Best Practices for Social Media Content That’ll Improve Your Writing and Design

An analysis of job listings shows the most in demand skill for content marking is social media content creation. After social media strategy content creation is what social pros spend much of their time on. While results vary based on target, brand, and social platform there are best practices to follow when writing and designing any social media post that will lead to more interesting and engaging brand posts.

Social Media is the most Requested Skill in Content Marketing

Write in Active Voice and Second Person. 

Most experts agree active voice creates more engaging social media copy with clear, concise, action-oriented sentences. In active voice the subject performs an action by directly using a verb to show the action versus passive voice where the action verb or object is emphasized over its subject. For example, the second version of the following post copy would grab more attention with active voice.

  • Passive Voice: The 2 hour marathon barrier was broken by team Nike!
  • Active Voice: Team Nike broke the 2 hour marathon barrier!

These posts can be improved further with point of view and benefit. Instead of using first person “I” or “we,” or third person “he,” “she,” “it,” “they,” or “name” use second person “you.” Using “you” draws  attention focusing the message on the audience. Conveying the message as a benefit to them will also draw interest. The example post has now been written in first person, third person, then improved with second person written as a benefit to the audience.

  • First Person: We made the Vaporfly shoes that broke the 2 hour marathon!
  • Third Person: Nike Vaporfly shoes were used to break the 2 hour marathon!
  • Second Person: You can run in the Nike Vaporfly’s that broke the 2 hour marathon!

Consider Audience Interests, Brand Voice and Tone

Write messages your audience will want to share because it is something their friends will like, it shows appreciation, or it is about beliefs or causes they support. And don’t stop the message at the post. When sharing a link match post message and link destination. Sending them to a home page or unrelated page causes confusion and lost sales or leads. Keep interest going with a distinct landing page that delivers your message benefit and focuses on what you want them to do. The example post above should interest a target audience of runners and their running friends and then send them to a page about the shoes and the record attempt not the Nike home page.

  • Home Page Link: Nike.com
  • Landing Page Link: Nike.com/Sub2Vaporfly

Keep brand voice and tone in mind. What is the personality of your brand – bold rebellious, modern cool, or serious classic? Write like you talk as if the brand was a person talking out loud to another person. Skip jargon and avoid boastful claims such as “top,” “best,” or “only.” Be genuine fun and helpful. Be consistent but change tone with the situation. Even a fun, casual brand should take a more serious tone with an upset customer or in a crisis. For example, during the Boston Marathon bombing releasing a post celebrating a marathon record would come across as tone death as seen below.

  • Original Tone: You can run in the Nike Vaporfly’s that broke the 2 hour marathon!
  • Modified Tone: You can support Boston marathon victims. We’ll match your donation.

Create Good Brand Design and Aha Moments.

Keep text to a minimum ensuring it is large enough to view on mobile. Use unique fonts for emphasize but limit total fonts in a single post. Ensure good contrast with text over images so they can be seen. Don’t overcrowd the layout or image with too much text making it feel overwhelming and busy. Change individual messages but be consistent in overall message including brand keywords, taglines and hashtags. Follow brand standards for colors, logos and fonts. With the example post you would follow Nike brand guidelines not Wendy’s.

  • Wendy’s Brand Voice: Witty and Sassy.
  • Nike’s Brand Voice: Powerful and Inspiring.

It’s easy to grab a generic stock or product image, but a unique image that compliments the text draws interest. Creatively connect text and image inviting the viewer to fill a gap for an “aha” moment they’ll want to share. A simple image of running shoes would be the easy to include with the post text above. Instead consider something unexpected like a back of the pack amateur runner photoshopped into the finish line scene of Eliud Kipchoge’s record breaking run.

  • Generic Image: (Product Image of Nike’s new Vaporfly shoes) – You can run in the Nike Vaporfly’s that broke the 2 hour marathon!
  • “Aha” Image: (Kipchoge’s record finish with amateur runner) – Break your own records in Nike Vaporfly’s!

Follow Rule of Thirds and Rules of Social Platforms

Good images and layouts follow the rule of thirds. This principle divides a space into thirds horizontally and vertically to place elements in a more appealing balanced way. Research shows that people’s eyes focus on one of the intersection points rather than the center where most amateurs place the subject of their image or design. Instead place the subject in one of the intersecting points to create a more dynamic, natural, and interesting visual. Also leave room for white space or negative space. This is the area between design elements that helps them stand out.

Third-Rule Rule of Thirds for Good Social Media Post Design

Wide White Space Logo - Use white space and negative space for good social media post design

Each social media platform has different design standards and requirements. Refer to each size by pixels, file size, image type and other submission requirements. Many design tools include templates for the most popular platforms such as Canva or Adobe Spark and built in tools such as Facebook Creative Hub and Snapchat Instant Create. Most also have options to create mock ups for social media plans and presentations.

Social Media Post Template Created by FreepikBusiness psd created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Finally consider post schedule. The time of week and time of day matter and can vary increase or decrease engagement based on the social media platform. To plan your social media content calendar and schedule you posts Sprout Social provides a report on best times to post from their customer base.

Best practices are a great place to start, but keep in mind that the best content is created to be unique to each platform customized to the environment and brand community. Test posts times and variations in designs and copy to optimize as you go. This can be done with simple A/B split tests. This will keep posts fresh to avoid ad fatigue.

3rd Edition Of Social Media Strategy Is Out!

Just got this in the mail. Very excited for the 3rd edition!

There are lot’s of new updates and material around the reality of social media as a mature practice integral to any business or organization strategy. For those who have used the previous editions it will be easy to adopt as the strategic process, main topics and chapters remain the same.

New Sections:

  • New social media career section with job titles, descriptions, salary, social manager mental health, links to job sites plus descriptions of various departments and agencies social pros work including as solopreneurs.
  • A new section on Tik Tok, the maturing of social media and what that means to social strategy plus updates to all social platforms.
  • A new section that defines and explains social media strategic plans including a complete outline presented early in the text to guide social media plan development.
  • New section on content creation including creative briefs, idea generation, personas and best practices for social media writing and design.

New Content:

  • Expanded details on social media crisis communication with a section on COVID-19, diversity and multicultural marketing, George Floyd protests and expanded definitions and practices for influencer marketing.
  • 38 new applied examples spread throughout every chapter from brands such as GoPro, Pura Vida, Hydroflask, KLM, Mac Trucks, The Economist, Girl Scouts, Liquid-Plumr, Crock-Pot and John Deere.
  • There are new and expanded sections on messenger chatbots, artificial intelligence, mobile first media, and corporate social responsibility.
  • The law chapter has added the new FTC Statement on Deceptive Native Ads, the FTC Consumer Review Fairness Act, examples of the FTC taking action, California Consumer Protection Act, and California Bot Disclosure Law.

New Features:

  • Added links to professional certifications in related chapters from Hootsuite Academy, Cision, Meltwater, HubSpot Academy, Facebook Blueprint, Snapchat Explore, Pinterest Academy, Twitter Flight School, YouTube Creator Academy, Canva Design School and more.
  • Ethical issues are now addressed throughout the book not just in the last chapter. This includes an ethics focused question in every chapter relevant to chapter specific topics.
  • In addition to previous Chapter Checklists that direct readers to seek out the latest stats and developments, new Key Concepts lists serve as easy chapter review.
  • Instructor support materials include test banks, chapter outlines, templates, guides, applied case briefs, example graduate/undergraduate syllabi with class exercises and discussion prompts and assignments. Plus new PowerPoint slides with learning objectives.

Finally, I’ve expanded terms, concepts and theories to further include multiple discipline and organization perspectives from public relations to marketing and advertising for small business, big corporations, B2C, B2B and nonprofits. Social media jobs are in all these discipline departments and agencies and in various types of businesses and organizations.

To succeed social pros need a cross-discipline perspective to integrate strategies, prove ROI, and speak the language of the people they work for and with. Social Media Strategy is designed for this reality to be at home in any social media class whether in a marketing, public relations, advertising, strategic communications, or IMC program.

Free exam copy and instructor support materials available now and share code RLFANDF25 with your students to save 25% off the paperback or eBook at: https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781538138168