How To Write Effective Social Media Copy

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Updated December 20, 2023

In a world where 20% of Americans turn to TikTok for health advice before consulting a doctor, the significance of a strong brand social media strategy is clear.

A social media strategy demands more intentionality than just having a platform presence. Considering that nearly 80% of consumers base their purchases on online or social media advertisements, your brand’s visibility and credibility hinge on these platforms. The way to stand out and be compelling enough to capture attention? Crafting memorable social media copy, showcasing distinct personalities and weaving storytelling into every post.

From mastering character counts to honing your brand’s voice and employing strategic tactics across the customer journey, unlocking the potential of your social media presence is a multifaceted endeavor.

Begin With The Basics

Social media copy can be a differentiator when crafting posts across platforms. Copy can tell stories, differentiate from competitors and make your brand relatable, which leads to affinity, loyalty and top-of-mind consideration. Ask yourself these two questions when creating your social media copy.

Question 1: What is your single intention for the post? 

Specify one desired action for your audience. Do you want them to engage, comment, share, tag, click a link or watch a video? Stick to one clear action per post because multiple objectives can confuse your audience.

Simplify your message to avoid overwhelming your readers. Jamming too much into a single post leads to confusion, causing your audience to scroll past and limiting your post’s reach and effectiveness within algorithms.

Question 2: Is the social media copy authentic to your brand? 

An important consideration is that your social media copy’s tone and voice should be consistent with your brand voice on other channels. This speaks to your authenticity. Customers often find a brand inauthentic when they read a witty caption and then visit the website and find a completely different tone and voice. The perception is that the brand is trying to “fit in.”

Kellogg-owned RX Bars is an excellent example of a brand crafting authentic social media copy. The RX Bars brand essence is simple and to the point, as seen on the company’s packaging. The social media copy holds suit:

By answering these questions effectively, you can tweak your social media copy for maximum impact.

Tailoring Your Social Media Copy: A Complex Art & Science

Crafting a social media post is a mix of art and science. Creativity alone may not resonate, but when mixed with an understanding of the science — how the platform algorithms operate and how consumers think — social media copy can influence purchase decisions. 

Captions, Character Counts and Hashtags

Your post copy or caption holds immense importance in driving social media success. But what is the optimal character count for a social media post?

The answer is, “it depends.”

Character counts do matter, but research findings often vary. While most suggest optimal engagement between 21 and 40 characters, exceptions like National Geographic, which frequently utilizes 400-500 words, challenge this norm. The key is storytelling while maintaining conciseness. Let your brand voice be your guide.

Different platforms have diverse character limits. For instance, X, formerly known as Twitter, operates under a strict 280-character limit, with posts below 100 characters garnering 17% higher engagement. LinkedIn, on the other hand, allows up to 3,000 characters but truncates posts after 140 characters. Understanding these nuances is key to optimizing content for each platform.

How Do Hashtags Increase Reach, Impressions and Engagement?

Hashtag usage also varies across platforms:

  • Instagram: 3-4 hashtags.
  • X: 2-3 hashtags per post.
  • Facebook: 2-3 hashtags per post.
  • LinkedIn: 2-3 hashtags per post.
  • TikTok: 3-4 hashtags.

On Instagram, placing hashtags at the bottom of your post allows for engagement without overwhelming followers. The practice in recent years was to pack content with hashtags, but this standard is no longer the case. Hashtags have less relevance now with Instagram’s more TikTok-like “For You” approach. Now, the optimal number is 2-3 hashtags.


Conversely, with its character constraints, X recommends limited hashtag usage (2-3 per post) to maintain content relevance without appearing overly promotional. The very fact that hashtags count toward the character count makes use limited.

TikTok continues to lead this evolution. The platform factors keywords in video captions and post copy over hashtag usage as the platform has emerged as a search engine.

Beyond tailoring captions, character counts and hashtags to each platform, social media copy should consider different customer journey stages.

Strategies for Compelling Social Media Copy

Align your copy to the intention outline above and where the audience is on the customer’s journey. Each stage demands a nuanced approach.

  • Awareness: Organic social drives brand awareness, cementing your presence in customers’ minds. A staggering 55% of people learn about brands from social media.
  • Consideration: This stage should entice the audience to dive deeper. Share product or service benefits and what the customer can achieve with your offering. Utilize calls to action to “learn more,” “see the menu,” or “compare options.”
  • Conversion: Usually, conversion tactics are on the paid side. Occasionally, organic social media can be leveraged as a sales channel. Be aware of the platforms and their desire to:
    1. Earn revenue through advertising.
    2. Utilize a zero-click methodology to keep users on their platforms. Meta products added components to their algorithms that flag direct purchase phrases such as “Buy now” or “Shop at the link.” Posts with these or similar phrases tend to get a much lower reach, meaning fewer people see the post. The platforms want you to pay to play in this space.
  • Retention: The retention stage involves talking to those who are already aware of your brand and have likely purchased from it. Social proof can be a powerful tactic and empower the community. Successful brands like travel luggage company Away leverage social proof with social media copy that’s inclusive and shows consumers they belong. Use words like “we,” “our” and “you.” Another powerful term is “let’s,” which communicates a participatory and shared vision between the company and the consumer. As you can imagine, customer testimonials and value statements also work well at this stage.
  • Loyalty: Social media posts that entice avid followers to share and advocate for the brand boost loyalty. A common tactic for enticing sharing is storytelling. Storytelling can capture attention, evoke emotions and convey brand values and personality. Using social media copy to tell your story can also help differentiate your brand from competitors and create memorable impressions on your audience. This is also where you can bend a standard copywriting rule regarding avoiding jargon or acronyms. Sometimes, using “insider terms” that speak to loyalists and not the general public effectively illustrates authenticity within the space.

While different tactics work well at various stages, some tried-and-true tactics can help set your social media copy apart from the competition.

Additional Tips For Stand-Out Social Media Copy

  1. Break some grammatical rules. Breaking grammatical rules can make your content more memorable. Say things in unique and unexpected ways.
  2. Focus on highlighting benefits over features. People are more interested in what the product can do for them than what is in the product.
  3. Ensure conversational, concise, clear and intentional messaging. Simplify language to resonate with your target audience.
  4. Use copy in the graphics. Don’t repeat the copy from the graphic in the caption, but make it work in concert.
  5. Use emojis. Emojis communicate and carry emotion. Studies show that just by including emojis, brands get higher reach and engagement. Here are some examples: 
    1. Facebook: Emojis in a Facebook post lead to 57% more interactions and a 33% increase in shares.
    2. Instagram posts with at least one emoji averaged 47.7% more interactions than those without any.
    3. X posts get 25.4% more engagement with emojis.

Ready to enhance your social media strategy with compelling copywriting?

Let’s talk about navigating the evolving social media landscape.

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