And unlike social photos where filters and apps can do the legwork for us, we’re stuck relying on our own brainpower to write captions that kill it.
Whether you’re selling products or just putting your brand on the map, stepping up your copywriting game should be a top priority.
The good news? Social media copywriting doesn’t have to be Shakespeare.
Not by a long shot.
A Quick Crash Course in Social Media Copywriting
Of course, it’s important to understand that writing for social media is a totally different beast versus blog posts, ads or emails.
Character limits are tight.
Also, consider that you only have a split second to win your readers’ attention.
Oh, and can’t push too hard for a sale unless you want to be seen a spammer.
Don’t panic, though. It’s all about finding a balance between personality and promotion.
And in this guide, we’re going to highlight some strategies to make your social captions must-reads. No matter what type of content you’re pushing to your followers, these tactics can help you score more clicks, “Likes” and shares without starting from scratch.
1. Craft Goal-Centric Copy
This might sound cliche, but you can’t tack on any old caption to your social content and expect a response.
Heck, there are brands out there with hundreds of thousands of followers whose posts are met with crickets because they’re just, well, there.
Each time you hit “post,” you need some sort of big-picture goal in mind. For example, which of the following are you trying to do across your campaigns?
Funnel followers to your store or a specific product page
Gain followers and influence within your industry
While there is no “right” answer here (you may be trying to do all of the above), knowing your end-game makes crafting your posts so much easier.
Don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t sell directly via social, either. Brands like Roxy get insane amounts of engagement on product-centric posts.
But of course, that’s not all they’re posting.
Having big-picture goals is a win-win as you keep your content calendar diverse, all the while not hitting your followers over the head with promo posts all day. When you know what you want people to do in terms of a response, encouraging them to make it happen becomes second nature.
2. Use Your Captions as Calls-to-Action
But on a related note, many brands totally flop when it comes to telling their followers what to do.
Think about. It. Each and every post is an opportunity to engage with your audience.
So if you aren’t giving your followers the opportunity to respond, you can’t be too shocked when they sleep on your posts.
On the flip side, including some sort of call-to-action is a subtle way to pique people’s interest.
For example, a new sale or fresh piece of content is the perfect opportunity to invite people to check out your bio link.
Meanwhile, this tag-a-friend post from RedBubble proves that calls-to-action don’t have to be all business.
Engagement on your posts in any form spells good news. If someone is willing to drop a comment or take direction, you’ve already won the hard-fought battle of grabbing their attention.
From there, the possibilities are endless.
The takeaway here is that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for your engagement. It’s more proactive to explicitly tell your followers what to do rather than expect them to read your minds.
3. Don’t Overdo the “Hard Sell”
When in doubt, it always pays to be subtle when it comes to social selling.
Minus big box brands, you’ll very rarely see marketers try to push products directly.
And while sales and discounts are certainly fair game, they can quickly grow tiresome to followers. This is especially true when marketing to boomers who aren’t always jazzed about buying via social.
Among other reasons, this is exactly why influencer marketing is all the rage right now.
Blurring the lines between promotion and organic content, influencers provide a brilliant avenue to show off products without being salesy whatsoever. Playful captions and hashtags have much more mileage than something reading “Hey, buy this bikini,” you know?
Meanwhile, copy that shows off user-generated content and regrams is another smart strategy for removing the sales pitch from your copy. Tagging others in your captions also serves as social proof, if nothing else.
This post by Samsung Australia is a shining example, showing off the capabilities of their product in the wild while encouraging future tags from followers.
Copywriting for social media is about finding opportunities to sell via your content without actually promoting it as such.
4. When in Doubt, Ask a Question
Looking for a stupidly simple way to encourage more engagement on your content?
Tack on a question mark.
Honestly, asking questions is one of the easiest ways to elicit a response from people with minimum effort.
How so? Questions tap into people’s natural curiosity while also serving as an opportunity for followers to show off what they know.
For example, a question-based headline or preview might speak to a pressing issue on your followers’ minds.
Or you could take a more laid-back approach to asking questions. This sort of “quiz” from Virgin Australia was successful as evidenced by the debate in the comment section.
Questions lead to conversation, plain and simple. This represents a positive signal for your brand and social algorithms, both of which are good news for your social presence. Besides, polling your audience is so easy that it’s something you can do time and time again without them getting sick of it.
5. Choose Your Hashtags Wisely
Hashtags are a prime way to put a trademark on your social posts.
Allowing you to make your post searchable and capitalize on trending topics, a well-placed hashtag can make a huge difference in terms of reach.
For example, piggybacking off of humorous hashtags has become a staple marketing to millennials. Sometimes all it takes is a single tag to get people talking.
Likewise, specific community hashtags (#MeatlessMonday, #FoodPorn) can help reinforce that you’re speaking your audience’s language.
Conventional wisdom also tells us that posts featuring tags get more engagement than those that don’t. Yet another piece of social media copywriting, hashtags can represent valuable real estate in your captions if you have a strategy in place.
6. Tap into Some Power Words
The concept of “power words” is as old as marketing itself.
You know, the sort of words that set off fireworks in your brain as soon as you see them?
And just as old-school copywriters relied on tried-and-tested terms to get people talking, the same rules apply when writing for social media today. Here are some prime examples:
Best, Worst (anything taken to the extreme)
You (often cited as the “sweetest sound” anyone can hear)
Free (still a strong as ever)
New, Fresh (people are always on the hunt for “next big thing,” after all)
So what do these terms look like in action?
We’re glad you asked!
“Wanna avoid the online shopping traps that'll slice apart your wallet?” is both a brilliant question and a great example of using extreme, striking copy (“traps,” “slice”).
This “you-centric” post likewise immediately connects followers to the brand and its products, establishing a sense of loyalty.
And this post manages to be both extreme and you-centric, highlighting “the only mascara you’ll ever need.”
As you can see, sometimes just a word or two is all is takes to turn an otherwise ordinary post into something worth getting hyped about.
And with that, we wrap up our list!
How Are You Making Your Social Copy Count?
Encouraging followers to click through your captions doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. These social media copywriting tricks can be applied to just about any post across any campaign.
At the end of the day, finding ways to engage your followers is ultimately what sets brands apart these days. The more likely you are to craft captions that encourage action, the less likely anyone will sleep on your next post.
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