The anatomy of a creatively compelling social media post
Guest post by Cassandra Lane, Wild Spirit Copywriting.
Read time: Ten (to fifteen, if you have a snack) minutes
Let’s be real … If William Shakespeare were alive today, he’d probably pitch a fit.
“What’s in a post?” Willy would muse. “An Instagram with any other image would
compel as sweetly.”
Then he’d upload a pic of his breakfast, slide his Willy wit into some DMs and moan
in dismay as he promptly lost 200 followers.
(And likely got reported and insta-banned for inappropriate behaviour.)
‘Cause the reality is that all social media posts aren’t made equal.
Some are compellingly clickable and do wonders for a businesses’ brand, image and
bottom-line, while others are sadly scannable, quickly fading into invisibility and
doing zip to help a business be profitable and persuasive.
So … what’s the difference between the two? What IS in a creatively captivating
Great question! And you’re in the exact right place to get some answers.
In this article, I’ll be walking you through how to amplify the persuasiveness of
your social media posts by harnessing some super simple and easy rules.
But wait … why bother investing your time, energy, effort and cash in social media
Six reasons social media marketing is worth the investment
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
Social media is rented space.
At any moment, your social media account can be deleted, frozen, thrown into
space, lit on fire or used as digital newspaper scraps for
Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest’s pet bird.
Yep, it’s true. And it’s a great reason to build an email list for your business.
BUT. It’s not a reason to ignore or neglect social media. Yes, social media is rented
space. But would you stop stocking a shop that was on leased land? Hell to the no.
Instead, you’d do everything you could to make the most out of that space, right?
Just like it’s great to be aware of social media’s limitations, but it’s even better to take
advantage of a platform that can work magic for your biz.
‘Cause social media marketing is still a super relevant, super potent and super
effective pathway to building your business and brand.
Here’s a fun stat for you: 77% of peeps are more likely to buy from a brand they
follow on social media.
Think of it this way …
Your website is your home. Social media is what opens the front door.
If you check out your website analytics, your traffic referrals (where your visitors
come from) probably contain these three sources:
1. Search traffic (i.e. You’ve shown up in a search and somebody has clicked on
2. Referrals (i.e. Another site has linked to yours).
3. Social (i.e. An awesome human has found you on Instagram, Facebook,
Pinterest, Twitter etc. and followed a post or profile link to your site).
Done well, there’s no reason why social traffic shouldn’t be one of your biggest
sources of web traffic.
Which is to say … there’s no reason why social media can’t attract the attention and
hearts of your target market.
Here’s what else great social media content can do for you.
Convinced social media content deserves your hunka hunka burnin’ love?
Keep reading, clever one.
A note on social media strategy: Anthropology marketing
Want to increase the odds of your social media strategy succeeding?
Easy: Make it all about your target market.
After all, your social media isn’t really about you or your business. It’s about your
customers and your target market.
And this is a GOOD thing, because the more you tailor your social media content to
them, the more they’ll adore you.
Researchers believe humans spend 80% of their time talking about
We are gorgeous, loving, wonderful but wholeheartedly self-centred animals. We
care about things that concern us.
So … wondering how you can talk about the things that matter most to your peeps?
‘Scuse me while I hop onto my soapbox for a moment, but …
I believe all great realisations, inventions, creations and plans are born of curiosity.
Curiosity is what drives us to wonder, “Why?” and “How?” and “What if …”
Curiosity is fricken awesome.
And curiosity is the link to creating social media content that connects with your
By being interested in your target market, you naturally uncover what drives,
motivates, inspires and persuades them.
This type of professional curiosity is called anthropology marketing, and it’s a
valuable source of intelligence, research and information about your target market.
Here are some things to watch out for:
What do your target customers need?
What do they struggle with?
What do they want and dream of?
What influences their decision-making?
Who inspires them?
What are they interested in?
What topics are they talking about?
What kind of humour do they like?
How do they see themselves?
Which of your past posts have they most liked and engaged with?
Which of your past posts have they least liked and engaged with?
Be eternally curious.
Once you’ve collected this information (and, be aware - it’ll be an ever-evolving
journey), you can create a social media strategy designed to get them talking about
You’ll learn even more about them, and you’ll win their trust and attention. Cool,
But now it’s time to get stuck into the juicy part: Creating posts that capture attention.
Six steal-worthy types of social posts
You’re clever, so I bet you can conjure up a billion different types of social media
But to keep things simple, in this article I’m focusing on the six classes of compelling
social media posts worth stealing and using for your biz.
Count ‘em down with me.
#1: The personal story.
What it is: Storytelling about your personal life, views, opinions, experiences,
interests and musings.
Looks like: Ten years to this day, my husband and I were on a sunset cruise that –
almost literally – blew us out of the water. And I do mean almost literally. You see,
what happened was …
Why it works: People want to interact with people. They don’t want to engage with
faceless, corporate brands. By making your content more human and real, you give
your business a personality and persona for your followers to connect with. Plus,
when your content reflects the views, interests and values of your target market,
you’ll create natural chemistry and connection.
#2: The purposeful story.
What is it: A story strategically designed to promote your biz, offering, opinions,
benefits and mission.
Looks like: You wouldn’t normally find our CEO crying in public on a Tuesday
morning (he normally saves that for Monday evenings, in private. Just kidding – he
loves us.) But this wasn’t a normal Tuesday and we’d just donated two thousand
dollars to …
Why it works: Did you know that character-driven storytelling releases oxytocin (aka
the “love hormone”)? We adore stories. We worship stories. We can’t get enough of
them. So when you wrap your marketing messages in creative, character-driven
storytelling, your target market can’t HELP but double tap and engage with you. It’s
hardwired into us.
#3: The question.
What is it: A targeted question designed to pique your audience’s interest and
Looks like: A poll, multiple choice question, open-ended question, close-ended
Why it works: We love talking about ourselves. Give your peeps a chance to tell you
what they’re thinking and feeling, and I bet they’ll take you up on the offer. The
caveat? You gotta make it interesting, ‘kay?
#4: The educator
What is it: A mini how-to guide, instructional, fact sheet or thought leadership piece
on your area of expertise.
Looks like: Want to know the secret to styling a Hogwarts-themed Christmas tree?
We’re breaking it down ornament by ornament.
Why it works: Not only will you give your audience something valuable (information,
wisdom, guidance, a solution to their problem, and, in this case, MAGIC), but you’ll
also showcase your genius and position yourself as the go-to brand in your niche.
#5: The social proof
What is it: A review, testimonial or case study from/on a happy past customer.
Looks like: “Since hiring Jane Doe as my graphic designer, I’ve seen a 20% increase
in conversions on my site. Plus, we’re now successfully attracting the luxury market
and have been able to increase our rates by 35%!” – One Very Happy Customer
Why it works: “Social proof” is term created by Robert Cialdini to describe a
psychological and social phenomenon where we, as humans, take social cues from
the actions of others when deciding what action to take. By providing solid social
proof that your business and offerings are awesome, you’re effectively reassuring
your audience that they can trust you, while tickling their psychological pickle and
mentally prepping them to buy from you.
#6: The share-able
What is it: A funny or inspirational quote, meme or pun, or a highly visual infographic-
Looks like: How do we like our eggs? Easy: In our cake.
Why it works: Crafting bite-sized content that evokes emotion is one of the fastest
and easiest ways of increasing your chances of creating a viral-friendly post.
Humans aren’t machines; we’re driven by emotion. When you tailor your content to
make your audience care (whether it’s with a snort or a smile), you’ll tap into human
nature and build a bond with them.
Okay, so now that you have a menu of post types to choose from, how about we turn
things up a notch?
The anatomy of a creatively compelling social media post
Wanna know the best part?
Great posts are made, not magicked. And they’re made with very specific ingredients
that you can easily replicate.
Let’s dive into them.
“Huh, what’s a call to action?”
Whoops, sorry to get all lame-o and use marketing terminology on you.
Okay, if you haven’t heard of a call to action before, it’s basically guidance you
provide to your peeps, usually in your caption, that tells them where to go and what
to do next.
On a website, it’d be stuff like:
Add to cart
You know; actions. That, well, you’re calling them to take.
(Thus, call to action.)
In your social media posts, it’d be things like:
Click the link in my profile.
Go to my website.
Sign up for xyz.
Shop the post at …
Call to actions are important because your journey shouldn’t begin and end on social
media. You want to take them to your website, or your email list, or to a specific opt-
in, so that you can continue their buyer journey and warm them up to investing in
Be warned - it’s not an A to Z journey. They’ll likely visit your social and your site
multiple times before they choose to buy from you.
But by capturing their information (through email lists and opt-ins), you have a
pathway to persuading and reminding them of your value.
And by moving them off social media, you can showcase more in-depth information
that is hard to harness on social platforms.
Don’t be afraid to load up on links either! Research has shown that posts with
links to further information are the most popular type of content on social
Should you use hashtags?
In a word: Yep.
Think of Instagram like a search engine. But instead of typing into a Google box,
your target market are using hashtags to find what they’re looking for.
Use the right hashtags, and you increase your odds of getting your posts seen by
your dream customers.
Not sure where to start? My girl, Chloe, will be able to help you figure out which
hashtags are best for your biz.
And now for the word nerdery …
(You didn’t think I’d forget that bit, did you?)
How to write awesome social media captions
Your post might be the thing that captures your target market’s attention, but you can
bet your butt that your caption is what’s gonna keep it (and convince them to check
out what else you have to offer).
Which is why it’s worth practicing and mastering your social media caption writing.
Spoiler alert: That means you’ve gotta do more than throw in a few dancing-girl
emojis and call it a day.
I know, I know, I’m sorry. I’m giving you more work to do.
But I’ll try to make it easier for you, ‘kay?
Here’s something I created just for you (and that’s only available exclusively on the
Hart Media site – you gotta thank Chloe for scoring this for you!)
Whoa – that was a lot, huh?
You did great though! Look, you made it all the way to the bottom. I’m proud.
Hey, I’m Cass! I’m the creative word nerd and semi-pro hot chocolate sipper behind
Wild Spirit Co., a creative copywriting agency for adventurous businesses.
I blend next-level word nerdery in the form of consumer psychology, neuromarketing
strategy and creative storytelling for personality-driven words that woo and copy that
The post you just read? That’s cornerstone content – a great source of traffic and
leads for your biz. Learn more and get some creative content goodness of your own
over at my site.
P.S. The super cool infographics in this article were made by 27 Design Street.