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3 Simple Formulas for Crafting Better Social Media Posts

Feb 4, 2016 9:00:00 AM

3 Simple Formulas for Crafting Better Social Media Posts

“Write something,” says Facebook.

“Make me!” I say.

Staring at the social media text box—all I see is a blank space where hours go to die. You have something great to share, you really do. But without the proper framing, your great idea could disappear into the social media abyss.

So I thought I’d share some of the “secret / not-so-secret” formulas that help me stay focused.

Here are three proven formulas from writers I admire.

Jeff Goins’ Catchy Headlines

Honestly, if you don’t title your content in an interesting way, it’s going to fall flat.

Jeff Goins, a professional writer/blogger, wrote a post “5 Easy Tricks to Help You Write Catchy Headlines,” which provided a simple mathematical approach to those pesky headlines.

The Goins’ Formula?

Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise

Now, if you’re like me, you may think the numbers thing is a bit played out (well, it may have worked here). If you are tired of the numbers game, check out the Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule. Test out headlines for yourself. For a case study, the headline for this post got a score of 73. If you figure out a title that gets a higher score, let me know in the comments!

Ann Handley’s Formula for Quality Content

Ann Handley wrote Everybody Writes, an essential book for any blogger or writer’s toolkit. She offers up an excellent framework for blogging that will keep you focused on providing value for your audience.

The Handley Formula?

Utility x Inspiration x Empathy = Quality Content

(source: Everybody Writes, page 7)

Handley goes on to quote Jonathan Coleman on how to craft quality content:

“Start with empathy. Continue with utility. Improve with analysis. Optimize with love.”

What challenges or problems are the biggest concern for your audience right now? How is this piece of content addressing them? That’s leading with empathy. If you work at a church, what are some of the issues for families in your community? Read the local news, get feedback from memberslearn, however possible, about your people. Then get simple, get practical.

To explore the idea of blogging as a church, check out NewSpring Church’s blog. They’re consistent and practical, not to mention easy on the eyes.

Jonah Berger’s STEPPS

Jonah Berger in his book Contagious writes, “After analyzing hundreds of contagious messages, products, and ideas, we noticed that the same six ‘ingredients,’ or principles, were often at work. Six key STEPPS, as I call them, that cause things to be talked about, shared, and imitated.”

  1. Social Currency
  2. Triggers
  3. Emotion
  4. Public
  5. Practical Value
  6. Stories

I’ll let you dive into the notes highlighted by New Books in Brief for insight into #2–6. Point #1 is that on social media, we deal in “social currency.” People share posts that make them “seem entertaining rather than boring, clever rather than dumb, and hip rather than dull.”

Go unique, break patterns, and be human. If you don’t know where to start, go ahead and begin by being practical and useful.

Example: A church post that sticks out in my mind from this past Christmas was the “Christmas Challenge” (read the Christmas story chronologically) published by Shepherd’s Gate Lutheran Church in Shelby Township. It was an attractive graphic, a unique concept, very practical, and gave Facebook fans social currencysomething interesting to share with friends and family.

If you’re trying to evoke an emotion, be aware that Facebook is expanding the reactions available to users. “Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad, Angry.” Knowing these reaction options are coming, think about how you can shape posts to hit on these emotions.

What Now?

One phrase that rings in my ears is “equip to share.” How can you equip people to express themselves? Put yourself in your constituent’s seat. What problems do they need to solve? And then consider, what messages do they want to share with their friends and family? For example, learn more about creating shareable graphics of your own in our blog post about social graphics. If you can figure that out, write it down, frame it, and post it on a wall that you can see while sitting at your computer—it’ll be your guide.

What Works for You?

Any tips, tricks, or formulas that work for you? I’m all ears (and eyes)! I’d love to learn how you approach content.

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Seth Hinz

Written by Seth Hinz

Seth Hinz serves as Assistant to the President—Web/Media for the Michigan District of the LCMS. A graduate of Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Seth is passionate about connecting church-communication folks and equipping ministries to communicate effectively in the ever-changing digital age. Seth is married, has two sons, one daughter, and enjoys popcorn, Wes Anderson movies, and way too many things on Netflix.

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