Content is an essential asset of social media. No matter what your purpose is for joining a specific social media platform, you must share engaging content to build rapport with your audience. If you don’t know how to create one, this guide can help you get started.
The number of social media users is projected to grow up to 4.59 billion this 2022. Therefore, capturing your audience’s attention certainly won’t be that easy. Challenging but not impossible to achieve, and one effective method to achieve success is writing engaging social media content.
Over a decade of using social networking sites (for personal and business purposes), I’ve learned to put the audience’s best interests at heart when creating content. I’ve also tried many techniques to make engaging social media content. I’ll share my top recommendations that drive actual results today, including best practices and tools for easy implementation and management.
What Is Engaging Content?
Before discussing the proven techniques, let’s clarify first one crucial question: what is considered engaging content? Many factors come into play for defining engaging social media content. However, they could be summed up as content with a relatable story that provides value to your audience.
It’s proven that telling a good story creates a sense of connection and opens people’s minds to learn something new. One way to deliver it is by featuring a relevant pain point and providing realistic solutions. Throwing some facts to support your story is also good to make it more credible and compelling.
Storytelling is invaluable in content creation, but it isn’t enough to build a powerful online presence. I’ve listed below other effective ways how you can create engaging social media content.
9 Effective Ways To Create Engaging Social Media Content
Is your content not getting the attention it deserves? Follow these tried and tested techniques to create better and more engaging social media content.
1. Understand The Purpose of Each Social Media Site
Hundreds of social media sites are available online, each with unique purposes. Understanding the intended purpose will help you identify the best approach for your content. You can also set the right tone to express the emotions you want your readers to feel.
Let’s take Facebook, for example; its users often use the platform to start casual conversations with friends, colleagues, and relatives. Therefore, you can create the content with a friendly, informal, and humorous tone. You can use any content tone to make it more conversational and inviting.
Regarding topics, Facebook is popularly known for sharing interactive, educational, and inspirational content. You can create your content through pure text, video, photos, and events. The text-only content is the standard option and is perfect for posting announcements and updates (news, milestones, etc.).
If you’re creating content for marketing purposes, it’s ideal for keeping your message within 250 characters. Reading a wall of text can be annoying. Choosing other formats is best if you intend to publish long-form content.
When writing your social media content for marketing, ensure you aren’t overly promotional. Social media sites are not made for selling but for creating connections.
Best Practice: Find Your Target Audience
Understanding the purposes of each social media site is beneficial but time-consuming. It’s recommended to find out which social media sites your target audience uses the most. This is an effective way to narrow down the social media platforms you need to focus on.
2. Apply The Right Elements To Your Social Media Content
Now that you know which social media channels your target audience is most active on, the next thing you need to learn is the content elements. Not only will they make your content more engaging and visually appealing, but they will also reach more audiences. Different types of elements are available, and each social media channel has its own requirements.
I will discuss some important element types below to give you an idea. I will also include some of the best practices for popular social media channels as an additional reference.
Captions refer to your text content. You can write it short or long with a headline or in the form of a question. It depends on how you want to express your core message.
If you include visuals like images and videos, you can use captions to describe or explain the message behind your visuals. For video content, captions also make your content more accessible for all types of viewers (children learning how to read, someone with hearing impairments, etc.).
No matter how you write them, use easy-to-understand words and the correct font size. It’s also recommended not to use special characters because text-to-speech applications read them differently. Regarding caption length, I have listed the ideal post length for popular social media channels that get the most engagement.
- Facebook: Around or less than 50 characters
- Instagram: Ranging from 50 to 150 characters (maximum limit is 2,200 characters)
- Twitter: Shorter than 100 characters but not less than 70 characters (maximum limit is 280 characters)
- LinkedIn: Around 100 to 140 characters (maximum limit is 110,000 characters)
As the name implies, mention is the act of citing other user accounts. You can use this element by writing the “@” symbol + username (no space included). When writing informative social media content, one way to use it is to mention relevant authors as references.
Mentions are also recommended for collaborations and showing appreciation to your supporters. Once you mention a specific user, they will automatically receive a notification to inform them. As part of the best practice, ensure to only mention user accounts relevant to your social media content.
How many mentions should you use? Social media channels have different requirements. I will cite the most popular channels’ requirements here to give you an idea.
- Facebook: Up to 50 mentions per post
- Instagram: Up to 20 mentions per photo or video post
- LinkedIn: Up to 25 mentions per post
Too many mentions is considered spamming. If you intend to use the maximum limit, ensure to convey a clear purpose.
Hashtags are one of the most effective elements that make content more discoverable. You can use it by writing the “#” symbol followed by a word or short phrases (written as a single word). Unlike mentions, you can use a combination of letters, numbers, and underscores when creating a hashtag.
The hashtags are clickable, so everyone can quickly pull up the conversation history. It will give you a clear picture of the hashtag and why it is trending. Learning everything you can about the hashtag is vital to prevent associating your content with something inappropriate.
Keep the hashtags short, catchy, and correctly spelled to get more clicks. If you’re using two or more words, it’s recommended to capitalize the first letter to make it easier to read (example: #NBAFinalsOnABC). Regarding the ideal number of hashtags you can use, I’ll list them down.
- Facebook: 1 or 2 hashtags
- Twitter: 2 hashtags (each must have a 280-character limit)
- Instagram: 30 hashtags
- LinkedIn: 3 hashtags
You can add more as you wish. But ensure they are relevant to your social media content and serve its purpose. Please look at the screenshot below to know what type of hashtag you can use.
Tool Suggestion: Hashtag Search Engine
Millions of hashtags exist online, so finding the most relevant for your content can take too long. You can save time by using a hashtag search engine. Simply type your preferred word or topic, then hit enter; its system will start finding and analyzing the available hashtags.
The result includes insights into each hashtag’s popularity trend, spelling variants, related hashtags, and more. Hashtagify is one of the most reliable for finding Twitter hashtags. You can also try HashAtIt for Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
3. Incorporate Links
Writing the perfect caption can grab the attention of your target audience. If you also want to encourage them to take necessary action, then incorporating links is the right element to add.
You can use links to invite your readers to learn more about your products or services, visit your business website, or buy from your online store. The good news is that you’re not restricted in sharing your own links. You can also incorporate external links to share awesome knowledge articles.
External linking is an excellent way to improve your credibility to your audience and search engines. That’s why it’s best to only share links from authoritative and trustworthy sites to prevent harming your online reputation and ranking. Don’t forget to add a powerful call-to-action statement (learn more, grab it today, sign up, etc.).
Links are long and hard to read by default. With a clear call-to-action statement, your target audience can immediately understand what actions are available.
Best Practice: Incorporate Links In the Middle Of Your Content
Links are often added at the end of your social media content. Though it’s effective, you’re not limited to this format. You can also add links in the middle of your content (sample format: Short intro + URL + longer explanation).
4. Speak Your Target Audience Language
Content personalization provides a better experience for your audience. The most common strategy is personalizing content based on your audience’s preferences, demographics, and behaviors. You can take it to the next level by using the native language of your audience in writing your social media content.
Most people use English, assuming it’s the internet’s universal language. Though it has a guaranteed solid audience base, many non-English speakers still prefer to read content in their local language. Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic are the top languages used on the internet.
Writing your content for each language is time-consuming. Thankfully, social media platforms offer their own translation tools. I’ve listed the number of languages supported by popular social media platforms.
- Facebook: 20+ languages (automatic)
- Twitter: 34 languages (manual; use “Translate Tweet” option)
- Instagram: 60 languages (automatic)
- LinkedIn: 60 languages (manual; use “See Translation” feature)
Of course, auto-translation tools are not 100% accurate at all times. It would be best to invest in top-notch translators or consult with someone well-versed in the chosen language.
5. Stay On Your Target Audience Level Of Knowledge
Speaking your target audience’s language isn’t only about localizing your social media content. It also means tailoring your content based on their knowledge level. Let’s say your target audience is managerial-level executives – your content must cover challenges relevant to their lifestyle or job.
It would be best if you also used the words they understand the most. Since they are on the expert level, you’re free to use technical terms or idioms. However, if you’re writing for students or new moms, it’s recommended to use casual words and expressions that better relate to them.
Tool Suggestion: Find Audience Knowledge Level Using Resume Matching Tool
LinkedIn is the best online platform to find the knowledge level of your target audience. But it will consume too much time manually checking each person’s profile. One solution in mind is using a resume matching tool.
A resume matching tool is often used for candidate screening. However, it’s proven convenient to dig deeper into one’s skills and experiences. It will scan the resume and start to look for specific keywords relevant to what you’re looking for.
6. Proper Grammar Is A Priority
Grammar mistakes can ruin your content quality and reader’s overall experience. So, make it a priority to create social media content with proper grammar. You also need to pay attention to punctuations and homophones.
Its/It’s, your/you’re, are/our, and their/they’re/there are just a few punctuation mistakes that are easy to overlook. One easy solution is to use an online writing tool like Grammarly. It uses artificial intelligence technology to review and identify errors and search for the most appropriate replacement.
If you want to correct sentence structure and improve readability, Hemingway Editor is the go-to writing tool. Though this app is commonly used for writing business communications and academic papers, you can freely use it for long-form social media content like blog posts. I’ve included a Grammarly vs. Hemingway comparison guide in case you want to learn more about their differences.
Best Practice: Grammar Rules You Can Break
Writing proper grammar is essential. However, social media platforms promote conversational writing style. Therefore, you need to loosen up and transform formal content into something casual and inviting.
Using slang is typically avoided, but now you can use it to meet your audience’s personality. You can also start a sentence with a conjunction or end it with a preposition.
7. Create Beautiful Visual Content
It’s proven that visual content gets more clicks, comments, and shares compared to text-only content. It isn’t surprising since humans are highly visual by nature. So, telling your message with a combination of different graphic design trends is recommended.
Memes and GIFs are the favorite options of many because they can evoke the emotions you want from your readers. They also have a greater potential of going viral due to their popularity. Memes and GIFs are ready-made visuals that help you save a lot of time.
You can also use other animated graphic and logo designs to increase the engagement rate further. The simplest style you can use is digital typography. But if you want a more interactive appeal, you can reinvent flat designs into modern graphics (see the below example).
You can also use visuals for sharing data-centric content. Infographics are the top choice because it allows you to illustrate your message with a data-rich visualization. You can use different infographic types, but the most popular and effective in boosting engagement is the timeline infographic.
As the name implies, it illustrates important dates and events from a specific period. Entrepreneurs commonly used this to outline their company’s growth and achievements from day one up to the present.
Best Practice: Rules To Follow In Creating Effective Infographics
Creating an infographic takes time and effort. Ensure its success by following the basic guideline. I’ve listed some tips to help you make more effective infographics.
- Define your goals
- Create a clear and catchy title, tagline, and subject
- Balance the colors, text, and images
- Create a logical hierarchy of your data
8. Use Your Strengths
Getting ideas for social media content can be challenging at times. Instead of searching endlessly online, why not focus on your own strengths. Think of the topics you’re good at and present yourself as an authority.
This is an excellent method because people love content that directly speaks to their needs and themselves. You can start by learning from other industry experts to get inspiration. Find the topics they cover and the content formats they mostly use that convert.
As a general rule of thumb, focus only on one niche. Consistency is important in building a powerful online reputation. Therefore, it’s best to prove your credibility first by posting well-researched and written social media content regularly.
Assuming you have already chosen a topic, the next step is to select the right content format. Video content is recommended because you can easily express your message and the emotions you want to convey. But if you’re camera-shy, you can do blogging.
Sharing tips and how-to guides (example: How to grow your money the modern way) are the popular topic ideas for a blog. Other content formats you can use are listed below:
9. Use User-Generated Content (UGC)
Another excellent way to get ideas for your social media content is utilizing user-generated content. Sometimes called consumer-generated content, it refers to content that social media users create and submit to a brand. It can be in the form of photographs, videos, podcasts, or reviews.
Most businesses use this content type to boost their sales. Since the content comes from the consumer’s firsthand experience, your audience will trust it more. You can collect this content by organizing social media events, challenges, or contests.
But before you start the collection process, ensure to define your goal. This is a simple way to determine what kind of content you want to collect and how you can use it.
For example, your goal is to increase your website conversions. You can start a campaign that is designed to earn social proof like reviews or star ratings. I’ve included a sample screenshot to give you an idea.
Best Practice: Submit User-Generated Content Via Website
People express their creativity differently. Some submit UGC that is suitable for all ages. Unfortunately, others submitted offensive content. Therefore, asking your audience to submit it through your website is ideal, so you can review it before publishing it to the public.
You can also take this opportunity to introduce referral programs and partnerships you offer. Since they have already proven the value of your products or services, they are more open to joining.
Content creation is not an easy task. But you can make the process relatively simpler by having a clear goal in mind, lots of patience, and conducting thorough research. The techniques and best practices discussed in this article not only intend to increase the engagement rate but are also more likely to go viral.
About the author
Burkhard Berger is the founder of Novum™. He helps innovative B2B companies implement revenue-driven SEO strategies to scale their organic traffic to 1,000,000+ visitors per month. Curious about what your true traffic potential is?