Writing Branded Content for Social Media

In the digital age, traditional channels for advertising such as billboards, radio, and television are not quite as effective as they used to be. People spend a lot more time on social media than they do watching TV. With 83% of people surveyed saying Instagram helps them discover new products and 80% decide whether to buy a product or service, this has made it necessary for marketers to realign their strategies.

Social media use
Photo credit: Tim Bennett

Branded content refers to content that informs and entertains the public while increasing brand awareness. It doesn’t really revolve around promoting a specific product. It’s geared towards increasing awareness around a brand and getting people to understand and connect emotionally to the company’s values. This is done by approaching subjects that are relevant both to the brand, the target audience, and current trends.

In this article, we will try to explain the main factors that go into designing a successful advertising campaign using branded content. More specifically – content aimed at social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

Identify Your Audience and Adjust to It

Anyone who uses the internet is bombarded with information and ads. Everyone wants to get their attention so they have gotten used to kind of glaze over most posts. That makes your job a bit more… let’s say challenging.

The first step is to identify your audience. This will be based on what kind of products or services your company deals with. For example, the company sells sports equipment. This means that your audience consists of people interested in staying fit or getting into better shape. You can further narrow that niche by targeting exclusively women between the ages of 25 and 35. Then you have to figure out what motivates that audience. What do they believe in? What would make them respond to your content on an emotional level?

Once you figure that out you need a headline that evokes those emotions in as few words as possible.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Visuals

The headline is very important but it’s not enough. What really increases your chances of grabbing and holding on to their attention is using compelling visuals.

Human beings are naturally inclined to focus on the information presented to us through dynamic visual mediums. Text alone is nowhere near as stimulating. A picture is much better at condensing a lot of information and showing it at a glance. Videos get even stronger results.

Visuals are processed by our brains faster. Most users are simply scrolling through their social media feed, looking for something that will entertain them. They stop when they reach a post that makes them feel something. An image or a video is much more likely to get them interested than a headline in all-caps.

Make the Text Look “Alive”

Now you have a good headline and powerful visuals. People are willing to give you a few more seconds of their time. But once they start reading through your article and they find it dull, they’ll just as easily stop and move on to something better. The key to writing content that keeps users engaged is to imagine you’re sitting across the table from someone and try to make the conversation interesting.

What would you say? How would they react? How would you explain the topic of the article without them politely changing the subject because they’re bored?

You can start by looking at how other brands write content for their campaigns and how effective it is. Are you engaged? Are you annoyed? Does it sound too commercial, too obvious?

Spelling and Grammar Mistakes Undermine Your Credibility

Once you’re finished writing a natural-sounding article you need to make sure it’s free of any spelling and grammar mistakes. These might be more easily overlooked while talking (although not always) but in written form, they really jump out at you. If they’re in the headline it’s even worse. It will be hard for anyone to take you seriously if they see that you didn’t even put in the effort of proofreading your content.

The problem is that you probably did check it. When you’re the one that wrote the text, you tend to read it without the mistakes, from memory, and miss them without realizing it. Another issue is that you might not be aware of how something sounds for the person reading it. Your tone doesn’t always register well in writing and you need to tweak the punctuation or adjust the phrasing.

This can all be easily remedied by using services such as WritingJudge, Studicus and Grammarly. You can also paste your text into a platform with a TTS reader such as Google Translate. Then you’ll be able to spot any spelling errors or awkward phrasing.

Tailor Your Content and Style to the Platform

You can’t use the same style and format on all of them because they cater to different types of audiences and offer completely different experiences.

It’s true that a lot of users will have accounts on several platforms but they’ll change their expectations according to which app they use.

For example, Facebook is very versatile. You can post articles, pictures, videos, memes, links to other websites, reviews, etc. Instagram, on the other hand, is all about visual content. So even if one user will have accounts on both Facebook and Instagram, it doesn’t mean they’ll have the same reaction to your content. You’ll have to adjust it to the kind of experience that particular platform focuses on.

Conclusion

Consumers have changed so advertising had to change with them. Although this has created some challenges, it also allows brands to communicate with potential customers in a much more intimate way. They can customize their ads to specific target audiences and create content for each niche.

What’s most important is to create content that “speaks to them” from the first few seconds. It shouldn’t just provide arguments for choosing one brand over another but to engage them on an emotional level, to make it worth their time, to talk about things they’re interested in. When people have thousands of sources for online entertainment, they need a good reason to choose you.

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