An Impromptu Picnic, and a Lesson in Social Marketing (part 1)
I worked from home yesterday. Around noon, my two year old walked into my office. “Papa, lunch ready. Eat outside!” He beamed, clearly pleased that he’d remembered the complex instructions to summon me for lunch. He tugged at my hand. I left my desk, and we headed out for our impromptu backyard picnic.
It’s the kind of prosaic conversation that warms a parent’s heart. In it, though, were also two critical lessons in social marketing: clarity, and the call-to-action.
The Red Pencil
Many of us, particularly in the SMB space, aren’t born writers. The training we had was mostly by way of undergraduate research papers – ponderous pieces that tended to focus more on length than on message, and were often completed at the last minute. At least, mine generally were.
Yet, here we are, trying to engage with an audience that demands quick, clear, and engaging discussions. Farhad Manjoo wrote a fascinating piece for Slate back in June that quantified just how little time you have to get your message across to your readers.
Here’s the reality: if you don’t edit your work, your readers will – by choosing to leave. So, get out the imaginary red pencil and apply a critical eye to your draft post, tweet, status update, whathaveyou.
- Do you have spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors? This should go without saying, but in a world of instantaneous communication and autocorrect, it’s all too easy to let easy language mistakes slip through. A lack of precision implies a lack of thought, and your readers know it.
- Do you need to prune back the prose? I love language, and my writing is like a river – flowing wherever the landscape allows. So, I edit. And edit. And edit. Does a sentence add to the message that I want to share, or is it just a pretty piece of linguistic gymnastics?
- Is your message clear? This is the most challenging for the author/editor. Of course your message is clear – to you. But, is it clear to your audience? In one sentence, write down what your message is. Read your content. Did the message get misplaced or obscured? Now, read your content aloud and answer the same question.
Editing is difficult. You’re excited about the message you want to share. You’ve spent time working on a piece. No one wants to throw out something they’ve spent time writing. But, if you don’t pull out that red pencil, your readers will never hear your message.
Up next: the call-to-action.
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