In the chaos of marketing tools for social media, it’s hard to find and combine the most effective ones. A lot of marketers admit that it’s becoming more challenging to balance out the budget, timing and the actual marketing strategies to build a social media community around a business. That is why learning how to write compelling social media posts is so crucial.

However, mastering this and really making an effort to write compelling social media posts requires one important skill from you – understanding people.

For instance, Margo Aaron explains it pretty well:

You don’t need fancy software, complicated spreadsheets, or a word-smithing genius. To be good at marketing, you only need to understand one thing: People. You don’t need to “learn marketing”. You need to learn people. Study people. Pay attention to people.

This doesn’t mean you should forget about data analysis and instead focus on people only. They are not opposites but components. To be able to create a holistic social media marketing strategy, you should take a good care of both, data analysis (managing information) and social science skills (managing meanings through psychology and language).

Harvard Business Review published several studies on how to get out more of social media. They also highlight the importance of data-driven analysis / social skills balance:

Write Compelling Social Media Posts
Do this: Not that:
Social media conversation: Listen to it Manage it
Pay special attention to social media: Always – to create corporate strategy and innovation In the agony of corporate crisis

But the main message they stress is “think like an anthropologist”. That is, involve someone with social skills to gather social media messages and deliver real insights for your business.

Let’s now talk about some psychological and language basics to help you better understand what drives different behavioral patterns of social media users and how this information can help you learn how to write compelling social media posts. In short, we’ll revise:

  • Key insights of anthropology-based marketing
  • Recommended length and #hashtags for compelling social media posts
  • Effective writing tips

Key insights of anthropology-based marketing

(The crossroad of psychology and language. Quick lessons.)

Klaus Krippendorff, Professor for Cybernetics, Language, and Culture at Annenberg School for Communication, claims that social sciences have a long tradition of studying language use to better understand people; in other words, to understand their psychology.

And there are thousands of facts that it works for different areas of life. They can teach us a lot. For example:

Learn from politicians

Frank Luntz, an American political consultant who handled all speeches of George W. Bush, definitely knows the psychology of the right words.

For example, there was a case when people did not support a pension reform because it had been proclaimed with the words “privatization” and “private accounts”. Luntz advised to change these words to “personalization” and “personal accounts”. And that worked even without changing the reform itself – retirees and the government was satisfied.

He also advised not to criticize “the government” and use the word “Washington” instead. Why? Because Americans love their local governments as the latter provide good disposal services, for example.

Luntz wrote a book “Words that work”, where he listed words that are really “right” for American people. And it’s not about manipulation – it’s about being an effective communicator. It’s about deep knowledge of the lifestyle and understanding the psychology of your target audience.

Coca-Cola team definitely knows the lifestyle of their potential customers, for example, taking into account how many images and posts they create showing a happy-go-lucky lifestyle of young people.

So, here comes tip #1: Know the lifestyle of your social media audience and try use their language.

Write compelling social media posts: customer persona

Just to give you an idea, to learn more about your “customer persona”, you can create a poll or survey and simply ask direct questions.

Learn from Australian banks

Chapter 13 of “Social Media Data Extraction and Content Analysis” by Shalin Hai-Jew is very interesting.

It’s entitled “Facebook Content Analysis: A Study into Australian Banks’ Social Media Community Engagement”. In this study, we learn deeper the difference between social media for personal use and business communities (the social media were initially created for entertaining, not for businesses). In this chapter, the author studies the language of social media of some Australian banks and defines which words work the best for them.

Here is the main insight:

Even though there is a considerable user interest in various social media technologies, user participation in social media based communities formed by businesses depends upon the incentives available for them as participants that drive their motivation.

This makes our tip #2: When creating your posts, ask yourself how you motivate your audience (to share the post, participate in discussion, etc.)

When you want people to take action, you should also give them a reason why. This can be achieved with the trigger words like because, for this reason, since, etc. or in any other way.

how to improve social media strategy

Learn from “Star Wars”

Do you think that a rapid growth of technologies inspired George Lucas to create “Star Wars”?

He filmed it being under the influence of Joseph Campbell – a famous American mythologist. Once Lucas said that he was consciously restoring classic myths and mythological motifs in his movie. He wanted to use these myths to solve the problems that exist today. From his interview with Time:

The more research I did, the more I realized that the issues are the same ones that existed 3,000 years ago. That we haven’t come very far emotionally.

At last, our tip #3: Create emotional posts, provide cure for pain, evoke feelings familiar to everyone.

These are 3 important tips for your anthropology-based social media marketing and learning how to write compelling social media posts.

Now let’s get into the slightly more technical aspects:

Length and #hashtags of social media posts

Before we talk about some content strategies, make sure your social media posts are searchable and visually attractive:

The right post length

The guys from CoSchedule created a special chart identifying what post length is the best for each social platform. It’s not universal, but if you don’t know where to start, this will give you some logic:

social media posts length
Data by

Include relevant #hashtags

What is the right way to include them into your social media posts? You might be interested in checking out our full guide on how to use them.

Meanwhile, remember some best practices:

  • Twitter: 1-3 hashtags incorporated into a tweet; either tweet with hashtags + URL or small intro + URL + tweet
  • Facebook: 1-3 hashtags per post – often used after the actual post or inside it
  • Instagram: the only place where a bit more than 10 hashtags is okay; apart from images, Instagram readers love any types of stories (over 1/3 of Instagram users are there for surveillance, so generally they have time to read your stories)
  • Pinterest: 1-3 hashtags per pin + short intro
  • Google + 1-3 hashtags per post + short intro

However, don’t overdo hashtags – don’t include more hashtags than words and don’t hashtag each word in your post. A hardly readable sea of hashtags may simply annoy people.

(If you’re looking for the perfect times to post on these social media platforms, check out our other guide here.)

Lastly, here’s how to incorporate some hard psychological data into your social media presence in order to learn how to write compelling social media posts:

12 effective psychological tactics and writing tips for your social media posts

Create shareable, meaningful, non-product related content

There is a fine line between news, information and entertainment in the social media world.

Heavy branding usage is something established brands never do. This is why many business communities already increase the richness of their social media engagement using gamification elements. Among them are various posts that evoke curiosity and fantasies of their readers.

You may try to post educational facts or any entertaining content sometimes. People love to share such things, it helps them show that they are smart. Why not help them look so?

In one of the chapters of “Contagious: Why Things Catch On”, Jonah Berger tells about the analysis of almost seven thousand of The New York Times articles. He sums up that educational articles got the biggest number of social media shares – people share information that is interesting, useful or evokes a feeling of awe.

Non-product related content aims to increase the dialog with your users and promote your brand and products indirectly.

Look how Nike does it:

nike social media posts

Evoke emotions, use power words

People think with rational and emotional brains.

Buying a product from the official website or in a real store is usually an emotional action, the logic comes afterward. When on social media, the emotional part is even more active.

There are lots of proven emotional words that can evoke positive/negative emotions of your readers (according to different researches, businesses should show professionalism and experience). Some examples:

  • professional, tested, special, guaranteed, simplistic, dream, free, so, surprising, maximize, powerful, lifetime, valuable, promising, sincere, reliable, terrific, secrets, unusual, strong, reward, suddenly, now, announcing, introducing, improvement, amazing, sensational, remarkable, revolutionary, startling, miracle, magic

When choosing your words, pick the ones that help you be sincere. For example, evoke compassion:

use emotions in social media

Create your brand voice, but be open to diversity

Of course, it’s important to have your own style and brand voice on social media. It makes you more recognizable. But if you always sound serious and professional, that doesn’t mean you should never try to be funny and casual.

People desire informal communication on social media. Experiment and you’ll find your happy medium.

Use conversational tone

Especially if you want to include a link to yours or a third-party website, don’t just duplicate the post headline. Tell a story. A conversational tone in writing may invite to a dialog. It sounds more appealing to people who are looking for personal opinions.

Use the voice of celebrities

Celebrities create a new form of energy that can control collective consciousness.

If you don’t have any opportunity to cooperate with celebrities, simply use their names and quotes sometimes.

For example, the following post looks very interesting no matter your niche or line of business … it has your curiosity right away:

use voice of celebrities on social media

Don’t use complex language

Short sentences (even in a long social media post), clear and not ambiguous messages are key points for your post to get noticed.

People don’t have time to read, they only have time to skim your posts.

Don’t overuse passive voice

Even if your brand voice doesn’t allow to be informal, at least don’t use passive voice (e.g. it was decided) all the time. Neurologically, using passive voice can make your readers think that you don’t want to hold responsibility for your words and actions. Reader addressing is much more natural and pleasant.

No sales-driven words, no pressure

“Buy today” or “subscribe now” is not what your readers want to see. Even such widely used words like must-have or must-read already annoy conscious readers.

Your “persuasive” words should be rather more descriptive.

Play with negative statements

“10 Simple Reasons Why Nobody Cares About Your Startup”

Such a negative headline can evoke much more interest and curiosity than, for example, this one:

“10 Ways to Promote Your Startup”


use negative headlines for social media

Use future tense

Using future tense in describing something (product, service) can create a feeling of future ownership, making readers want to immediately have this knowledge, product or whatever.

We found 10 new methods that can help you grow your email list.


We found 10 new methods that will help you grow your email list.

Which one sounds more interesting?

Use, but don’t overuse emojis ?

Emojis are fun, they create the atmosphere of informal conversation, which is less stressful for many readers. But try to use them wisely – around 1-2 per post. This will help you humanize your business and not sound like a teenager with a flow of uncontrolled emotions.

Play with folksy language

This is not for everyone, but… You may find your creative way to break grammar or any other formal rules of communication. Sometimes it’s a good way to write something remarkable.

Stative verbs should not be used in the present continuous tense? Say that to McDonald’s marketers. They will answer:

I’m loving it.

Why so? Probably they are aware of teenagers’ love for using the continuous tense. This way the slogan sounds more like “teen speak”.

For social media posts, you can use you some jargon or folksy language in a creative way.

Conclusion – Write compelling social media posts

Don’t spread your social media marketing resources for everything at once. Think about people first. Start improving your content strategy for social media by writing more human-oriented, more compelling and shareable posts. Let them handle a bigger piece of the pie.

Hopefully, this post will help you pick one or two useful tips for your further social media content strategies. What’s the most outlandish thing you are eager to use in your social media marketing today?

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