How to Improve Weak Content Copy

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, and simply writing good content isn’t enough to grab and hold your reader’s attention. Audiences need a reason to start reading, and keep reading your content. In a crowded digital marketing environment, it can be a challenge to distinguish your content from another writer’s.

As original as copywriters strive to be, the harsh reality is that one blog post tends to have far too much in common with other blog posts in a certain area of expertise. What will make yourself stand out is if you can demonstrate that you have a particular voice, perspective, or opinion that can’t be produced from anywhere other than your own pen.

Even the strongest writers have weaknesses and their fair share of duds. Here are four common sins and how to address each one.

1. Your Writing Is Forgettable

In other words, your blog post could be written by virtually anyone, which is a liability if you want to establish your voice as a unique brand, distinct from the millions of other voices in the endless sea of digital content. If you can be forgotten in less than thirty seconds, then your writing won’t be imprinted in the minds of readers seeking resources or opinions, now and in the future.

Clichéd language is easily ignored, so the fundamental question is whether or not you can show your readers a fresh, original perspective. This can be achieved by providing individualized, specific, and practical content that educates and informs. Avoid using generalized language, and try not to be vague.

After all, readers are drawn to your content because of your unique opinion, so be sure to have one and articulate it well. Do your research in advance, and know your facts thoroughly before sharing your opinions, especially if they might generate controversy. Of course, don’t be afraid of a little contention. If presented effectively, a debatable viewpoint can be an excellent conversation starter.

2. Your Writing Is Unoriginal

If you find your writing riddled with trite phrases and overused ideas, it’s probably lacking creativity and purpose. And if someone else (let alone hundreds, if not thousands) of other people have said it before, it’s definitely unoriginal. Overusing commonplace sayings doesn’t exactly position you as a distinct voice or brand, and while clichés might be easy , they can prevent you from best articulating your true message.

Instead, convey your ideas clearly by using detailed, specific, and evocative language. Be unconventional with phrasing, experiment with sentence structure, and innovate with diction. Platitudes don’t necessarily have to be deleted completely, but rather can be reformulated to preserve their original meaning without sounding stale. Maybe creativity killed the cat, but it can resurrect insipid writing – and rouse readers whose attention is drifting.

3. Your Writing Is Unintentional

Start by asking yourself this straightforward, but absolutely imperative question: what’s the point? If you’re unable to offer a compelling response, then pause and spend a moment to reflect about your purpose for writing. Uncertainty about your intention is an apparent sign that you should spend more time in the brainstorming stage.

Directionless writing is devoid of the focus to captivate readers’ attention, and readers will tune out if they believe you don’t have anything meaningful to say. So always begin with the end in mind before you put down that first word.

Introspection and honest self-evaluation are critical tools while ideating to address those overarching, yet often difficult questions which may demand intensive time and reflection to answer. If you’re feeling stuck, challenge yourself with bigger questions, such as critically asking why, not just what or how, you’re writing. Determine what message you want your post to convey, what takeaways your content can offer readers, and how your writing will impact audiences. As much as possible, imbue every word with purpose, as each post you write should contribute to your overarching goal or content strategy.

It’s up to you to ensure that readers make it to the end goal. You’re the one holding the compass, not them. With this in mind, steer your readers in the right direction and continually guide them until they arrive at the destination.

4. Your Writing Is Inconsistent

Writing an exemplary blog post shouldn’t just be a one time accomplishment. If your goal is to consistently generate content at a regular pace to establish yourself as a memorable, reliable source in the long run, you must make a concrete plan, such as a monthly editorial content calendar, that you can reference and stick to.

The truth is that you won’t always feel particularly inspired. Even the most seasoned bloggers will periodically endure grueling bouts of writer’s block, but nevertheless, the show must go on. If you’re stuck, read other posts or books, take a walk, or do a simple brain dump. Because if you’re a professional, you still need to produce content on good days and bad – rain or shine.

Planning in advance will give you the momentum to maintain your stamina and the focus to consistently produce outstanding content in the long run. This way, you won’t produce content in fits and starts before quitting once you hit a bump in the road. To ensure consistency, set goals for your content development plan before putting pen to paper, and create a realistic schedule with actionable, achievable tasks.

You Don’t Own Your Social Accounts – You Rent Them

The best time to ever be a digital marketer was the first half of the last decade. For a few glorious years, we were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to affordably grow massive audiences on social media that you could then communicate with for the unbeatable price of free dollars and free cents.

We used this magical moment to launch some great brands and amazing projects, but then the slide started. Facebook announced that businesses could expect organic reach to dip… and then dip some more… and then eventually they just came right out and more or less “sorry suckers, assume it’s zero.” Now all these massive pages that we built would be locked away, speaking to nobody.

That is, unless you paid the gatekeepers. Facebook goes public, and they need some revenue. Who better to get that revenue from than the brands that just ponied up to build large platforms for themselves on the network. So, we’ve arrived at today’s landscape: great content can still win, but it’s a lot more likely that you’ll need to shell out just to get your message heard.

This is the best example of how the followings you build on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or wherever are not actually “owned” audiences. They’re “rented.”

Like a rental car or apartment, you get to use these tools more or less as you see fit – but within the parameters of an agreement. You have to pay to keep access, and you don’t have any control over the future of that asset.

Facebook changed how reach worked and it cost marketers money. Tomorrow, Twitter might decide it doesn’t want to include any links to the Apple App Store. Next week, LinkedIn could say that you can only post videos that include call-outs to their jobs platform. Hell, next month Pinterest could announce that it won’t publish any images that include the color green.

At the end of the day, the audiences you build on these platforms are beholden to the policies and priorities of the companies that run them. This is not to say that it’s never worth it to invest in these tools – we’ve been tremendously successful in doing so for dozens and dozens of clients over the years. But it is worth remembering when you’re developing your strategy.

The truly owned audiences are your email list, website, SMS list, physical mailing list, or other tool where you and you alone decide how you interact. Consider buying over renting, and prioritizing at least one of these channels over just your social media accounts.

To Succeed on Social Media, Ask Yourself This One Question

Ask anyone working in a digital marketing agency what email they’re most likely to get from a client when a new social network or tool hits the scene, and they’ll likely tell you it’s this:

“Hey, platform X seems like a big deal. Let’s get on it!”

As TikTok has exploded over the past 18 months, I can’t tell you how many clients have emailed me saying we need to “check this out” and “put some viral content up there.” Their enthusiasm is awesome. It’s great to have clients that are excited about the evolution of digital marketing and willing to experiment.

It’s also a real pain in the ass.

Trying out a new social network isn’t just a matter of claiming a username and repurposing past content. It involves research, design, and experimentation. Participating in TikTok is one thing, winning at it is another. And when we chase the shiny red ball (the newest social network) instead of focusing on the cash cow (wherever you’re currently converting your audience), you risk blowing up your entire social strategy and effectiveness.

So if you want to succeed at social, I always recommend you ask yourself this one question:

“What stories can I authentically tell?”

That’s it. That’s the question.

When a client comes in and reviews a social strategy and sees a popular network omitted, they ask why. We tell them the answer is quite simple—they can’t tell the types of stories or create the types of content that would make a presence on that platform effective. Attempting to would divert resources from the networks where we can tell meaningful stories and connect with audience members, harming the efficacy of those efforts.

Instead, orient around what you already have, and what you already do best. If you are a strong creator of video, then focus on YouTube, TikTok or Instagram and forget Twitter. If you can create rich food photography of your at-home meal creations but don’t have the capacity for video, skip out on the YouTube channel and aim for Pinterest or Instagram instead. Create a social strategy that exists at the synergy of your strengths, a network’s preference, and your audience’s interests.

Best of all, people can sense when you’re speaking your truth, and they respond to it with attention. There’s a palpable difference between the blog post written from the heart from the Instagram Story video you begrudgingly produce on the way to the office, and no amount of acting or editing can hide that. When you do the former and share a piece of your authentic self, you’ll be rewarded with that well-deserved attention.

So as you’re designing your social strategy and social channel portfolio, consider asking yourself the following to understand the authentic stories you can bring to your brand platforms:

  1. What content am I already creating? Are there any networks where these are valuable?
  2. What resources (time, money, relationships) am I willing to invest in content creation?
  3. What platforms have a synergy between my content/story and my target audience?
  4. Where am I willing to experiment and fail?
  5. What stories are hidden in my business, waiting to be unearthed (e.g. customer successes, case studies, how-to guides)?

Posts That Stick: Our Top 4 Tips for Winning Pinterest

While Facebook and Instagram seem to dominate the social strategy space, we’re big believers in the power of Pinterest, a platform that shouldn’t be overlooked. A self-proclaimed search-engine-meets-social-tool, Pinterest is home to some 320 million users, making it a powerful network to meet new audience members, drive traffic, and make a sale.

Pinterest differs from other social networks in a few different ways, chief among them that it’s more of a search tool than a social network. What does that mean? Well, don’t worry about growing your follower count, but focus on creating content with rich copy that will surface in search time and time again. You can do that by following some of our tops tips below.

Content

Your newsworthy content piece might gain traction on Twitter, but you may want to skip that post on Pinterest. That’s because Pinterest is catered to more of a lifestyle audience, with product Pins, DIYs, recipes, and infographics performing best. Consider how you could repurpose existing blog posts, creating a Pin that drives back to the post on your website. For instance, if you’re listing five films that influenced your fall fashion collection, a long pin with posters or screenshots of each film would be better than any generic header image from your post. They key is to remember that the pin itself must convey as much information as it reasonably can. Clickbait imagery, like the title of the article, won’t do as well as pictorial representations of the content.

And if you’re trying to stay seasonal, we recommend that you start saving seasonal content about 45-60 days in advance. Activity will keep picking up as you get closer to the big day, so waiting to put your marque holiday pins up until the day before the holiday means your competitors have already started stealing your traffic.

Not sure what kind of content to create? Pinterest has a helpful insights tool that’s updated pretty frequently, so you can see the top trends, month by month.

Design to Convert

Design to Convert

Now that we’ve covered content, you’ll want to optimize your Pins for best performance. Here’s how to create the perfect Pin.

Pinterest prefers vertical pins over horizontal, with the optimal size coming in at a 2:3 ratio – other ratios may cause your Pin to truncate, or may negatively impact performance. Always include your brand’s logo (Pinterest recommends including your logo at the bottom or top over your Pin), and, for best performance, include a text overlay. The text should be easy to read on both desktop and mobile.

Put yourself in a position for success on Pinterest by using beautiful, high-quality imagery within your pins. There are endless online resources for stock photos, like Unsplash or Shutterstock, but you should utilize professional photography whenever possible – especially for any products you’ll be showcasing.

Caption That

When you’re ready to upload your Pin, ask yourself, “what would I search to find this image?” Descriptions add context and reinforce your branding, and they also impact where your content shows up across Pinterest. Descriptions can fit up to 500 characters, and Pinterest recommends writing as much info as you can – and always start with the most important information first. As you write, use complete sentences and make sure to include a call to action – oh, and don’t forget to include relevant keywords into your descriptions.

Create Your Strategy

We’ve covered the basics, so now it’s time to get to work on your Pinterest marketing strategy. But wait, before you go, a few more tips for your planning process:

Just like any other network, you should include Pinterest in your editorial calendar. Add new Pins over time rather than uploading a bulk at once. This will help you reach a wider audience, and remain consistency on your account. Pro tip: you can schedule Pins up to two weeks in advance with Pinterest’s scheduling tools, but you can plan with more lead time using third-party services like Buffer (which also let’s you measure performance) or Later, which can help you collect, organize, plan, and automate your visual social media strategy.

Can’t wait to see your boards!

5 Super Useful Instagram Tools We Loved in 2019

Ninety-five million photos and videos are shared on Instagram each day, so if you want to stand out in a crowded feed, you’re going to need some tools in your arsenal. From learning how to create a consistent color scheme, to planning and scheduling Instagram posts, there’s never been a better landscape of apps you can use to improve your content, increase your engagement, and grow your Instagram audience.

So here they are, some of the year’s best tools available for obtaining insights, driving results, and leveraging Instagram. Best of all? They all have a free option.

Squarelovin

Make the most out of your Instagram account with the in-depth analytics of Squarelovin. Get access to metrics on your recent posts and growth, a monthly analysis, and a history of your posts broken down into year, month, day, and hour. Get more insights on your communities’ preferences and interests, and what drives engagement. Oh and the best and worst times to post on Instagram? Squarelovin shows you that, too! What more could you ask for?

Pixlee

Pixlee lets you monitor your brand, discover emerging influencers, and identify top content – pretty sweet, huh? The free tool also allows you to create shareable weekly reports (goodbye, ugly spreadsheets) and look at day-to-day data, and track hashtags, so you can monitor conversation and identify top-performing content.

Snapseed

Snapseed and VSCO are both great options for photo editing, but Snapseed allows a little more control on the go. Almost as if you’re working in Photoshop, Snapseed allows you to edit everything from brightness, contrast, exposure, saturation, highlighting, and whitening features. Create a blogger-worthy feed in minutes.

Later

Want to plan your Instagram posts, schedule Feed posts, and find user generated content, all through one easy search? Later’s free subscription provides you with 30 posts per month, one social profile, and one user. Later also has a tool called Linkin.bio that makes it easy to shop your Instagram feed. Linkin.bio is a landing page that resembles your Instagram feed and displays your posts as clickable images – perfect for sharing new blog posts or links to shop your website.

Canva

Canva is a free visual content creation tool that let’s you create beautiful images for your Feed or Stories. This tool uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to millions of photographs, graphics, and fonts, so you can customize your graphics, without the learning curve and expense of Photoshop.