June 8, 2022
Social Media Account Manager
Let’s take a trip down memory lane. You’re sitting in the back of Ms. Williams 8th grade English class. She starts mentioning something about author’s purpose, but between the sound of her squeaky expo marker and monotoned lecturing, you zone out. What you probably missed 20 years ago, before the words “social” and “media” even made sense together, might actually be the key to unlocking their potential!
To put it simply, the author’s purpose is their reason for writing or creating. Outside of 8th grade English, it serves as a key initiative in helping brands market themselves and their businesses online. In marketing, the actual term “author’s purpose” is seldom used, but if you’re posting on social media, you should certainly have one. When creating and sharing content, it’s important to have a clear goal in mind. What are you trying to accomplish?
A common mistake brands tend to make is posting solely for the sake of posting. They want to appear active and relevant online, tossing up a daily post without any sense of direction. Random streams of photos may take up space, but they’re likely not garnering the attention most brands are after. They don’t serve their author’s purpose.
Let’s break down author’s purpose into categories, or as we call them, ‘buckets’. The three we like to focus on are to inform, entertain, and persuade:
In the example of a restaurant owner, his purpose is most likely to persuade. Specifically, he wants to persuade people to come to his restaurant and try his food! A timeline full of scattered, un-targeted posts isn’t going to do that.
There is often a bit of overlap between the three buckets of author’s purpose, as a brand may have multiple goals in mind for their content. Maybe you want to post a funny video that teaches someone how to use your product correctly! Here you’re using humor, which entertains, you’re teaching, which informs, and you’re showcasing a product, which may persuade someone to buy. So which one is your author’s purpose? What is your point?
You can have multiple goals for your content. However, if we were back in 8th grade English, Ms. Williams would insist you pick just one, and she would be right to do so. You can have multiple goals, but you can’t have multiple main goals. When filming, writing, or otherwise creating content, it’s a good idea to focus on your main goal and build upon it.
Author’s purpose isn’t exclusive to writing, as some people may think. Pictures and videos also have a purpose to them! In these cases, the photographer and videographer are the authors. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what are you trying to say with yours? Let’s say our restaurant owner posts a pic of his famous mac and cheese. It’s the mouth-watering, gooey kind. It stops you mid-scroll. It’s dinner time, your stomach rumbles, and it’s definitely persuading you to come and try it! This picture serves the author’s purpose.
Call it what you want– author’s purpose, “buckets”, or something else, but it’s always important to remember your goal when marketing yourself or your brand. If you can’t discern a clear initiative in what you’re posting, then your viewers certainly won’t be able to either.
The best way to deliver your message clearly is to understand your author’s purpose from the get-go and create your content with it already in mind. Knowing your purpose is an essential building block of marketing that is often forgotten. Understanding it and utilizing it properly is key to building an effective marketing strategy that bolsters your business and gets your brand the attention it deserves!