If you have been writing copy as long as me (22 years and still at it), you tend to know a thing or two about crafting prose that sells soup, nuts and igloos to Eskimos. With the advent of the Internet, the social media branch of marketing was born and many of us climbed out on it. It seemed only natural to extend marketing messages to this sect and who better than an experienced copywriter? Think again.
While you may be savvy at spinning words in a traditional sense, when it comes to social media all bets are off. It is a whole other bear to conquer and a job in its own right. The strategy that goes on behind social media is akin to what we’ve all experienced in concept meetings, hammering out ideas and flow charts to drive home brands and promote reputation. However, social media is a much newer science without much in the way of a formula for success that copywriters can rely on. Essentially, you can be the best writer in the world and fail at managing a social media strategy.
How does this happen? Simply put, we aren’t necessarily holding the right tools for this newer marketing venture. We may know how to put together a marketing plan for a client, but what is proven in a traditional sense is not… and cannot… be proven with social media (determining the connection from Facebook to solid sales is like hunting down the Holy Grail). This genre is a testing ground for what may work, what works for others, tweaking constantly and rolling heads when results aren’t of the instantaneous nature that the Internet demands. As copywriters, we may experience a lopping-off of our noggins if a campaign fails miserably, but there always seems to be a direct link from A to B that unfortunately justifies it.
So what could possibly make a copywriter even consider managing social media for a company or client? Because we see the need for solid marketing skills and the ability to write effective copy. I recently read an article on Linked In about executives being disappointed with 20-something social media managers not getting their “voice.” Seasoned writers like me probably looked at this and shook their heads thinking, “That executive needs a real writer who has the experience of getting the voice, the message, and delivering it with impact.” Does this make that copywriter an effective social media professional? No.
I know firsthand that social media and copywriting do not go hand-in-hand. After writing Facebook and Twitter posts for a few people, and being that I had a fiction writing platform, I thought I could become a social media specialist when offered the chance. Yes, I was able to connect with and engage the audience and write great posts, but ultimately the tracking of such efforts did not get through to people who wanted their social media to result in solid, quantifiable leads, and I went back to straight-up copywriting. The result was a bit disappointing, but also a relief in that as a copywriter I know what I’m doing and how I will be judged. As a social media professional, you are at the mercy of the cracking whip (along with the SEO guys who are always the first to go when things don’t go the way management wants them to).
Maybe it’s the volatile nature of social media marketing that doesn’t jive with copywriting, or that we aren’t necessarily marketing leaders (if we were, we’d be marketing managers, right?). It is a left brain pseudo-science that pushes creativity away and places lightning-quick performance demands on the shoulders of a copywriter who might not be up for the challenge. Then again, your mileage may vary and you find social media the perfect mate for your copywriting experience. If that happens, you’ve struck gold.