Help! What writing styles should I use on different social media platforms? Part 1

Help! What writing styles should I use for different social media? Part 1“I want to be sure I get my writing style right for platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and so-on. I run a small arts and crafts business from home and I have a business page set up for that on Facebook. Do I need to differentiate my style from one to another and if so how?”

Amanda from Birmingham

Part One: LinkedIn and Facebook

Hi Amanda

As always, you’ll find the answer to this question by studying your target audiences. That’s really what dictates how you approach your writing in almost every genre and medium. So let’s take a look at the platforms you mention and see how the target audiences they offer you differ, and how you can adapt your writing style accordingly.

Writing style for LinkedIn

As you know, LinkedIn is 99 percent business, although idiots like me enjoy sharing a few jokes on there once a week (my #SundaySmile …) and people seem to enjoy the break from the commercial stuff!

In your case you need to make sure your LinkedIn summary is right (usful article on that here if you need some help) because that forms the bedrock of everything else you do on there. When it comes to posting, your writing style should be business-like and uncluttered … avoid the slightly frivolous and flirty elements that are OK elsewhere, like emoticons, smiley faces, winks, more than the very occasional exclamation mark, slang, swearing, etc.

If you are posting on LinkedIn to promote an article or blog post of your own, don’t make the mistake of merely sharing it without an introductory couple of sentences. (This applies on any platform, really, although on LinkedIn it’s likely to be a bit more formal.) Without giving away the “what” and “how to,” make sure you tell readers what they will get from having read your article, so they know that there’s value to be had from it if they click through. For example…

Wrong way

Check out my latest blog post about Birmingham’s new art centreĀ 

Right way

Check out my latest blog post to get an expert’s review of Birmingham’s new arts centreĀ 

As always, people want to know “what’s in it for them!”

If you are posting comments on other people’s original posts both on the main timeline and in the groups, keep it straight without frivolity (see above). Don’t be afraid to disagree with other posters, but always keep it constructive, polite and clean. Some people do get involved in heated arguments on LinkedIn but somehow no matter how right you may be, if you lose your cool on there it makes you look unprofessional and flaky.

htwb-agony-generalWriting style on Facebook

As you have a business page on Facebook, you need to keep your business and personal activities separate. However unless you pay extremely rigid attention to your privacy settings, don’t fool yourself into thinking you can present a squeaky-clean image on your business page and share all your recent hilarious drunken party pictures on your personal page – and get away with it. Not that I’m suggesting you would do such a thing of course!

In fact I believe that in any manifestation of social media, you shouldn’t say there what you wouldn’t say in public.

If you want to share something really off-the-wall or confidential, use an old-fashioned phone call. Too often we hear about people who fail to get a job because they’ve shared inappropriate comments about their potential employers on Facebook or Twitter. Social media is great, but secure, it ain’t.

A key differentiator with Facebook and probably Pinterest, too, is that there is probably far less of a difference between writing styles for business and personal posts than there is on Twitter and Google Plus. It could be that many of your friends on Facebook are customers, too, or at least people who can refer your business page to others like them. So your writing styles can be similar.

What differs is not the style, then; it’s the content.

On my business page on Facebook I share links to everything that gets posted here on HTWB, plus I curate appropriate information from others’ posts and articles. On my personal page I tend to share information and humour that I like (although I have a group on Facebook for the pure jokes…) The actual writing styles of my posts, however, are pretty much the same: informal, light-hearted, and not too wordy (I hope!) You might benefit from using a similar format.

Please come back next week for Part Two – Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest

See you then!

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