How to create engaging copy-based social media content

There is a ton of advice online about how to create an aesthetically pleasing Instagram grid, fun TikToks, engaging Reels, and successful photo dumps, but little to no advice on the craftsmanship of the written word in social media spaces.

While social media platforms are often very visually dominant, there have been many signs to suggest that copy-based social media content is making a comeback. When it comes to Instagram you may have noticed an abundance of copy-heavy posts in your feed, or longer essay-style captions from your favorite influencers. Platforms such as Reddit and Quora are growing, LinkedIn newsletters have proved to be successful, and even X expanded the character limits of their posts to 10,000 characters for X Premium members in early 2023.

With copy-based content on the rise and X still amid its makeover since Musk’s acquirement in 2022, now seems like the perfect time to refresh our copywriting skills and take things back to basics.

Further reading: What is X Premium and is it worth the price?

Seven key tips for crafting impactful written content for social media channels.

1. Tell a story.

Storytelling can be an incredibly powerful tool for engagement, especially when the story is authentic, relatable, and humorous. Much of the content you will see in your LinkedIn feed fits into this category, with many people using this platform as a space to share stories relating to their experiences, mistakes, and lessons they’ve learned — all of which garners high engagement.

2. Put thought into your structure.

We all know the basics of essay writing — open with an introduction, lay out your key points as separate paragraphs, and then bring it all together with a conclusion. While we’re not suggesting you turn your social media posts or captions into homework, it’s beneficial to apply this loose structure to what you publish online to ensure that your writing is easy to follow and your overall point is clear.

3. Use formatting.

It’s natural to see a big block of text and immediately think of reading it as a chore. But formatting your work will go a long way to making your text look less intimidating and easier to skim. Break up your caption into digestible paragraphs, use headings if appropriate, bold and italicize if available on your platform of choice, and don’t be afraid to throw in the occasional emoji for a bit of color. Attention spans of the average social media user get shorter every day, but reformatting your writing will make it significantly easier for your readers to digest and engage with your work.

4. Add value.

As with any social media content, valuable content will always receive greater engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares and re-posts. Whether you’re looking to educate or entertain, make sure that you are appealing to your target audience and providing them with the information that matters most.

Further reading: Is Reddit the new Twitter?

Woman with laptop A woman looks thoughtfully at her laptop. She holds a pen to her mouth and is wearing a red shirt.

5. Keep it easy to read.

Much of the time, social media is a place where people will go to relax. As a result, you don’t want to push any overly complicated or long-winded written content on them. Write in a way that feels natural and will be easily read and understood by your audience. If it’s appropriate for your brand to adopt a conversational tone, then go for it. But if there’s one thing that you do need to be diligent about, it’s taking the time to spell-check and grammar-check to ensure your message reads as you intended.

6. Do not push yourself to fill space.

When it comes to writing social media content, it’s better to keep things concise rather than stretching to reach a certain word count or fill a certain amount of space. If you feel yourself becoming repetitive or waffling between points, then it's time to stop writing (and start editing).

7. Enhance your writing with visuals.

The very best content is often a combination of well-written copy paired with complimentary images or videos. Adding visual media to accompany your writing can be a great way to increase its impact and effectiveness, drawing in readers using visual cues.

While social media platforms lean heavily on the visuals, there's a quiet power to a well-crafted and thoughtfully written social media post or caption. Use our seven key tips to refresh your copywriting skills and rediscover the effectiveness of intentional copy-based social media content.

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