Social Media Copywriting: Catch Your Audience’s Interest With These 8 Tips
If you’ve learned how to connect to an audience over social media, you likely learned organically. That means you create a post on your brand’s account, there’s a conversation, and people respond.
Handling social media for your brand allows you to present yourself and your own business in a curated, authentic way. While you might already think about #hashtags and keywords that describe your business, the expertise of your company, and your topic, you can amp up the engagement with your audience through a fuller exploration of your subject matter expertise and a bit of research. You can accomplish this by showcasing subject matter experts in your business or sharing your own thought leadership and specialized takes on industry happenings.
There’s an art to determining your brand’s voice, presenting the tone you want your business to embody, and consistently communicating the look and feel you’d like to exemplify on various platforms.
It’s not just a matter of throwing different types of content together — it is the art of copywriting for social media.
Read on to gain insight into the specifics of successful social media copywriting and our best social media copywriting tips for both beginner and experienced tweeters, bloggers, Snapchatters, Instagrammers, and more.
What Is Social Media Copywriting?
Social media copywriting is the skill of synthesizing brand messaging for social media platforms. Social media copywriters work either in-house for one employer or on a contract or freelance basis for different clients. Typically, they research clients and brands, conduct internal interviews, then propose and post copy that aims to fulfill the goals set by the client, company, or brand.
Often, the goal is some sort of conversion or call to action — an inspiration that gets the reader to do something. The goal could be to engage them in conversation, solicit their opinion to generate ideas, or encourage them to check out a recent blog post you’ve linked to and sign up for an email list.
Social media copywriters write posts in hopes of achieving the metrics and goals set by the client. They may be the same writers creating other types of content for you, such as website copy, blogs, and email campaigns. If you take an agency approach, you can find one writer or an ad hoc team of writers than can accomplish a variety of writing tasks.
When consulting, many social media copywriters do extensive internal research to learn about a company or brand’s true personality so that they can best reflect it in the social media posts they compose.
Copywriting for Social Media 101
Here are 8 of our favorite social media copywriting tips to put you and your brand on track for success.
1. Keep It Brief
For most social media posts and brands, brevity is the very soul of the game. While Twitter originally limited messages to 140 characters, it’s now 280 characters for most users. The idea is to keep messages compact, concise, and full of useful information. On Twitter, users create longer posts by replying to their original message, but brands tend to succeed with short and impactful messages.
On other platforms as well, short social media messages perform best:
- On Twitter, that means tweets between 120 and 130 characters with no more than two hashtags.
- LinkedIn allows a “see more” drop-down after about 200 words, and the most impactful posts stay above the fold.
- Instagram post captions should stay under 125 characters.
- The ideal Facebook character length for status updates is a surprisingly low 40 characters.
This doesn’t mean that every post should be super short, but it reinforces the twin ideas that consumer attention spans are fleeting, especially when browsing social, and impactful messages embrace brevity.
Social Media Copywriter Tip: If your message is particularly long, consider pitching it as a video, multi-message series, or blog post that you can link to with a clever social post.
2. Complement the Visuals
Consider whether your social media post will be paired with any visual content. Depending on your client or process, you may get to determine that — or your client or organization may provide you with this information. Either way, don’t forget to consider the visual impact of what you’re posting.
Appropriate images generally contribute to higher engagement, as 80 percent of the information people retain is visual in nature. Social media posts usually appear more often in feeds on platforms like Facebook if they include an image. People often include pictures of their pets or other attention-getters on personal posts “for tax” or the “Al Gore-rhythm” to ensure critical posts get seen.
Video or image-first platforms like TikTok or Instagram are almost entirely focused on the video or image, and the social media copy is there to caption, provide context, and encourage engagement.
3. Peep the Competition
Whether you’re repping your own company on social media or writing for a client or employer, you should know a key piece of info about who you’re writing for: a list of their competitors. What does the brand like or dislike about the competitors? What do they do well? And most importantly, what does your brand do that the competing brands do not?
These questions can provide you with fascinating post ideas and prompt you regarding what to highlight.
Social Media Copywriter Tip: Track competitor brands and use statistics like frequency and content to advocate for changes you think would benefit the brand you’re representing.
4. Stay Consistent
Your audience wants a dependable, reliable, trustworthy source of information. Whether your brand is fun and funky or serious and informational, your readers expect consistency. You can post employee features, contract updates, and behind-the-scenes photos while maintaining the same tone for your brand.
To stay consistent, think of your brand as a person, then write in their voice. Serious people attend birthday parties and comedy shows, just like fun people experience tough life events. To practice this versatility within a voice, check out the news and list some fluff pieces (like “Firefighter Rescues Disgruntled Kitten”) as well as other, more serious world news, perhaps about a global conflict. Determine how your brand would describe, amplify, and write about each one.
Staying consistent is one of the most challenging skills for social media copywriters, especially if they’re working on teams or need layers of approvals before their posts go live.
5. Keep It Conversational
Successful social media is a conversation. Comments, likes, and shares are valuable bits of engagement that you have to earn. Let your audience know you’re open to a conversation and ask them for their opinion when appropriate. If someone responds in a negative way, try showing some empathy without compromising the brand.
If controversy occurs, remember that every social media response is a branding opportunity. People are looking at how you handle tough situations as a brand.
6. Stay Active
Use the active voice to convey authority on your subject matter and elevate your brand with expertise. Here’s the difference:
- “This morning, three of our employees were honored with the Fantastic Award by our local community leaders.” This is written in the passive voice, putting your employees in the backseat when it comes to all the action.
- “Local community leaders honored three of our employees with the Fantastic Award this morning. Congratulations to Kim, Dan, and Dave!” This post is written in active voice, indicating that the community chose to honor your employees. The personalization at the end drives home the impact of your employees on the community.
7. Consider Your Audience
Who are the people you’re talking to? If your brand doesn’t currently include buyer persona information, investigate the demographics and psychographics of your social media followers on various platforms. You can even click through and check out the social media pages of your actual followers to get a peek into their worlds and day-to-day lives.
Social media copywriting involves embodying that audience and speaking to them like a trusted advisor. If you don’t know who makes up your audience, it’s tough to do that.
While many people think social media copywriting is as simple as writing a post, there’s more to it than that. This type of research is a primary example of how a social media copywriter’s research adds real value to each post.
If your company sells camping gear, for example, there are some things that might be helpful to know about your audience:
- Are these recreational campers or hardcore rugged survivalists?
- Do these campers have basic camping knowledge or would they appreciate some 101 info, like “how to dry your tent after rain” and other useful tips?
- Are these solo campers or are they camping with partners and families?
- Do they camp over the weekend or take week-long adventures?
- In what part of the country do they tend to camp? Are they camping in the winter or during the summer in dry climates?
- What are the other hobbies your campers have?
- What do these campers do for a living? How much do they earn? Can they afford multiple tents?
If you have a segmented audience — for example, some campers that are just starting out while others are hardcore survivalists — you can devise a strategy to target both your general audience and specific segments of your audience with different posts.
All these questions have answers that could generate dozens of social media post ideas using best practices for a savvy social media copywriter.
8. Put the Focus on Your People
Writing employee feature posts can feel formulaic as a social media copywriter. However, the copywriter’s skill involves finding the hidden gems and esoteric knowledge in each interview and response, turning it into something meaningful to share with the world.
Your brand has a logo, not a face — but most businesses have employees who could represent its brand, and your audience would love to see their faces and get to know them. If your brand manufactures products, your audience might appreciate a behind-the-scenes look at the person who designs, builds, or embellishes them. The beauty brand Lush does this well — besides featuring their employees on social media, their products feature names and cartoon illustrations of the actual people who packaged the product. This big company does a great job keeping it personal and also reflects positive internal marketing practices.
In addition to seeing the faces behind your brand, your audience likes to be featured, too. Reach out to one of your most loyal buyers or commenters and ask them if they’d like to be interviewed. With their permission, feature their photo with a quote from them about how your product or service helped them or about a topic related to your brand. Customer spotlights are an example of social media posts that take effort to create but offer the unparalleled payoff of increasing the sense of community around your brand on social media.
Remember: It’s not just about reaching out and connecting, it’s about constructing a feature in a way that encourages interaction and conversions from your audience. At the end of the day, copywriting is proven by conversion.
How Do I Start Social Media Copywriting?
If you haven’t had the opportunity to manage a brand yet, start with yourself. Do you write poems, make paintings, take pictures of interesting subjects, or engage in another creative hobby? Create a social media account for these adventures and experiment with post types, times, and frequency. As you do this, you’re also creating an example of an account you manage — one that can be used to land future gigs and to demonstrate that you can grow and engage genuinely with an audience.
You can also consider pursuing formal education in communications or in social media-specific subject matter. If you’re not up for the expense or devotion required by a traditional degree, you can take courses on LinkedIn or other reputable online sources to get yourself up to speed.
If you’re interested in social media copywriting, observe brands you admire and start practicing. Keep your audience in mind, make it a conversation, post consistently, feature your experts and anything that makes you different, and harness the power of brevity. If you’re hoping to hire a social media copywriting expert to do this for you, reach out to ContentWriters today.
Tara lives outside of Washington, D.C and is a storyteller. From marketing to serial fiction, guided meditation, and character-driven self-discovery experiences, she’s been writing and editing for decades.