First dates are awkward. We can all agree on this. On a first date, it’s too typical for the conversation to be so A + B = C (aka basic). What’s your favorite movie? How many siblings do you have? What types of music do you like? I I speak for all of us when I say I’d rather be stuck in 8am Atlanta traffic than answer another question about what I like to do to workout.

 C’mon…we can do better than that, right?

Of course we can. But there’s reason why first date questions are so unbearably awkward. The person doesn’t know you. These questions are the tools used in their attempt at bridging the gap. And if they don’t switch devices soon, there’s no chance at transitioning from first date to second date.

The same goes with your copy.

The best conversations are had with your life long friends, right? This makes sense. Your BFF from the second grade knows you (unlike that blind date). You two have a connection.  Effective conversational copy should mimic these types of relationships. Just like you would go to your best friend seeking advice for a problem you have, you do the same for a business—only you’re paying them to help you solve it.

So how do you do it? How do you create copy that sounds authentic and is conversational? It’s easier than you think. Follow these five musts when creating your content, and be prepared for your admirers to call you up for another date.

Five MUSTS When Creating Authentic Conversational Copy For Social Media:

  1. Join The Conversation Already Being Had.

This isn’t the “Your Brand Here” show. Once you understand that it’s not about you, it’s about them, you can begin to truly get to know your audience. This is key. Only after you get to know them and prove you can hang, will you get the invite to their party. And trust me, you want (and need) that invite. 

 It might seem difficult at first to join the conversation, especially if you are the new kid who just showed up and can’t seem to take two steps away from the wall. They key thing to do in this moment is listen. Listen to what other people are saying, then once you get the gist of what they’re saying, you can enter the conversation.

But, please, only say something worth saying. No one responds well to that forced comment that goes like: “oh yeah, totally, me too. I have this AWESOME product that will help…”. Do that and you’re likely to not get any new friend requests. 

  1. Talk Like Them.

This comes from knowing your audience and it can completely change your business. Knowing your audience enough to talk like them will increase connection and build trust. Talking like them shows that you understand them. And we all just want to be understood, don’t we?

This one can be a bit of a double edge sword. Leave out (or at least down play) any jargon that your audience isn’t using. HOWEVER, if your audience is super passionate about something and uses all the high-tech language only they would understand, you better be using it too. Are you confused yet? Take a deep breath. Again, this comes back to knowing your audience. 

Talking like your audience shows that you understand them and may be able to help solve their problem. After this happens, the tables will turn and now your audience will pause to listen to what you have to say. You better make it worth their while.

  1. Add Your Take.

You have to add something different to the conversation. If not, then what’s the point? No one likes their time wasted, and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing if you say what others are saying. Eyes will glaze over or roll towards the backs of their heads. And their wallets? Those will stay safely in their pockets. That’s not good for business.

You need to be different. You need to have that one (at least one) specific thing that makes you stand out. Ask yourself this, what does my business add to the conversation? What do I do differently? Unless you are piloting a completely novel idea, conversations are already being had around your business’ topic. How is it that you rise about the chatter? Highlight it whenever you can. Be known for this one thing first. People will begin to recognize you for it.

How do you add this take into your conversational copy? It’s simple. First, educate people on why your new take is so valuable, then foster a conversation around it. You should know this topic like the back of your hand, so talking about it should come naturally. Act as if you are telling a good friend about it. You wouldn’t talk at this friend, would you? If you did, they would be offended and would call you out. Instead, talk with them about it. Let them (and your audience) be part of the conversation.

  1. Go Deeper.

Don’t skimp with the questions. Think back to that first date scenario. Asking someone how they like to work out isn’t necessarily a horrible question, but it’s not that deep. Besides, this is information you should already know; If you’re business sells running clothes, you can assume your audience, well…runs.

Let’s play out this conversation:

YOU: What’s your favorite way to sweat?

THEM: “Running.”

I’m bored just thinking of this convo. It’s top layer.  For the most part, it warrants a one-word response. Instead, go deeper. Ask questions that bring up topics that are a second or even a third layer deep into a conversation, meaning you are assuming they have already done/know about A, B, or C. 

For example, instead of asking how your audience likes to sweat, ask them a more intimate question like: “What personal change made the biggest impact in helping you achieve your last running goal?” Here, you’re already assuming they have achieved (or are achieving) a running goal, and you’re asking how they did it. To those who this applies to, they are way more likely to engage with you because it strikes a personal chord, something that “how do you like to sweat?” just can’t reach.

You may start out asking your audience a question, but a great conversation renders them to ask you questions, too. You want this, like really, really want this. And you must answer their questions. You must respond to their comments. You must continue the conversation. You’ve worked so hard to get it off the ground, you can’t leave now. You do, and the door may lock on you.

  1. Reply.

Reply, recognize, and be spontaneous. Unless you’re writing a novel, a conversation isn’t scripted. You can’t pre-schedule unique responses, so make sure you are taking the time to check back in once people have engaged. Re-invoke your listening skills and take note of what they are saying. These comments and questions are great resources for starting new conversations. Let your audience inspire you, and inspire your audience. It’s a give-give relationship, not a give-take. 

Remain consistent, both with your brand’s voice and the occurrence of replies. Your audience will know if something sounds off-brand, and they won’t appreciate it if you go MIA.

Putting It All Together:

Conversational copy works best when you join the conversation already being had in a manner that your audience will value and understand, and then when you have listened enough to feel comfortable to speak up, make sure what you have to say goes deeper than first-date chat. And most importantly, keep the conversation alive. Social media is 24/7; your online conversations don’t have to stop.

*Originally published on Marion Michele's blog.

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