There is definitely an art to writing impactful social media content. But first, we must understand what social media is. We all know what the platforms are—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and others—but we need to further understand why these platforms exist.

According to Wikipedia, social media is interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. The simplified definition is platforms that enable users to create and share content for social networking.

According to Statista, social media is one of the most popular online activities, with an estimated 3.6 billion users worldwide in 2020. That number is projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025. As marketers, this offers a lot of opportunity to sway consumers. But we must also understand that social media is not necessarily about selling products or services, but about building awareness and credibility and creating an online community, which further establishes trust and expertise.

Now let’s get into the six tips to writing good social media content:

1.      Connect on a personal level

The actual content or language of our posts matter. Brands need to find a way to connect with their followers and establish a level of trust, comfort and community through words. Depending on the nature of your business and the personality of your brand, you may take a more or less formal approach to content, but either way there’s always a time and a place for humor or adding a little fun to your posts. The content you write needs to exude confidence and knowledge, but also connect on a more personal level with your audience. Figure out who your followers are and speak to them in their language. Words have a profound impact.

2.      Establish tone of voice

Tone of voice is how you speak to your followers on social media. Your tone of voice will be contingent on your brand personality and may vary by channel. Are you friendly, positive, playful, sarcastic, direct, warm, authoritative or inspiring?  Tone of voice will also determine how formal or informal you are in your writing. For example, should you use contractions like “it’s” or write out “it is”? These things may seem minor, but they matter. Believe it or not, judgements will be made about your brand based on small things that may seem insignificant.

3.      Consider attention span

Knowing who your followers are will help you figure out how much information they can take in before losing interest or moving on. The attention span of users on social media is only seconds.

Is your product or industry something that may need more explanation? For example, a pizza company doesn’t need to explain their product, but a supplement company will need to communicate a lot more about their products, such as what ingredients are in the product(s), what benefits they provide and more. This means that the length of the posts will most likely be much longer for a supplement company than for a pizza restaurant. Regardless, you always want to be as succinct as possible. Avoid fluff words or words that do not add anything to the post. If you can remove the words and the post still communicates the same point in the same way, then the words are not necessary.

4.      Share expertise

As I mentioned previously, building trust and establishing credibility is key on social media. But it is not easy. Our instinct on social media is to want to talk about our product or service in order to sell. But the reality is, followers do not want to be blatantly sold to – they want to feel like they are being entertained or gaining knowledge. One way to reel them in is to solve a problem. Offer them useful information about your industry as a whole – not just about your product or service. This will establish your brand as the expert and will in turn build trust. Educating may mean sharing information or articles relevant to your industry but perhaps not specifically about your product. For example, if you are a paper towel brand, your goal is to get people to buy your paper towels. But first you need to offer information a consumer can use that will entice them to purchase paper towels. In this case, maybe it is a blog (one you write or one someone else wrote) you share that offers 10 uses for paper towels. Of course, it’s always better to send your followers to an article you wrote as it further solidifies your expertise. Sharing useful information is extremely powerful.

5.      Stir emotion

It is important to be transparent, personal and ultimately authentic on social media. Social media platforms are a place to be less formal and more human. Content that communicates on an emotional level and builds empathy will resonate well with followers. This can be humor, cute pictures of animals or babies, philanthropic causes or just showing your human side through written content. Studies show that content that elicits “high arousal” emotion is more likely to be shared than “low arousal” emotion.

Power words are another way to invoke emotion which has the power to engage people. They are persuasive and compel readers to take action. Some examples of power words for social media include free, new, proven, easy, exclusive, more, yes, immediate and others. You can find a variety of power word lists online, but keep in mind they can also differ by platform.

6.      Ask questions

People want to express themselves, especially on social media. Asking questions in your posts gives your audience an opportunity to voice their opinion and join in the conversation. Not only will it create engagement, but it tells your followers that your company cares about what they have to say. It is a great way to build an online community and once again build trust.

Here are a few examples of types of questions that work well on social media:

  • Poll or survey
  • Memories
  • Favorites (movie, restaurants, sports teams, travel destinations, or anything relevant to your industry)
  • Thoughts on improving something
  • Opinions on a particular topic (don’t ask about anything controversial)
  • Rhetorical questions

In conclusion

Social media is a fantastic outlet to create awareness for your brand and build a solid reputation through an online community. We all know by now that imagery and video are key on social media, but what you say and how you say it is equally important. Writing appropriate and engaging content is not easy and there are quite a few things to consider. The bottom line is that people do not want brands to force a purchase. They want to make the decision on their own by being armed with knowledge, testimonials and trust.