The “Bus Stop Test” For Engaging Social Media Content

The “Bus Stop Test” For Engaging Social Media Content

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment when creating batches of social media content and slip into the “social media for the sake of social media” trap. To ensure the content I create is always engaging, working towards a bigger goal and not just ticking the “I posted on social media today” box, I devised a checklist and test to keep my content on point!

The Bus Stop Test for Engaging Social Media Content

Social media is meant to be social, we all know that fundamentally, but when you’re writing content for a brand and you have business goals and content targets you need to hit, sometimes it is tempting to sneak in some broadcast or advertising style posts instead. Although those broadcast or advertising posts will rarely raise flags with your internal team, you and I both know that they are likely to fall flat on social media as content. If you don’t write your social media content to be engaging, or to start a conversation, or even allow for a natural response, chances are it will get posted and float through the timeline with nary a like, comment or share. So sure, you checked the post to social media box for the day but you didn’t really achieve the overarching goals, did you?

The mental role play exercise I like to try when I’ve written a piece of content meant to be shared on social media is I imagine walking up to a bus stop with a few people I’m familiar with but don’t really know, imagine it’s a bus stop you frequent and it has “regulars.” I imagine I make eye contact with someone, smile and when they smile back, I say whatever my post was to them and imagine their response. Do they laugh? Do they answer a question? Do they ask for more details? Do they offer an alternate opinion or enthusiastically agree with me? Or do they stare blankly for a moment then turn away and look at their phone? If I have to struggle to figure out how someone could possibly respond to the content, I head back to the drawing board.

A social post should engage your audience, meaning they should be able to naturally respond to or interact with your content. If they can’t, your content isn’t optimized for social channels and is {likely} a wasted effort.

A Checklist for Writing Effective Social Media Content

The bus stop test is only one of the four things to consider when trying to write effective social media content, here is the full list:

How to Write Effective Social Media Content

  1. Showcase the brand’s unique voice and personality

    Make sure the language, tone, messaging and aesthetic are consistent with the brand’s website and stated values or mission.

  2. Write for your target audience

    Consider why your post should matter to your audience, what are their pain points, motivations and desires? Avoid keeping your post generic and speak directly to your audience with language that connects with them.

  3. Drive business metrics

    Define what results will make this post successful for your business and make sure it’s optimized to achieve that goal.

  4. Prompt Engagement

    Does the post elicit a response? Is there a natural reaction or action someone will take when they see this post? If not, make sure to add an “engagement prompt” and run it through the “bus stop test” described above.

More Questions to Ask Yourself

Some of the questions you want to ask yourself might be are you using the right language? Is it the right balance of formal or casual for your brand? Is this the kind of humour that is on-brand for you? Would the CEO be caught saying this? Is it unique to the client or is it kind of generic? Does it show personality? Does it reflect the client’s brand values? Is it consistent with the experience clients can expect on the website or in person? If you can say yes to these you are on the right track!

Consider what you are hoping to achieve with this post from a business standpoint. Are you trying to gain more followers to fill the top of your funnel? Are you trying to drive traffic to your website? Are you trying to convert from this post? Is there a clear CTA? Will it compel people to click like, share or comment? Will it elicit the response we are looking for? Not everything has to be a sale but it should engage the audience in some way. Define what results will make this post successful in your businesses eyes and make sure it is optimized to achieve that goal. The trick is doing this while balancing the rest of the items on the checklist!

I know this seems like a lot to consider for every single social media post – especially if you’re writing enough to fill a week or a month at a time – but once you get used to it, the writing will come easier and the results will be better!

Do you love or hate the bus stop test? Have another tip for writing effective and engaging social media posts? Let me know in the comments! If you liked this post and found it valuable, please share so others can discover it too! Good luck with your next batch of content writing and let me know if there are other topics you’d like me to write on.

Remain awesome,

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