What scriptwriting can teach us about writing for social media

Things have come a long way since the world’s first motion picture was screened at the Grand Cafe in Paris.

It was 1895 when French brothers Louis and Auguste Lumiere unveiled their new invention – a camera-projector called the Cinematographe – to the public by showing a brief film of workers leaving the Lumiere factory.

Subject matter about as exciting as someone posting a picture of their steak dinner on Facebook, but to a world that had never seen moving pictures before it was mind-blowing.

Fast-forward 124 years and the vast majority of people have their own personal movie camera at their disposal in the form of a smartphone.
As video stages a takeover on social media, we are exposed, more and more, to moving content.

But, while it’s only a pocket-sized version of the silver screen, there are similarities between the two. So what can the big screen teach us about the small screen?

The answer is – plenty.

Although writing for the big screen can seem like its own ball game, there is a lot to be learnt from scriptwriting, when writing for social media.

Here are our Top 5 take-homes:

1: Know your audience

Ask any scriptwriter for their number one tip and they’ll likely say “the importance of knowing your audience”. Because you can’t make a successful film without an audience to watch it.

This also applies to social media, as the whole point of social media is to create connections with other people. And to connect with people, you need to understand who your audience is and how to write in a way that appeals to them.

Before you sit down to write a social media post, think about who your intended audience is and tailor what you write to that audience. Understand what’s important to them, the stories they like, the language that they use and how you want them to feel when reading it.

2: Find your narrative voice

When writing scripts, it is essential to find your narrative voice, the tones and attitudes that characterise your writing. It is this voice that gives your audience something to connect with, and it’s equally as important when writing for social media.

By crafting a narrative voice, it allows you to develop a relationship with the audience, a relationship that you can leverage in your marketing.

Finding your narrative voice can be a process. Thinking about the way you talk in everyday life, is a good place to start in developing an authentic-sounding narrative voice.

Consider phrases or words you want to use (or avoid). Will you be serious or humorous?
Informative or entertaining? Another thing that you can do is look at other writers’ narrative voices, which leads to our next point.

3: Borrow (but not steal)

Writers, like all artists, get inspiration from a variety of sources and you can do that too. Draw on a mental bank of past stories and characters you have enjoyed.

Think about what social media content has stuck with you. What was effective? How can you use similar techniques to improve the content you write?

Start a swipe file where you can keep examples of content you like, and look at them when crafting your own content.

4: Beginning, middle and end

No matter how short a short film, even if it is a one-paragraph story it needs a beginning, a middle and an end to be a satisfying story. Once again this applies to social media writing. Even if it’s just a few lines of a post, having a setup and a conclusion will help give your content a feeling of completion.

Think about how you capture attention, draw the reader (or viewer) in and how to
deliver a satisfying conclusion.

5: Understand the takeaway message

When you’re writing for the screen, it always helps to consider what you want your audience to
take away from it. This is important to think about when writing for social media too.

How do you want your audience to feel after seeing it? What do you want them to do? Does it contain a call to action and how effective is that message?

Because all the fancy cinematography in the world won’t make up for poor storytelling. Except perhaps in the case of that very first motion picture screening at the Grand Cafe.

If you need help perfecting your social media script, send us a message, we will be happy to help!

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