By Dane Cobain
Okay, I admit it – I’m a big writer, I studied creative writing at university and continue to write in my free time, from book reviews on SocialBookshelves.com to novels, songs and articles like this one. I’m also a social media marketer. Of course I’m going to say that copywriting is an essential skill.
But that doesn’t make it any less true – in fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s a top priority, and one that HR managers should keep a lookout for when perusing CVs or headhunting a social media manager. Why? Well, there are several reasons.
For a start, status updates and tweets are public by default, and social media marketers are operating on behalf of a company in a very open forum – gaffes and mistakes can go viral in a heartbeat, and even if you delete the update, it’s impossible to remove all traces of it as soon as someone takes a screenshot.
Social media marketers who make basic grammatical mistakes risk upsetting people like me who hate to see atrocities, and it’s unprofessional for companies to be seen to be mixing up their theirs and their theres. Interestingly, certain social networks are more discerning than others – occasional mistakes are forgivable on Twitter because of its impulsive, rapid-fire nature and its shorter character limit, but errors on Facebook and Google+ are unforgiveable.
Additionally, blogging can take up a huge amount of a social media marketer’s time, and it’s important to be able to structure a story or to articulate an article. Blogging is one of the many areas where social media and search engine optimisation experience a crossover, and so a marketer who can create great content is an advantage for any agency.
Digital marketing is a complicated beast, and so it’s important for social media gurus to be able to eloquently explain the meanings behind the technical terminology that surrounds the profession. In my experience, written proposals, pitches and presentations are a part of day-to-day life, and simplifying social media is essential when you’re dealing with a CEO or MD instead of a digital marketer.
Copywriters are also more highly attuned to the nuances of the written word – on the web, it can be difficult to convey irony or sarcasm, and if you’re working with a playful brand then it’s essential for their messaging to be seen as what it is. Don’t risk your marketing messages being misconstrued, or you might find yourself facing a backlash from your social following. The difficulty conveying sarcasm is so prevalent that there’s even a movement to create a sarcastic font, which is essentially regular text that’s stylised with inverted italics. Sarcasm tags are another option (<sarcasm>yeah, right</sarcasm>).
With the growing trend of content marketing and the way in which it brings social media and search engine marketing together, it’s clear that copywriting is a required skill that’s going to be more and more in demand as social media usage continues to increase and as new networks pop up across the web.
Do yourself a favour and future-proof your social media team by hiring strong copywriters, and consider giving them a written test during the interview process. You won’t regret it.
Do you think copywriting is an essential skill for social media marketers? What other skills are on your wishlist? Let us know with a comment.
Dane Cobain is a social media specialist for an integrated creative agency called fst the Group. He’s also a gadget-lover and tech fanatic, as well as an internet addict.