August 29, 2020
Conquering the Character Count

Are you thinking about expanding your current service line to include paid social, organic social, or Google Ads? Then meet your newest challenge: saying something important and interesting about your product or business in ~125 characters or less while enticing your audience to take an action—clicking, converting, or just gaining brand awareness. Just name the goal, and we’ve helped a client tackle it.

Oftentimes, when writing copy for a platform, we want to fit in as many themes, keywords, and punchy one-liners as we can to capture our audience, but that’s not necessary. With an overload of things to read and scroll through on social media, your audience doesn’t have time to decipher what’s important in your message—you have to tell them—clearly, cleverly, and strategically. Don’t let your message get lost. Check out our suggestions as you start to narrow your focus, grow your ability to say more in less words, and accomplish your marketing and sales goals.

Preparing Your Priorities

Most projects start with a folder full of source materials to sift through before it’s ready to be molded into a first draft. Be sure to read through it and jot down a list of key themes that you can boil it all down to. These should be the key selling points of whatever you’re informing your audience about. For example, if you want people to click, it’s key to catch their attention quickly by providing some key value props. Here’s some other ideas to consider:

  • What about your product or business sets you apart from competitors? 
  • Is the goal of your ad to build brand awareness, drive traffic to your site, or to convert? Include a clear call to action so your audience isn’t left wondering.
  • What emotional triggers can you build in while still focusing on the point?

Bonus Tip: As a general rule of thumb, it’s also important to keep growing your vocabulary by reading. Whether it’s your favorite novel or today’s top headlines, it will help you advance professionally and expand your word bank. The more words you know, the less you have to use to get the point across—it’s that simple.

Writing What Counts

Next, it’s time to begin drafting. Start by evaluating the list of key themes you made. Then, make a list of words that relate to the ideas and themes you’re trying to convey—if you get stuck, use an online Thesaurus—even the professionals are doing it! Finding creative, short ways to say something will drastically decrease the word salad you might toss together if you’re writing in a stream of consciousness. It will also keep your audience focused on the message you’re trying to send as outlined in your initial brainstorm.

Also, explore creative ways to visually break up a sentence and its ideas with ellipses and em dashes—they can become pivotal turning points and profound inflections when trying to create urgency or intensity...but without the extra characters! Creating urgency is another great strategy to take when calling on your audience to click or convert. Think about it...if you know there’s only 2 days left to purchase something, or that there’s limited stock of something—aren’t you more inclined to take action?

Editing for Efficiency

Finally, and most importantly, it’s time to edit. With each slash of the letter, it can be burdensome to repeatedly check the characters and hit your target count, but with these tips, it can be done!

Shortcut Alert: Use shift+command+C on Google Docs for a quick count

Things to look out for: 

  • Redundancies and extraneous words that don’t add to your story
  • Make sure each word in the sentence is pulling its weight 
  • Remove prepositions, or at the least, reconsider their use in each instance 
  • Opt for active voice—typically cuts down on words 

In many ways, writing is like a formula. It can be challenging to make sure all the parts function properly, especially when there’s constraints working against you—but, it can be solved. Playing by the character count rules is achievable when you approach this type of writing in a new way. Perhaps this style forces us to be more creative, finding new ways to solve for X when saying Y. If you’re interested in partnering with Grit or expanding your current service line to include things like paid or organic social, just know that you’ve officially taken a tour of our copywriters’ minds, giving you an idea of what we find important when crafting copy that meets your specific goals.