Copywriting is one of the most underrated skills in the marketing fraternity. While everyone believes that strategy is super important to make a sale, little do we realize the role of a good copy in getting our audience to convert to a customer.
That’s why we sat down with the best in the business- Ken Mozkovitz who’s the chief visionary at Ad Zombies – the first flat fee copywriting service and a best-selling author for his book, ‘Jab It Till It Hurts’. We dived deep into everything it takes for a piece of copy to stand out in 2020, and more specifically, what it takes to ace copywriting on social media.
Seems super useful and fun? Let’s jump right in!
Plan of action:
- Copywriting- The Most Undervalued Skill That Could Impact Your Business
- How is Copywriting for Social Media Different?
- Examples of Brands Doing it Right
- What Makes for a Good Copy Today?
- What Does it take to be a Copywriter?
1. Copywriting – The Most Undervalued Skill That Could Impact Your Business
If you’re wondering why copywriting is super important for your business, you’re not the first one. Copywriting is the most undervalued skill in the marketing chain but actually, it moves the needle more than anything else, especially when you think of brand recall and fan creation.
Think about copywriting as the messaging that fuels your entire business. It helps you to connect your business to its audience. A strong copy can help you build the foundation of your brand and is the secret ingredient of your sales strategy. Haven’t ever thought of copywriting like that? We get it. Copywriting is the black sheep of the marketing family and one of the biggest mistakes businesses make is not paying attention to what they are putting out to the world.
A great copy lets you talk to your customer – in a short and unique way, and helps you connect with your audience. Let’s look at this ad by Snickers – it is possibly the wittiest example of using a copy to drive your sales point.
Every message you send out to your audience is an opportunity to connect with them – right from an email, to text messages, newsletters, campaigns, ads, information on your website, promotional videos, and more.
Going by the copywriting definition, copywriting is written for the sole purpose of conversion. A good copy makes people take action. Whether it is to check out your new collection, make a purchase, watch your latest video or subscribe to your newsletter, it requires a good copy.
While the goal for a good copy is to convert a sale, a good copy doesn’t directly ask the customer to make a purchase. The best kind of copy tells a story, creates an emotional bond with your audience, and builds your brand’s image, while secretly motivating your audience to trust and invest in your product or service.
If you can create a good copy that tells a story while convincing your audience of the need for your product or service, the sky’s the only limit to how much your business can grow.
Let’s take the example of Nike’s Just Do It campaign. One of the strongest brands in the world, Nike’s copy doesn’t sell shoes. Instead, it motivates you to work hard – on your fitness and for your goals. You’ll often find yourself sharing their posts and commenting on it but most importantly, connecting with it.
It is no doubt that Nike creates some of the best copies for their campaign – that make sure they convert audiences into loyal fans and eventually into paying customers.
Every communication’s success, right from a simple email to a billion-dollar marketing campaign rests on a good copy. It goes beyond just brand awareness to a point where it cements brand recall. Think about it – doesn’t Nike pop into your head whenever you hear or see the words – JUST DO IT?
You may not remember the exact words but you will remember that Nike motivated you or made you smile and so, the brand stuck with you. The next time you want to buy shoes, you’re thinking about getting them from Nike.
How does a good copy go a long way in building your business?
A good copy is not just about one campaign or ad but making sure you leave your audience with a feeling they remember. It’s like being the most charming person at a dinner party. You don’t want to hang out with someone who constantly talks about themselves and tries to sound intelligent. Instead, the most popular person in the room is someone who is interested in you too and has great stories to tell. A good copy works just like that.
If your copy is vague, stuffy, uses big words, and doesn’t think about the reader, the person who is reading it won’t be able to connect with you and will not trust you. You have lost their attention and they probably won’t buy from you. On the other hand, a well-written copy immediately connects with your target audience because it puts itself in the reader’s shoes and talks about things that most concern them. This helps the reader trust you because they feel that you understand and more often than not, convert to a sale.
Copywriting has only one purpose – conversion. When used as a tool to get more sales, a good copy will create opportunities for people to buy into your business. Every word should compel your audience to take the next step. If you don’t focus on making your copy concise and specific, it is most likely that your call-to-action will not be met with a response.
If the first line of your copy does not make them stop to read more, you’re doing it wrong. A good copy needs to get people’s attention and if you aren’t writing for your reader, they are most likely going to scroll past it. It is one of the biggest mistakes businesses can make is ignoring the power of a good copy. Many successful businesses have been known for their messaging – like Ikea’s ‘Ikea is simple’ campaign. Not only is it relatable and funny but it speaks to their audience right away. The purpose of the campaign is to let their audience know that buying from Ikea is simple.
Copywriting is more important for businesses than ever before
With the advent of the internet, information has not been hard to find. We are consuming a lot of content every day, whether it be a Netflix episode we choose to watch or a YouTube ad we can’t skip through. As a marketer, this opens many touchpoints to engage with your audience but at the same time, it increases the competition to get their attention.
Your audience is seeing and watching so many things every day. How can your business stand out? The answer: a good copy.
The year 2020 has seen more people connecting online than in person – which means we are more available to consume content – especially on social media. As a business, your social channels make for the best spaces to engage and interact with your audience. They are online to be entertained and so what you post makes a very big impact on your audience’s buying decision.
2. How Is Copywriting for Social Media Different?
Copywriting for social media is a whole chapter in itself. It is completely different from copywriting for ads, blogs, emails, etc. Let’s look at some of the differences that make copywriting for social media so unique.
A. Character limit
One of the first things that make copywriting for social media extremely unique is the character limit on each platform. This means that you have to be very smart with your words to be able to tell a story in limited characters.
Each platform has its own character limit and so it is also important to understand that a copy that works for your business on Instagram will not necessarily give you the same results on Facebook.
B. Only seconds to make a first impression
When someone is reading your blog or email or has come across your ad in a magazine, they have the time to read it and then make a decision. Things work very differently on social media. Your audience is scrolling through their feed and they’re not going to stop until something catches their eye.
While it is super simple to quickly type something and post it on social media, this is where a good copy can make the difference. You want your audience to stop and read your post but most importantly, you want them to engage with it – like it, drop a comment, retweet, or share it. Only a great, scroll-stopping copy can make your audience do that. It is no wonder that copywriting is necessary for social media.
C. Every platform has its purpose
No platform is the same, which is why pasting the same copy on every platform will not yield you the best engagement. What works on Twitter may not fetch you any engagement on LinkedIn or Instagram and so it is important to understand the DNA and purpose of every social platform that is important for your business.
Hashtags are a popular social media tool that helps you reach the most relevant audience. So of course your copy should include them, right? Not really.
Hashtags work very differently on each platform. While Instagram encourages hashtags by letting you add 30 of them in one post, hashtags are unpopular on Facebook and LinkedIn and are best avoided. Your Twitter copy can include up to 3 hashtags but only if they are relevant.
E. More Natural
Your social channels make for the best space for you to connect with your audience and build a strong relationship. Bombarding your viewers with brand promotions, offers and ads is a big no-no. Instead, get to know them by talking directly to them – in a more personal and easy-going tone. Unlike a blog or ad, your social media copy is more personal and should reflect the brand’s values.
3. Examples of Brands Doing It Right
Want to ace your social media game with copywriting? Let’s look at how some of the best in the business do it.
A. OnePlus Nord on Instagram
OnePlus’s social media strategy for their latest smartphone – the OnePlus Nord, made them stand out amid a global pandemic. The campaign for the new smartphone started a month before the launch (July 2020) and had everyone at the edge of their seats.
Their copy is fairly simple and talks about how the OnePlus Nord will improve the lives of their audience. They highlight their features by bringing out the benefit it would do to Nord users.
For example, OnePlus Nord’s copy tells a story – of how the OnePlus team developed features on the most anticipated smartphone of the year.
In this next example, pay attention to how creatively they’ve inserted a call-to-action for their audiences to join their AR launch.
B. Bumble on Twitter
Storytelling is a powerful copywriting tool and one of the brands that have cracked that code is Bumble. Bumble paints a picture for their audience through their copies – whether they are talking about meeting interesting people to date or do business with.
They also create fun interactive opportunities for them to directly engage with their audience. In the post below, they are letting their audience know that they are around for the next hour and will reply to their tweets.
C. Starbucks on Facebook
Nothing is better than a simple copy that can spark a conversation – and no one does it better than Starbucks.
Starbucks’ Facebook page does both – updates their audience about their changing menus as well as entertains.
Their social media copies are simple one-liners that lead their audience to their image or video. Their relatable content often has their audience commenting and sharing their posts – increasing engagement with the brand.
D. Google on LinkedIn
Unlike other social platforms, LinkedIn’s content is more professional and filtered. Businesses are not here to connect with their audience directly. Instead, they are here to engage with other businesses and potential employees.
You’ll find a stark difference in the LinkedIn posts of most businesses as compared to their other social handles like Instagram and Twitter. This is simply because LinkedIn is not a customer-facing platform.
For example, Google’s LinkedIn posts talk about their certification programs, global summits, workshops, and also redirect their audience to useful information about their business.
4. What Makes for a Good Copy Today?
A good copy is one that compels your audience to convert to a paying customer, without making them feel like you’re selling your product.
Copywriters are known to build and keep a ‘Swipe File’ of tried and tested good copies, that can be used to inspire them when they’re stuck with writer’s block.
If you want to know how copywriting works, it is important to be fascinated with the process and understand what worked for some of the biggest businesses in the industry.
Let’s look at a few copywriting examples of brands who are taking social media by storm with their copywriting skills. We’ll also break them down to understand what makes for a good copy. Don’t forget to bookmark these to add to your swipe file.
A. Slack gives solutions to its audience’s problems
Slack’s Instagram is all about adding value to their audience. Even their Instagram bio suggests that they’re here to make their audience’s work-life simple, pleasant, and more productive.
Their copy is simple, informative, and solves a problem for their user. If you break down their copy, they first identify their audience’s problem, then talk about how Slack is here to help, and then redirect them to a solution which is posted as an article or video on their website.
B. Charmin’s witty and charming humour
How can a business that sells toilet paper and flushable wipes make their social media page exciting for their audience? Well, Charmin certainly knows how to!
The brand uses relatable and shareable content, spiced with humour and wit that makes it stand out. It also plays around with polls, pop-culture references, current events to make it more interesting for the audience.
— Charmin (@Charmin) November 13, 2019
C. Netflix’s extremely relatable content told through pop-culture references
Whether you’re a Netflix user or not, you can’t miss the absolutely amazing copy it puts out on social media. Netflix’s copywriting team has chosen ‘the friend’ tone for all their copies. Not only is it hilarious to read but it also gets their audience to engage with them in the comments section.
They talk about upcoming shows, flagship series, subscriptions, and even connect with their users based on themes like – Netflix & Chill. Moreover, it has different social handles for all the regions they serve, targeting their audience based on local culture, viewing habits, etc.
D. Nike’s everyday motivation
Known for some of the best ads in the world, Nike’s copywriting team knows what motivates their audience. Their social media posts strengthen their campaign by shedding light on new projects, inspirational sportspersons, their stories through great, great copywriting.
One of the most recent, well-written copy shared on Nike’s social media was during the lockdown to curb the coronavirus pandemic – urging their audience to stay home. It has to be one of the most creative call-outs by any brand on social media.
Here’s another example of how a good visual plus great copywriting can make for an incredible social media post.
Well of course we had to mention Heineken. Their witty and fresh copy always hits the right emotion with their audience.
An F&B brand’s copy can often become mundane when you only talk about taste and quality. Heineken on the other hand takes a totally different approach, often calling itself the first social media.
If you think about it, Heineken plays on how beer can make you feel – whether it is happy, comfortable, or like you have a friend.
Let’s take a look at their most recent campaign for the 0.0 non-alcoholic lager beer.
How to Copywrite: Characteristics of a good copy
Like all creative practices, copywriting has no sure-shot formula to write a good copy. There are, however, guidelines and characteristics that can help you get better at copywriting.
A good copy grabs the user’s attention and makes them take an action towards your business. While a blog post can take its own sweet time to lure in the reader, a good copy is like bait, it hooks the reader in a few words.
Being crisp and clever is not the only thing that makes for a good copy. Let’s look at a few characteristics of a well-written copy:
A. Be Succinct
A great copy doesn’t use a lot of words but most importantly it also doesn’t use big words. Your copy needs to be able to speak to your reader and not put them in a fix. Always use simple, conversational language when you write.
Also, it is best to avoid jargon and industry terms – especially if your audience may not be familiar with it. Simple words not only make your copy more readable but it also makes it easier to relate to.
Avoid using long, arduous sentences. Instead, opt for simpler sentences and trim out the words you don’t need. For example, change “in order to” into “to” and you could turn “due to the fact that” into “because.”
Keeping the copy simple as succinct is key to copywriting. Always keep your reader in mind and make it easy to understand and consumable for them.
B. Solves a problem
If your copy is about you, your business, and how great you are, it is most likely going to be read-only by you. A good copy takes into notice the concerns of its audience and addresses it.
As a business, it is important to humble yourself and serve your audience, and to do so, you will need to understand what they want. When your copy speaks to your reader, acknowledging what they feel and want and then offering a solution, they want to know more. This interaction has already taken them one step closer to building a relationship with your business.
For example, gyms and fitness centers are a growing business in every city. Almost every residence has a gym within a 1KM radius – most of them premium franchises that use their additional benefits of a sauna, smoothie station, and top-class equipment as their selling point.
When Harrington’s wanted to open a family business and settled on the idea of a gym in greater Boston, a lot of people thought it was a bad idea. That region was known for some of the best gyms with the flashiest perks – how would they even stand a chance?
GymIt decided to understand the pain points of its core audience. They did a lot of primary market research and identified the pain points of gym-goers. They realized that while everyone loved the perks of a luxury gym with all its benefits, they struggled with complex contracts and sky-high rates.
With this insight, GymIt decided to simplify the gyming experience – especially for people who cared more about going to the gym and working out. Their launch campaign talks about how you can cancel your membership at any time without making up reasons!
C. Super relatable
Nothing can make a copy better than to be able to connect with its reader. For that, it is important to understand your target audience and research what they like, dislike, the kind of tone that works with them, and what is an absolute no-no. As a copywriter, it is imperative for you to know who you are writing for – is it your average joe, someone with a specific hobby, or someone who invests in shares? Knowing your audience will help you find a connection.
The online publishing platform Medium knows exactly what its audience is looking for. They know the pain points of reading on the internet – too many clickbait headlines, tonnes of sponsored content, pop-ups every couple of hours, and of course, too many unnecessary notifications.
So when they created their platform, they ensured their audience knew about what they are doing differently. Today they serve about 500,000 paid subscribers.
With so much happening on social media every day, it is important you find your unique voice to stand out from the crowd. A brand tone is very important for all businesses so that you know how you’re approaching your audience with every post.
Cards Against Humanity is an inappropriate but entertaining ‘party game for horrible people’. Given how the tone of the game is, their brand follows a very unique tone that can come across as offensive and abrasive. They’re not appealing to everyone but to the right audience, they come across as funny and true to their brand.
E. Gold-standard headlines
Your headline is an ad for the rest of your copy.
A good copy is succinct and uses each word wisely but given that there is so much content going in circles on social media, your headline needs to get your reader to stop scrolling to the next post. The purpose of the headline is solely to get you to read the first line of the copy. It then falls on the first line to keep the reader wanting to know more. If your headline does not grab your audience’s attention, they are most likely to not engage with your post – resulting in them not seeing your future ads.
On social media, the headline can often be the text on the post that drives your audience to read further in the description below.
Let’s look at how you can creatively use your headlines with these examples from UNICEF & The Cancer Association.
F. Shifts perspective
Sometimes all a copy needs to go from good to great is a shift in perspective. With so many businesses talking about the same thing, how do you ensure that the audience stops the scroll when they see your post? What is it that you can do differently that makes them want to pay attention to what you’re saying?
Let’s take the example of L’Oreal Paris’s 2019 ad campaign that spoke about more women in leadership roles. There has been a lot of talk on the topic and many brands have shown their support too, but none as creatively as L’oreal. The ad campaign went on to fetch a 500 million reach on social media with 1003% visibility through social reactions.
Breaking your readers’ guard with an unexpected perspective, especially about things that have been spoken about time and again, is one of the most powerful copywriting techniques.
Every story can have multiple angles and as a copywriter, you must identify one that resonates the most with your audience to create maximum impact – like L’Oreal Paris.
Don’t just tell a story like it has been told before. Instead, look for a more meaningful approach that can help you challenge the status quo and tell the story in a more inspiring light.
G. Build on what’s happening around you
As a business, you need to let your audience know your stance on events happening around the world, especially the ones that directly impact them.
Standing up for your community and what they believe in will go on to build a strong relationship between you and your audience.
What will help you write a good copy?
Here’s the truth about copywriting, you don’t need to be trained for years to write good copy. All you need to know is how to do it. As a business owner, you are the best person to speak about your business – copywriting is your tool.
When you are the copywriter for your business, you’ll be writing a lot of stuff – for social media posts, website landing pages, emails, ads, etc. It is important to build a habit around your writing process so that you churn out great copies time and time again.
Here’s a creative process you can follow to create scroll-stopping copies:
A. Know your audience:
It can’t be stressed how important it is to know who you are writing for. Understanding your audience and their train of thought will help you create more relatable and engaging copies.
Audience research does not have a fixed structure. Anything that can give you more information about your audience and what they’re looking for needs to be tapped.
You can use Reddit and Quora to check what your audience’s concerns are when it comes to the product and services you’re offering.
For example, if you’re a business that makes nutrition bars, you can just type it on Reddit and go through the threads. This will allow you to get great insights into how people feel about your product, what do they like and dislike, what are their pain points with the available options in the market. This information can do wonders to help you create and plan your strategy as well as copy.
You can also try the same trick with YouTube where you see the kind of videos people are creating around your topic and what their audience is asking in the comments section.
When you’re writing copy specifically for social media – the platforms themselves can be a great place to get to know your audience. Look at who is following and engaging with your competitors and understand what are their problems that you can help solve.
PS: All of this information is worth gold but free so make sure you try and spend some time digging up more details on your audience.
B. Create brand guidelines (especially for social media copy)
As a brand, you will have to set guidelines as to what and how you post on social media. Are you location-specific? Is your communication casual or professional? What about your tone – is it serious or cheerful? What should your post do – entertain, educate, or instruct?
If you break down any of your favourite brand’s social media communication, you will be able to fit them into these boxes. Let’s take Netflix for example:
– Netflix has location-specific accounts. They have a separate one for each country they operate in.
– They speak to their audience very casually, like a conversation between friends.
– Their tone is cheerful, sarcastic, and millennial.
– Netflix is purely on social media to entertain.
Social media can also provide a space to show off the fun and quirky side of your business. While your website can do most of the business talk, your social media can be more about connecting with your audience.
C. Establish a goal for each copy
When you write your copy – you should be clear on what you are expecting in response from your audience. Do you want them to sign up for a course, buy a product or just engage with your brand?
Knowing what you want from your audience, will help you in writing the copy. You can also use the AIDA model to help your audience convert into a paying customer.
What is the AIDA Model?
AIDA is an acronym that stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. It is a model used in marketing that describes the steps a customer goes through in the process of purchasing a product. It is often used as a structure for copywriting – especially for emails and sales letters.
Let’s look at this email sent by the Foundr to understand how to use the AIDA model for copywriting.
When it comes to social media, you have to be more specific about what you want your post to achieve. For paid promotion, each platform will allow you to choose your goal for advertising and promoting your post. You can choose from getting more people to visit your profile, comments, and inbox replies, more likes, or conversions – like buying a product or signing up for a webinar.
With a set goal, not only is it easier to write the copy but you can also measure how successful it was.
D. Complete your copy with a visual
Want to make your copy stand out even more? Find a visual that complements your copy. It is one of the oldest tricks in the book to get your audience’s attention.
Ensure that your image is relatable and is easy for your audience to connect the copy. You can find royalty-free images on Unsplash, that are free to use, and add your copy and brand logo to complete the post.
If you want to create a video to go with your copy, you can use InVideo. You’ll be able to choose from 4000+ templates, 1 million+ royalty-free video clips to create your video ad and it only takes a few minutes.
Take me to InVideo templates
E. Build a swipe file
A common practice among copywriters, a swipe file is your box full of inspiration. It is a collection of tried and tested ads, sales letters, emails, etc, that can be dug into when you want to get your creative juices flowing.
What traditionally was a physical copy of cut-outs and prints, can now easily fit on your desktop.
5. What Does It Take to Be a Good Copywriter Today?
Copywriting is one of those professions that don’t need a big monetary investment. All you need is a laptop and you’re sorted to start your own copywriting business. What makes the difference between a good and great copywriter is the work you put in after-hours to ensure that you never run out of fuel to produce amazing copies for your clients.
You don’t need to have a degree in literature or get a particular certification to be a copywriter. However, you need to have the knowledge and skills to be a good one. There is a lot of free study material on the internet that you can use to hone your copywriting skills and you can also opt for certificate courses available online.
You can learn from the best copywriters by studying about their businesses and the campaigns they wrote for. Decoding their copy can help you understand copywriting better. There are also many books that you can refer to, to understand what does a copywriter do. You can also find YouTubers like Alex Cattoni who create content on how to become a copywriter.
All creative fields need a flow of inspiration. So surround yourself with podcasts, videos, articles that will help you get better at copywriting.
B. Identify your market
Every business needs a copywriter to write their ad campaigns, emails, sales letters, social media posts, etc. It is important to identify what market you want to explore as a copywriter. While a lot of copywriters write for different industries, focusing on one industry can help you build your niche.
One of the easiest ways to identify the market you want to be in is to know what you’re passionate about. It could be traveling, finance, films, photography, nutrition, etc. If you’re passionate about the industry, you are more likely to connect with the businesses you work with – which in turn will result in better copywriting.
C. Write your sales copy
As a copywriter, the first thing you need to sell is your services and so, you should start with writing your own sales copy. While this may seem very difficult, especially if you are someone who doesn’t like to sell themselves but it is a great opportunity to allow your clients to get an insight into you and your work.
Remember that your sales copy has only one purpose – to convert clients. So make sure you use all the techniques you know to write a killer sales copy for your copywriting business.
D. Build an online portfolio & social proof
With your sales copy in place, create a website for you to showcase your work. You should put up all your work, paid as well as the ones you did for free or as a hobby if it adds to your portfolio. You can also add statistics of copies that have successfully delivered results to your clients.
Most importantly, when you have a client who has been happy with your service, get them to write a testimonial for you. Testimonials make for good social proof – especially for potential clients who are looking to hire a copywriter.
Also, be sure to update your social profiles. Remember when a client wants to hire you, they are most likely going to Google you, and you want to make a good first impression. Add all significant details and testimonials to all your social pages too.
E. Find your clients
Once you have identified your market, it is time to start looking for your clients. For example, if you’re passionate about the travel industry, your clients can include hotels, restaurants, travel portals, booking agents, businesses that make travel gear and accessories, tourism companies, etc.
We looked at the Pull strategy when we created our portfolio and put up our best work on our website and social handles. Now, let’s look at the Push strategy wherein you identify businesses you want to work with and send them a sales letter and do a pitch.
One important thing to remember when approaching a client is to do your research well. If you know the client’s audience, their pain points, their competitors, and how you can help them grow in business – you stand a much better chance at converting your pitch.
F. Understand client servicing
When you have a client for who you are writing copies, whether it is a retainer or a one-time job, always remember to provide good service. This goes beyond furnishing them with a good copy.
For example, before you even start writing the copy, it is best to understand what your client is looking for, their brand guidelines, their audience, etc. You should speak to your client to help you with these.
When you share the written copy with them, be open to feedback and changes, and remember to make a note of these – especially if it is a retainer client.
And lastly, make sure you submit your final copy taking into consideration all the feedback.
Now that we’ve given you all the fuel-power you need to churn out stellar social media copy, it’s time you go back to the drawing board and put pen to paper and create your next post.
And if you want to turn your copies into equally stunning videos, just hop by InVideo and choose from one of the 4000+ templates to bring your story to life.
And if you’re looking for more inspiration on all things copywriting, ad creation, and beyond, you’d love what we have built at the InVideo community– a place for you to connect and learn from 13,000+ other marketers, business owners, and creators like yourself, you should join the InVideo’s super helpful community here.