I examined the usability of online texts in my dissertation. I sketched five recommendations for social media editors, based on my research and on my article, The City on Twitter. The five recommendations each appear as a Word of the Week.
It’s better to tailor updates individually to each social media channel. Facebook updates for a city are usually written by hand, but tweets are often generated automatically from the first part of the city’s online notices. Most such tweets parallel the information about events and news appearing on the city’s website. Content is shared automatically to the Twitter stream, where links in the tweet redirect traffic to the city’s website.
These short teasers work better if they are rewritten for their new use, not merely copied from another text channel. Updates should give readers an informative summary and not simply offer a link to click. Text that’s auto-copied from another item tends not to do well on its own.
An update copied from a headline or the first sentence of a news release fails to encourage discussion or to include interactive features. Its language is usually more formal than other social media communication, which favors more spoken language usage in the style of online chats. Rephrasing the content and adopting everyday language will make for a much more effective social media teaser.