Writing for Social Media

Writing for Social Media

The complete guide

By: Megan Dennett | Communications & Marketing Social Media

Picture this: you get an email asking you to promote the next big thing for your brand.

You gather all the information you need, you create assets for print and email, and then sit down to start writing for social media. The only problem is… you’re not sure what to say.

We’ve been there too.

Writing for social media can feel overwhelming. There are so many different channels. You feel like you’re being pulled in different directions–between the silliness of brands like Wendy’s, and the expertise of brands like Sprout Social.

How can you be sure that you’re saying the right things? And how do you get people to care about what you’re posting?

Here are our tips for writing a social media post that stops the scroll, communicates effectively, and keeps people engaged.

Write for your brand and its goals

Before you can get started on writing for social media, take a step back and ensure you have a full understanding of your brand. What you write should always be a reflection of your mission, vision, core values, and strategic messaging. Do you know your brand voice and the tone you want to portray on social media? Do you know who you’re trying to reach with your message (i.e. your target audience)? Use these things as the basis for all of your writing.

Whether you’re the sole person responsible for social media or you’re working on a team, there should be clearly defined content pillars that everything you’re writing is rooted in. Content pillars are the three to five topics that your brand will consistently discuss and create for. They should be based on what your brand uniquely has to offer. If you’re a church, an example of those might be scripture insights, discipleship, community and connection, and weekend service recaps.

Know what type of copy you need

When we think of writing for social media, we’re often thinking of the caption accompanying a visual. But there is much more to it than that. Here are (some of) the types of content that need copywriting:

  • Graphics
  • Video scripts or prompts
  • Body copy (caption)
  • YouTube descriptions
  • Video titles 
  • Instagram and Facebook Stories

Each one of these requires a different writing “hat.” Some are more descriptive, some are more conversational. Some are quick and attention-grabbing, some are longer and more informative. All require a nuanced understanding of your brand and how to present it on social media.

Use this 5-part form when writing for social media (it starts with a hook)

A writing form that works well here at ArtSpeak Creative is this:

  1. Hook
  2. Problem to be solved
  3. How to solve that problem
  4. Present your solution
  5. Call-to-action

Take this post for example. 

  • Slide 1 starts us off with our hook: “The smart way to break your brand.”
  • Then we move into the problem to be solved: balancing opposite goals.
  • The problem can be solved with: a seasonal brand.
  • And what’s our solution? Get started at a free training session.
  • The call-to-action is to register.

By writing for social media with this form in mind, you are able to capture your audience’s attention, draw them in by speaking to their felt needs, and lead them to action by offering up a solution (that they’re actually looking for). The same goes for a less directly promotional-style post, like this one.

  • The hook: “Feeling that dreaded post-holiday slump?”
  • The implied problem to be solved is how to get through the hard season that comes after Christmas.
  • It can be solved by focusing more on self-care.
  • The solution is to follow the tangible tips provided (Focus on short-term goals, get fresh air, turn on the lights).
  • The call-to-action is to share more tips in the comments of the post.

Follow these 8 steps to focus your copy

With this form in your back pocket, you’re almost ready to start writing. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to social media specifically.

1. Make the audience the hero

Remember that your audience is the hero of the story, not you. Make sure you know them well and write with their felt-needs in mind. Think of your brand as their guide.

2. Assume what you’ve written is too long

People have short attention spans–especially on social media! Not to mention that it’s really easy to crowd graphics with copy. Don’t be afraid to edit your work and slash out the bulk. 

3. Get the important information into the visual

If you’re being honest, when you scroll Instagram, where are your eyes going when you see posts? It’s probably the beautiful visuals, not the caption. So communicate what you want people to see in the copy for that graphic (or video script or title card…). But don’t forget to reiterate it in the accompanying caption or description.

4. Make it shareable

The gold standard of social media content is when your audience starts sharing your posts. A story repost? What a win! Ensure what you’re writing is easy to digest, interesting, and something your audience may want to share with their own followers.

5. Accessibility is important

You want your whole audience to be able to engage with your content. And many people use accessibility tools like ereaders. So steer clear of incredibly long hashtags, confusing acronyms, and endless amounts of emojis. Whenever you can, add alt-text to your imagery that accurately and concisely describes what is on screen. 

6. Speaking of emojis…

They are a great tool to engage with your audience and showcase your authenticity. Include emojis that enhance your message, reflect your brand voice, and resonate with your audience. Don’t go overboard; 1-2 per post is usually enough.

7. Understand what words the algorithm likes and doesn’t like 

On each platform are certain words or phrases that may get your content blocked, shadowbanned, or hidden. If you’re working with sensitive subject matter, get to know how the platform you’re writing for interacts with that content. (For example, you may have to use a rhyming word or insert special characters to words the algorithm wants to hide.) 

8. What do you want to see?

Finally, always keep in mind what YOU want to see on social media. Even if you’re not your target audience, be aware of the types of content you’re likely to engage with and why you like it. 

Choose the right hashtags for the right platforms

You’ve written your content, and you’re all set to post it! Only, you need to think about hashtags too. Yes, even in 2024, hashtags are important to your social media content.

There are five main categories of hashtags (according to Later Media)

  • Location (#StLouis #Banff)
  • Branded (#LifeAtVictory #ReachPeople)
  • Industry (#SocialMediaManagers #ChurchCreatives)
  • Community-focused (#BookTok)
  • Descriptive (#PhotoDump) 

Nearly every social media platform utilizes hashtags, but each platform has its own set of rules on how to use them. Let’s break down each of the major players:

How to choose Instagram hashtags 

The platform has advised creators to use 3-5 hashtags per post to be effective. However, a few agencies have tested this and found that approximately 10 yields the most results. 

Our advice: use between 3-10 depending on the post you’re creating. With that in mind, ensure your hashtags are relevant to the post you’re using them on. Gone are the days of hashtagging generic things like #girl and #happy. Use a combination of the five main categories listed above, depending on what is relevant to the post you’re writing.

How to choose Facebook hashtags

Use 2-3 hashtags per post, at most. However, unlike Instagram, not every post needs to be hashtagged. Use hashtags for campaigns or conversation topics (like #DovePartner or #ShopLocal). Aim to use your hashtags in sentence structure, instead of tacking them onto the end of your copy. 

Best practices for TikTok hashtags

There is no limit to the amount of hashtags you can use on TikTok but 3-5 is recommended. Much like other social platforms, TikTok creators use a combination of the five main hashtag categories. 

However, TikTok does thrive on community-based hashtags like #BookTok or #CleanTok. Learn which communities and hashtags your target audience uses or is a part of. You can also use the search icon on TikTok to discover what hashtags are trending right now. Use a mix of evergreen and trending hashtags, and don’t be afraid to use ones that are super niche. 

Best practices for LinkedIn hashtags

Similarly to Facebook, LinkedIn recommends using hashtags in sentence structure. 3-5 per post is a good rule of thumb, with not every post needing a hashtag. Only use hashtags that are relevant to your post, and use them sparingly and strategically. 

Best practices for X (formerly known as Twitter) hashtags

Use one to two hashtags when creating posts on Twitter. You can use a mix of niche, branded, and trending hashtags. Use the Explore page to see what’s already trending. Only use hashtags that fit naturally into the post you’re writing. It’s better to not use one at all than to include something irrelevant.

Best practices for YouTube hashtags

Something unique about YouTube is that there are two different areas where you can add hashtags: in the video title and the bottom of the video’s description. Before you use hashtags in your video’s title, do some keyword research. A relevant title can be just as important in helping users find your content. YouTube has a limit of 15 hashtags, but three to five are what’s recommended. 

If you get stuck, you can always use a hashtag suggestion tool like this one from Hootsuite.

Go, get writing! We’re here to help.

You’re ready to write that next social post! And don’t forget, social media is always changing and moving quickly. Take the pressure off yourself, and have fun with your writing! One post won’t be the be-all and end-all. Play around with your copy and test what works with your audience.

ArtSpeak Creative helps Life Changers reach people through consulting, branding, web, and marketing—which includes organic social writing and management! We’d love to be part of your team.

If you’d like to learn more, schedule a free consultation with one of our strategists by using the form below.