Adapting Copy: Writing for Social Media, Emails, Websites
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After attracting their attention with your graphics and video, your copy is the next thing your audience sees. Whether it’s a caption on your social media post, an email subject line, or your website’s landing page, your copy introduces what your content is about.
And they need to make sense. They must be in context.
They need to adapt to the platform used, and the audience’s behaviour in the platform. Or else the message will get lost in translation.
Tailoring your copy is an essential part of your marketing strategy. Just like how your target audience varies, and how their perception of and behaviour in each platform differs, your copy should adapt, always and accordingly.
Reasons why you should tailor copy for different platforms
Nature of the platform
Different platforms have different natures:
- Facebook is known for its content combination of videos and text, mostly about trending events that interest the masses.
- Twitter, now X, shows more text content than videos, and instead of general viral content, users see the content they already interacted with or showed interest in–like niche content marketing.
- Instagram champions visually-appealing images and videos with short but catchy copy.
- TikTok is heavily video-based, and the copy may or may not be noticed at all.
LinkedIn is more informative than quirky and fun, and your copy should look like it.
That’s why tailoring your copy is important–you don’t want to look out of place, or worse, like you don’t know what you’re doing. Content you wrote for your niche on Twitter/X may seem alienating to your Facebook audience. It’s just like the saying, When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Write your copy based on the platform’s established content styles. Your audience should see you know where you are and what you’re doing.
Tailoring your copy to the platform and your audience lets them know that you make efforts to get their attention the right way, and it shows that you want them to understand the message you’re trying to convey.
- Your Facebook audience expects entertaining content with attractive visuals and an easily digestible message.
- Your Twitter/X followers want quick, conversational updates.
- Your LinkedIn audience needs a business perspective.
- Your Instagram audience wants a creative and original visual.
Preferences are a great thing to leverage on, especially now that people’s attention spans are getting shorter and more selective than before. Before they click a platform to open, they already know what they want to see in it.
And isn’t it a fulfilling and successful feat if your copy hits their pain points and delivers just the exact thing they’re expecting? You get to establish your brand as a reliable and relatable one they can go back to anytime.
Audience behaviour and engagement
Understanding your target audience’s behaviours or habits can help you create platform-specific copy that resonates with them. Incorporating platform-specific keywords, hashtags, and hot topics might help increase engagement even further.
Just keep in mind that:
- Keywords and hashtags popular in one platform might not always be the same in another platform.
- Aside from using trendy hashtags, try to create your own too! This can increase your audience’s trust and confidence in your brand, seeing your creativity and originality stand out.
Also, tailored copy helps establish rapport with your target audience, encouraging loyalty while increasing conversion rates. People interact with a content when it resonates with them, and a powerful copy kickstarts that potential engagement.
A strong, compelling copy introduces the idea and makes people anticipate what’s next. Even during times where the main content is lacking, a well-structured, tailored copy can save the day.
Different multimedia formats
Each platform has its unique characteristics that determine the type of content that resonates best with its audience.
- Instagram thrives on visually captivating content, e.g. high-quality photos and short videos. The copy should be concise yet compelling, often using emotional language and popular hashtags.
- YouTube is mainly about engaging video content where the narrative is more on visuals. The copy, including the title, description, and tags, should be keyword-optimised and informative to enhance searchability and provide context to viewers.
- LinkedIn often favours long-form content such as articles and detailed posts, with professional images, infographics, or videos. The copy should be more formal, insightful, and industry-specific to engage the audience.
- Twitter’s fast-paced environment requires concise and impactful text content, often complemented with relevant images, GIFs, or short videos. The copy should be witty, timely, and conversation-provoking to spark engagement and retweets.
Thus, it’s a given to tailor your copy based on the multimedia format you’ll use. No copy is a one-size-fits-all. Each format evokes a different feeling that your copy should capture.
Varying peak hours
Different social media platforms have different times of peak engagement. The varying peak hours affect the performance of your copy.
Each platform has a distinct user behaviour pattern, and the time of day when the majority of users are online varies.
This also depends on your specific niche. Are your audiences night owls or do they look at your content on their way to work in the morning? Do they want an engaging copy after dinner and before bed? When it comes to making social media updates, keep in mind that quality outweighs quantity.
Also, the tone, language, and content of your copy should be tailored to the platform and its peak hours. Remember: the mindset of users and their expectations from the platform can change depending on the time of day.
- A lighter, engaging copy may perform better on Facebook during the evening hours when users spend time relaxing after work.
- Informative copy, on the other hand, may perform better on LinkedIn during the day when users are in a work-related attitude.
General Guidelines and Tips for Tailoring Copy
Choose your platform
First and foremost, Identify which platforms you want to use before you start planning copy. You may choose to focus on one or more platforms, such as your website, blog, social media, email, podcast, video, or webinar, depending on your objectives, budget, and resources.
Each platform has advantages and downsides, so carefully analyse them and connect them with your content marketing goals. You can consider two things:
- Platforms that are a good fit for your strengths and the types of content you like to create, and
- Platforms that are a good fit for your target audience
Then, choose platforms where these factors overlap.
Know your purpose
Before you start writing, have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish with your material:
- Do you want your audience to be informed, convinced, entertained, or inspired?
- Do you want to increase brand exposure, build leads, or increase sales?
Your purpose will determine your platform, tone, and format selection.
If you want to inform your audience about a new product, for example, you could use a blog post or a video to discuss its features and benefits. You can use a landing page or an email to generate a sense of urgency and offer a discount to entice them to buy it.
Always remember that before creating a copy, determine what you’re writing for. This will reflect with your finished output, and will reach the audience effectively.
Determine your audience
Different platforms have different audiences, and these audiences have different behaviours and preferences. Make sure you tailor your writing to both the platform and audience.
- Social Media. If you’re writing for social media, look into your followers’ demographics, interests, and behaviours. Because social media is a place for conversation and interaction, use a more casual and engaging tone.
- Website. When writing for a website, keep your readers’ goals, pain points, and enquiries in mind. As a website is a location for credibility and authority, use a more formal and professional tone, but still be friendly and approachable whenever possible.
- Email/Newsletter. When sending a newsletter, make it catchy and intriguing to draw your readers in. Keep the body concise, engaging, and easy to read. And of course, include a clear call-to-action (CTA) that guides your readers on what to do next.
Stick to your brand voice and style
The next step is to create your own brand voice and style. More importantly, match your brand voice and style with your brand image, your audience, and your purpose. Once you’ve established your own brand tone, stick to it.
Consistent and tailored brand tone across platforms
Maintaining a distinct and consistent brand voice and style across all platforms is critical. Your brand voice embodies your company’s personality and beliefs, and it should be reflected in all of your content, sometimes regardless of platform.
However, while your brand voice should remain consistent, the way you express it still needs tailoring to fit different platforms. The key is understanding these differences and adjusting your copy accordingly, all while remaining true to your brand voice.
Adapt your content
Your content needs to fit in with your brand, and the platform you’re using. This involves changing the structure, language, design, and optimisation of your content to comply with the platform’s best practises and standards.
Make use of:
- Headings, subheadings
- Bullet points
- Keywords in blog posts and captions
- Hashtags and emojis in a social media video
- Transcripts and show notes,
- Ratings in a podcast
- Slides, polls, and Q&A in a webinar
This is to make sure your copy and content is in its best design possible, suited to the platform it was published and the type of audience the platform holds.
Get insights from observing your competitors
Analysing what your competitors are doing is essential in any content marketing plan. You can’t always be the first to think of wonderful concepts for tailoring copy to diverse audiences, and it’s not a bad thing to get ideas from what other companies are doing.
Visiting your competitors’ websites and social media pages on a regular basis is an excellent way to stay on top of current trends and identify content gaps that you can fill.
Knowing what brands with similar products or services are doing to engage their audiences can also help you identify areas for yourself to stand out.
Avoid common pitfalls
When writing copy for different platforms, it’s important to avoid common mistakes. Don’t reuse material across platforms; instead, create versions adapted to each platform’s guidelines, limits, and best practices. Avoid using jargon, slang, or acronyms that your readers may not recognise. Instead, use clear and simple words.
Below we listed out the most common mistakes you should be aware of to avoid them when tailoring your copy.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Tailoring Copy
Lack of research
One of the worst mistakes is not doing enough research and just assuming you know everything about your audience. You could be depending on stereotypes, generalisations or outdated information that may not accurately reflect their actual needs.
You don’t want to write messages that are irrelevant, wrong, or offensive, which can turn off prospects and harm your credibility. To avoid this, regularly research and collect as much information as possible:
- Customer demographics
- Pain points
- Goals and challenges
Use credible sources including surveys, interviews, social media, reviews, analytics, and industry reports.
Don’t assume that just because someone is looking for a quick fix, or is already a loyal customer, they will take whatever content you give them.
Remember, storytelling is always crucial. Regardless of the audience you are targeting, all potential consumers are humans who look for value and connection.
And in order to connect with your target audience—to persuade and entice them to buy your products or services—you must first understand them.
That means your copy must show that you’ve learned the following facts about them:
- Emotional triggers (what causes them problems)
- Emotional pulls (what draws them to a solution)
- Current habits (what they are currently doing or not doing)
- Solution anxieties (what they would be concerned about if they break their habits)
Create a story that takes the reader on a journey where they identify as the audience, with a message that combines their desires and pain points and how your products or services give them a solution.
Use of passive voice
Good copywriting energises, engages, and inspires people to take action. It is straightforward and on point. Most importantly, good copy is clear and never confuses readers.
But even the best copy can still be sabotaged by writing in the passive voice.
In the passive voice, the verb acts on the subject. It makes a phrase sound awkward and disconnected, and it stutters your copy.
Meanwhile, the active voice flips the situation so that the subject performs the verb’s action. It’s more alive, energetic, and straightforward, and it transforms an awkward passive statement into a lively one.
Tip: To quickly identify the passive voice, make sure you have subjects performing action in your composition.
You only have a few seconds for your headline to grab attention, so make it clear and simple. If you can’t concisely convey the topic of your content in a few words, go back and rework it until you can. Here are some things to consider:
- Check if you’re using unnecessary terms in your headlines. Every word in a headline is valuable, so choose wisely.
- Get to the point as fast as possible.
- Clever or concise? Concise. Write a headline that clearly communicates what you’re offering.
No power words
Many marketers and copywriters use too many passive terms. But to pique people’s interest in your product or service, you need a few select words that are powerful enough on their own to attract and hold someone’s attention.
Use strong action verbs. The passive voice encourages inactivity, while the active voice motivates action.
Try starting your sentences with a verb, like Enjoy, Experience, Browse, or Gain. These action verbs tell your audience what to do while also appealing to their emotions or personal experiences.
Highlighting the negative
Copies with a positive message are more memorable than those full of negative words. Before you write any content, consider whether each word is necessary — or whether a positive one will help sell your product or service better.
Removing one or two negative words can have a major effect on engagement rates. However, some negative words still might work, like the CTA ‘Don’t Miss Out!’ as it brings a sense of urgency.
Take these on a case-by-case basis, but as a general rule, stick to words with positive connotations.
CTAs without verbs
CTAs may seem easy to write, but they hold a lot of power. And what is a call to action without a call?
A CTA without a key verb is not only confusing, but it also gives your audience no reason to pay attention to what you’re offering.
A few simple tweaks to your main CTA can make or break your copywriting, but you don’t have to invent new terms. Here are a few examples of effective CTAs:
- Sign Up
- Shop Now
- Learn More
- Book Now
- Start Now
Best Practices on Tailoring Copy for Different Platforms
Aside from the general tips on tailoring your copy, here are some of the best practices for social media, website, and email copywriting.
Keep an eye out for trending content
Paying attention to trends is one of the most essential rules of social media marketing. That’s what social media is all about: trending content. So when it comes to copywriting for social media, it’s critical to ride the wave. Be social by joining the current conversations as they apply to your niche.
Look at the restaurant pages having online fights (jokingly) about their promos. All of them ride what the other posts.
Make sure you slay this though, and don’t do it willy-nilly. You want to ride the wave without face planting with problematic content.
Tell a story
When writing for social media, aim to tell a story. Write a story within your copy, whether it’s a one-liner or a paragraph, that makes scrollers stop and feel something – happiness, sadness, shock.
Captions are an effective way to connect your audience to your brand. Your visuals stop their scroll, and your caption holds their attention.
Don’t share too much
Tell a story, but not too much. Keep the sharing brief and on brand. Copywriting for social media can be tricky when you want to share something with your audience but don’t want to overwhelm them.
If you’re an individual brand, strive to make it personal without being too personal. If you’re a bigger brand, keep it professional but still incorporate some fun.
Play around with emojis 👍
Emojis are excellent visuals to split up text. Readers browsing through their social feeds may not always want to read a block of text. Emojis can help break up copy and keep your viewers interested.
It also helps when you know the context they are used, especially now that there are many modifications. Like how 😭 is now used when something is really funny, or the combination 😮💨 for something shocking, or how this 🙂 is now used sarcastically when someone is pissed or is dreading a situation.
Observe people’s behaviour online and you’ll get many clues as to how they use the emoji now.
Write clear, inclusive, and accessible content
Clear and accessible copywriting means you deliver an inclusive experience. Make accessibility a part of your overall strategy and incorporate it on your social media content.
Here are a few best practises on how to write clear, inclusive, and accessible content, especially for those using a screen reader:
- Avoid ableist and gender-normative terms. As much as possible, stay neutral and considerate in your nouns, pronouns, and general communication.
- Make hashtags easier to read. Use “CamelCase,” which means capitalising the first letter of each phrase in a hashtag. It should be #USourceTeam instead of #USourceteam.
- Don’t use all caps. Using all-caps may cause screen readers to interpret the term as an acronym, disrupting the content experience.
- Spell out acronyms the first time you mention them to avoid confusion.
- Avoid jargon and complex vocabulary to make your copy more accessible to those new to the industry, non-native speakers, or people with cognitive difficulties.
- Avoid run-on sentences. Keep your copy brief and concise.
- When appropriate, use @ mentions and emojis.
- Use special characters moderately. Screen readers know that not all special characters, such as ampersands, should be read aloud. However, using too many special characters in your text can lead to confusion.
Segment your audience
Break your target audience into smaller groups. Group them according to shared characteristics such as demographics, location, purchase history, browsing behaviour, or email interaction.
This makes it easier to write copy that will appeal to the right audience. You can write different subject lines for Gen X and Gen Z, for women and men, for people in the early stage of the buyer’s journey and for those who are ready to buy.
Segmentation enables you to target your messages more accurately and deliver more value to your subscribers.
The next step is to personalise your messages with relevant and particular details that make your subscribers feel valued and understood. Statistics show that:
- 42% of consumers believe that personalisation is somewhat or extremely important.
- 59% of customers trust businesses that use AI to personalise their experience.
Personalisation extends beyond using their name or company name and includes leveraging data and insights to customise your subject line, greeting, body, call to action, and signature.
Here are some of the content you can personalise:
- New product announcements
- Reach-out messages to inactive contacts
- Campaigns based on subscriber action, like webinar attendance
- Status notifications, such as a flight change or a change in product availability
Write attention-grabbing subject lines
The subject line is the first thing your recipient sees when they open your email. You want to write subject lines that grabs their attention, piques their interest, and convinces them to open your email.
You can leverage five things when writing a subject line: personalisation, relevancy, urgency, value proposition, or emotion.
- Personalisation – Personalise your subject line by using their name, location, industry, or previous behaviour.
- Relevancy – Use keywords, questions, or incentives that are relevant to their situation or goal.
- Urgency – Put deadlines, restricted deals, or exclusivity in your copy.
- Value proposition – Highlight how you can help them solve a problem or achieve a desired result.
- Emotion – Use humour, excitement, surprise, or curiosity to spark their interest.
Use a friendly tone and style
Your copy’s tone helps your audience perceive your brand and your message the way you intend them to. You want to use a friendly tone so that they can feel you’re an approachable and accessible brand, but you also want to express your brand’s class and professionalism.
To adjust your tone and style to the recipient’s needs and interests, while still incorporating brand voice, you can:
- Use conversational language, active voice, short sentences, and clear structure.
- Use terms and phrases that match their formality, jargon, or slang.
- Make your email more entertaining and relatable using humour, stories, or anecdotes.
- You can also use empathy, appreciation, or compliments to your email to make it more positive and persuasive.
Create powerful CTAs
The most important part of your email content is the call to action (CTA), which tells your reader what you want them to do next. You should include a clear and appealing CTA that encourages the recipient to click, reply, sign up, buy, or take whatever action you desire.
Here are some tips to tailor your CTA:
- Keep it short
- Try using the first person
- Use action-oriented words, like ‘Download’, ‘Register’, ‘Claim’, ‘Buy’, or ‘Click’
- Create a sense of urgency with words, ‘Today’ ‘Limited’ or ‘Now’
- Use colours, fonts, or buttons to make your CTA stand out and easy to click
If you’re tempted to put many things on your landing page, remember that less is more.
The fewer options and distractions on your page, the more likely it is that users will grasp and follow the main action, whatever that may be.
If any element on your website has the potential to divert users’ attention away from the main CTA, maybe it’s time to remove it.
Personalised copy when possible
Personalisation will set your brand apart, raise conversion rates, and improve the overall consumer experience.
You can start by segmenting your visitors based on their location, buyer persona, or browsing activity.According to Accenture, 58% of individuals are more likely to buy if they receive recommendations based on their preferences or previous purchases.
When you have clear audience segments and detailed buyer personas, it’s easier to write a copy with tailored offers, pricing, and recommendations that will increase the chance of conversion.
Write in the second person
The second person point of view isn’t commonly employed in creative or academic writing, so you don’t see it all the time. Using the pronouns ‘you’ and ‘your’ shows that you speak directly to your audience, drawing them in and making your website, your brand, and your message more personal.
But don’t go overboard–mix up your sentence structure and avoid repetition.
Write detailed descriptions
Writing detailed product descriptions is one of the best things you can do to improve your conversion rate. Shopping online means your customers can’t physically assess the product, so they rely on words and visuals to know exactly what they’re purchasing.
Detailed product descriptions with relevant keywords will also help your SEO efforts.
Again, knowing your buyer personas will help you write a copy that appeals to their behaviour.
Always remember that the goal is not simply to write about your product, but to write for your target audience.
Write short, simple, and clear CTAs
Headlines and CTAs are the two most noticeable characteristics on a webpage, so they need extra attention to ensure they’re spot-on.
CTAs may not be the best place to get crazy and inventive. Because our human minds love familiarity, you should strive for simplicity.
- Keep it short (no more than 10-15 words)
- Don’t try to be clever; keep things simple
- Keep it straightforward – tell the reader what to do
Bonus: Embracing the rise of AI in Copywriting
Technology has always been evident in all aspects of life, and now that the digital world is the new normal, the rise of AI, or artificial intelligence, is recognised now more than ever. AI has helped almost all digital operations, including copywriting.
Here are some of the most important ways AI has changed and improved the copywriting field.
Using AI for research
Instead of the time-consuming traditional way of scouring the Internet to get valuable and credible information, AI can now help with this process in a much simpler and quicker way.
With the right questions or prompts, AI will do the searching for you, and even summarise and organise it as you told it to. You get valuable, relevant information right away.
But make sure you double check the sources, or ask the tool for references. The list the AI gives will help you fact-check data quicker than going back to every website you’ve bookmarked.
AI for generating content type formats
AI tools can analyse huge amounts of data to find patterns, trends, and critical insights, which they can use to generate content. Based on specific guides or templates, it can generate numerous content formats such as blog entries, social media updates, product descriptions, and more.
This minimises the time spent on initial content production and research. Copywriters can then concentrate on optimising and personalising the AI’s initial copy.
Using AI for headings, outlines, and FAQs
Once you’ve decided on what type of content you’re publishing, AI tools can help optimise your content. They can provide headings suggestions and FAQs, which comes from their database of stored customer patterns and queries online.
Your SEO efforts will improve, and you get to learn more about your target audience and business’ trending keywords and questions.
AI platforms for copywriting
AI email writers
AI email writer is a technology that helps you create high-quality email copy in minutes. These tools are backed by AI, which generates the copy using NLP and machine learning.
They may ask for keywords, the tone you are aiming for, and whether the message should be negative or positive. They will develop high-quality email copy based on the data you provide.
Here are some of the best AI email writers to date:
- Assist you in curating relevant email copy
- Generates subject lines that are tailored to your target audience
- Creates copy for various purposes using pre-trained templates
- Helps you produce high-quality content
- Has a user-friendly interface and a customizable content production
- Supports over 20 different use cases and content formats in over 25 different languages
- A cold emailing AI email writing software
- Integrates publicly accessible prospect data from articles, LinkedIn profiles, case studies, and other sources
- Generates personalised subject lines, cold emails, LinkedIn messages, and backlink request emails
- Uses GPT-3
- Generates a full email using information you’ve provided (company name, product/s, context)
Tip: Research about your target audience first before writing your cold email since you’ll need the information to add to the ‘Context’ section of the prompt.
- Recommends strategies to improve and personalise your sales emails
- An AI assistant designed to help sales reps minimise email writing time without compromising personalisation
- Compares your copy to a database of millions of effective sales emails to provide comments and tips on how to improve it
AI social media writers
AI copywriters help you write articles, landing pages, website copy, social media posts, and other content depending on prompts and instructions you provide.
AI copywriters use machine learning algorithms to create human-sounding material, with added nuance and slangs to relate more to the audience and trends.
Here are some of the best AI copywriters to check out:
- One of the most well-known now, after its viral introduction in November 2022
- Has a familiar, chat-style interface makes it simple to get started right away
- It not only understands what you’re asking it — a process known as “natural language processing” — but it also remembers the history of your conversation
- It adjusts its responses accordingly, rather than being each new question you ask is treated as your first interaction
- Create a fresh social media caption in a specific tone based on a prompt.
- Write a post based on a link (for example, a blog post or product page).
- Generate post ideas based on a keyword or topic (and then write posts that build on the best idea).
- Evaluate and repurpose your best-performing posts.
- Enables you to create social media content faster and on brand
- Generate original and engaging content ideas based on the topics you enter
- Craft killer captions using your brand voice
- A built-in copywriting tool that generates copy for sections including project proposals, introductions, and FAQs.
- Provides SERP analysis and competitor evaluation
- All-in-one AI content generator and optimisation solution that combines SEO research and AI writing
- Uses NLP and machine learning to generate content
- Three main content types: product descriptions, blog entries and adverts, and social media posts
- Produces clear, concise, and relevant copy
It all boils down to knowing your brand, your platform, and your audience
Tailoring your copy comes with many benefits, primarily improving brand awareness and increasing conversion rates, which are all results of knowing how to capture your audience’s attention and leveraging their behaviours and patterns.
Personalisation is a game changer, as always, especially when done appropriately.
And if you worry about the time and effort tailoring will consume, remember that there are many ways to do copywriting without limiting to traditional means.
You don’t have to do it all by yourself, there are a lot of talented writers out there who know both the basics and the best practices.
They seamlessly integrate with your brand and write in your brand tone and language. They leverage modern technology to optimise and improve their work. And most importantly, they listen to what you have in mind.
Remember: Your copy is one of the main ways you can communicate with your audience.
Investing in tailoring your copy will produce better results, now more than ever, as consumers start to look for businesses’ efforts in understanding their pain points and delivering a clear message of what they have to offer.