First, it was text messages that had a limited number of characters, then Twitter arrived, and we had to hone our skills at writing succinctly while grabbing attention.
And yet when we are writing B2B content for platforms where there aren’t restrictions we seem to forget we need to work just as hard to get people interested.
Just because you have more space to fill with words doesn’t mean readers have more time to read.
Most B2B content is consumed in a digital format rather than print now. We scroll headlines, and social media feeds to find interesting content, often making snap decisions about whether to engage – click through – and read based on just a few words.
The discipline of writing succinctly for a Tweet – although more characters are allowed now – is a good one. It teaches you to get to the point in an engaging way.
In just a sentence or two, you need to say something interesting or intriguing or useful. Or you want to make them feel something or react.
Maybe they’ll laugh or feel entertained or be inspired or feel admiration. Maybe they’ll feel empathetic or angry (preferably with you, not at you).
Connect with readers
The point is, your writing has to offer the reader something, to connect in some way or provoke some sort of feeling, and that has to be encapsulated by the headline on blog post or article or the first line of a LinkedIn post.
And headlines are much shorter than Tweets, so every word counts. You need to be clever – but not pun clever because they don’t do so well in searches.
A good exercise is to take a longer headline and see if you can rewrite it to make it shorter.
Then imagine you know nothing about the story/article/post and see if it still works independently.
Look around for inspiration
Want inspiration for really good short but (mostly) effective headlines? Take a look at the BBC news website.
And the first line of your content – the introduction – or second line of a LinkedIn post has the crucial job of keeping your reader hooked, so it needs to be firing on all cylinders too.
Think about a Tweet again. Your headline is your first sentence, and your introduction is your second sentence.
How does that second sentence build and maintain the intrigue or interest or emotion you established in the first sentence?
Those two small bits of writing are the most important you’ll write because if they don’t sell your content people won’t read on.
No favours from readers
In the crowded world of online B2B information, no one will do you any favours, so you need to give them a reason to give up their time.
Take a look at your best-performing pieces of content, whether it is a Tweet, a LinkedIn post or web article and compare them with pieces that didn’t perform so well.
Is there anything you’d now change on the low engagement content?
It might be simply that a particular topic didn’t resonate with your audience or your timing was off but it might also be that your headline and intro didn’t sell the content well enough.
You could always try editing and then republish to see if you can get some more traction.
What has been your best performing headline?