Social Media Writing In 2022 And Where Gen -Z Fits In
By Tim North (COM’22), Social Media Intern
Writing is simultaneously one of the most beautiful forms of self-expression and one of the most intensely frustrating because success in writing demands failure along the way. As a writer, your job is to translate the ideas and sentences in your head, onto paper. But, just like translating a foreign language, those sentences can come out sounding clunky and slow. Ideas that seem perfect in your head might not work on the page or computer screen. So, before we take a deeper look at writing for Gen Z, let’s look at the basics of the writing process.
The time out:
Sometimes all you need is a little space. Taking a break from your work can help you see mistakes that you otherwise wouldn’t catch. Something that sounded great to you yesterday might sound off today. Stepping away from your work to reset your mind is a great way to improve your writing, so make sure you give yourself enough time to take breaks.
If you can’t tell how your piece flows, read it out loud. You’ll catch spots that are grammatically correct but don’t sound quite right. Flow and momentum are huge in a written piece. A well-paced piece is easier to read and keeps your audience engaged. If the flow is important in your writing, then you should use this technique. The Eraser:
The editing process has saved me and countless other writers from putting out bad work. It’s the last line of defense my brain has to protect me from bad writing. And others would agree — the editing process is your last chance to fully realize your creative vision. So, how do you edit? Well, everyone’s different, but there are a few staples.
Someone who comes in and reads your work with a fresh pair of eyes. This method reduces bias and makes it easy for the proofreader to notice mistakes. A fresh perspective can work wonders for a piece. The more you read over your own work, the more desensitized you become. Small grammatical errors are easy to miss and sentence construction gets overlooked. But the proofreader sees all — listen to them.
So, we reviewed the building blocks of the editing process, but now it’s time to master your audience. After working in the Boston University PR department for the past few years and being a student myself, I’ve learned a lot about writing for college students. And there are a few things that you should always keep in mind when talking to college kids:
First, don’t be boring. College students are always online, which means they’re constantly bombarded by ads, videos, social media, etc. The competition for attention has never been higher. So, to stand out from the crowd, you need to produce interesting content. This doesn’t mean you need to make clickbait articles or produce work that doesn’t fit your brand. But it does mean that your content has to serve a purpose. Making work just to fill a post-quota cheapens your brand’s voice. But when your posts are focused on interesting and engaging content, you’ll get much more positive responses on social media. So, before you make a post, think to yourself, “is this content interesting, and does it serve a purpose?”
Second, if in doubt don’t imitate. Language is always evolving, and slang changes over time. Each generation has its own way of speaking. But unless you can speak to Gen Z authentically, don’t use any of their lingo. More often than not, you won’t use it correctly. And nothing is more patronizing than some company spewing random slang at you in an attempt to be more relatable (just look at the recent Spotify wrapped). You can still engage with college students without trying to imitate them. They’re adults, speak to them like it.
Some brands, however, have found their niche through their relatability. Companies like Wendy’s have gone viral on Twitter just by talking like a regular person. While this can certainly work, especially if you’re youth-focused, it’s riskier. You have to be really comfortable speaking like gen-z to have any success. And, in many cases, the big brands who make it work have teams of copywriters coming up with lines all day. So while it’s not off-limits, proceed with caution when using slang.
Third, don’t lie. Gen Z grew up during the internet age. By the time they got to high school, seeing massive Twitter mobs cancel companies was a common occurrence. They are one of the first generations that has a vehicle (social media) to hold companies accountable. And they’re demanding more. If you have any unsavory business practices, you constantly run the risk of a public outcry. Be as upfront and honest as possible. If you aren’t, you could face the wrath of an internet mob. Trust must be at the foundation of your relationship with Ge. Don’t neglect it.
Fourth and final, reconsider the full stop. To many in Gen Z, periods are used to show a wide range of emotions. The way you punctuate could imply passive aggression, annoyance, or rudeness. If you sent a text with full punctuation to Gen Z, they’d probably ask you if everything is ok. So when communicating informally (like on Twitter) try mixing up your punctuation. Using too many periods could make your tweets come off crass. Formal writing, however, should still use proper punctuation.
There’s no science to writing well, but as long as you give yourself enough time and put in enough effort, you’ll make something great. The tips in this article should help round out your writing. Keep practicing and keep forming your voice. You’d be surprised at how much your writing can improve with a little bit of hard work.