Copy That: How to Write Engaging Social Media Copy

September 17, 2019 David Rivera
engaging social media copy writer

You see copy everywhere—books, magazines, your phone, the movies, and most especially on social media. Copy is what hooks and reels you into something. That being said, you should probably know by now that copywriting is a money-generating skill that only a handful master at great lengths. You could pass off as a good blogger, but does it also translate to how good you are at writing social media copy?

It’s tricky because there’s a lot to consider—word limits, posting times, the engagement you want to garner, the quality of the image or video that the copy comes with, etc.

So before you can become a social media scribe that doesn’t lose the fire to write good copy, make sure that you know what you are writing about and how you should frame it within a social media platform’s set of rules (or in this case, the word count).

Social Media Copy: Size and Length Matters

Before we get into the things you can do to write better social media copy, let’s take a look at the specifics when it comes to writing your stuff on these different social media platforms.

A recent study by AdEspresso found that posts and ads on Facebook had a significant change in the way it’s written. They summarize it into the following (via Buffer):

  • Facebook Posts: 63,206 characters
  • Facebook Ads image/ video: body text – 125 characters
  • Facebook Ads (link) image/ video: headline – 25 characters
  • Facebook Ads (link) image/ video: link description – 30 characters
  • Facebook Ads (all types) – no image can be more than 20% text

As for Instagram, Social Report found that captions written in less than 125 words found the best kind of engagement. Hashtags are also still prevalent, but it’s only limited to a maximum of 4-9 hashtags. However, Instagram still practices the following text limits for posts and ads:

  • Instagram Caption Character Limit: 2,200 characters
  • Instagram Hashtag Limit: 30 hashtags
  • Instagram Ads image/ video: text – 2 rows of text
  • Instagram Ads (all types) – no image can be more than 20% text

Twitter, on the other hand, is more lenient with its 280-character limit, though Influencer Marketing Hub found that tweets that contain 71-100 characters are commonly the default number of characters posted on the platform.

Tip #1: Write Before You Visualize

Usually, our design team provides visuals before we execute the copy that goes with it. But we’ve been trying things a little different this time—writing the copy first, and then the graphics come second. As you do this, you’re able to plan out what you want to say and how you’re going to phrase it. Once it’s done, you can go ahead and create the visuals that will go with your message, rather than you trying to adapt to the visuals provided.

Tip #2: Trends Are Your Best Friends

This is a really helpful tool that you can take advantage of especially on Twitter. If you want to plan out your words, looking at trends can help you flesh out good copy that’s faithful to the current trending topic you want to capitalize on. Plus, as you stay on top of trends, you’re actually making a conscious effort to stay fresh and relevant.

Tip #3: Familiarize Yourself With Keywords and Hashtags

You might be writing the best social media copy right now, but it doesn’t always guarantee immediate visibility. You have to have keywords on your copy and some hashtags if you want to optimize your copy on a social media platform (again, Twitter is the place to be in times like these). Display Purposes is a good tool to help you narrow down your hashtags.

As you do this, make sure that you’re trying to add flair to what you’re writing by adding things like emojis and CAPS LOCK words to emphasize your passion in that specific piece of copy. Remember, it also pays to write conversationally or with an active voice. You don’t want to sound drab, right?

Tip #4: Harness the Power of Literary Devices

Copywriting is just as taxing and creative as writing poems or essays. That’s why it pays to know the key literary devices that can make your social media copy pop out. You can use the art of alliteration to highlight your brand, especially if you participate in social media fads such as Wayback Wednesdays, Thirsty Thursdays, etc.

Parallelism also works well for posts that stress a concept while making sure that you are firm with what you’re saying. For example, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

There are loads of literary devices that you can use, so make sure to tap into that power.

Tip #5: It Doesn’t Hurt to Follow the Basics

If all else fails, you can always revert back to the beginning. Copywriting is an integral part of marketing and advertising, so there are a plethora of proven formulas that you can use to spice up your social media copy. Here are a few examples:

  • If this, then that: “If you’re looking for the latest artists you should be listening to, then this is the ultimate music guide for you.”
  • What most people do…: “What most people do when work becomes overwhelming is to find ways to distract themselves. Here’s a better option…”
  • Show them the future: “Imagine a life that’s free from all hassle That’s exactly what *this app* does.”
  • Empathize: “Frustration is something that we all face. We know the kind of anger and regret that comes with it. What if we told you that we have the answer to minimizing frustrating circumstances?”

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