Popcorn Content: The craft of writing short-form content for social media.

popcorn content for social media

Popcorn Content is a short book about writing social media content.

Read it and learn how to write short-form content that hooks, compels and engages.

Whether you are writing a tweet, an update intro for Facebook, a post headline for Google+, a comment for Pinterest, or a title for a YouTube video…you need short content that pops.

Is writing this kind of short content really a separate “craft”? Absolutely it is. The social media environment is fast-moving, and whatever you say or share not only sinks into the flow really quickly, but is also in constant competition for attention.

Whether you are trying to hook readers, or engage in conversations, your social media content has to jump off the page.

That’s what Popcorn Content is all about.

Your social media text needs to be front-loaded with the most powerful words and ideas. It needs to hook readers quickly before you lose their attention. It needs to be intriguing and immediate, so readers click through to read more. It has to be worth sharing, and easy to share.

In short, it’s a whole different way of writing.

So what’s with the “popcorn” thing?

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The power of the human touch in web copy and content.

the human touchSome copywriters know that adding a human touch to their copy can help their readers relate to the product or service they are trying to sell.

Some consultants and coaches insert elements from their personal lives in their business writing, because it helps prospective clients get to know them as real people.

Some hard-core business-to-business writers know that interviews and case studies can help humanize the “corporation”.

But only some.

Most of the time, when I read content online, in the form or articles or posts, that human touch is missing.

Why? My guess is there are a couple of reasons.

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The fewer the choices you offer, the more you will sell.

paradox of choice in supermarketWe like choices.

In fact, one of the cornerstones of a democracy is our right and our freedom to make choices. We vote for the leaders we want. We choose where to live. We choose the church we go to. Or we choose not to go to church at all.

We also like all the choices we have as consumers.

We like to be able to go to a 16-screen movie theatre, so we can choose the movie we want to see. We like to have hundreds of TV channels to choose form, instead of just three or four.

As marketers and copywriters, we could be forgiven for believing that our prospects and customers will respond positively if we offer them as many choices as possible.

And up to a certain point, people do like choices when they decide to buy something.

But all is not as it seems. More choice doesn’t actually lead to increased sales. In fact, we can easily become confused and even irritated when faced with too many choices.

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The difference between an authentic voice and a paid-for voice.

authentic voice
Photo courtesy: CBC

Last week, during the fight against SOPA, I was listening to a radio show on CBC, hosted by Mike Finnerty.

He had two guests – Rob Beschizza, Managing Editor of BoingBoing, which went dark to protest SOPA, and Steve Tepp, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of the Global Intellectual Property Center.

(Yes, this post is about copywriting. Keep reading…)

Finnerty reached them both by phone and gave them more or less equal time to present their points of view.

Both Beschizza and Tepp are smart guys, and both shared very different views on the value of SOPA. Beschizza said it was bad legislation that would result in a lot of unintended consequences for thousands of websites. Tepp said it was excellent legislation that would put a stop to piracy by “foreign criminals”.

Who won the debate?

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Copywriters: Never try to change your prospects’ minds.

can't change someone's mindWhen you’re writing copy, the easiest way to close the sale is to write in a way that keeps your readers nodding in agreement.

The toughest approach you can ever take is to try to change the reader’s mind.

In fact, within the context of writing sales copy, it is pretty much impossible to change someone’s mind.

Let’s look at an example – trying to sell cheese that is made from raw milk.

Out of all the people who are in a position to buy this cheese, there are two groups.

The first group believes that raw foods are good for you, and that the various bacteria found in raw milk are also good for you.

The second group believes that raw milk is dangerous, and that the bacteria could make you sick, or even kill you.

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Monday Spark: Be ambitious, and plan to create a memorable body of work.

cattelan art

Last week we went to the Guggenheim Museum in New York to see the exhibition of work by Maurizio Cattelan.

As art, it may not be to everyone’s taste, but we were fascinated by his work. I was also amazed by the volume of his work, and the time and hard work that had gone into it. This retrospective gives some idea of the depth of his commitment to his art.

Creating art is what he does with his life, and he works hard at it.

That made me a little envious. As a writer and copywriter, much of my work is transitory. It is here today, does what it was designed to do, and then it’s gone. It is very rare that commercial writing or advertising survives for very long.


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