Composing Engaging Content

You can employ lots of great strategies to increase your engagement and followers on social media. But they won’t help your campaign succeed if the content you post isn’t compelling to your audience. How companies approach developing marketing content, depends on the size and resources. Some companies may have internal resources dedicated to marketing content. Others may outsource the creation of assets to freelancers or media agencies. Whether you’re writing and designing the content yourself, or coordinating its development with others, you need to understand the principles of engaging content. The contents need to reflect well on your brand.

Write for social media

How to write for social media
How to write for social media

To begin with, make sure you write to your audience. This means doing research to get to know them. What are their interests and values? What needs, obstacles, or challenges do they have? If you want your audience to notice and engage with your social media posts, you need to put their needs at the center of your writing. Think about their perspective, and then describe how your business or product can improve their life. This also helps to write as though you were speaking directly to each person.

In addition, you’ll need to learn to speak like your audience. Research the type of language your target audience uses to communicate. Then use similar language in your content so that it will resonate with them.

You’ll also need to be able to tailor your writing to each platform. For example, a post geared at professionals on LinkedIn should generally use a different language than a post targeted at young adults on Facebook. Intentionally using language that differs from what people are used to seeing on a given platform can be very effective at grabbing their attention.

People are exposed to a ton of content on social media every day. To catch your audience’s attention in this brief time they’re spending on your content, keep your posts short and simple. Some ways to do this include avoiding jargon, breaking up messages using headlines, bullets, and lists, keeping sentences and paragraphs short, and bolding important information. It helps your audience to scan and understand.

At the end of the, your social media posts include a call-to-action. A call-to-action is an instruction that tells the customer what to do next. Calls-to-action is used in many digital marketing channels such as display ads and email marketing. On social media, calls-to-action include things like asking your audience to like or share a post, answer a question, take a quiz, read another piece of content, go to your website, subscribe to your newsletter, or connect with you on another social media platform. Even if people find your content interesting and valuable, they might not take any action after reading it. A call-to-action encourages them to connect with you further.

Although you should write social media posts in a language of your target audience, your overall message should be written in your brand’s voice. Your brand’s voice is a distinct personality a brand takes on in its communications. It’s the language and the tone you use when writing your content, or interacting with your audience. For instance, your brand voice might be casual and conversational, or it might be professional and serious. Your brand voice needs to be consistent throughout the content you create for all your marketing channels including social media. The consistency helps your audience recognize and gain familiarity with your brand’s voice on social media later in this lesson.

Finally, you want to pay attention to grammar and spelling. Even if your brand voice is casual, posting content with errors reflects poorly on your business.

Develop your brand voice on social media

A brand’s voice is a distinct personality a brand takes on in its communication. It’s how the attitudes and values of a brand are reflected in all of its content. Developing a clear, consistent brand voice is essential for many reasons.

To begin with, it helps you stand out on social media. In the crowded social media space, having a distinct brand voice can make you more memorable and distinguish you from your competitors. Having a distinct brand voice also helps make your brand more recognizable. This can increase your current and potential customers’ familiarity with your brand and your overall brand awareness. Creating a brand voice is all about delivering consistent language and messaging across all of your marketing content. This consistency helps build customers’ trust and loyalty.

So how do we develop a brand voice on social media?

First, think about how you would like to describe your brand’s personality. If your brand’s personality. If your brand were a person, what would they be like? What would they say? How would they act? What would their relationship with the customer be like? Would they act like a coach, a friend, or a parent? Think about some adjectives you might use to describe your brand’s personality. Are friendly, upbeat, and helpful? Smart, confident, and format? Causal, sarcastic, and bold?

To further define your brand’s voice, review your company’s current and past content. Study examples from all of your marketing communication to get a sense of what your brand voice is like currently. How does your target audience speak and how do they interact with you? What content has resonated with your audience in the past? What language do they use? It will give you enough ideas of what your brand’s personality is currently like and begin thinking about how to shape it further.

It’s important that your brand voice be honest and authentic. Avoid complicated terminology, acronyms, jargon, and anything else that might get in the way of your audience, understanding your message. Rather, speak naturally to your audience as you would if you were saying something to them in person. Audiences need to feel comfortable engaging with you online and want to speak to real person. Having authentic brand voice will help you form connections and build relationship with your customers.

Next, finding your tone. While voice is an expression of your brand’s personality, tone is how your brand’s voice is applied. The tone of your content can differ based on factors like audience, situation, and platform. For example, you might use an upbeat, excited tone to describe the launch of your latest product whereas you would use a serious empathetic tone to convey support for community members who’ve just been through a natural disaster. Well, you only one brand voice, but it’ll use many different tones to express that voice. To maintain consistency, you’ll need a brand voice guidelines. These guidelines describe the way your brand should be presented in writing. They include things like your brand’s mission and values, personality, target, audience, common vocabulary and phrases, tone in different situations or on different platforms, and examples.

Brand guidelines are a useful reference when you have to write in your brand’s voice or review the work of others. They can help multiple contributors create content that reflect your brand and ensures a brand consistency.

Design engaging content for social media

Here are ten tips for designing content for social media:

  1. Use simple graphics. Graphics that have too many details aren’t fully understood or appreciated in a few seconds. Keeping graphics simple and elegant helps your message remain clear.
  2. Use colors that drive more engagement. Even if your organization or agency has a recommended color palette, you can sometimes include a contrasting color or tint to grab people’s attention. However, make sure you get approval when you veer away from a brand’s approved colors. For help choosing colors that look good together, consult a source that provides recommendations on color combinations. Check out the color wheel offers by Canva.
  3. Use contrast to help put the focus on key elements. It doesn’t always have to be a color contrast. You can also use variations in size, texture, shape, layout, and font.
  4. Use text that is easy to read. The text should be easy to read so it doesn’t distract users from the full impact of visuals.
  5. Use a variety of styles. Although certain styles make a company or brand recognizable, using the same style for all social media content gets boring. Shake it up and surprise users with a variety of styles. Be playful and adjust text sizes, colors and weights for full effect.
  6. Use smart branding. Users should know what brand you’re highlighting without your brand being mentioned repeatedly, or your logo visible at all times. Place branding in or near key images for users to find when they want it.
  7. Use principles of visual hierarchy. Visual hierarchy enables users to observe overall meaning before they gather details from individual elements. A structured hierarchy of visual components can group elements, place elements in a natural or predictable pattern (such as reading from left to right), or lead to the most important elements to click on.
  8. Use a call to action. A call to action is an instruction that tells the customer what to do next. Whether it’s liking, sharing, or commenting, include a call to action in your social media content to reach more users.
  9. Use visuals across multiple platforms. Design, optimize, and re-use graphics, and video across multiple social media platforms. For example, a photo on Instagram can be reused on Facebook.
  10. Use and create templates. Use and create templates for successful social media content. Doing so enables you to create similar content with a high likelihood of success.

Tools for visual content

Photo editing

Paid softwareFree software
ACDSee Photo Studio
Adobe Lightroom
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop Elements
Affinity Photo
Capture One
Corel PaintShop Pro
CyberLink PhotoDirector 365
DxO PhotoLab
Exposure Software
ON1 Photo RAW
Skylum Luminar AI
Zoner Photo Studio
Canva
darktable
Fotor
Paid and free software for photo editing

Video editing

Paid softwareFree software
Adobe Premiere Pro
Apple Final Cut Pro
Apple iMovie
CyberLink PowerDirector 365
Corel VideoStudio Ultimate
DaVinci Resolve
Movavi Video Editor Plus
Pinnacle Studio Ultimate
Blender
Clipchamp
FXhome HitFilm Express
Lightworks
OpenShot Video Editor
Shotcut
NCH Software VideoPad
Vimeo Create
VSDC Video Editor
WeVideo
Paid and free software for video editing

Graphic design

Paid softwareFree software
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Photoshop
Affinity Designer
CorelDraw Graphics Suite
Gravit Designer PRO
Xara Designer Pro+
Inkscape
Canva
Paid and free software for graphic design

Images and graphics for commercial use

Creating original images, graphics, and artwork takes a lot of time and skill. Many organizations search online for image libraries or stock photos when they can’t create them in-house. You need to double-check on copyright between the free and licensed materials. Free images are offered by creators with an understanding that they are to be credited for their work like Upsplash. Licensed images for commercial use typically have a payment fee or subscription requirement that users must abide by. 

Make social media posts accessible

Over one billion people in the world have a disability. That’s more than the populations of the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and Brazil combined. A disability can affect: vision, movement, thinking, memory, learning, communication hearing, mental health, and social relationships. When creating social media content, it’s important to remember that your audience includes people with hearing loss who rely on captions and people with visual disabilities who rely on a special text that describes images.

What is accessibility?

Accessibility is considering the needs of people with disabilities when products, services, and facilities are built or modified, making them usable by people of all abilities.

Make social media posts accessible

Video captioning

video captioning assists those without hearing or with some hearing loss. Captioning also assists those whose native language isn’t the one being used, and those who aren’t in a place to play sound as they normally would, such as in a quiet space or crowded environment.

  • Closed captions are overlaid on video and can be turned on and off by users.
  • Open captions are embedded directly in video and can’t be hidden or turned off by users.

Check which type of captions are supported on social media platforms you intend to use and design your content to meet those requirements.

Alternative text

Alternative text or alt text for short, is a brief, written description of an image with the primary purpose of assisting individuals who are visually impaired. Many platforms allow you to submit alt text for social media posts. Some platforms automatically generate alt text for images using artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. While this technology is still emerging, it might save some time if you edit the auto-generated text instead of creating the text yourself.

Tips to write alt text:

  • There is no need to include “image” in the description because screen readers announce the word. You just need to use words for descriptions and it can be descriptive details like “cup of coffee with foam in the shape of a heart on top” instead of just “cup of coffee”.
  • Focus on the purpose of the image as opposed to every detail about the image. If it is an image of a clock, you can use a “wall clock with hour, minute, and second hands showing the passage of time” without even mentioning the display time.

Color contrast

Color contrast ratios (L1/L2) measure the luminescence (or brightness) of the lighter color (L1) against the luminescence of the darker color (L2). Contrast ratios range from 1/1 or 1:1 to 21/1 or 21:1. For graphics in social media, use a color contrast of at least 4.5:1 for text and background color to make the text more readable. Using this guidance, you would choose to use blue on white with a contrast ratio of 8.6:1 instead of red or green on white with contrast ratios of 4:1 and 1.4:1, respectively.

Head to WebAIM to access your content to make it more accessible to everyone. They have an interactive contrast checker page to determine the contrast ratio.

Fonts

Custom fonts may appear striking and innovative, but screen readers could have a problem identifying the text. Be on alert because this includes italic text and other standard styles.

Hashtags

Hashtags should use what’s known as CamelCase, where initial letters of words are capitalized. For example, use #VirtualClassroom instead of #virtualclassroom. Screen readers recognize CamelCase text as two words and will use the correct pronunciation.

Emojis

Emojis are fun but use them sparingly in social media posts because screen readers use multiple words to describe them. Imagine five smiling face emojis translated by a screen reader as “Grinning Face with Big Eyes” five times in a row. Emojis take too long to describe with screen readers and people can lose their patience.

Language

When you create social media content, avoid terms that undervalue or dehumanize people because of their disability. For example, instead of using the term “the blind,” you could use “blind people” or “partially-sighted people.” Additionally, just because you have heard certain phrases used frequently doesn’t mean that they are inclusive. It is often necessary to rephrase commonly used statements with accessibility in mind. For example, you could replace “take a walk” with “enjoy the outdoors” because people using the aid of wheelchairs can’t walk, but certainly do enjoy the outdoors.

Use inclusive language in your social media posts. Social media content casts a wide net to increase user interest in a company, brand, product, or individual. The more accessible and inclusive posts are, the wider the audience and the greater the interest. Aim for the largest audience possible by making your social media content accessible.

What is Canva?

Canva is an online graphic design tool used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents, and other visual content, including videos. As opposed to other graphic design tools that require some level of expertise, Canva is specifically laid out for ease of use, which means novice users can feel more comfortable starting with the tool. Canva offers a large number of pre-built templates so that digital marketers can create on-brand at an expert design level.

Canva has a free option that you can choose to start with. You can link to your social media accounts directly via Canva share options. To learn more about Canva head to the learning section of the website.

Repurpose content on social media

As a digital marketer posting on social media, you need to know the best practices for writing and designing new content. However, it can be time-consuming to continually have to develop fresh content for all of your social media platforms. For this reason, it’s useful to repurpose content on social media. Repurposing allows you to take your best content and make it do more work for you. For example, you could take the content from one webinar and turn it into a video, an e-book, a blog post, a podcast, and a checklist.

Definition of repurposing content
Definition of repurposing content

Besides saving you time, repurposing content on social media has other benefits. It can reinforce your brand’s message, give your content an SEO boost, and reach audiences who missed the post the first time you published it.

Repurposing content also allows you to create something completely new and original from your existing images, videos, and text. When considering what content to repurpose, prioritize content that has performed well and can help you meet the goals defined in your strategy, like driving more traffic to your website, generating more leads, or raising brand awareness.

Another thing to consider is whether the content is evergreen. Evergreen content is content that will be relevant over a long period or time constrain. For example, event-specific content would not be ideal to repurpose. Once you’ve selected high-performing evergreen content to repurpose, you can go about determining how to repurpose it. There are endless approaches to repurposing content on social media, and these will differ based on the platform you want to use.

Here are a few common ways that you can repurpose content on social media.

Let’s start with lists or listicles. Listicles are articles written in a list format. Maybe you’ve posted a how-to guide with bullet points or a list of suggestions. You can break that list up into a series of posts. For instance, your home improvement company’s post on five ways to update your kitchen on a budget could become five new standalone posts. Each post could provide additional information and links which increases the value of the original post for your audience.

You can also transform the text into images. Posts that contain data or statistics translate well into infographics, for example. Images help readers understand complex concepts. Furthermore, visual content generates higher engagement than text, so repurposing written content as images allows you to reach more people.

Another creative way to repurpose content is to take fun or amusing video clips or animations and turn them into GIFs. A GIF is an animated image. Many tools exist that can help you create fun, eye-catching GIFs that can help you promote your content.

You can also identify frequent questions on your social media platforms and answer them with an existing article. By repurposing relevant content and linking it to your responses, you build relationships and help others asking the same question find you.

These are just a few ways to repurpose your social media. You might come up with your own or do research for tools that best fit your content and goals.

Happy learning and good luck!

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