Do your social media efforts need an overhaul?

If your campaign suffers from wordiness or lack of clarity, maybe an ‘extreme messaging makeover’ is in order.

Have you ever driven past a billboard that would cause an accident if anyone actually read the whole thing? Or wished that a salesperson would stop blabbering about how perfect his or her product or service is? Worse yet, have you ever sat through a presentation that features a bunch of PowerPoint slides being read to you by the speaker?

The advertiser, salesperson and speaker all missed the opportunity to reach and influence their target audiences. Time and money were wasted. Productivity suffered.

The same pitfalls can hamper your social media messaging. It might be time for an extreme messaging makeover.

Here are five ways to achieve your social media extreme messaging makeover:

1. Focus on one big idea

We’re bombarded with messages from the time we wake up until we crash at the end of a long day. We can’t afford to spend more time processing information unless we are sure we need it. We remember creative messages that are memorable and make an emotional impact. We relate to them and they are focused on one main idea.

Think about ads or slogans that you probably couldn’t forget if you wanted to:

  • Can You Hear Me Now?
  • Don’t Leave Home Without It.
  • Got Milk?

The message was focused on you and on one big idea that you still remember today.
Next time you are tweeting, updating your LinkedIn profile or writing a blog post, improve your message by asking yourself: What’s the big idea?

2. Tell your story by telling stories

Stories resonate and help us relate to others. We remember vivid details of stories we heard when we were kids. The most influential speakers tell memorable stories that stir multiple emotions, and the most successful advertising campaigns use storytelling to make a lasting impact. In short, the best media coverage is created by compelling stories.

When crafting your social media messaging, you might find that your audience will enjoy a story that you think is no big deal.

Build your company’s brand by telling multiple stories that become your key message points, convey your real story, and create the image you deserve. Tell your company’s story in a way that focuses on your key target audiences. Make it about them and their wants and needs.

Instead of injecting your social media messaging with copy that your audience might ignore, tell interesting, real-life stories that people will want to read and hear. Then, social media can be your conduit to tell your story.

3. Use startling stats, numbered lists and acronyms

People tend to remember memorable facts or numbers rather than theories or abstract ideas. A relevant fact or statistic can be an effective way to grab the audience’s attention and give them an easy-to-remember point.

Trident famously used the phrase, “Four out of five dentists surveyed would recommend sugarless gum to their patients who chew gum” in its advertising for decades. Why? It was a startling statistic that made a memorable impact. Trident provided a key takeaway that gained it credibility with its key target audiences.

We also remember numbered lists better than a listing of facts. If you number your points according to importance or relevance, your audience will at least remember the top few points and maybe more.

Think back to when a speaker used this technique and said he was going to talk about three major points. Once he said the first two, you were waiting for the third one. After the presentation, you probably even tried to remember the three main points to tell others who were not at the presentation.

Acronyms and abbreviations are another effective way to help your audience members remember things they might not normally retain. But within many organizations and industries, this practice is so popular that a maze of acronyms can actually lead to confusion. When that happens, you might find a CQI team is developed to focus on PI and maximizing ROI to reduce stress and avoid increased visits to doctors in the company’s PPO or HMO. Try not to overuse this tactic.

4. Get your audience to feel something

Your messaging must make an emotional impact with your target audience. They have to feel something.

When we listen to a political candidate, entertainer, coach, religious leader or rock star, we typically feel something. We are emotionally tied to the subject and the speaker. These communicators know how to stir emotions and engage their audiences.

Though you might not see yourself as a rock-star or think that your message is on the same level as that of a coach or politician, you still need to think about how you can make an emotional impact on your audience. Don’t fall back on the same old corporate speak. Do you touch on emotions like excitement, fear, happiness or sadness? If not, you are reducing the likelihood that your message will resonate and be remembered for more than a brief time.

Touch emotions to capture people’s attention. Focus on what the audience stands to lose as well as what they stand to gain. Put your social media message in their terms and focus on the impact on them, positive or negative.

5. Tell the truth

As our parents and kindergarten teachers taught us, telling the truth is the ethical way to go. It is also the practical approach to social media.

Yes, social media is informal and time sensitive. But the focus still needs to be on clearly communicating the real story to your target audiences. Hyperbole will adversely impact your online reputation once your followers pick up on it.

Think about how you feel when a salesperson talks on and on. You probably wish he would shut up and listen to what you are saying so you can tell him what you want. Salespeople need to listen, ask probing questions and match needs based on the strengths of their product or service. The same goes for social media messaging. Focus on true strengths, and leave the hyperbole to your competitors.

Your social media extreme messaging makeover will make a difference for you and your organization. Follow these five strategies to make it happen.

David M. Mastovich is president of MASSolutions. A version of this article originally ran on JeffBullas.com.

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