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The social media world is noisy.
With more than 30 billion pieces of content shared per month on Facebook alone, you’ve got a lot of competition for people’s attention.
In order to cut through the static, you need to wield your words wisely. That means writing posts that stand out from the clutter and speak directly to what your audience wants.
Easier said than done.
The key to success starts with sharp writing skills. And by the time you’re done with this post, you’ll be a social media copywriting master.
Writing from scratch can be tough. That’s why we’ve bundled together some resources to help spark your creativity.
We recently rolled out a new tool called the Social Message Optimizer. Similar to our popular Headline Analyzer, it makes it easy to quickly gauge the effectiveness of your social media post (before you hit publish).
Enter your copy, click a button, and see your message score. Try it yourself here.
Posting on social media is easy. It doesn’t take much effort to write up a quick post with a link and call it a day.
On the other hand, crafting compelling copy that encourages engagement is tough. It takes skill and thoughtfulness to write strong posts. But when you have to write tons of posts for each network you’re on, sometimes it’s easier to cut corners.
Don’t give into that temptation.
If social media is important to your business, then invest in the time and resources it takes to do it right. You’ll see a difference in your results. That’s what you’re after, right?
Before we get into actual tips, formulas, and templates, let’s dig into some basic technical considerations for writing posts on different social platforms.
Every social network has a character limit. On some networks, this number is much higher than necessary for you to get your point across. On others (namely Twitter), you’re forced to focus on concision.
Hashtags are somewhat misunderstood. Each network has different best practices for their use. Know what they are.
Before you start writing copy for each social network, you need to know why people use those networks in the first place. This should guide how you approach crafting posts and choosing which content to share on any given platform.
It’s important to understand voice and tone for creating a consistent experience for your audience on social media.
Emotion drives engagement. So, infuse more emotional language into your social media posts. Start with this useful cheat sheet of emotional power words compiled from copywriter Karl Stapp:
Many copywriting fundamentals still apply on social media. That includes common time-tested formulas (which most seasoned marketers should be familiar with).
There are a lot more copywriting formulas out there. A simple Google search will help you find tons more quickly. However, not all of them are easily applied to social media, specifically. So, we’ve pulled together a small selection here to help you tweet, post, and share with flair.
This old warhorse has been a copywriting staple for decades. There’s a good reason for that, too.
Here’s how it works:
Wouldn’t life be better if everyone used your product? This formula is all about stating that case to your audience.
Here’s another classic. It’s similar to the first two we’ve looked at, but provides a clear path from getting someone’s interest and directing them toward a specific action.
We like this formula for its simplicity. It also describes what most every social media post should be, ideally.
Here’s another four-letter formula, this time with P’s instead of C’s.
Don’t tell all of the story in one post. Instead, create a gap that builds suspense using “open loops.” This entails giving people a hint about the beginning and the end, while leaving readers curious about how you got from point A to point B.
“Open loops are rooted in psychology. We need closure in our lives, and when we don’t get this closure, we feel anxiety, which spurs us to get closure, to find out more, to keep reading.”
We’ve covered the technical considerations for each network, and provided some simple formulas you can follow.
Next, let’s move onto to some easy-to-use templates you can use to write actual social media posts. Given that these are templates, they’re not wildly creative, and may require some tweaking to fit your messaging.
However, they should give you a decent starting point for crafting your own copy. They might even help get your own creative gears turning, too.
With organic reach declining, strong writing skills are more important than ever on Facebook. Your posts need to inspire action and motivate audiences to click, comment, and share, but without sounding overly promotional (more on that last point in our next section).
When you only have 140 characters to work with, then every word counts. Keep your Twitter copy brief, punchy, and entertaining.
LinkedIn is a professional network. So, make sure your posts reflect this. Keep your content free from fluff and stay focused on appealing to professionals in your industry.
Instagram is a highly visual platform. However, captions present an opportunity to give context for your images. You’ll need to use your own best judgment to match these up with relevant images (and if you need image stock to work with, we’ve got 80+ for you in this post).
Here are some bonus templates we’ve pulled together without any specific network in mind. Try using them as a base for your posts with our Social Message Optimizer and see how you do.
Did you know BMW has more Facebook fans than any other brand? Strong writing plays a part in that. Check out this post for an example:
It’s punchy, clever, and promotes their 4 Series Coupe without being pushy. In other words, it’s a perfect Facebook post for a retail or automotive brand.
Microsoft has undergone a remarkable branding transformation over the past several years. More than just the company that makes your office software, they’re now showing they want to be exciting and forward-thinking. Let’s take a look at this tweet for an example:
— Surface (@surface) April 10, 2017
It’s clear, concise, and includes an appropriate call-to-action. The image and link headline also help provide additional context to compel users to click.
You don’t have to be a marketer to know and respect Gary Vaynerchuk. He does an incredible job at creating inspirational content that, well, is actually inspirational (here’s a writing tip: stop slapping quotes from famous people on irrelevant nature photos). Instead, do what Vaynerchuk does and write your own motivational messaging. This example is great because it’s fill-in-the-blank format naturally encourages engagement:
A post shared by Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk (@garyvee) on
Few brands are on Arby’s level. The company digs deep to create creative posts narrowly targeted at specific interests (in this case, weightlifting):
Is it really that hard to re-rack? pic.twitter.com/80vY64BTLZ
— Arby’s (@Arbys) March 18, 2017
The post is short, clever, and entertaining. It feels like something people would naturally want to like, share, and comment on. There’s no hard sell pushing people to go to Arby’s, either, and it works 1,000%* (*not a real statistic) better because of it. Their marketing research page for franchisees also includes some background information on how infusing humor into their social media presence has accelerated their results.
What if you’re a publisher or media company, rather than a brand or service company? SB Nation, Vox Media’s popular sports vertical, shows how to weave strong storytelling skills into less than 140 characters. Here’s an example that creates intrigue by using an unusual fact to generate interest:
The first NFL Draft pick never signed a contract or played a single down. pic.twitter.com/YbMkpp8dje
— SB Nation (@SBNation) April 11, 2017
Marketers often get stuck in some common writing pitfalls on social media. Follow these tips to make sure you avoid undermining all your hard work.
In late 2014, Facebook cracked down on promotional posts. This means organic posts that sound too much like ads (or worse, outright SPAM) will be demoted in the newsfeed. Break this rule, and you can expect your organic reach to drop precipitously.
Here’s an example of a promotional post from Facebook:
Everything about this example feels like an ad, and not the sort of content people want organically in their newsfeeds. Notice this post directly pushes users toward a link to buy a product, too.
Here’s another example:
This example is similar, pushing users to download an app. As an advertisement, there’s nothing interesting or engaging about it.
Under some circumstances, you might be able to reuse post copy from one network, on another. In general, though, we’d advise against this. That’s because best practices and audience expectations differ on each network. Your short and punchy Facebook post might not do as well on LinkedIn, for example, and your hashtag-loaded tweet certainly won’t play well on Facebook.
Instead, craft each post for one specific network. If you’re promoting one piece of content across multiple networks, then adjust each social post for each one accordingly. This may take more time, but if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
It’s easy to just slap some copy together with whatever image, and call it a day. It’s also lazy and leads to weird-looking results.
If you’re looking to do some further reading, here are some resources we recommend looking into.
Style books are often boring. This one isn’t, and that’s what makes it a great guide for digitally-minded copywriters (a crowd that typically shuns all things dry and boring). It isn’t written specifically with social media in mind, but it remains a great resource for any writer to have in their library. You can find it on Amazon here.
MailChimp has developed a robust public style guide you can lean on for inspiration. It covers all areas of content writing for MailChimp, and includes a section on social media.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post. However, if you’re looking for more concrete examples of how to write well on social media, our post on writing for social media digs deep into specific details we haven’t covered in this post.
If you were neglecting your writing chops on social media before, we sincerely hope you won’t any longer. Now that you know how and why to write your best on every network, we’d bet you’ll see better performance from each post. Crisp copy that cuts through the crap will get you noticed.
Do you have any tips to add? Leave us a comment!
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