Your readers will only gobble up small pieces of information at a time.
Writing concisely has always been an important skill for nonprofit communicators, but email and social media have made it a necessity.
To get your message across, you have to say it well and say it fast.
You can’t expect supporters to dive into your website, newsletter or other written materials unless you entice them with pithy, pointed or engaging subject lines, headlines, tweets and status updates.
That’s where microcontent comes in.
Your email subject lines, social media updates, and headlines all have an enormous amount of power, but you only have a small amount of space to accommodate all of that power. And while you don’t have a lot of words to work with, these areas are the some of the most important you’ll write.
Some professional writers will draft 25 versions of a headline for an article before they pick the one they’ll use.
Other writers will spend 20% of their writing time on the body of the article and 80% of their time getting the headlines and subheadings right.
Why? Because that’s what people read.
Here are six time-tested ways to punch up your microcontent and get more attention.
1. Use the Word “You” or “Your”
Make it personal for the reader. People like to read about themselves!
- You Still Have Time
- It’s Your Choice
- A Video That Will Make You Laugh and Cry
2. Use the Word “My”
People are often more responsive to personal stories and recommendations from peers than from seemingly impersonal organizations. Using the word “my” sparingly can make your emails feel more one-to-one.
- My Reason for Giving In
- My Favorite Way to Save
- How I Made My Decision
3. Use a Number (e.g. Top Ten, 5 Ways to. . .)
Numbers can boil down the overwhelming to a more digestible form.
- Five Ways to Get Kids to Eat More Vegetables
- Three Neighbors Whose Lives You’ve Changed
- Top Ten Reasons to Register
4. Start with “How To”
We are all looking for easier, faster, cheaper ways to get things done.
- How to Stop Animal Abuse in Your Community
- How to Teach Your Child to Share
- How to Give – and Save
5. Add a Deadline (e.g. Last Chance, Ends Friday, 5 Hours Left)
Genuine urgency can motivate action, as long as it doesn’t sound like a sales pitch.
- 10 Hours Left to Double Your Gift
- Last Chance to Get Your 2018 Tax Deduction
- Early Bird Registration Ends Tomorrow
6. Ask a Question
Readers will think, hmm, do I know the right answer? Let’s see . . .
- Do You Know What Your Kids Eat at School?
- What’s Next for Billy Joe?
- Can You Spot the Mistake in This Video?