Have you ever considered what it takes to write copy or create an effective and engaging social media post? Do you set out with a strategy or just start writing?
When it comes to creating a social media post, the tone and approach of the writing is critical and must be carefully chosen. Understanding the intent of the appeal that is to be placed on the content you are writing, this will help with engagement and overall readership. Let’s take a closer look at appeal is incorporated into social media posts and what can generate engagement.
Humorous Appeal: a funny message, video or graphic can quickly attract attention, generate customer interaction and conversation.
• The City of Moscow, Idaho used “acronym humor” to draw attention to buried and hidden water meters and received an overwhelming response from the community.
• Another idea is to try to find humor in the service calls that your maintenance department receives. One utility was called out to retrieve a concrete canoe from their stormwater pond following an engineering class contest held at a local college. This could garner very local attention from college kids, fishermen or people who live near the area where the canoe sank.
Emotional Appeal: Emotions relates to feelings that are generated by message or graphic (or both) and include, fear, joy, happiness, nostalgia, safety, sadness, anger, anguish. Emotions can also be tied to social acceptance, status and involvement.
As mentioned earlier, the utility maintenance department is an area to find great content.
• One utility was called out because several ducklings were trapped inside the overflow pipe of a stormwater facility. The utility workers not only saved the ducklings, they crafted a solution to prevent small waterfowl from being trapped in the pipe in the future. A quick picture of the solution, or even just a stock photo of some ducklings could really draw people in, and leave their hearts feeling full.
Testimonial Appeal: Community members stories are more powerful that the utility explaining the program or message. Customers relate more to a peer’s experience or message more than one delivered by the company itself.
• In a recent survey for an electric cooperative, both participants and non-participants were interviewed as to their reasons behind signing up (or not) for a community solar program. Pulling a quote for someone who is part of the program, brings validity and realism to customers. “I thought the return on investment was well worth it for the cost, I can support solar energy without any installation or ongoing maintenance costs”.
Statement of Fact: Simply stating the facts. An example would be: “We are in a drought. It’s time to conserve water.” Or, “electricity rates are increasing year over year due to supply and demand.”
Promotional Appeal: Promotions have a start and end date and therefore create an urgency to act.
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Celebrity Appeal: A local, statewide or national celebrity speaking, endorsing or promoting a community event, utility program or objective, will resonate with those that respect and ‘follow’ that celebrity.
• In Washington State, Cisco Morris is a well-known Master Gardner, featured regularly on local news channels and speaks at many local events. He was casted in this you-tube video to share the “Call 811 Before You Dig” campaign.
Youth Appeal is messaging that relates to youth. One example for an electric company would be to post the score of a local football game with a message similar to Mason County PUD3, “we were there” or “proud to be providing electricity for the game tonight, local high school football is underway!” This will resonate with kids that were at the game and they may look for themselves in the photo or remember their night at the game.
Statistical Appeal: Numbers can simplify a message and attract attention.
• This City of East Point example demonstrates how a statistic can attract attention. By coming the numbers with the graphic, a strong statement is made to purchase plastic water bottles because most are not recycled. Instead employees are encouraged to use bottles they already have and reuse them over and over again with water from the tap.
• If you recently completed a survey, like the City of Lodi did, you should pull out 5 or 10 interesting facts and turn each of them into a post. It should be quick, but interesting. Something as simple as a cute photo of a dog and say “75% of Lodi residents scoop the poop in their back yards, at least weekly. Do you?”
Remember, picking just one kind of appeal, may not hit all of your intended target audience. Communicating the same message using different emotions will reach a wider target audience because naturally, different posts and emotions will resonate with different customers.
For example, you could try a ‘fear’ tactic of showing the earth dried up without water, with dead crops or dry river beds to demonstrate fear of drought and therefore encourage water conservation. Or you can show children or grandchildren getting tucked in bed at night with a glass of water by their bed to demonstrate safety and hope. This is messaging reinforcing conservation our natural resources to leave our earth in good condition for future children. The message is the same, ‘conserve water’, but the tone and appeal is very different.
Consider using appeal in your upcoming social media posts and see what happens. Then, share your comments here along with your posts so we can see the results!