Writing for the digital media: 7 tips to generate engaging copy
| Deepa Sai | — @quillink0
Is the web content dumpyard giving you a slow death?
As a digital solutions agency, we are approached by organisations — big and small — for magical makeovers. All day long, our content writers hustle to make every brand’s inner mojo shine.
With such volume of work, wouldn’t it be nice to have some quick-fix tactics that will save your time, nails and hair?
All you worried writers out there, sharpen your nibs. You can have your readers hoo-ha about a ho-hum topic!
Have a stake-out
I cannot insist enough, the value of doing your basic research first. If you know the nitty-gritties, heck, you can do stand-up comedy about the brand instead of throwing technical gobbledegook at your readers. So internalise this rule: Know your sh*t.
Next, stalk your competition. Find out how your brand’s competitors are positioning themselves online and offline. You will see different personalities emerge: The ‘dorky-techie’, ‘swag slayer’, ‘snooze moose’… get the drift? Pick a personality for your brand’s content.
Have some pun-fun
Unless the brand warrants it, keep away from serious and super-formal content. Make your readers giggle and immortalise your name. A few inoffensive witty jokes and sarcasm won’t hurt.
Metaphors and analogies are the holy grail for writers. Hook the readers by piggybacking on viral topics to make casual references. Improve your brand’s hotness quotient but with a meaty content; nobody likes clickbait.
Dare to be different
Point out clichés, bust myths, be opinionated — but justify your case properly with facts and figures. Take a stand, for or against, and stick to it. Controversial angles really grab attention and stir up responses. Remember “open letters”?
Use tangential topics and sneak some brand promotions into your blog articles. For instance, what would consumers who buy sandwich makers, love?
- 7 new foods you can make with your sandwich maker
- 5 kitchen hacks to stop your sandwich maker from conking
- A sandwich maker can be a cool gifting option for your friend
Asking the ‘wh’ questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how, to frame offbeat headlines.
- Where can you find App-controlled sandwich makers?
- What do sandwich makers tell about our lifestyle habits?
- How do sandwich makers ruin or add to your kitchen decor?
- Why do we buy triangle-shaped sandwich makers?
Drop some drama
A couple of years ago as a freelance writer, I had to describe toothpicks as birthday party supplies:
‘Let those canapés and savories look magnificent on these appetizers picks. Give your little princess that royal party with a majestic party theme to make her feel celebrated. These toothpicks feature the cute princess Sofia with her trusted rabbit Clover, to match your party theme.’
As a content genie, you have to approach your readers with the right angle. Take a personal approach that appeals to their emotions; let them relate to you. Don’t be abstract — humanise your content — and give them the “been there, done that” idea.
Use a human angle and solve audience’s problems
You have to directly answer the questions that the audience ask. Tell them how your brand solves their problems and how it adds significant value to their lives. You can check out Quora and Yahoo’s Q&As, forums, social networks, etc. to find out what the public is saying about your brand or product:
- What are the best brands of cookware for sandwich toasters in India?
- Which one is better for home: sandwich-maker or toaster? Will a sandwich maker give me toast too?
- Is it possible for food left unattended in a sandwich toaster to catch fire?
- For what else can I use a sandwich maker apart from grilling a sandwich?
- Can I use it to make waffles?
Kill them with kindness
We don’t want our audience’s craniums to crack. Present all the technical details in jargon-free terms. Simple is sexy. Support your content with visuals, facts and figures. Include examples, anecdotes, testimonials, case studies and such, to explain the concepts in simple formats.
Storytelling is an art. It engages people’s senses effortlessly and helps them visualise a scene with words. It appeals to their emotional side, when they make purchase decisions. For instance,
‘The category-3 hurricane was gaining power, Sam frightfully watched a tree branch whoosh by. With his head pounding from the hangover, he dashes to the kitchen, and grabs his XXXX sandwich maker. He nervously whips up a bacon sandwich, just when the city blacks out! The shock-proof compact 750-watt XXXX Sandwich maker prepares your sandwiches at the blink of an eye!’
Better yet, give the audience a chance to participate. Don’t make it a monologue. Make the content interactive. Ask short rhetorical questions in the copy that would make them nod and shake their heads as they connect with you.
Crisp takeaways from the above:
- Research about your brand and your competitors
- Be (p)funny, absurd, or controversial to show your brand’s personality
- Ask “wh” questions
- Use a human angle and solve your audience’s problems
- Engage their senses; tell them glorious stories
- Give them facts and figures, and visuals to ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ over
- Make them participate, and leave them with a nice aftertaste
If you are at Influx and see a young lady immersed in researching content marketing with a passion, you’ll know it is Deepa Sai from our Content Development team. She has a double Master’s in psychology and social-work and is an avid blogger in her spare time.