IPEd Conference 2021: Editing on the Edges

Social media editing and the challenge of constant change

Editing social media content in many ways sits at one of the edges of editing. Not only do you need the traditional skills and aptitudes of a good editor, you often also need to develop additional skills from neighbouring professions. As someone who now spends a fair amount of my work time on writing and editing for social media, I thought I would share my thoughts on the valuable role editors play in social media communications.

Same skills, different contexts

Coming to social media from a background of editing more formal documents, I could immediately see the advantage of my editorial training. Understanding the audience, their linguistic preferences and the context of the communication are all hugely important when communicating via social media, and are skills I have developed through editing. Likewise, being able to edit for conciseness and clarity is crucial, particularly given the character limits on some social media platforms. The context may be different from more traditional editing, but the skills are very much the same.

More than just editing

Beyond simply the words, editing for social media opens the door to developing new skills. It might be learning the peculiarities of a specific platform. Perhaps it’s graphic design. Maybe photography or video. The sheer diversity of content that can be produced for social media and the number of organisations who need people with skills to produce it well means that there are opportunities for editors who are interested in developing a broader skill set to bring their editorial eye to social media.

Meeting the challenge of change

Keeping up with the changing trends and nuances of different social media and their content can be tricky, particularly if you work across multiple platforms. Here are some suggestions that I have found helpful for meeting the challenge of constant change:

  • Follow or subscribe to sources you find useful, whether individuals, industry groups or companies. You don’t need to read everything, but it can be a good way to have a broad idea of what is going on.
  • Connect with a group or community where you can share information and ask questions, either online or face to face. It could be with other editors or, more likely, with people in neighbouring professions, like marketers, designers or copywriters.
  • Prioritise your professional development. Regular, practical skills and knowledge development is important for ongoing success in any career. Participating in events like conferences and workshops, where you can connect with other people who share your professional interests, can be especially valuable in expanding both your network and your skills.

Are you an editor of social media or, perhaps, an editor looking to branch out into social media? Editing for social media is something I have found both fun and stimulating. I’d love to hear your thoughts on social media editing, so feel free to leave a comment below. It’s also one edge of editing I hope we can explore more at the IPEd conference 2021.


About the author

An Associate Member of IPEd, Lauren Bevilacqua is an editor and writer who regularly works with social media. You can find out more about Lauren at lbevilacqua.com or find her on social media.

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Online, 28 to 30 June 2021
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