How to create great social media content

Melissa F. | July 15, 2021
9 mins

Without a doubt, social media is one of the main ways (some would argue THE most important way) to market your products or services, get new customers, and grow your brand awareness.

A 2019 survey by Emarsys revealed there are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide, which is around 45% of the world’s population. And this number is only growing, especially since people are so attached to their smartphones. Globalwebindex found that people average at least 3 hours a day on social media platforms. That’s a whole lot of opportunity to get your brand in front of a vast audience. 

But the problem is that every business, both large and small, has the same goal. So the question becomes not WHY social media, but HOW to get noticed in an ocean of global competition? The answer lies in two main areas. 

On the one hand there’s content strategy planning, like creating a well timed social media content calendar that engages people at the right time. We explore this in our article: How to Build a Successful Social Media Calendar. 

The second area is creating — how do you make content that stands out, gets people sharing, and ultimately makes them want to buy what you offer? That’s what we’ll look at in this article.

What Type of Content Engages People?

To know how to create great content on social media, you first have to understand what type of content inspires people to engage and share. Psychology researchers have discovered the four main factors which trigger people to get socially active on platforms are: communication, entertainment, social approval, and supporting ideas.

These obviously often overlap, and there can also be differences in the type of content people seek on different platforms. For example, Instagram is mainly about awesome images.

What’s important to remember is your content should always be focused around one or more of these four triggers. People relate to content that interests them on a personal level. One of the biggest mistakes businesses can make on social media is to focus content primarily on their brand and promotions.

If promotions are all you put out, people will come to view your content as spam, which causes brand aversion. Instead, your business needs to engage audiences around what people are interested in, or around solving their pain points. 

Giving people content they enjoy will naturally make them interested in your brand enough to want to know more about who you are and what you’re offering. The days of aggressive sell have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Key Creative Content Strategy Tips

Awesome content is a long game, so don’t tie yourself in knots trying to create perfect content from the get go. Over time, you’ll get better and better at understanding your audience, based on what they engage with. That said, if you keep these tips in mind , you can’t go wrong, whether you’re experienced or a complete newbie startup:

Add Visuals to Boost Shares

Picture and video content is vital for engagement these days. They grab attention faster and more effectively than text alone. For example, photos are liked 200% more than text updates.

To source static images for your content, you have these options:

  • Amateur photography — unless you or your friend are genuinely skilled, with an understanding of angle, lighting and composition, it’s not advisable to use non-professional images. People will be able to tell, and it can easily make your branding look cheap.
  •  Free stock pictures — do a simple online search and there’s no end to the amount of images you can get for free. The downside is that many of them won’t be very original.
  • Paid stock images — some sites give you a certain amount of images for a monthly fee, others charge you per photo for a set length of time. The benefit of paying for them is you can be certain they won’t disappear by getting archived, and you’ll tend to find higher quality or more original images.
  • Graphic designer — many larger companies use designers to create completely original, on-brand imagery that customers can recognise. This isn’t very feasible for SMBs though, because a lot of fresh content needs to go out on a regular basis and it would get too expensive.

Over the past few years, video content has become crucial, especially when dealing with a millennial audience. Facebook’s algorithm even prioritizes videos. A study by Small Business Trends found that social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined!

SMBs often shy away from video because they think it would overstretch their budget. But the opposite applies to video compared to what we said about images — keeping it real is far more appealing to consumers than a professional production. Themes like a behind-the-scenes look at the people and operation of your business, or a Q&A session, filmed from your phone or computer, can make people feel a human connection with your brand.

But if you want to do a professional, branded product promotion, there are a number of video production apps that can help you do that at very affordable prices, and without needing specialized skills.  

When adding visuals to your social posts, keep a few things in mind with your content strategy:

  • If you have something more complex to explain, use an infographic to break it down. People will be more likely to share an infographic than large amounts of text. And you don’t even need to hire an expensive designer. Just do a search for ‘infogram app’.
  • Instagram posts get more engagement with pictures of people in them. This also makes your brand more human. If you don’t have a budget for a model, there are lots of sites, even free ones, which give you mockups.
  • Facebook editors who approve ads don’t like too much text on images, so use this Checker Tool. Heavy visuals are also unappealing, they’re too busy on the eye, so keep them clean looking.
  • Get ideas from brands who excel in social media imagery. Never copy them though, because apart from that being unfair, the whole point is to stand out.

Get Clever with User Generated Content

Social proof, meaning the views of your peers instead of companies, is vital in today’s competitive marketplace. And it’s not just about Likes. Sharing user created content — like the photos and videos people take with their phones, product reviews, and strategic guest posts — give your brand credibility. 

Be sure to have a content strategy that effectively repurposes this type of content. For example, a survey by BrightLocal found that 68% out of 74% of customers who were asked for feedback gave an online review. And reviews are a powerful brand trust tool. If you’re a new business, you could even offer a discount code to anyone who leaves feedback so you can gain fast traction.

When deciding what user content to repurpose, keep those four triggers we listed in mind: communication, entertainment, social approval, and supporting ideas. It’s also highly advisable to steer clear of polarizing shares, like political ideas, because you don’t want to antagonize a large portion of your audience. 

But you can never go wrong with general humor about everyday life, and feel-good content like people helping each other. Your main guide should be content that unites people, or content that you’re sure your audience will find funny or attractive.

Positive emotion is key to engaging people on social media. You want to strike a balance between appealing to as wide an audience as possible, while having some unique personality so you stand out.

Follow the Core Copywriting Rules

If nothing else, remember these rules of thumb to keep you on track with professional messaging that appeals to readers:

  • Scannable & concise — make sure your content has clear headings, fonts, and paragraphs. The presentation should never look busy or squashed, so keep things concise and break up large chunks of text with spacing. People are bombarded daily with content, so they’re generally impatient. Get to the point, cut out all waffle.
  • Ordered messaging — content needs a strong hierarchy, starting with the most important information. The general order is: start with a catchy yet clear heading that speaks to consumer needs, then move to explaining in as short a way as possible why they should be interested in your product or service, then explain the supporting details like when, where, or how.
  • Clear call-to-action — make sure you have an effective call-to-action for every post. Whether it’s a ‘Read more’, ‘Get Your Discount’, or ‘Buy Now’ link, your audience should never be left up in the air, or guessing how they can continue their journey with your brand.


Creative content strategy starts with understanding what makes people share and engage. This boils down to the four main triggers we outlined

And when it comes to producing great content, three main factors come into play:

  • Visuals — images and video are an absolute must these days. With a simple Google search, you can find a range of apps that let you create images, infographics and videos, without spending a lot or needing specialized tech skills.
  • Repurposing — different types of user generated content can be effectively used to create brand trust and engagement.
  • Copywriting Know-How — there are a couple of key rules for getting return on investment with social media. The most important ones are making sure your content is scannable, concise, instantly appealing, and ordered in a useful hierarchy with a clear call-to-action.

Also make sure your content has the right sizing to fit different platforms, and looks good on different devices. That’s why a social media manager is so valuable — it does all this for you from a single, easy dashboard.

Now that you have the core foundation for creating great social media content, check out the Need-to-Know Social Media Management Tips to successfully build ongoing audience engagement.

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Melissa F.

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