Today’s post wraps up a series on the social media release. Yesterday, I talked about the three readers to keep in mind when writing content: human readers, search engines, and social networking sites.
Today is a nuts-and-bolts overview of the four elements that will make for a better social media release. These ideas are borrowed from a number of different experts on PR, social media, and writing.
Elements of an Effective Social Media Release
1. Headlines: If written properly, a social media release’s headline is what catches a human reader’s attention, what improves its ranking in search results, and what helps it go viral on social networking sites. As you write, keep in mind that headlines should:
- Be short and to the point, approximately 60 to 80 characters total.
- Use keywords in the title, as close to the beginning as possible.
- Make you want to click on it if it appeared in your Facebook news feed.
2. Body Copy: If a headline can grab a reader’s attention, compelling body copy will keep them reading. Traditional press releases end up in the trash largely because of their formal style and obviously corporate voice. A better SMR will keep the traditional narrative format for readability’s sake, but adopt a more informal, personalized tone. Body copy should also be scannable for “diagonal” readers who skim articles in less than 10 seconds and need help grasping key points quickly. Good body copy will:
- Read like a newspaper article, not an announcement.
- Sound like a person, not an organization.
- Use humor.
- Focus a reader’s attention on key points by using subheadings and bolding key words.
- Make concepts easy to understand with graphs and summaries.
- Repeat the keywords from the headline.
3. Additional Content Elements: To truly be social, SMRs need to include functionality that makes feedback easy and sharing intuitive. The whole point is to start a two-way dialogue. Creative use of multimedia content will keep readers engaged and may spark feedback. Here are a few ideas:
- Include a section for moderated comments.
- Highlight related content, such as executive bios, facts sheets, and downloadable logos.
- Embed multimedia features such as videos, photos, and graphic elements.
- Instead of a canned quote, include a video of a CEO delivering a statement.
- Link to related articles on the subject—even those opposing your point of view.
4. Technical Considerations: Your interactive team has a role to play in making content ready for all three of your readers. To make that happen, SMRs should:
- Start with an interactive blogging platform.
- Be social media-ready with one-click share buttons for popular sites.
- Include email sharing functionality and provide a print version.
- Use boldface font and section headers that allow for indexing by search engines.
- Be RSS-ready to allow syndication to other web sites.
These lists are not meant to be exhaustive, but are just a starting point for PR professionals looking for an alternative to the traditional press release. Whether you call it a revised social media release, a blog, or something else, the goal is not to find the perfect template. Instead, the focus should be making news content compelling and sparking a dialogue.
Re-Thinking the Social Media Release
Part 4 | The Key Components of a Better Social Media Release