The art of writing short copy

Anyone who has written short copy knows it’s easier said than done. When you are trying to squeeze a big idea into a few short sentences, or less, you don’t have the option to use adjectives, quotes, metaphors or other storytelling techniques.

Therein lies the challenge when writing for social – you must be concise, compelling and communicative, all whilst conforming to the brand’s tone of voice.

“@AnushkaKandola imparts her five tips for writing short, compelling copy”

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Whilst there is an art to writing short copy, it is an art form anyone can learn. Ironically, in the next 500 words or so, I’ll attempt to impart some of the wisdom I’ve learned over the last few years about writing short copy.

Tip 1: Be single-minded

When you are confined to a 140-character tweet or a 90-character Facebook ad, you have to cut out all the bumf. So, think carefully about the single most important message you are trying to get across to your audience.

If you try to jam too many messages into your ad, it’s likely to confuse your audience and they’ll scroll right past. Remember, emails with headlines containing the fewest number of words have the highest click-through rates, so that character limit may actually be doing you a favour!

Tip 2: Think headlines

Humans have a 7-second attention span, which is less than that of a goldfish. This means your ad needs to grab your audience’s attention immediately. Lead with the most interesting piece of information and, while bearing in mind your brand’s tone of voice and target audience, frame it in the most compelling manner possible.

Admittedly, a fantastic example of great short copywriting comes regularly from The Sun newspaper. They employ a team of full-time headline writers to churn out witty and attention-grabbing headlines to ‘sex up’ even the drabbest stories and, judging by The Sun’s 13 million loyal readers, they’re doing a great job of it!

“Short copy can be some of the most powerful writing – especially if it hits the reader’s heart. So, choose your words wisely and always remember who’ll be reading them!”

Janice Turney, Senior Copywriter, The Real Adventure Unlimited

Tip 3: Take your time

Although social is by nature a fast-paced environment, it is still important to take your time to craft your social media advert. Writer’s block can be as crippling when writing one short sentence as when penning an entire novel, so the luxury of time can ensure you are producing your best work. As Mark Twain once said, ‘I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.’

Tip 4: Think design

Know the social media formats you are working with and remember that you don’t have to rely solely on text to get your message across. A combination of copy and an image or piece of rich media can draw a user in and convey a story, whilst keeping text to a minimum.

Tip 5: Include calls to action

When scrolling through pages of content within a social media space, audiences don’t have the time to decipher what a post is implying. In line with your post’s objectives, including simple calls to action in your copy, such as ‘click here for…’ can prompt an audience to take the desired action.

In a nutshell, those are my five top copywriting tips. So, in the interest of brevity, go forth and hone your craft – write short, but excellent copy!

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Anushka Kandola
Junior Social Media Creative

We only have a few seconds to engage users on social, and creativity is how we do this.

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