Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet Peter Shankman. You probably already know about him, so I don’t have to give you those details. What you probably don’t know is that he’s a really good guy. I met him via Twitter over the winter, and he happened to be in Asheville yesterday, so I drove over from Charlotte. We had a coffee and then I sat in on his keynote address at the Carolina Connect conference, which focused on modern communications – cloud computing, social media, that kind of stuff. Most attendees were business types. I guess they always are at these things. Anyway, on top of being a good guy, Shankman electrified the audience. Now I know what you’re thinking – that I’m kissing ass here. But I’m not. He really is an outstanding presenter (no slideshow necessary). He covered a lot of material, but the one thing I took away was how he ended the address on attracting and retaining audiences in social media: “Want to keep your audience’s attention? Learn to write. Bad writing is destroying this country.”
Which brings me to something I’ve been saying for more than two years here – copywriters are the perfect people to engage in this medium. I wrote a post called Revenge of the Copywriter in January 2009. I encourage you to read it. In fact, I’ll wait.
What did you think? I wrote that a couple of months after arriving on Twitter, and stand behind the core ideas to this day. Why? Because I know copywriters. Now you might think that copywriters only specialize in writing witty headlines and that this doesn’t translate to a medium that needs to respond to customers, promote content or solve problems – and that these areas require a different skill set. But you know what I say to that? You don’t know copywriters.
I started a Linkedin Group called Copywriter’s Guild in 2009. It’s nearly up to 2000 worldwide members and let me tell you – we’re all different. There are copywriters who write really crappy billboards, but who are geniuses at explaining complex medical procedures. There are copywriters who specialize in specific industries like financial and retail. There are copywriters who speak different languages. But you know what they all have in common? They’re professional communicators who can write to any voice, or any brand strategy. Which is more than I can say for the intern you hired to manage your twitter account, or the account executive you asked to tweet some pictures.
Copywriters are still the best people to manage your social media campaigns. So why not hire one or two? Either that or go back to college and learn how to write effectively and with resonance and then get a few years of real-world experience under your belt before you unleash your talent in social media.
Shankman was right. In the world of social media, the written word is king. Success here is contingent on your ability to engage and hold the attention of your audience. Hire people who already understand how to do this.
Jim Mitchem, copywriter