What can [pop culture reference] teach us about better copywriting?

Man watching TV

Phwoar! Can you believe that [pop culture reference] is happening? It’s the latest [film/tv show/song/meme] to sweep the internet, and since we’ve got our finger very much on the pulse here at Sookio, we figured it was ripe for some delicious, steamy content!

With all the hubbub around [pop culture reference], it’s impossible not to get drawn into the craze. Even if you don’t [watch/listen to/consume] it yourself, no doubt your [friends/colleagues/family members/pets] will be bending your ear with all the latest gossip, rendering escape from the zeitgeist little more than a futile reminder of your own looming mortality.

But what makes it such great [content genre]? What lessons can you take from [pop culture reference] and apply to your own digital marketing to net some of that delicious hype for yourself?

As always, Sookio has the answers, in delicious snackable list format. As [breakout character] would say: [quotable catchphrase]!

Couple looking at iPad

Make it conversational

What we love most about [pop culture reference] is the feeling of genuine warmth it’s bringing to [homes/workplaces/prisons] around the UK. It’s something people of all walks of life can come together and talk about authentically.

Think about the copy you’re producing. Does it make you feel the same way? Good writing sidles into the brain and makes you forget you’re reading something. Bad writing is jarring, unnatural, and an instant turnoff.

There’s all sorts of ways to make sure your writing feels like it’s coming from a person, not a brand, including:

  • Using contractions. People don’t say it is, they say it’s.

  • Speaking in plain English. People aren’t aligned, Daleks align. People agree, or they’re cool with stuff or whatever.

  • Shortening sentences. Keep superlatives to one or two per sentence, overwriting is as bad as bad writing.

Always read what you’ve written out loud. If you’re stumbling, tripping, or running out of breath: go back and tighten things up.

Have an opinion

How about that [breakout character], eh? What a card! [He/she/they/xir] ain’t afraid to go there, if you know what I mean, and people love [him/her/them/xim] for it. But despite having strong opinions, we trust that it’s all coming from a good place in the heart, not like [antagonist/outsider/’othered’ character] who’s just being a douche.

In the same vein, there is a lot of content getting lobbed at the internet nowadays, and very little of it is saying anything worth listening to. You need to cut through the noise and inject some emotion.

Use your industry knowledge to give your audience more than just the cold, uncaring facts. How do you feel about the latest trends? How does the news affect your working day? Where are we going from here?

The great thing about opinions is they don’t have to be right. They just have to show that you’re a human being who cares about what you do. If you start an argument: great! Free engagement! That has to be better than just retweeting Mashable for three likes a pop.

Group watching TV

Give your people what they want

The [writers/creators/directors/illuminati] behind [pop culture reference] know exactly what we, the British people, want from our [content genre] and they’re generous with it! Does it start to feel a little formulaic after the first few [seasons/episodes/minutes]? Sure, but if it’s a great formula, why mess with it?

Understanding your audience doesn’t have to be an exercise in cynical exploitation. If you have the power to produce content that connects with people, do so in a way that leaves a positive impact and provides value.

You can’t please everyone. Write with your ideal audience’s wants and needs in mind, and don’t compromise your voice to chase people who will never be interested in what you’re selling.

If there’s someone on your creative team who pedantically obsesses over every little touch of flair and personality you put into your copy in case every last one of Earth’s seven billion citizens don’t get the joke: fire that person. From your team or from a cannon, your call.

Structure is everything

[Pop culture reference] can be an emotional rollercoaster. Think of the dizzying high you experienced wondering if [character A] would ever [find/save/romance/defeat] [character B]. Then, all of a sudden, it’s over and you’ve got to wait another [day/week/year/minute if it’s on Netflix] for your next fix. You’re not being bombarded by content, it’s a curated journey.

Treat your copywriting in the same way. Walls of text (even great text) will overwhelm the audience. Instead, try:

  • Short paragraphs to make your messages more digestible.

  • Tables and graphs to visualise important stats.

  • Bold headers and subheadings with great titles to make it all skimmable.

  • Pull quotes and highlighted segments to direct attention.

  • Numbered lists, or even bullet points if you’re an absolute legend.

Woman changing the TV channel

Consistency cultivates perfection

As soon as you [see/hear/smell] the [distinctive element] of [pop culture reference], you know exactly what you’re in for. It’s those reassuringly familiar touches which draw you into the unique universe of [pop culture reference].

Your content needs to do the same. Everything you produce needs to feel like it belongs as part of the same, cohesive whole. Write some tone of voice guidance if you don’t have some already. Set out some ground rules:

  • What would your brand look and sound like if it was a person?

  • What values and philosophies shape the way you communicate?

  • Which keywords do you target for various topics you discuss?

  • Do you use the Oxford comma?

It’s also a good idea to designate a higher authority, someone with a much more developed set of conventions who can act as the final arbiter in creative disputes. At Sookio, we use the Guardian style guide.

Use images to bring it all to life

[Pop culture reference] isn’t just great [content genre], it’s a feast for all the senses. The way [visual element] riffs off [audio element] to create such a sublime experience is what bagged the team [accolade/achievement/award], of which they should feel justifiably proud.

Your copywriting can’t exist in a vacuum if you want to reach the same heights. Take the time to search out images which complement what you’ve written. Naff stock photos aren’t going to cut the mustard, you need something colourful and clever which captures the essence of what you’re trying to say.

Working with a professional designer can take so much weight off your shoulders in this regard. Their informed opinion can add dimensions to your writing which would never have occurred to you, especially if you, like me, just aren’t a visual thinker. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Dog watching TV

Back your talk

When all’s said and done, the ground-breaking cultural significance of [pop culture reference] isn’t just a feeling or a catchy [element], it can be measured in real terms. Want a concrete example? In the first [time period] alone, they clocked up:

  • [Metric]

  • [Metric]

  • [Metric]

Impressive, huh? Your copywriting can make the same kind of impact with the addition of a few simple facts and stats. People respond well to numbers, they’re hard to argue with but very easy to use to your advantage.

Sprinkling some stats into your copy gives it weight and counteracts some of the perception that copywriting is just words. The same goes for social proof. Testimonials add the social currency of whoever gives them to your cause, resulting in strong foundations before you’ve even had to write a word yourself.

Content from Sookio: Always ahead of the curve

By now you’ll have realised that, here at Sookio, we’re always first with the learnings, and we know just how to make ‘em dance in the service of our lovely clients.

Talk to us about world-class copywriting, and turn your digital marketing into the next big thing!