How to Write Social Copy That Ignites Member Engagement

How many brands do you actively follow on social media? Five? Maybe less?

Attracting people to your association’s social channels is hard. Getting them to engage with you is really really (really) hard. “People have a seemingly endless array of groups to join and ways to discover new information,” says a post from Association Success. “From local clubs to volunteer organizations, Facebook groups to Reddit communities, there’s no shortage of options for finding community and knowledge.”

The problem is, many association accounts are…boring. People go to social media for education, entertainment, and information. They don’t want to be blasted with hard sells and giant chunks of self-serving text.

But there is a formula for writing standout social media copy. It requires a little research. Lots of strategy. And most importantly, consistent effort.

Here is a quick plan we recommend to write social media copy that’ll make your members look twice––and then share with a friend.

Develop audience personas

Before rolling your eyes, personas don’t mean what they used to. It’s not the cheesy “Karen, a 32-year-old mother of two who shops at Target…” Think more along the lines of your target user’s journey. What stage of the relationship funnel are you in––awareness, consideration, or decision? How are you targeting users in each stage? What role does social have to play in your larger marketing strategy?

These answers are necessary to crafting a compelling post. Contrary to popular belief, great social media copy only focuses on two or three audience segments. As we explained in a previous post, “It’s easy to communicate with, and craft messaging for smaller, well-defined groups. To expand outward and upward from your core audience, do so in a way that does not alienate secondary and tertiary targets.”

P.S. We can help with this.

Conduct a competitor audit

List five to ten of your main competitors and analyze their engagement metrics, how they define their product/service, how active they are on social, and which SEO keywords they rank for. Then you can simultaneously create your own voice, while understanding examples of what works and what does not.

Social media is a strategy. It’s not posting whatever clever insight pops into your head and hoping to go viral. By conducting a competitor audit, you will have the knowledge and awareness to start making noise in your industry.

Establish a serendipity vehicle

The problem with most social media accounts is that they are transactional––I provide you a piece of content and you give me a form of engagement. But we’re in the business of building relationships. To do this, your social media strategy should focus on getting people to come back for more. Bring followers into your community by asking questions and publishing polls. Encourage engagement with user-generated content.

One of the top posts our agency wrote in 2020 simply asked our company’s followers the type of content they’d like to see us post more frequently. It killed two birds with one stone––we know what topics interest people while making contributors feel like a part of our brand.

If you stick to showing off products and peacocking company announcements, followers will get bored and look elsewhere.

Be relatable

High-performing social media posts often share a part of the human experience. Dove is a masterclass example. For years, Dove has shown real people on social media benefiting from its products. Take this Instagram post marketing Dove’s DermaSeries line for instance. It’s a real snapshot of a real person struggling with a skin condition. Anyone who has experienced something similar will feel an immediate emotional connection to the brand. The copy in this example just has to push the narrative along.

Relatability is how you build trust and ultimately convert a community of followers into buying customers.

Reduce your message to its simplest, clearest, easiest-to-understand form

When legendary author Steven Pressfield first cut his teeth as an adman for Benton and Bowls, he learned that simple is often better.

Pressfield would bring a piece of copy to his boss and they would say,

“Get out of here. This is way too long. Go back to your cubicle and cut it down.”

He’d spend hours cutting it down, bring it back, and they’d say,

“Cut it down again…”

Users are busy, distracted, and impatient. On social media, you have to respect a reader’s time and understand they’re often scrolling. Don’t use 250 words to say the same thing you could with 25 words.

Remember your mission, vision, and brand pillars

Social media is an opportunity to push the boundaries of your brand––but don’t forget why you’re doing it all. Wendy’s can write some aggressively savage copy because it’s on brand, though if Slack did the same thing, it wouldn’t have the same effect.

Keep the why of your brand in mind at all times. It should inform the type of language, voice, and tone you strike.

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Jonah Malin's headshot

Jonah Malin

Jonah Malin is a creative marketing professional, crafting story-driven content to execute a diverse range of digital, print, and social deliverables.

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