Author: Jennifer Ruthe, Charity Copywriting Expert

If you read Five top tips for great NFP copy, you’ll know that copywriting is a process - with your published text the final output. The veneer. As with any other channel, before you get started you will need to think carefully about your audience, brand and purpose. With the basics down, your channel and core content chosen, I’d like to share my five golden rules for social media copy. But remember, these are just the start. They are no replacement for your own research, testing and learning. Otherwise we’d all be going viral!

Rule 1: Keep it short

Just because you have 280 characters on Twitter doesn’t mean you have to use them. In fact, according to Mention.com, Twitter posts with less than 100 characters see 17% more engagement. That’s not a lot of words! You might have more space on Facebook and LinkedIn, but optimum posts still sit at just 40 characters and 25 words! Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t go over. But it does make sense to keep these core counts in mind.

Rule 2: Be real

One of the best things about social media is that you can drop the jargon and just be real. You wouldn’t only talk to your friends about yourself, so apply this norm to your social media chat. Don’t reel out a bunch of adverts, or drone on about how great you are. Authenticity is key. Position yourself not as an organisation, but as a person talking to another person. It’s okay to be informal. It’s good to respond, interact, joke, and have opinions. People will like you all the more for it.

Rule 3: Don’t make a hash of hashtags

Don’t be the person that links to every trending conversation. You might be surprised to learn that Twitter posts use an optimum of three different tags, and LinkedIn 10. It’s good advice to follow – so research the ones that are right for your audience and do this for each platform (trust me – they won’t be the same). As with any keyword, it is not always about choosing the most popular tags for your post. Think longtail. And if you’re making your own, be sure to keep it short and readable.

Rule 4: Inspire action

Have you ever tried to have a Tinder conversation with someone who doesn’t ask questions in return? It’s a nightmare! Conversations work two ways, so use yours to inspire action. Ask questions. Call for action - shares, retweets, comments, content. If you don’t give people a way to get involved, they won’t.

Rule 5: Go beyond words

Social media isn’t just about words. Far from it. Did you know that adding an image to your tweet can triple your re-retweets and double the number of likes? It’s the same with Facebook and LinkedIn (image-based LinkedIn posts are SIX TIMES more effective). There’s even space for video! We all love a good GIF, but with Facebook and LinkedIn videos getting increased traction, there’s a growing appetite for multimedia content. Don’t panic. It’s not the Oscars. There’s value in imperfection and authenticity.

Wrap Up

Did your last post just bomb? Not to worry. We all have a library full of posts that just faded away. What’s important is that you learn from it. Use your analytics to find out what works and what doesn’t. Test different types of posts, copy and content. At the end of the day, success on social media is about finding a combination of words and resources that works for you.

When you have that, it’s time to turn the key and ramp up the volume.