For all its flaws, social media has an uncanny knack for delivering a much-needed lesson: Get. To. The. Point.
Being heard among the torrent of posts, GIFs, podcasts and memes is no easy feat. Influencing your audience in the seriously tight character limitations of Twitter doesn’t always feel natural. Positioning your brand, your garage band or your kid’s bake sale for success through a catchy video takes some thought when best practice suggests an optimum video length of maybe 15 seconds to a minute.
But that’s no reason not to try. Succinct, snappy and targeted rule the day when it comes to winning with social media, especially for corporations and other organizations.
The thought process and creativity that inform effective social media can be useful for many types of professional communications, whether a press release, investor relations script, annual report, employee newsletter, marketing collateral, advertising campaign or many more.
There’s a lot of hand-wringing from critics who worry that social media is dumbing down the culture and creating legions of people who can’t communicate beyond a sharp retort or short sentence. Maybe, but maybe not. Who says you can’t nail the punchy tweet and the thought-provoking, long-form executive speech with equal aplomb and that they can’t each influence the other?
And we might as well continue to learn and borrow from social media where it makes sense. After all, a Pew Research Center survey earlier this year found that more than seven in 10 Americans use at least one platform, and several studies have shown that nearly 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a social media presence.
When tackling any communications project, it can be helpful to ask yourself, “What would the tweet be for this?” Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re trying to write a white paper or research report with 240 characters.
But just that simple question can help you set priorities for the project, cull fatty writing and determine precisely what the most important message is. During my many years in newsrooms, we would hold copy to a similar scrutiny: “What’s the headline?” or “What must be in the first paragraph or the first 30 seconds of the newscast?” Many people use a similar thought process with the concept of an elevator speech – how would you describe your project, position or proposal to someone before the elevator comes to their floor?
Like so much in life, it’s about grabbing what’s useful and relevant and leaving the rest behind. Social media’s snark and dubious fact-checking? Hard pass. Its brevity and wit? Now we’re talking.