If you’re working in or learning about any kind of marketing, you’re going to hear one phrase over and over again: “Copywriting.”
Copy is the text that we use in marketing materials, ranging from emails, organic social media posts, and PPC ads. And while stringing together an idea to create an engaging Facebook post or Instagram Story Ad doesn’t seem too hard, it can actually be fairly technical, especially since each platform as their own best practices.
In this post, we’re going to look at everything you need to know about how to copywrite great social media content for every platform, including paid ads, so that you can get your clients the results they’re looking for.
What Is Copywriting?
Copywriting is the process of writing the text that will be used for marketing purposes, known as “copy.”
By its nature, copy is meant to be persuasive, whereas content (which can be copy or include copied) is largely meant to inform. It’s encouraging users to take some action, to promote your products, or to show off your brand in a particular way.
Writing great copy can be difficult to do, because getting your point across in a quick, clear, and persuasive manner isn’t always as easy as it looks. It’s one of the reasons why it’s an important part of our Diploma of Social Media Marketing course.
With the right skill set and a little practice, however, you can write great copy in no time.
Why Is Copywriting So Difficult?
Copywriting can be exceptionally difficult because every single word matters. And I know that sounds like I’m being dramatic, but I’m not.
If you only have a few words to grab a user’s attention in an ad and convince them to purchase, or to get them to want to come to your event, or to retweet your link, every character matters.
Let’s look at an example. This was the first ad that showed up in my feed when I clicked to Facebook.
The product is selling for $65 USD, even though you can buy a bag 3x the size of scented Epsom salts for your bath for about $10 at a local drugstore. So they need to really sell why it’s worth that cost.
They use the copy to do so with “Elevate your bath time ritual with Lord Jones Hemp-Infused Bath Salts” and “Luxurious Bath Salts.”
They didn’t say “Make your bath more fun with Lord Jones bath salts” or “Relax more with our product.” They used words like “elevate,” “bath time ritual,” and “luxurious bath soak” to really sell the experience.
Twelve words in the main ad description. Each one matters.
You need to account for branded language all while factoring in character counts, platform best practices, the type of copy you’re writing, your audience preferences, platform restrictions, and brevity.
The good news is that having a resource on hand to help you keep track of some of this (which we’re sharing with you now!) makes the process much easier.
Types Of Copywriting
There are several types of copywriting that you may need to tackle working as a social media marketer. Let’s take a quick look at each.
Organic In-Feed Copy
Copy for your organic, in-feed posts is what most social media marketers work on frequently. This is all about post creation, potentially including Stories on-screen text or Reels caption creation.
This copy is always persuasive, but you can (and should) have different goals.
Here the purpose of the copy is to get users to watch the video and eventually click the link by grabbing their interest.
And in the Facebook post below, they’re gently promoting a product by sharing a story and giving a behind-the-scenes look at a co-founder and her family.
Video copy typically refers to the video script needed to create the video itself. Video scriptwriting is a different ballgame altogether, and best practices will shift depending on the type of video that you want to create. In general, though, sticking to short and simple sentence structures and using extremely conversational language is key. Make sure that the video scripts you're writing will fit within each platform's sweet spot for how long they can (and should) be.
There are plenty of paid ad platforms to choose from on social media, including Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Twitter Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Promoted Pins, TikTok Ads, and more.
This is the copy that appears in the ad text, and potentially on the overlay of the image itself and in the ad headline.
PPC copy needs to be incredibly persuasive and it needs to reach out to audiences who may not be thoroughly connected with your brand. The impression it makes needs to be powerful enough to convince customers to take action now because they can’t just browse to your feed and reference it later.
Direct Message Copy
On Facebook, you can set up autoresponders that greet users when they first send you a private message on Facebook whether that's organically or after converting on a Messenger Ad. The purpose of this copy is to greet them, potentially let them know what you can do for them, and inform them of when they can expect to receive a response. This isn’t so much about persuasion, but it’s important that it stays true to your brand voice.
My Social Media Copywriting Process
I’m predominantly a content marketer, but I also do social media PPC and some social media copy work for existing clients. I’ve developed a process over several years that helps me to create high-converting and engaging copy.
This is the process I use:
- I write down the objective of the copy, and why users should take that action
- I turn those ideas into a post that’s a few lines long
- I cut away anything that’s not necessary
- I make the language more engaging and persuasive
- I add a CTA at the end
- I do a check to make sure that it looks great.
And then, I always edit copy three times, because with such short text there’s nowhere to hide.
I create social media copy in a Google doc for client approval. I check it, and they check it. I check it again.
It then goes into a social media management tool like Agorapulse, where I check it again and a client checks it again. This reduces the likelihood of errors like typos, incorrect words, or broken links. If it’s going into an ad system, I preview it to make sure that it looks great in every placement.
Here’s an example. Say I want to sell a new brand of dog toys for touch chewers in a PPC Ad.
I’m going to write down:
- Objective: Clicks to site for purchases (secondary: introduce brand to customers)
- Audience: dog owners with tough chewers (secondary: new puppy owners)
- Benefits: toys that withstand the toughest chewing dogs, with no stuffing, no squeakers, and made with food-grade silicone so the dog is safe and happy and reduces waste.
This then goes through the following phases:
- Our dog toys were designed for tough chewers, and it has no stuffing, no squeakers, and it’s made with food-grade silicone. Your dog is safe, you go through fewer toys, and the dog is happy.
- I decide to cut away “go through fewer toys” because it’s not a core point I want to focus on in this copy.
- It becomes: “RUFF’s toys were made with the toughest chewers in mind. Made with food-grade silicone, they’ll made to last and have no stuffing and no squeakers. Your dog is safe, and everyone is happy.”
- We add a CTA: “RUFF’s toys were made with the toughest chewers in mind. Made with food-grade silicone, they’ll made to last and have no stuffing and no squeakers. Your dog is safe, and everyone is happy.
- Shop our line of tough-chewer toys and get 20% off today.”
How To Write Great Social Copy For Every Purpose
While you’ll need to test different copy styles and copywriting strategies on each platform, there are a few best practices that will serve you well regardless of the specific specialty of copy you’re working on. Let’s take a look at some.
Understand Character Counts & Platform Limitations
The very first thing that you need to consider when copywriting is how much space you have to get your point across.
On Facebook organic posts you can have over 63,000 characters. In most cases, best practices recommend keeping it between 1 and 80 characters.
On Facebook Ads, you get 40 characters for your headline, 30 characters for description, and Facebook recommends sticking to 125 characters for the main ad text to avoid having it cut off though you can go plenty longer if you choose.
Twitter posts and ads are capped at 280 characters, though every link you add removes 23 characters.
Instagram captions and ads allow you to have 2200 characters and 30 hashtags, though they can be truncated at 125 characters.
Promoted and organic Pins give you 500 characters to work with, though shorter is often better.
TikTok gives you 150 characters, including hashtags.
You’ll also want be mindful of any particular platform restrictions.
On Facebook, for example, the wellness and medical industries are extremely regulated, and you’re hyper-restricted on what you can say. Check each platform’s guidelines so you understand these restrictions.
Incorporate Your Brand’s Voice
Whether you’re writing copy for your own brand or for your clients’ it’s so imperative that you’re sticking to a consistent brand voice. This doesn’t mean you need to channel Wendy’s Twitter account with witty clapbacks every twenty minutes, but you need to find what rings true to you.
This is a great ad because it’s consistent with the brand voice. It’s a little funny and a little sarcastic, and it’s clever because it even calls out that the advertiser is running an ad. This wouldn’t work for a by-the-books accounting firm… but it works for this barbershop.
Pick a Single Goal & Optimize For It
One of the most common mistakes I see copywriters and brands make over and over again is trying to do too many things at once.
They want video views AND leads AND clicks AND sales.
Theoretically a single post could drive multiple different actions, but you need to optimise for one or the user could walk away feeling overwhelmed and pulled in too many different directions.
You don’t even need to optimise for sales. The below ad on Twitter, for example, is focused exclusively on engagement. That kind of direct CTA goes a long way.
Focus On Value Offered
It’s crucial to keep in mind that users are always asking “what’s in it for me” when reading your copy. You need to answer that question.
Why is it worth their time to read? To click? To watch? To purchase? To share?
Whatever it is what you want them to do, focus on the value they gain from doing so. If you can do that and centre the value around their motivations and pain points using buyer personas, that’s a good step in the right direction. Center your copy around that.
Cut The Clutter
When it comes to copy, cleaner is better.
You want simple sentence structures. You don’t need a long list of synonyms to try to drive your point home; that just adds clutter. Get your point across and stick to that.
Social media copywriting comes down to a combination of having the right strategies and just practicing. Every brand will have unique audience preferences and their own branded language, so test to see what works well and go from there.
And keep in mind that copywriting best practices may (and almost certainly will) shift over time. You’re going to have changes in platform formatting, character counts, and consumer behaviour to watch. You can always keep an eye on our blog to watch out for changes happening on social media so you can adapt accordingly.Ready to learn more about excelling in social media across the board? Check out our Diploma of Social Media Marketing today.