OPINION: One of the hardest parts of being a business owner these days is needing to create content consistently. The time, the effort and the process can feel painful, and uncomfortable to many.
It was bad enough when you needed to get a monthly blog together. Now it’s all about writing captivating captions for the images you’ve managed to cobble together.
In our Facebook community MAP IT Marketing, and with our clients, we know that one of the biggest blocks business owners have is that need to write a good social media post (more than once, and in less than an hour).
I was originally worried about writing on this topic because these days, when it comes to writing, I’m a massive content overachiever. Now, writing is as comfortable to me as breathing. It’s currently 9.30am and I’m writing this, then going to work on my new book. I’ve already written four to five social media posts, and a Facebook ad.
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But it wasn’t always that way. In school I used to struggle to put a pen to paper, and get my words out. My brain would either swing from not being able to formulate a single sentence, to having so many thoughts in my head I couldn’t decipher one from the other.
Years ago I was a primary school teacher, and discovered that I was far better at teaching PE than art, even though I’m a heffalump when it comes to exercise, and I do love to create. It’s often easier to teach as you learn, than when you’re an expert, because then you still remember the steps and are all too conscious of the brain pain you are inflicting on the learner.
Last year I was challenged by a desperate client who need to learn how to write a caption. So, after a few days I came up with a five-step process, after studying many captions from marketers I admire.
When we are learning it’s much easier if we have a framework. People who are fluent will mess with the structure, cut corners and often do an inferior job with a larger percentage of posts than a learner, because we’re relying on our comfort zone. This is important to remember if you are getting that feeling of marketing overwhelm.
This is my process for writing a great social media caption. It works with every type of business, and once you get a handle on it, can help you write captions faster, and with more intent. You can even batch write your content using the content pillars suggested as evergreen content for your business.
I prefer writing on paper when I’m learning, so if you are like that too, pop along to this week’s episode of my podcast MAP IT Marketing to get a free downloadable worksheet to help you write your posts, following this five step process (no email required).
Step one: The Headline
Besides the image for your post, the headline is the best way to get people to slow their scrolling and start reading.
It needs to talk to your target audience, tell them something they’ll find interesting and leave them wanting more.
Use superlatives or declare the number of points you are going to cover.
Step two: The Hook
The hook takes the topic from the headline and explains what someone is going to experience in the rest of the post if they keep reading.
Step three: The Juicy Content
This is the body of the caption and it is where you need to give value, information and insight. I am a list lover, so my information tends to be in bullet points for easy scanning, but you can write this in paragraphs too if you prefer.
Step four: Link to What’s Next
We’re about to ask your reader to take some sort of action. We want them to keep reading at this point, so this section helps connect the information you’ve shared already with a request to act on it.
Step five: The Call to Action
Every post needs a call to action. It can be direct (such as buy now) or it can be softer (give me your top tip or advice).
It’s a good idea to create a range of calls to actions as we don’t want to sell on every single post. People are more likely to comment on a post when they don’t feel sold to all the time.
Here’s an example for a product-based business:
“My favourite thing about winter is definitely merino cardigans.
It’s official! It’s getting colder now, so it’s the perfect time to layer up.
Here is why I love cardigans:
Can easily squish into a bag
Can add a pop of colour on a dreary day
Can wear buttoned up or open (so versatile!)
That’s why I’m so excited about the cardigans that have just landed in-store!
Check them out – just click on the image above to shop!”
Here’s an example for a service-based business:
“The most defining moment of my life was learning this truth:
No matter what you do, not everyone will like you. So you may as well just be yourself.
Here’s how to show up as yourself more
Take time to define who you really are. (You might have forgotten it after trying to please people for so long)
Unfollow/ignore people who don’t get you, and aren’t nice to you
Connect online with people you respond to, and admire
Comment on their posts and get to know them
Enjoy positive feedback when it comes
Invest in an empowering photo shoot for your business brand
Sometimes it takes a little extra help from someone like me.
Know you need this?
Send me a message and we’ll set up a time to talk.”
Like anything, the first post may feel very difficult to write, but as you get used to the structure you’ll be able to write several posts at once. I do recommend you set aside time to write social media captions in bulk, as it’s easier to write a second, and then a third, after the first.
Once written, we place all of our content in a spreadsheet so we can use it all again, or use a caption that works really well as a base for a caption about a similar topic. If you are going to go to all that effort, it’s a good idea to plan to use it again somewhere!
I don’t normally add a call to action to my columns, but I’d really like you to feel more confident in writing your own social media posts. So, are you going to give it a go?
Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist, specialising in lead generation and content marketing. She owns Identify Marketing, which works with businesses to create the strategy they need to tell their story better to the right people.