Find out how to make your social media copy stand out with this easy guide
It's not rocket science but there is certainly an artform to writing social media captions. Within a short sentence or two, you need to communicate a message succinctly plus give your followers a reason to engage with that post.
It sounds simple but it can be challenging to do this well. Allira Carroll from Tonic PR joins me to share our eight top tips for writing effective social media captions.
“Every post should inspire, entertain or educate. You need to evoke a response from someone otherwise they just won't engage with that post so make sure your copy and your imagery meets one of those objectives”
Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more tips on writing social media captions. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".
8 TOP TIPS TO WRITING SOCIAL MEDIA CAPTIONS
1. Understand your goals
What are the goals for the social media account in general and what are the goals for each post. Are you trying to increase your general engagement percentage from 2% to 5%, to build a more responsive, engaged community of brand advocates? Are you trying to increase your followers to 5,000 within six months? Do you want 15% of your total product sales to be via Instagram?
Once you have the broader goals mapped out, then you can refine them for each post. Each post should have a goal and a purpose, so you can measure how successful it was.
2. Know your target audience
Is your consumer a 20 - 25 yr old female who lives with friends, has an average salary of $X and does her shopping online? Is he a 45 yr old male who has young children and enjoys adventure sports?
The way you speak to the former is going to be VERY different to how you speak to the latter. Identify your audience and if they are broad, then define each of those key audiences as you'll need to ensure your posts speak to each of those audiences at some point, otherwise that particular audience will become disconnected from the brand.
Also, you may have one target demographic sitting on Facebook and a completely different demographic on Instagram. Which means they may receive the same image in a post, but it could be completely different copy over the two platforms. It takes time to do this but it could drastically increase your engagement levels.
3. Develop a brand voice
Off the back of knowing your target audience, you also need to understand how those people like to be spoken to. Will they relate to a more formal tone of voice or fun and cheeky? Do you use emojis or not?
If there are multiple people writing the posts, ensure there are guidelines everyone is across so there is uniformity in the caption copy.
4. Be succinct
You know what you're like on Instagram. You scroll through pretty quickly, throw a like here and there and perhaps read the first line or two of the post. That's it. So that's what you've got to work with. Keep your messaging to the point and don't waffle.
Edit. Edit. Edit. To keep short and punchy it may mean reviewing the copy multiple times. Sleep on it, come back the next day with a fresh perspective. With a clear head you may be able to chop a few words out or find a more articulate way to phrase something.
5. Keep to your brand content pillars
These should have been identified in your strategy stage and if you've not done that, go back and do it! Here's a link to an episode that may help you out.
Identify 4 - 7 themes that are important to your brand and ensure every single post fits into one of those themes and the messaging reflects that theme. If your business is a bar, you themes might be food, drinks, function spaces, events and community support, because all of those things are something your brand offers and they're the reasons why people engage with your bar. Anything outside of that, is not reinforcing those messages.
6. Research your content before you start writing
You wouldn't write a media release without having done your research in advance and it's no different with social media captions. DO NOT sit down and stare at the wall and try to think of something creative, you are wasting your time. You should have mapped out what the main message is for each post over the next fortnight or month, or however long your content calendar is for.
You'll therefore know you have seven posts about cocktails, 10 about food, four about function spaces, five events and three community support to write captions for, for example. You'll also probably have all the photos to hand so take a look at the photos and start to research information to match those photos. What are the names of the seven cocktails you have photos for, what ingredients are in them, are they inspired by a classic cocktail or are they a signature drink, do they incorporate a house-made syrup that takes 48hrs to prepare.... You get the picture....
Ask relevant people to provide you with the information you need to understand what's in each image. However, I recommend giving them questions to answer as you'll get far more articulate responses compared to just asking them to 'tell you about' a photo. They don't know what kind of information you're after so make it clear via the questions.
Make sure you send through questions at least a few days in advance and collate this information for each post before you sit down.
7. Use tags and hashtags
If you mention a brand partner or a product then tag them in. Make sure if you're sharing that post across Instagram and Facebook, you check that the tag is correct as often businesses have a different Facebook tag to Instagram.
Incorporate relevant hashtags (again, this should have been identified in your strategy stage)...
8. Consider the utility of that post/message
What will your followers get from that post? How can they use that information to result in whatever goal it is you want to achieve? How is that copy relatable to your target audience?
If you missed the episode on understanding whether Instagram or Facebook is the better for your business, here's a shortcut to it.