How One Twitter Chat Changed My Entire Approach to Writing
Transformational Reflections on This Week’s #BufferChat About the Power of Good Copy
The ability to write effectively is an essential skill in almost any field. The problem is: many of us can write, but we’re failing at this most important part…
Our writing isn’t getting people to act in the way we want.
In last Wednesday’s #BufferChat, we discussed the importance of good copy. Although the focus was on copywriting, the lessons can apply to any writing form.
Before this Twitter chat, I had a different perspective on how to write. Yes, I read plenty of advice articles about writing best practices. I just struggled to apply what I learned. I still wrote wordy articles with no clear understanding of my audience. It was bad because my blogging efforts were going unfound or ignored. I was wasting my time and effort.
It was in this #BufferChat that I truly understood what I needed to change to become a better writer. The advice people shared helped me, and it could help you, too. Let’s look at a few of the top tips from the chat:
- Other people in the chat made it abundantly clear why it’s so important to be concise in your writing. Your audience’s attention span is limited thanks to all the disruptions in today’s world.
- Some participants provided key advice about how important it is for your copy to be persuasive and actionable. If you don’t make it clear what the audience is to do, they won’t act. This is one of the most common reasons why you may not be getting the conversion rate you’re expecting.
- Another important lesson from this chat is that you need to know your target audience. What are their needs and interests? How can you help them solve a pain point? How does your offer benefit them? If your copy is only focused on benefiting your business, you’re doing it wrong.
When you look at these three lessons, which ones were you already aware of, and which ones were new to you? For many, you might think this is old information you already knew, but have you applied them to your own business or blog writing? I often make the mistake of reading advice until it’s ingrained in my brain, but I fail to apply this new knowledge. I’m a creature of habit, and it’s hard to change the status quo I’m so comfortable with. However, if we don’t change, we’ll never grow.
“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” — Gail Sheehy
Buffer, the chat host, provided questions to initiate the conversation around good copy, and these are a few of the best answers, along with my own perspectives.
First, there’s question one:
Dave Harland provided this great distinction:
I wasn’t sure how the two types differed, and I wasn’t the only one who was confused.
This distinction between content writers and copywriters gave me a better understanding of where I stand as a writer. As a writer yourself, did you know that there were two different types like this? Which type do you think you fall under, if not both?
Let’s move on to question two:
The best answer I found to this question was from Mr Kampmann:
My answer seemed to be on the right track, too.
The answers to this question taught me that it’s critical your copy (or writing) persuades your audience enough that they’ll see value in acting on your offer. Your copy won’t work if it’s vague or generic. We as writers need to emphasize the value and answer the “what’s in it for me?” question to get our audience to take action.
Now for question 3:
My favorite answer to this question is from Jeff Higgins:
My answer took a different angle with an emphasis on audiences:
From all the answers to this question, I learned that your copy will be ineffective if you’re not researching and monitoring your audience. If your copy does not target your audience’s needs and pain points, it won’t convert as many people as it potentially could. Is your copy converting visitors into sales-ready leads? That’s another important factor that your copy can address.
As for question four:
H3 Creative Hub had the best answer to this question, in my opinion:
Although that was definitely a great answer, I offered different input:
When I read through some of the answers to this question, I learned just how important it is that a copywriter demonstrates personality and emotion in their writing. No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll be more successful if you steer away from dry copy and focus more on building an emotional connection with your audience.
People often say they can’t do this because their industry is too technical, or it’s a B2B. I tend to disagree with that, and now I know I’m not the only one.
Based on my tweet, it’s essential that you know your audience and what they want to see from you. If you’re not paying attention, you won’t see the results you may get otherwise. Research is a key skill all copywriters should have, and it’s how you’ll determine your target audience, their needs and interests, and their pain points.
Let’s dive into question five:
Perhaps the best answer to this question came from the chat’s special guest herself, Joanna Wiebe:
I definitely agree with that answer, and I like that she includes the various types of actions you could seek out. My answer is similar:
From the answers to this question, I learned that you’ll know when your copy is working when you know what goal you want to achieve. To measure this, you need to find the right metric(s) for that goal.
For example, if you’re seeking conversions on a landing page (goal), your top metric may be how many people convert compared to the total number of visitors to your page. If the percentage is high, congratulations! Otherwise, you may want to tweak your page’s design and copy. A/B testing is key for this to work.
Now for question six:
Kelley Galloway hit several major points for this question in one simple tweet:
On the other hand, my answer targeted a major issue I still see all too often in business copy around the web:
It’s 2017, yet businesses are still caught in the past when self-promotion was the go-to marketing tactic. Nowadays, it’s necessary for businesses to make their copy about the consumer and their needs. Whenever I see business copy that is too business-centric, I cringe. We need to be writing about how our business can help people and how our products / services can solve their pain points.
Back to Kelley’s tweet, I want to emphasize one of the four points she makes: no human touch. Yes, you may be a business writer or you may be writing a technical blog. No, that doesn’t excuse you from adding personality and emotion in your copy. Kelley isn’t the only one who sees the lack of a human feel in copy. It’s still a very common issue, and it’s something writers need to think about every time they create copy for any purpose or industry.
Finally, there’s question seven:
This one wasn’t really about learning copywriting best practices, but some of the chat’s participants offered great input, such as QuiQuill’s mention of Wendy’s:
QuiQuill’s answer was definitely funny, and Wendy’s does have a strong social media presence and skill. From my end, I gave suggestions on blogs that give advice about copywriting.
It’s hard to say there’s a lesson from this question because it’s more about opinion than advice. However, one thing you and I can take from this is that there are brands out there that can serve as inspiration or as a resource for our writing efforts.
I recommended Copyblogger in another tweet because they consistently offer valuable advice on this subject, but my favorite resource for writing advice has to be Smart Blogger. My writing is primarily in blog form, and I find Smart Blogger’s articles to be catchy, fun, and instantly applicable.
If you’re a blogger too, I suggest reading and using Smart Blogger’s content.
If your writing is more along the lines of social media, CoSchedule published several great articles on copywriting in that format recently. One of them, published yesterday, fits perfectly with this article topic: The Best Social Media Copywriting Guide to be a Social Word Ninja.
If you write copy for anything and everything, I recommend you pick your favorite blogs from this list and do your own searching as well:
One thing I noticed while I participated in this chat was: everyone talked about being concise, but almost all my tweets took up at least 130 characters out of the 140 available. I don’t seem to know how to write an answer that follows this concise rule, and that’s something I learned I’ll need to work on.
If you’re on Twitter, how often do you tweet something that is less than 100 characters long? Or more than 130? Social media is probably the best place to practice being concise because most social platform best practices say that’s key to gaining and keeping attention. If you have a blog, use social media to improve your writing by making it more direct and to-the-point.
As a whole, this Twitter chat helped me understand what I need to do and not do to create effective copy. When I write blog articles, I need to stop with the fluff. When I’m on social media, I need to cut back on the text. I also need to do better at knowing and writing for my audience. Those were the top lessons I learned.
What have you learned from the lessons in this article? Was it all new for you, or did you already know it all?
The point of this article was to express how even something as random as a Twitter chat can teach you so much about yourself and your skills.
Buffer often uses personal development topics in their chats. Those are even better opportunities for self-improvement. I happen to like when the chats discuss productivity topics because that’s a common issue for me.
For more information about #BufferChat, visit the website they have reserved for it. They give each week’s topic and its questions in advance along with recaps from past chats.