Social Media PostsI’ve got several go-to moves when I’m playing basketball. The crossover. The fadeaway. The tear drop.

I’ve got several go-to moves when I’m writing social media updates, too. Title case. Text only. Signatures.

I imagine you’ve got your own favorites, too.

Combined, there are a litany of ways to compose, style, and organize a social media update, even in just the words we use in our updates. I’m always on the look out for new experiments to try with the way I write a social media update. My latest hunt turned up 71 fun ways. Let me share them with you.

You’ll of course vary your updates in style and tone across various social networks. I’ve split up some of the different ways to write a social media update according to the network that fits best. There’ll be several ways that might work on multiple places, so you may see some crossover.

Let’s start with Facebook.

25 Ways to Write a Facebook Update

  1. Start the update with a question
  2. End the update with a question
  3. Include a fill-in-the-blank question
  4. Use a short URL
  5. Use a full URL
  6. Use a custom URL (e.g., kiss.ly for KISSmetrics)
  7. Do not include a URL (example below)
  8. Sign the update with “- Your Name”
  9. Use an image with text overlay
  10. Use an image without text overlay
  11. Write your headline in title case (e.g., capitalize all the main words)
  12. Write your headline in sentence case (e.g., capitalize the first word and proper nouns only)
  13. Write your update in all lowercase
  14. “Headline: URL”
  15. Share a link, then remove the link attachment (example below)
  16. No text at all (example below)
  17. Insert a horizontal rule
  18. Place hashtags inside the update
  19. Place hashtags at the end of the update
  20. Use emoji
  21. Insert how you’re feeling (for profiles only – example below)
  22. Attribute and tag other accounts
  23. Punctuation-heavy text (think: plain-text emails, example below)
  24. Place everything in the same paragraph
  25. Place things on separate lines

These different elements can be combined into a single Facebook update in a number of ways. For instance, you could start the update with a question, then write the headline in title case, then sign your name, then add hashtags.

We’re currently trying out signatures and full URLs in some of our Facebook posts.

Also important: Keep in mind that Facebook truncates posts in the news feed after the fifth line.

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 7.07.39 AM

Examples of creative Facebook updates

Do not include a URL

wistia facebook

Share a link, then remove the link attachment

buffer fb share

How you’re feeling 

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 7.35.01 AM

No text at all

fb no text

20 Ways to Compose a Tweet

  1. Place your comments before the headline or retweet
  2. Place your comments after the headline or retweet
  3. “Commentary –> tweet”
  4. “Commentary + tweet”
  5. “Commentary > tweet”
  6. “Commentary :: tweet”
  7. “Commentary – tweet”
  8. “Tweet [commentary]” (example below)
  9. “Commentary || tweet”
  10. Place hashtags inside the tweet
  11. Place hashtags outside the tweet, at the end
  12. Attribution after “via”
  13. Attribution after “by”
  14. Acknowledge others with an “HT” (stands for hat tip)
  15. Manually retweet with an RT (stands for retweet)
  16. Manually retweet with an MT (stands for modified tweet)
  17. Insert hard returns so your tweet appears on multiple lines (example below)
  18. Title case for capitalization
  19. Sentence case for capitalization
  20. All lowercase
  21. Use custom shortening URL (e.g., kiss.ly for KISSmetrics)
  22. Use the full URL (Twitter will truncate around the 30-character mark)

Same as with Facebook, you can combine multiple different elements to create a custom tweet. You may have noticed there is some crossover in ideas between Twitter and Facebook (you’ll find the same throughout the rest of the post, too).

We’ve been experimenting with “Commentary –> tweet” and tweets with multiple lines. What might you try?

Examples of creative tweets

 “Tweet [commentary]” 

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 2.33.09 PM

HT

HT

MT

MT

Multiple lines

tweet multiple lines

Use the full URL

 

4 Ways to Compose an Update on LinkedIn

  1. Include a link after the update
  2. Remove the link after the update
  3. Post as a link
  4. Post as an image

LinkedIn’s updates are maybe the most straightforward of the bunch. No hashtags, little formatting. If you choose to write a longer update to coincide with your link or photo, be aware that LinkedIn truncates updates around the 250-character mark.

Examples of LinkedIn updates

Include a link after the update

linkedin update

Remove the link after the update

FB linkedin post

Post as an image

linkedin update

8 Ways to Compose an Update on Google+

  1. Leave the update blank and only share a link (example below)
  2. Use bold formatting for the headline (example below)
  3. Use italics for the headline (example below)
  4. Use bold formatting for words inside a paragraph
  5. Place hashtags inside the update
  6. Place hashtags at the bottom
  7. Place everything in the same paragraph
  8. Place things on separate lines

You can borrow some ideas from the above lists for Facebook and Twitter, too. Facebook especially will have many of the same types of formatting and arrangements that might work well on Google+.

And just to make sure you’ve got this handy, here’s the guide to formatting Google+ posts with bold, italics, and strikethrough.

How to format Google+ text

Google+ updates may truncate after four lines with a “Read more” link that will expand the rest. The truncating does not happen every time, in my experience, so you might want to test with your own updates to see.

google+ size

 

Examples of creative Google+ updates

Leave the update blank. Link only.

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 4.18.53 PM

Bold headline

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 4.18.34 PM

Italic headline

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 4.17.25 PM

8 Ways to Compose an Update on Instagram

  1. Place hashtags inside the update
  2. Place hashtags at the bottom
  3. Place hashtags in the comments
  4. Place everything in the same paragraph
  5. Place things on separate lines
  6. Tag other users inside the update (example below)
  7. Tag other users at the end of the update
  8. Use emoji

Instagram updates remain quite simple, thanks to the exclusion of links and reshares. Still, people have found many creative ways to get by with placing hashtags, @-mentions, and emoji in fun combinations.

Examples of Instagram posts

Tag users inside the update

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 8.05.58 AM

Emoji + hashtags

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 8.11.57 AM

4 Ways to Compose a Pin on Pinterest

  1. Craft a custom message (example below)
  2. Use title tags and meta info from the original site (example below)
  3. Hashtags inside the pin
  4. Hashtags at the end of the pin

With the emphasis on visuals on Pinterest, the text that coincides with the pin gets much less attention. From what I’ve observed, the pins with custom messages seem to feel best, especially in certain niches like DIY, apparel, and recipes.

Examples of creative Pinterest pins

Craft a custom message

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 4.20.32 PM

Title tags and meta info from the original site

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 4.21.39 PM

How to test each of these different types of updates

Once you decide to try out a new style of update, how will you know if it’s successful?

Here’s one way that we’ve found to work.

Perform a quick A/B test by composing two separate updates—one that includes the new element and one that doesn’t. The important part is to keep the updates as similar as can be and only change the one element you want to test.

Post the updates, then check the stats.

Which stat are you hoping to improve? Clicks, reshares, or likes? Or maybe a composite number like engagement?

Find your target statistic, then divide by the number of impressions the post received.

For example, which post would you say performed better: one that gained 32 clicks or one that gained 24 clicks? It’s hard to tell without knowing how many people saw each post. The one with 32 clicks could have had 10,000 views (and a very low click/view percentage) whereas the one with 24 clicks could have had 500 views. It helps to standardize these stats so you can compare.

Conclusion

It’s amazing how many different ways there are to compose a social media update. The ones I’ve listed here probably just scratch the surface!

What ways have you tried with your social media update?

I’d love to hear any tips and ideas you’ve used that I might not have mentioned here in this post. Feel free to share your future ideas as well! Looking forward to hearing from you.

Image sources: Marcus Spiske, Omnicore

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Written by Kevan Lee

Content crafter at Buffer. You can find me online, tweeting about my writing process, or at home, second-guessing football coaches. Live simply, give generously, beat cancer.

  • http://www.contentimo.com/ Robin Yearsley

    Hi Kevan, another great post, thanks

    You’ve covered “Ways To Write” – how about “What To Write” – as in “71 prompts that drive engagement and increase sharing” – I’m sure you’ve got something like this?

    In terms of what to write, here are some interesting resources;
    http://www.cdc.gov/socialmedia/tools/guidelines/guideforwriting.html
    http://www.livehacked.com/platforms/social-media/
    http://kimgarst.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-writing-social-media-headlines-that-get-more-clicks

    Cheers,
    Robin.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Robin! Awesome idea! Thanks so much for the comment. 🙂 We’ve written a bit about headlines before (https://blog.bufferapp.com/headline-formulas), and I think we could probably dig even deeper on this, too! Cheers!

  • http://thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

    Kevan, great post always. In addition to these great suggestions on Facebook, I would also add a word of caution. One of Facebook’s primary objectives is to foster authentic community engagement on their platform. So their algorithm works to that effect. This means they are beginning to “punish” updates that fall in the category of link-baiting, which sometimes even inadvertently happens from trying to follow a formula to force engagement. 🙂

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Great point, Josh! Thanks so much for bringing this up. Definitely good to keep this in mind as you’re posting/writing. 🙂 Curious how you approach things: Do you write with certain formulas or do you do it original each time? 🙂

      • http://thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

        Truth be told Kevan, I don’t believe in formulas. I find they are often times what create the barriers to connecting and engaging with our audiences. My background is from live entertainment, so the lens I use suggests as communicators we should look to mitigate each and every opportunity for our audiences to disconnect with our messages. In the digital era, this means formulaic posts, headlines, tweets, status updates etc. More now than ever, as a culture we’re seeing audiences become ever more perceptive and distrustful of the marketing they’re being fed. In many ways we’ve become conditioned to tune out rather than tune in. So taking all that into consideration, I believe in healthy rhythms of communication and marketing, as opposed to formulas. A healthier rhythm would be to consider posting a headline that’s authentically congruent to the brand, audience, and culture. For some this may sound strange and ludicrous because it counters what many self-titled experts/gurus would suggest. In that event, I just point people to results I produce on platforms of average organic engagements of upwards of 30% compared to national averages of 6% or less. (Apologies for the long comment! 🙂 )

        • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

          Thanks, Josh! Makes a lot of sense. I really appreciate your thoughts on this! 🙂

  • http://talkkindnesstome.com/ Jane

    Of course I totally agree with everyone here – GREAT post as always. I always appreciate your audience too who comment and add to the value of what you’ve already said. I try to catch all your posts just like I read Belle’s when she was at Buffer, but I may fail to read some. Have you ever posted on the topic of how to share posts and articles without in any way violating copyright laws or plagiarizing in any form? I love to share but hesitate unless there is a clear ‘share’ button. Sometimes I want to share on my own website or another that there is no share button for. If you have something posted, let me know and I’ll find it. If not – how about it?

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Jane! Thanks so much for the comment!

      That’s a great one re: copyright/plagiarizing. I’m not certain we’ve discussed it yet in a blogpost! Our very loose policy at Buffer is that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. We attempt to be as clear and kind as possible with our attribution of everything we use – images, links, quotes, etc. Since so many of our posts rely on the awesome research and thoughts of others, the matter of copyright/plagiarism is often top of mind for us.

      How does this sound to you? 🙂

      • http://talkkindnesstome.com/ Jane

        It sounds hmmm ummmm like a super cool and utterly relevant topic for a blog post. I promise it will spark interaction and get your audience fired up. I can think of a few segments to cover.

  • Mark – Shotkit

    #anotherawesomepost #someonegiveKevanapromotion

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      #thanks #highfive #letmebuyyoua7upsometime

  • Ravindran Gopal

    Awesome stuff, top notch information on here. Keep up the great work!! Cheers mate
    http://1futurecars.com

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Cheers, Ravindran! Thanks. 🙂

  • http://hedstrominternetconsulting.com/ Steve Hedstrom

    Great post Kevan! I have been using many of these techniques and am looking forward to using others in combinations. You make a great point to experiment with different combinations and see for yourself what engages your audience most effectively. I look forward to reading your blog daily and educating my clients and prospects on our industry. #GreatPost #SocialMedia Have a #TerrificTuesday my friend. 🙂

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Steve! Thanks so much for the comment! A terrific Tuesday to you as well! Looking forward to staying in touch. 🙂

  • http://livingblissed.com Shell Summers

    You didn’t mention photos with Tweets. How do some come open and some have to be manually expanded?

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Shell! Thanks so much for bringing this one up! Yes, Twitter does have some funny goings-on with its picture displays. From what I can tell, Twitter prefers a 2:1 aspect ratio for images, and those that fall too far outside those parameters often end up needing to be manually expanded. Does that sound like it fits with your experience?

    • http://emphatic.co/ Jeniece from Emphatic.co

      Shell, I understand pics that are exactly 1024×768 will auto expand on Twitter. This is what we use at Emphatic and it seems to work!

      • http://livingblissed.com Shell Summers

        Thank you. Good information to know. Now to remember those dimensions when I need them! 🙂

  • http://shabbychicandcheap.com/ Marissa

    Thank you for sharing! I will try these tips for future posts relating to my blog!

    Marissa
    http://www.shabbychicandcheap.com

  • http://dngseofreelancers.blogspot.com/ Diwakar Kumar

    Awesome! Thanks Kevan for sharing it…specially like ” 8 Ways to Compose an Update on Google+”

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Great! Thanks for the comment, Diwakar! 🙂

      • http://dngseofreelancers.blogspot.com/ Diwakar Kumar

        Thanks for the reply Kevan 🙂
        I want to ask you one thing that Is there any possibility to use Hashtag in LinkedIn..?

        • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

          Great one! I don’t believe LinkedIn has allowed for this just yet!

          • http://dngseofreelancers.blogspot.com/ Diwakar Kumar

            Thanks Kevan! may be they used this feature in future.

  • Towhidul Islam

    Impressive list.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks, Towhidul!

  • Nancy Scavezze

    Awesome Update with GREAT info! Thanks for sharing Kevin! 🙂

    #greatcontentadvice

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks, Nancy!

  • Appflash

    This really helped us out, struggled with this is the past.. Yes Kevan!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      So great to hear!

  • Erika Taylor

    Very nice list. social networks can be your best friend for online advertising. I’d like to add the Oveemo social sync updater to the list. http://oveemo.com. Oveemo can update Facebook Twitter and Linkedin with status updates, photos and videos and it can manage facebook pages and groups.

  • Dusky Woman

    This was very basic. I was a little disappointed honestly. But I guess it’s insightful for those new to social networking and the internet…

  • http://kniterations.ca Allison

    Great post! You’ve made a follower out of me!