Visual assets have taken over social media content. You may be tempted to think the need for sharp copywriting skills is over. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Eye-catching images and video clips are great for attracting attention. To take full advantage of that moment of attention, you need to frame that image with words capable of inspiring your desired action.
3 Steps for using content to optimize your visuals
- Identifying your core customers and building personas around them.
- Targeting their emotional hot buttons with striking images.
- Framing those images artfully with brief, snappy copy to get them to share and click.
When you think about using text and images together in social media, you probably think of layering text over an image. While the classic “quote over image” still gets strong engagement on some channels, a recent post gave the surprising statistic that text on image isn’t the strongest presentation for content on Instagram.
Don’t forget the framing copy that accompanies your image posts! If you’re treating the text surrounding your image as an afterthought or throwaway, you’re missing an important element. In addition to being machine-readable text, which is useful from a search marketing perspective, this copy can be a powerful way to set up or pay off the image for your audience.
This is a particularly effective technique when it comes to employing humor in your posts. Think of the image and it’s framing text as the set-up and punchline of a joke. It’s a powerful way to humanize your social media content, avoiding a too-salesy approach while making a big impact. Here’s an example from when I was handling social media at CafePress:
Writers tend to ramble; we love the sound of our own words. Shorter is often more effective.
The case for copy in a visual world
Part of social media content is being engaging with very few words or characters, so wordsmithing talent is still incredibly relevant, despite the current focus on visual assets. When your copy and image work together, it’s possible to get as many or more shares as likes. That’s the key to virality. It’s not enough to get people to read and click. You have to make it something they have to share with their whole network.
In a couple of cases, I managed to get 25-50% reach for posts, organically. With a fanbase of 400k-500k, reaching 100k-250k people without paying for Facebook ads is pretty impressive. I accomplished that by knowing my audience, getting deeply familiar with my catalog of visual assets, and framing those images with copy designed to provoke a strong reaction.