10 simple steps for more clickable social media content

The greatest article you’ve ever composed does you no good if potential readers don’t open it. Follow these tips to improve your chances of reaching more eyeballs.

As communicators, we spend hours bringing our content to life. After all that effort, we want it to be seen.

Writing powerful social media copy that grabs people’s eyes and wins their hearts is a challenge. Often, when our content isn’t breaking through the noise, we can fix it with a few tweaks.

Editing is key to the creative process, but many communicators overlook it. Below are 10 tips to expand the reach of your social media content:

1. Focus on the reader.

When creating social media content, you face stiff competition for attention. Friends, family, celebrities, rival organizations and more are all vying for readers’ attention. If you’d like to stand out, create content with your reader in mind.

Instead of focusing on yourself, emphasize the reader. For example, in a post about launching a new product, we could say:

We’ve just launched our new product, Buffer for Video.

However, this sentence doesn’t explain why the reader should care, nor how the product might affect him or her. Something like this would be better:

You can now upload, share and schedule video from Buffer to all your social media networks. Upload once, and share everywhere!

2. Build curiosity.

This is a powerful way to improve your copy—especially if you’re trying to get clicks. In its simplest terms, curiosity is triggered when people feel there is a gap between what they know and what they want to know.

George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology, is an expert in curiosity. He conducted a study on what triggers high levels of curiosity and discovered that it peaks when:

  • Something violates our expectations (perhaps by challenging a common beliefs)
  • A post teases a gap in our knowledge
  • It’s not overdone

Audience members are interested in becoming better marketers and learning how they can use social media to increase traffic, links and customers to their businesses.

We could run a Facebook post with a headline like this:

Why Facebook Reach is Dipping for Everyone

It might grab some attention, but most people probably won’t click on this post.

Consider this alternative:

Facebook Reach is Declining: Here’s What to Do About it in Just 15 Minutes Per Day

This one could be more effective for a few reasons:

  • The reader might feel there’s an information gap around how they can combat declining reach on Facebook.
  • There’s a promise to solve a problem (increasing Facebook reach).
  • It might go against common beliefs (you won’t have to spend hours implementing these tips).

Another example could be:

Check out these great Facebook marketing tips

This is fine, but there’s no hook to spark curiosity. A reader might think she already knows the tips. This one might work better:

11 Facebook tips and tricks you probably don’t already know (and how they work for real-life businesses)

The wording here indicates that the content might be new or different from what the reader already knows. Also, using “real-life” shows that these tips are working for other business, so you might miss out if you don’t click.

Here’s a real-world example from Shopify:

3. Treat each post as a story

Stories are an excellent way to connect with people. They attract and engage readers.

When it comes to writing social media copy, treat each post as a story with characters who carry out actions.

Say you’re experiencing a little downtime on your website. You might share a tweet or Facebook post similar to this:

We apologize for the disruption-our website is experiencing some technical difficulties right now.

This sentence features three characters: “We,” “our website” and “you.” However, each character’s actions aren’t well covered. A better option would be:

You may experience a few issues getting onto our website at the moment, as we’re having some technical issues. We’re working on a fix and will let you know when we’re back up and running.

This version better explains the story and how each character is affected:

  • Our website is experiencing technical issues.
  • You won’t be able to access for a while.
  • We are fixing it and will let you know when it’s back to normal.

4. Focus on value.

Before you share anything to social media, ask yourself why you are sharing it, why people will care and what value it provides for your fans.

People like to justify their actions, as Dr. Robert Cialdini explained in his book, ” Influence.” He wrote:

A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.

It’s no different on social media. A reason triggers every click, “like” or retweet.

In your social media copy, focus on the value for the reader. Make it clear why people should care about your post.

Your calls to action should focus on value, as well. For example, instead of “Click now to read more,” try something that promises value, such as, “Discover more insights.”

This post from Evernote clearly displays the value to the reader:

5. Use a consistent voice.

Customers get to know an organization’s personality through social media. It’s important that your personality or voice be consistent.

MailChimp keeps its voice consistent across all channels; it even has a website dedicated to explaining how its staff speaks with customers.

Here’s an example of how its social media managers might craft a Facebook or Twitter post:

6. Write in second person.

Brilliant social media copy intimately speaks to readers. Second person pronouns (“you,” “your” and “yours”) deliver the most engaging, most personal narrative mode, helping you to connect with your audience. (See how well that works?)

Crafting engaging, intimate copy that entices readers to take action can be difficult, but thinking about things in second person is a great starting point.

For example, instead of:

Here’s the lowdown on Instagram’s new features.

You could say:

Want to master the latest Instagram features? We’ve got just the thing for you…

Here’s a great example from Shopify:

7. Use a formula.

Writing catchy, captivating social media copy is hard, especially if you’re trying to share multiple posts across multiple platforms every day.

Finding a copywriting formula that works for you—whether it’s a storytelling formula, a headline formula or any other—can significantly boost productivity and help you create some amazing, eye-catching posts.

One of my favorite formulas is the Before/After/Bridge structure.

First, you describe a problem. Second, show what the world would be like if that problem didn’t exist. Finally, explain how to get there. This formula is simple and versatile. I use it to draft blog post titles, social media updates, email subject lines and much more.

For example:

8. Keep it simple.

Social media posts don’t have to be a work of literary art. People have incredibly short attention spans, and it’s often more effective to keep copy concise. Aim to use simple words, such as:

  • “Show” instead of “indicate”
  • “Get” instead of “secure”
  • “Use” instead of “utilize”

Sometimes all it takes to inspire action from your audience is a one- or two-word caption. Here’s a great example from The Next Web:

9. Add an emoji (or two).

Teenagers aren’t the only ones who use emojis; the symbols have gone mainstream.

More than 6 billion emojis are sent every day, and, according to Swyft Media, 74 percent of Americans regularly use stickers, emoticons or emojis in their online communication, sending an average of 96 emojis or stickers per day.

When it comes to social media posts, emojis can make a huge difference to your post performance. An American Expresss Open Forum study on Facebook engagement discovered:

  • Posts with emoticons receive a 33 percent higher share rate.
  • Posts with emoticons receive a 33 percent higher comment rate.
  • Posts with emoticons receive a 57 percent higher like rate.

When you edit your next post or put together your content calendar, play around with emojis to see how they fit with your copy.

10. Ask a question.

You know that amazing feeling where you’re having a great conversation with a good friend? Great social media posts can provide that same feeling.

To build genuine connections with your audience, view social media as an opportunity to start a conversation. Every social media post you share can make a lasting impression on someone if you use the right copy.

Questions are a great way to bring readers into a conversation and increase interaction with your content.

For example, instead of posting this:

Here are the most popular 360 videos on Facebook

Try something like this:

Have you watched any 360 videos on Facebook yet? Here are the most popular

What are some of your social media content tips? Please share in the comments.

Ash Read is a content crafter at Buffer. A version of this article originally appeared on the Buffer blog.

(Image by Roxie Rampage, via)


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