words, but visual appeal is essential.

Sometimes, the picture alone is the purpose of the post and drives engagement. However, often it’s the story that accompanies the picture that drives interaction.

Larger companies with a marketing staff will usually have graphic designers who add the visual elements to your posts. Your role, in this case, is to work with them and be an equal team member.

Smaller companies may need you to recommend or supply the visual elements along with the content.

Learn How to Build an Online Community

Businesses succeed online by the number of followers they have. 

Imagine a client has a following of 100 people, and each of those followers has 100 contacts. You have the opportunity to reach 10,000. To build a community and extend the client’s reach, your goal is to have people in that second tier of connection start following you.

When choosing a posting strategy, remember that variety is important. Mix in quotes, polls, questions, stories, testimonials, or videos.

Talk directly to your audience. They are real, live people responding in time.

Most of the time, people will start following a business because they like the business and the content it shares.

Strangers start following you because they like your articles, or your pictures or videos are appealing.

And both followers and people encountering your content for the first time like to be entertained, so look for opportunities to include or share entertaining or inspirational posts.

This post is from the Indian Hills Community Sign group on Facebook. They’ve grown a community of over 162,270 followers by posting funny comments.

As you build your community (or your client’s community), it’s important to post consistently. There’s an old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” If people stop seeing posts from your client and about your client, they’ll forget about them. So once the community is growing, keep nurturing those connections with consistently timed posts.

Know Key Metrics

One challenge with social media is knowing how to gauge ROI. Few posts or tweets result in immediate revenue, but that doesn’t mean your activity isn’t resulting in revenue increases further down the chain. Social media can also help you know your audience better and get a feel for what topics have good traction.

The trick is knowing what metrics to track. Here are eight metrics you can assess.

  • Number of Followers: This number shows if the page is increasing in popularity. It will also show if a page starts losing its audience.
  • Page Impressions: This number shows how often any given post is shown in newsfeeds.
  • Number of Likes: Keep track of how people are reacting to posts. If reaction icons are available (Facebook uses them, for example), note which icons people use so that you can gauge their general feelings about the topic.
  • Number of Shares: Shares show a deeper level of engagement than liking a post or page. When someone shares your post, they increase your reach. In addition, many people make comments when they share.
  • Number of Comments: People comment when they have deeper feelings about an issue. A higher number of comments shows an engaging post. In addition to the raw number of replies, the contents of those comments provide valuable insight into the community.
  • Conversion Rate: This number represents the number of visitors who follow your call to action. Examples may include visiting a landing page or watching a YouTube video. High conversion rates happen when the audience finds value in the post.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC) Rate: This metric relates to paid social advertising. It’s the amount the company spends to achieve responses.
  • Number of Reviews: Not only is it important to have people review your product or service, but you want the highest ratings possible. As social proof, sometimes it’s more valuable to have a higher number of reviews than a higher star rating.

This isn’t an all-inclusive list of metrics. When starting a new social media client, ask them what metrics they use.

Next, let’s look at ways to find clients and a sample project.

A Sample Project Scenario

You’ve decided to sell your writing skills as a social media expert, and now you’re ready to find clients. But how do you go about doing that?

Let’s look at some proven ways to land clients… and then we’ll look at what happens when a client says yes.

Ideas for Finding Clients

Potential social media clients are everywhere. You can network at chambers of commerce meetings or community business events, you can make cold calls, or you can follow businesses on social media and then reach out to them there. The best idea in finding clients is choosing one or two strategies and consistently following them.

But here is just one example of how you might find and work with a client.

For this example, we’ll work with a fictional retail company called GetYourArtBook.com. Imagine you found this website while looking for new art supplies and ideas.

Shortly after checking out their website, you saw ads from them show up on Facebook. As you did more research, you realized they’re a smaller company that is trying to grow.

After a little searching, you found them on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. However, you noticed that their posting schedule is irregular. Mostly they announce sales or post short videos that don’t seem to get many views.

A little more research, and you discover they don’t have as many followers as several of their larger competitors.

You take a chance and email their client service address, asking if they might like some help with their social media activity. You might even add a couple of short Facebook posts you wrote for their business — nothing big, just an example of your work and how you might help.

In the meantime, you add comments to several of their posts, talking about the quality of the products they sell. If you’ve previously purchased from them, you might also add a photo to your comments, showing what you were able to create.

Before you know it, they respond to your email, asking if you can meet to talk about how you might help them.

Onboarding a New Client

To get ready for a call like that, you need to do a little research.

First, take a look at their website. Make a list of their content and what you believe you can help them improve. Next, look at their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media sites. Your goal here is to understand how they’ve been using social media.

Prepare questions to ask during the call. Here are some ideal questions to start with:

  • What is your brand?
  • What are your business goals?
  • What are your marketing goals?
  • Where is your target audience?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • How do you help them?
  • What is your budget?

Since you’re looking to help with social media specifically, you may also ask about these goals:

What is their primary focus?

  • Reaching a larger audience
  • Building the brand
  • Engaging the reader
  • Engaging influencers and connectors
  • Increasing customer loyalty
  • Driving people to places and events
  • Improving customer service
  • Making direct sales

Confirm if they want you to create a strategy for them or if they want you to execute on it as well.

Doing Social Media Work for a Client

If the call goes well, chances are good you’ll land the client. Congratulations!

The next step is to create a plan based on the onboarding call. The plan should focus on their goals and provide value to their followers.

Assuming you’re also writing the posts, you’ll work with their staff on an editorial calendar. Again, define expectations for your role as it fits with staff duties.

With a social media project, it’s important to connect with your client regularly. Set up a regular time to check in with your primary contact. That way, you can adjust future posts as feedback comes in. Also, it’s a way to discuss new opportunities or campaigns that might be needed.

Regular contact will help build your relationship… and could secure you ongoing work.

With so many businesses looking to increase social media marketing, the opportunity is wide open for content writers to specialize in it. It’s also a great way to earn retainer income you can depend on receiving every month.

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