January 2, 2015

Tips for Writing Tweet-worthy Content

I was recently asked the question, how do you ensure content is tweet-worthy? In other words, how do you create content that will capture people's attention on the web and stand out?

The answer I gave was four tips:

1. Plain language is the most important thing. I know it sounds obvious, but it’s important to emphasize. If people don’t understand what you’re trying to tell them, it definitely won’t get their attention.

1. All social media posts should be written in simple, plain language. Avoid uncommon terms, acronyms, complex sentences, etc. To grab people's attention, they have to understand what you're writing about.

2. Tell them why it matters to them. In other words, the social media post should not be about your agency’s announcement, it should be about how that announcement will impact the individual reading the tweet or post. You want to tell the reader why they should care and how it will make their life better. (For example, instead of saying “Our agency is announcing new cleanliness standards for chocolate manufacturers,” you could say, “We’re making the chocolate safer and better for you.”)
3. Write in a first person voice and be conversational. Tweets and social media posts should be written to sound like you’re sitting across a coffee table from the reader having a conversation. This helps make your agency sound more human and approachable. (At EPA, we use first person, plural voice to represent our agency.)
4. Don’t be afraid to be creative and push the envelope. I know this can be challenging in the government, but little creativity can really make a big difference.

December 29, 2014

A Fun Tweet from Philadephia's Transit Police Chief

Today I was back in the office after a nice holiday break and came across this nice Christmas story - with a great example of government social media done right.

On Christmas day, two police officers assisted a mother in labor on a train in the Philadelphia subway. I love the response from SEPTA's Transit Chief Police:
He later posted an update to let his followers know mom and baby were doing well:
This is a good example of an official Twitter account taking the time to be human. Nice job!

August 25, 2014

Goal: A Share-worthy Experience

Marketing used to be about messaging, promoting, and advertising. Messages were drafted, refined, tested, honed, and pushed out to consumers in the brand's target market and location. Print, radio, television, billboards...

Now, we have a global marketplace. People are connected though the World Wide Web, and buy and sell with each other across time zones and borders.

At the same time, people are becoming overwhelmed with and hardened to advertising. Estimates vary about the number, but, each and every one of us probably sees thousands of brand messages each day. People start to block them out.

So, what do people still pay attention to? Their friends and family. So, a newer goal of marketing is to get people to tell their friends and share information about your brand. There are lots of ways to entice people to share messages about your brand online - discounts and perks, appeal to their emotions, or just ask. But, that tends to lead to them posting a lot of generic, cookie cutter messages. These are of the "I did this you should too" variety. Not very engaging and it does not get people talking about your brand. You want a more organic conversation.

How can you get people talking about your brand? How do you spark that organic conversation? Give them something to talk about. Give them an experience. A brand experience.

While the idea of brand experience marketing seems simple, making it really work is difficult.

Recently, I was in New York City with my husband and my son to visit a friend. After lunch, we went to the Nespresso Cafe for coffee and pastries.

Nespresso creates a very tangible brand experience for their guests. At Nespresso caf├ęs the coffee brand is expressed both subtly (through environment and atmosphere) and openly (through logos, products, and design elements). The atmosphere evokes luxury, calm, and comfort, reminding customers that their coffee is an approachable luxury. The design and products continuously remind customers about the brand, and that products can be conveniently purchased upstairs. The message is simple: this is the perfect cup of coffee and you can bring it home.

Did I buy any products? No, but obviously, I remember the experience. And, my husband took photos and posted them on Facebook. Smiles, espresso, and the brand. That's a win for Nespresso.

So, what's the lesson? Don't just give people an experience, give them a share-worthy experience.

July 11, 2014

Got You Attention?

I was recently asked, what I do to ensure content is tweet-worthy and captures people's attention. While there is no way to guarantee a piece of content will grab your audience's attention, here are some things that I think are important to write engaging content, for Twitter, other social media, the web, and other channels.

Plain language is important. If people don’t understand what you’re trying to tell them, it definitely won’t get their attention. I know that sounds obvious, but it’s important to emphasize. All social media posts and marketing content should be written in simple, plain language that is easy for your audience to understand. Avoid uncommon terms, acronyms, complex sentences, etc.

Tell them why it matters to them. In other words, the social media post or marketing content should not be about your organization's announcement, it should be about how that announcement will impact the individual reading about it. You want to tell the reader why they should care and how it will make their life better. (For example, instead of saying “Our agency is announcing new cleanliness standards for chocolate manufacturers,” you could say, “We’re making the chocolate safer and better for you.”)

Write in a first person voice and be conversational for social media. Tweets and social media posts should be written to sound like you’re sitting across a coffee table from the reader having a conversation. This helps make your organization sound more human and approachable.

Don’t be afraid to be creative and push the envelope. I know this can be challenging in communicators and marketers working in the government, or other conservative organizations, but little creativity can make a big difference.

June 24, 2014

A Perfect Story

Getting storytelling right is hard. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box to tell the perfect story.


June 19, 2014

Social Media Done Right

What is the right way to use social media as a brand? I don't think there is a one size fits all answer to that question. However, I think there are some key elements that are necessary for successful social media campaigns and long term community building.

  • Provide information that is meaningful and valuable to your audience.
  • Engage with your audience in real-time about relevant topics and information.
Sounds simple, right?

It's easier in theory than in practice. And, in government, it can be particularly challenging.

Today, I saw a great example of social media really done right by a government agency. This afternoon, a bear ventured onto the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. (For those unfamiliar with the Washington, DC metro area, Bethesda is a suburb just north of the city - and definitely not a place that bears frequently visit.) Within a short period of time, this was all over the news, and the bear had a couple Twitter accounts, including @NIH_Bear.

Throughout the afternoon the authorities, include the Maryland Natural Resources Police (@MDNRPolice on Twitter) worked to get the bear captured and relocated to a more rural, wildlife-friendly location. During that time, @MDNRPolice had an ongoing conversation with the crazy @NIH_Bear Twitter user. The conversation was quick, funny, and smart. It was great to see a government agency engaging with their community in real-time in a relevant way.


And, they took the opportunity to teach people a little bit of information about their state's work to preserve wildlife:

This is a great example of social media done right.

I gave them kudos on Twitter and they had the best response:



Time to Start Posting Again...

I have been neglecting this blog as of late, but have been wanting to resume posting. Today, I finally became motivated - and inspired to start posting again.