Knowing how to write good copy for social media is an art form. And, like all art, most of us don’t begin as experts. But with practice and guidance, you can become the Picasso or Warhol of social media content.
On the topic of guidance, here’s your first lesson. Let’s look at some social media best practices and writing tips that will help you level up your caption game.
Table of Contents
- Refine Your Brand Voice
- Start With a Hook
- Use Emojis
- Write Longer Captions
- Encourage Participation
- Don't Forget About Hashtags
Do People Really Care About Social Media Copy?
Before you start analyzing your brand voice and switching up your strategy, it’s fair to wonder, “Is it worth taking the time to craft stellar copy for your social posts?”
After all, social media users tend to head online to enjoy engaging visual content. Instagram is a photo-sharing app; TikTok and YouTube are all about video. So, it tracks that the visual content in a post should come first, and the copy should be a distant second.
Or does it?
In truth, the short blurb below your carousel or Instagram Reel matters. Captions may not be as important as the visual, but they’re an integral part of each post. A 2019 poll by the post-planning app Preview found that 35% of people always read Instagram post captions. While that may not be the majority, it’s a sizable chunk of your audience—and that’s before you factor in the “sometimes” crowd.
Ultimately, users care about captions because they:
- Provide additional context
- Tell a story
- Explain who was involved in the photography, videography, music and more
- Start a conversation with your followers
Sure, not everyone will care about your social media copy. But your role as a content creator is to make them care.
Social Media Copywriting Tips: How to Write a Good Social Media Post
And how do you convince followers and first-timers to care? You write five-star copy that’s worth reading. Here’s how.
1. Refine Your Brand Voice
Your brand voice is your framework for writing social media copy that converts. So, your first step is to think about how you want to come across to customers.
Are you a playful brand that loves emojis and exclamation marks? Or a more serious firm that leans toward two-dollar words?
You may find it helpful to create a voice and tone guide for your company—especially if multiple people will write for you. Note that your social media voice doesn’t have to match your website copy exactly, but it should feel relatively consistent.
2. Start with a Hook
To keep users’ feeds clean and compact, most social networks only show the first few lines of a caption by default. The rest hides behind the dreaded “more” button. The goal is to start your caption with a bang—a hook that entices the reader to read more. Crafting a catchy punchline isn’t always easy, but there are some tried and true strategies.
For instance, asking a question in the first paragraph that you’ll answer in the second can convince users to read on. Using powerful active voice words to evoke emotion can also draw people in. You can even leverage social media AI to determine how users feel about your posts and tweak them from there.
3. Use Emojis
If pictures are worth a thousand words, emojis are worth a million. Who can forget the infamous use of the snake emoji that defined Taylor Swift’s Reputation era?
Emojis have the ability to communicate an entire range of emotions, and poise your brand to be more relatable. They’re also a low-effort way to infuse humor into your posts, which those of us who lack a funny bone appreciate.
If emojis are influential enough for Adobe to create an entire trend report on the topic, they’re certainly worth implementing into your captions.
4. Write Longer Captions (That Aren’t Too Long)
Some social media detectives believe that the algorithms behind popular platforms reward you with higher engagement when users spend more time on your post. In other words, when someone stops scrolling for a minute to read your copy, the algorithm goes, “Hey, this must be a pretty neat post. Let’s show it to more people!”
With that in mind, try to write 50–100 words to accompany each piece of content. Much longer captions should be used sparingly, as most attention spans won’t make it to the end of your Pulitzer-winning eighth paragraph.
5. Encourage Participation
Calls to action (CTAs) don’t have to be limited to your website or the link in your bio. When your copy encourages readers to like, comment or share, you begin building a two-way relationship with customers.
What’s more, social media algorithms place value on post interactions. The more comments users make on your post, the more likely it will be pushed to other users.
I like to think of a social media caption as a conversation-starter. It’s not an ad. When your copywriting is too heavy-handed, it is painfully obvious to your audience that you are marketing something vs. sharing a genuine interest in the post subject matter. This means not only less engagement, but your brand coming off as disingenuous. (Nobody wants that!)
To encourage participation, you can:
- Ask open-ended questions
- Invite readers to tag their friends
- Respond to all comments in your brand voice
6. Don’t Forget About Hashtags
While hashtags aren’t the focus of your copywriting, they’re a vital part of the overall caption. Hashtags help you reach your target audience by categorizing your post. Ideally, your copy should contain at least five relevant hashtags throughout or at the end of the post.
You can also use hashtags more creatively by inventing a unique tag for your supporters to use—for instance, when they share your branded content. They’re a great way to track the success and engagement with a particular campaign as is the case with this planner brand’s new product launch.
By giving supporters a way to talk about your brand online, you can drum up interest from users who might otherwise fall outside your sphere of influence.
Need More Support with Social Media Copywriting? Here We Are.
In the end, writing for social media is no easy feat. It’s a talent you have to foster. As you practice, keep these social media copywriting best practices in mind:
- Always write in your brand’s voice
- Go for quality over quantity
- Spark interest with the very first sentence
- Craft copy that will inspire participation
Finally, if copywriting isn’t your forté, don’t sweat it. There are expert social media strategists out there who will gladly help you craft social media messaging that is snappy, on-brand and conversion-focused.
Preview. Do People Read Instagram Captions? https://thepreviewapp.com/people-read-instagram-captions
Later. This Is How the Instagram Algorithm Works in 2022. https://later.com/blog/how-instagram-algorithm-works/