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How to write engaging content for social media

With the huge amount of content available to us these days, it’s never been more important or more difficult to stand out from the crowds. A social media user spends on average 2 hours and 22 minutes every single day online, which means scrolling through a lot of content. 

The algorithms behind social media platforms are constantly evolving, but one thing that seems to stay is that posts with higher levels of engagement (comments, sharing, likes and tagging) get more impressions. So, we’re going to look at how you can write posts, blogs and content that is engaging and interesting to your audience and generates organic engagement.

A great example of a company who excels at writing for social media, striking the right tone, language and content for their audience is Innocent Smoothies. Google it and you’ll see what we mean. They have consistently high levels of engagement from cheeky, usually office related funny posts, because they have profiled and understood their target customer (the younger office worker on their lunch break).

Think like your audience

Imagine if you described your perfect customer. How old are they? What’s their gender? Do they have kids? What industry do they work in? What hobbies do they like? Whatever it is, come up with as specific a profile as you can. 

Then, think about how you should speak to this perfect customer. Do you need to come across as professional, or would cheeky and light-hearted posts resonate better? It won’t apply to everyone, but your tone should be suited to the majority of your audience. 

Speak their language

Similar to the tone you use, consider the actual language and phrases your ideal customer would use. 

Imagine two customers talking about the same product - one is a new mum and one is a bricklayer. How would their language and phrases differ whilst talking about what they like and dislike about the same product? This is what you need to think about, and then make sure you use the same language when writing your posts.

Don’t forget to use words like ‘you’ & ‘your’ to engage them in the post, and make them feel like they are being spoken to directly.

Find your voice

Your brand voice on social media is the name for the overall effect that your personality and emotion give in your posts. You should use the language of your audience with a suitable tone, but make sure that you are consistent in your overall message and voice. 

You might find that if different employees write posts in the correct tone and language, they can sound completely different. This lack of consistency won’t help build trust and engagement, so try to keep this ‘voice’ the same. 

This also applies across your website and blogs, and on any replies or messages sent on social media in reply. It should all be written in your ‘company voice’, unless you have specific named authors writing blogs for you.

Keep it short and sweet

You have only a few words at the start of your post to grab the reader’s attention on social, as their attention span is literally seconds. The general recommendation is to keep to 100-250 characters for a post – more than this is often hidden and users have to click ‘read more’ to get the whole post. If the interesting part is hidden, not many people will interact. 

Show your audience that you value their time by being concise and clear, with short posts in an easy-to-read language.

Use power words

Power words are those that invoke an emotion in the reader. You can use safety-based words which make your readers feel confident in you like ‘authentic’ ‘protected’ or ‘proven’, or words which spark curiosity such as ‘reveals’, ‘proves’ or ‘ridiculous’.

Some words are definitely overused but take time to put together a list of relevant power words you can try and include in your posts.

Mix it up

Talk about you as a company, your products, customer reviews, case studies, industry news, your blog – just don’t post the same type of content every time. If you do, you’ll find your readers get bored and stop interacting or even stop following you. If there’s never any excitement or surprise at what you post, why should they follow you?

Use graphics

It’s well researched that posts with photos or images tend to get more likes than ones with just text.
Think about images that would connect best with your audience and that are relevant to your business. You can find plenty of sites offering stock images for free or at a low cost – you could get in trouble if you use images from Google and post them as your own.

Simple checks like the quality and shape of your image are important to avoid looking unprofessional too.

If you have the skills to do so, consider adding text or branding to the images you use as this can further increase your brand’s appearance.

Video is the best form of graphic to use, as it is much more engaging than an image. Use video when you can, but if you don’t have the time or resources to create video for every post, don’t panic.  

Include a call to action

It’s often forgotten, but make sure you actually tell your audience what you want them to do next. Ask them to comment with their opinions, message you for more information, or to share the post – whatever you choose, it’s important to include one. You want to make it as easy as possible for your audience to respond to your post in the way that you’d like.

Tell a story
Storytelling is key in sales, but also in social media marketing. You want your audience to engage with you and like your brand, and people find it easier to relate to a good story than to a statistic. 

Think about what message you would like to get across, then think if there is a story you can tell which happens to mention your message. For example, if you are a sales consultant and want to show your credibility you could tell a story that happened while you were consulting for a well-known brand. Your audience will pick up on the fact that you’ve been hired by a respected brand to do their sales consulting, without you simply stating it to them. 

You can also discover how storytelling can increase your sales here.

Use headlines that pop

Before any of that though you need readers to click on or pause to read your content. This is true across search results and your website too, so think about it wherever you’re creating content.

Think about creating curiosity and intrigue, using a power word if you can, and don’t give everything away immediately. For example, rather than having a headline like ‘Drinking water increases your sales’, consider saying something like ‘One surprising tip will boost your sales’. If they need to click to find the answer, and it’s something that is relevant and interesting to them, then you should find many more of your audience click on your posts.

Positivity wins

You don’t need to be super positive and happy in every post, feel free to talk about heavy, sad or serious topics – that’s not what this means. We’re simply saying try and stay away from criticising or attacking anyone, even your competitors and even if it is in response to a negative comment. 

Your audience will usually dislike negativity, so either don’t respond, or find a light-hearted or funny response to lighten the mood. There are plenty of social media ‘trolls’ online who like to post nasty comments or start arguments for fun, and it’s really important to avoid engaging with them, and report them where necessary.

Conclusion

Putting all of this together is hard, especially with the sheer volume of content that users expect, but it will be worth it when you have an audience who interacts with your posts regularly.

You can get tips on writing for social media and other topics direct from Google by attending their free workshops at The Northern Business Expo on 17th & 18th March at Manchester Central. Tickets are free, you just need to get yours online, and you’ll also find masterclasses on digital marketing and sales, unbeatable networking sessions, inspirational keynotes and much more! It’s the biggest event on the North’s business calendar, so don’t miss out, get your free ticket today!

 
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