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This site is currently under construction. We are, however, pleased to say that the SMU 102 Digital Copywriting Unit is now open. We've also added Marketing Principles and an Intro to Public Relations. Our Content Marketing Unit is currently in development.

SMU 102 - Session 5: Digital Writing Context

Purpose/Aim of this session

This session builds upon your initial knowledge of traditional copywriting that we covered in the first half of this unit. To gain the most from this session, approach like like it's a bridge between traditional copywriting and digital copywriting.

The first half of this unit covered traditional copywriting for brand messages in print format. In truth, the rules for digital copy are the same as those for traditional brand message formats like print, radio and television. The main difference between traditional and digital copy is how the confined space operates.

In this session, we will begin to adapt and map the rules of traditional copywriting to creating brand messages for online/digital audiences. 

Learning Aims for this session:

  • You will explore the ways in which the confined space determines the structure and production of digital copy
  • You will develop an understanding of the relationship between copy produced for print, television, radio and digital/online audiences
  • You will explore approaches to making digital copy 'portable'

Learning Outcomes for this session:

At the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an ability to explain the relationships between brand personality traits, the 7 storytelling elements, the 6 levels of meaning and digital copywriting
  • Compare and contrast the form and function of print copy and digital copy
  • Apply theory to practice by developing approaches to producing copy that grabs an online audience's attention.

How this Session Works:

  1. Read through the Overview that accompanies this session. This provides an overall context for the session
  2. Work your way through the items on the Preparatory section that accompanies this session
  3. Listen to the Lecture that accompanies this session
  4. Work your way through the scenarios in the "Scenario" tab. Scenarios are practical activities to develop your critical thinking and apply your knowledge to a specific component of copywriting
  5. Work your way through the template in the "Template" tab. The template will support you as you take the first steps in developing your own brand messaging copy
  6. You can browse through some carefully selected material in the "Reading Room" tab. These materials will build upon your knowledge of copywriting

SMU 102 Session 5 Study Activities

  • Overview
  • Preparatory Activities
  • Lecture
  • Scenarios
  • Template
  • Reading Room

digital copywriting vs traditional copywriting

When it comes to digital copywriting - the production of brand messaging for online audience - things look the same as traditional copywriting for print publication, television and radio audiences at first. Traditional and digital copywriting are similar, however, they are not the same. It's all about the nuances. Understanding and transferring the rules of effective traditional copywriting to digital brand messaging makes producing copy for both a seamless experience.

First and foremost the main difference between these two brand messaging approaches is moving from writing stuff that interrupts people to making things that people care about and want to share.

    "Digital media doesn’t have the same physical
    constraints as traditional media. This creates the
    potential for an audience to engage with content
    where and when they want to."
    The Razorfish Nimble Report by Rachel Lovinger

    "It’s not just TV, print and brochures anymore.
    That’s boxed-in thinking. Today it’s about being
    a storyteller and connecting out of the box with
    ideas that can spread across the Internet in ways
    we haven’t begun to imagine yet. Not all clients
    are ready for digital— and some are still making
    brilliant traditional advertising— so we need writers
    that can work successfully in both worlds."
    John Richardson. Senior integrated copywriter and digital content strategist

Traditional branding messaging is boxed in with the kind of media that it's  given – TV, print, brochures, billboards. On the digital side, we have to think about what it is we want to do, and work back from that. Content is no longer king. Ideas are the new digital currency. This completely opens up where ideas can go and how we become part of people’s lives and their culture.

Simply put, digital content needs to be free – to go where and when people want it most. In particular, content has to be mobile, and it has to be social.

As a brand messaging producer, being nimble is about quick adaptation and preparation for future opportunities.

Useful, usable, relevant, engaging and shareable

Digital copywriters can collaborate with a wider range of people, from technologists right through to the customer. So we don’t only work with an art director and limit your thinking to media space or content. Now we make things that are useful, usable, relevant, engaging and shareable. This is the transformative nature of digital.

Be part of the conversation

If we start getting away from connecting with people through boxed-in media and start creating ideas that connect and engage in ways that are truly meaningful, then we can start building brands that are part of the conversation out there.

That's the plus side of digital content and digital content - its anywhere, anytime access to an audience.

The challenge is the confined space of how people access and interact with content and copy online. In the online world, we're faced with stiff competition for people's attention. We are challenged by profound trust issues. Trust is in short supply when it comes to people parting with their money, time/attention or their personal information online. With so many businesses, services and organizations around the world competing for attention on the Internet...creating a slippery slide is critical for online brand messages.

This session covers the benefits and the challenges of the Internet's confined space.

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  1. We suggest that you download the diagram below. This diagram overlays Sugarman's approach to copywriting over the brand storytelling process covered in the SMU Branding Unit. This will be a helpful diagram to have to hand as we cover digital copywriting. As you work your way through the remaining digital copywriting unit, map the main points covered to the applicable section(s) of the diagram. In this way, you will build and enhance your overall knowledge of the brand messaging process.

    Copywriting: 7 Story Elements and Six Levels of Meaning Diagram by SocialMediaU-USA



  2. The short article below provides a great overview about the similarities and differences between print and analogue copywriting and copywriting for online audiences.

    Green, A. 2011. 5 Qualities of an Awesome Digital Copywriter. http://greenad.am/blog/digital-copywriter

  3. This session focuses on just how confined the confined space is when it comes to producing copy for online audiences. The short article below addresses the issue of just how important it is to grab a prospective audience member's attention online.

    Shaviv, M. 2014. How to write well on digital: It's not like print.
    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140401085933-13721119-how-to-write-well-on-digital-it-s-not-like-print

  4. Rachel Lovinger is a content strategist at Razorfish, and last year wrote a report on nimble content – meaning content that can travel freely from its original location, retaining its meaning and context, but also capable of being inserted into new products. The report should prompt your thinking about how we apply and transform the rules of traditional copywriting into online and digital spaces. We will be covering digital content and digital publishing in great depth in the Digital Content study unit.

    Please read: Lovinger, R. 2010. nimble: a razorfish report on publishing in the digital age, Razorfish.
    http://nimble.razorfish.com/publication/?m=11968&l=1%22%20target=#{%22issue_id%22:38837,%22page%22:2}

  5. Speiser, G. 2014. How Copywriting Fits into an Integrated Marketing Strategy, Optimum 7.
    http://www.optimum7.com/internet-marketing/copywriting/how-copywriting-fits-into-an-integrated-marketing-strategy.html

  6. Please read: Godin, S. 2005. Who's There?: Seth Godin's Incomplete Guide to Blogs and the New Web, Do You Zoom, Inc.
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/files/whos_there.pdf

  7. Please read: Godin, S. 2005. Everyone's an Expert (About Something): The Search for Meaning Online, Squidoo LLC. http://www.camelpark.hu/seo_pdf/EveryoneIsAnExpert.pdf

  8. In a world with Vine, Snapchat, Facebook, Wordpress, Tumblr, and Twitter, how can branding people capture an audience's attention to make their voices heard? Think about Sugarman's Slippery Slope and Buying Environment, as well as headlines and opening sentences, as you watch the video below.

    In this 99U talk, best-selling author and founder of VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk breaks down how our work can cut through our current "A.D.D. Culture" — one where we binge-watch entire television seasons in one sitting and prefer texting to phone calls.

    "We've gotten to a point where everything is on our time," says Vaynerchuk, "So why is everyone storytelling like it's 2007 in a 2014 world?" The best digital storytellers, he says, use the social media to "hook" audiences in for the deeper stuff. We should give, give again, and give some more before ever asking for anything from our community. "We have to start respecting the nuances of every platform."

    Warning: this video contains adult language and is probably not safe for work (NSFW).



Read More

The lecture for this session is a digital brand messaging web clinic from Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, CEO and Managing Director, MECLABS.

McGlaughlin presents two case studies of marketing teams that increased online audience engagement by adding clarity to their value propositions. This video is from a purely digital copywriting perspective. He also teaches six techniques that branding people can use to differentiate their value propositions in highly competitive markets.

When watching the video, think about what we've covered throughout the Branding Unit, especially the sessions on value propositions and benefits. Think about what we've covered in the first half of this unit, particularly with regards to Sugarman's approach to copywriting.  Lastly, refer to the Copywriting: 7 Story Elements and Six Levels of Meaning Diagram provided in the Preparation Activities section for this session.

 

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Introductory scenario activity

Below you will find some handy infographics about content marketing strategy. This is an subject we will be focusing on in great detail in the Content Marketing unit. However, digital copy has a crucial role to play in the content marketing process. And this is a good point in the overall course for you to begin exploring and considering the relationship between copywriting and online content. Whatever we write must be produced with online audiences in mind. And, as we've covered in the lecture, online is a very, very confined space indeed.

Read the infographics below before moving on to the scenarios, which follow below the infographics. In your mind, map the relationship between copy and digital/online formats. See how copy can be used online? think about how the copy you produce interacts with the other digital content elements (images, music, etc).

In truth, there is nothing new here in terms of theory or concepts directly relating to branding or copywriting or strategy. We've covered all of these in the units and sessions to-date. It's is only the format and the expression - on the form of digital and social media formats - that illustrate the concepts of brand, strategy and copywriting in a different way.

 

Scenarios

The scenario activities below are for you to apply critical thinking to the similarities and differences between copywriting for online and offline audiences.

Each scenario features a brand message campaign. Each brand campaign uses a variety of messaging formats: print, online, television and radio. Because it's the same campaign, each format carries the same central message, however, that central message is conveyed in very different ways depending on the media format used.

When assessing each scenario, think about how the layout, design, copy etc maximizes the confined space they were created for. Think about the slippery slope and how its used to engage an audience for each of the formats. Think about how the problem/need is introduced as well as the provision of the benefit. How is the same emotion trigger used in different ways in the different forms the brand message takes? Specifically, how is the central message delivered online compared to other brand messaging media?

Scenario 1: SPCA New Zealand | Dogs This Smart Deserve A Home

Online Video

Print

Dogs this smart need homes print advert

Social Media

Dogs this smart need homes facebook advert

Questions

  1. Each of the above brand messages contain the same overall copy and content. How has the confined space influenced the presentation (i.e. layout, content, etc) for each brand message?
  2. How has Sugarman's slippery slide been used in each of the 3 different messaging formats?
  3. Despite the different formats, the SPCA speaks to the same audience. How do the different media used engage this audience? What are the similarities and the differences?
  4. How does each medium use emotional triggers? What are the similarities and the differences?
  5. How does each medium use a call to action? What are the similarities and the differences?

Scenario 2: Re-born To Be Alive | Reborn Apps

Brand Message Context

Re-born To Be Alive is an organisation that recruits organ donors. This project gives unused smartphone apps a second life as a registration medium for organ donation.

Online Video

Print

Reborn Apps print advert

Questions

  1. Each of the above brand messages contain the same overall copy and content. How has the confined space influenced the presentation (i.e. layout, content, etc) for each brand message?
  2. How has Sugarman's slippery slide been used in each of the 2 different messaging formats?
  3. Despite the different formats, Reborn Apps speaks to the same audience. How do the different media used engage this audience? What are the similarities and the differences?
  4. How does each medium use emotional triggers? What are the similarities and the differences?
  5. How does each medium use a call to action? What are the similarities and the differences?

Scenario 3: Graze | Snacking Re-invented

Brand Message Context

Armed with a minimal budget, this new entrant to the UK snack industry began with a strikingly simple - yet highly effective - website and email campaign. Next followed a series of online videos. Then, and only when profits allowed, Graze launched its TV advert campaign.

Website

Graze website screen grab

To appreciate the beauty of clean, simple, trigger-loaded and effective copy, we suggest you check out Graze's website: https://www.graze.com

Email copy

Graze email copy

Online Video

Social media

Graze Facebook page

Print advert

Graze print ad

Television advert

Questions

  1. Each of the above brand messages contain the same overall copy and content. How has the confined space influenced the presentation (i.e. layout, content, etc) for each brand message?
  2. How has Sugarman's slippery slide been used in each of the different messaging formats?
  3. Despite the different formats, Graze speaks to the same audience. How do the different media used engage this audience? What are the similarities and the differences?
  4. How does each medium use emotional triggers? What are the similarities and the differences?
  5. How does each medium use a call to action? What are the similarities and the differences?

Scenario 4: Samsung | We Are David Bailey

Brand Message Context (Case study)

TV & Online Video

Billboard

Samsung We Are David Bailey billboard ad

Social Media

Samsung We Are David Bailey social media campaign

Questions

  1. Each of the above brand messages contain the same overall copy and content. How has the confined space influenced the presentation (i.e. layout, content, etc) for each brand message?
  2. How has Sugarman's slippery slide been used in each of the different messaging formats?
  3. Despite the different formats, Samsung speaks to the same audience. How do the different media used engage this audience? What are the similarities and the differences?
  4. How does each medium use emotional triggers? What are the similarities and the differences?
  5. How does each medium use a call to action? What are the similarities and the differences?

 

Read More

The template below has been provided to help guide you to plan brand messaging campaigns specifically for online audiences.

It is devised to illustrate the importance of copy through all of the stages of engaging a potential customer online - from the initial enticement to s/he becoming a loyal member of your audience.

SMU102 Session 5 Template - Digital Copy Context by SocialMediaU-USA

It has been adapted from a template created by 3 to 5 Marketing http://3to5marketing.com/the-only-content-map-youll-ever-need/

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The Reading Room for this session provides carefully selected resources for you to further explore copywriting concepts, elements, issues and practice.

Maslen, A. 2009. 100 Great Copywriting Ideas from Leading Companies Around the World, Marshall Cavendish Business, Singapore. http://elibrary.com.ng/UploadFiles/file0_1664.pdf

Potter, D. 2006. Handbook of Independent Journalism, US Department of State.
http://www.ait.org.tw/infousa/zhtw/DOCS/journalism.pdf

Reuters Handbook of Journalism, Reuters. Modified November 2009.
http://handbook.reuters.com/extensions/docs/pdf/handbookofjournalism.pdf

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