How to Create Engaging Social Media Content: 12 Ways to Drive Results

With 3.8 billion users, social media platforms put you in front of a huge audience.

But does your audience love your content?

Because it’s one thing to be seen by them.

It’s another to get their wholehearted support.

Plus, social media platforms were created for connections, not selling.

To gain your audience’s attention, you need to compete against posts from their friends, DMs from their family, and tons of cute cat photos.

Need help making yourself heard above the noise and truly engage with social media users?

Here are 12 tips to use content to drive real results on social media.

1. Show, Don’t Tell

Ever stop scrolling on social media to read a huge wall of text?

You know, something like this.

I bet you haven’t. (Unless it was posted by your ex.)

But when brands post like this?

That’s right, you shoot straight past them.

The message of this story is clear: if you’re marketing your brand on social, make it a rule to add an image to everything you post.

Get creative for your brand.

Post photos that speak to your audience and watch those likes and comments rise.

Like this post, which garnered five million likes, 62,000 comments, and 231,000 shares.

2. Get Your Own Photos Taken

If you’re using stock photos in your social media posts, it’s time to stop right now.


Stock photos simply don’t perform as well as real photos.

To prove this, Marketing Experiments tested a real photo of their client against their top-performing stock photo.

The result?

Visitors who saw the real photo were 35% more likely to sign up.

Here are three tips for amazing social media images:

  • Hire a local photographer to take photos that match your editorial calendar.
  • If you’re just starting out, you can take your own photos with a high-specs smartphone.
  • Make sure your images match the text around them. Images are meant to summarize concepts and drive home points, not simply to break up text. (Like the photo in this Instagram post from BMW. )

3. Recycle Your Evergreen Content into Graphics

Did you know that people remember visual information 65% longer than text?

To take advantage of this, repurpose your best pieces of evergreen content into infographics, charts, graphs, and social media images.

Here’s an example of a social media infographic…



…and image.

When creating graphics, remember these tips:

4. Share Customer Testimonials & Reviews

Imagine this.

You’re about to buy a new product, but you want to learn more about it first.

When searching for information, who do you trust?

A salesperson selling the product…

…or an honest review from a customer?

If you picked the first option, you’re in a small pool of just 3% of buyers.

The rest of us are scouring online review sites to learn the truth about a product. In fact, the average buyer reads seven reviews before making a purchase from a new brand.

If this says anything to you as a marketer, it’s that reviews from happy customers are powerful magnets at your disposal.

And while you’ve probably already posted them on your website and blog, make sure not to leave social media out.

Pick your best testimonials and reviews, design them into readable bites, and craft catchy captions to go with them.

Like this one from Courtney-Foster Donahue.

These results aren’t unusual; this is the kind of stuff we see every. single. day.Why grow your list with a free lead…

Posted by Courtney Foster-Donahue on Friday, July 17, 2020

5. Search for the Latest Visual Trends

You want to post tons of visuals on social media, but first, you need to know which visuals work and which don’t.

To find out, dig up visual trends on social media platforms and Google search.

Here’s how:

  • Search using the most popular hashtags on Instagram. For instance, #love is the most popular hashtag on Instagram with over a billion posts. Go through the posts with this hashtag and take note of the ones with high engagement.
  • Do a Google search for popular image trends. You can browse through top-ranking sites to learn about image trends. Like the ones in this guide from Canva.

6. Host Contests

A surefire and fast way to grow your audience and gain tons of engagement is through running social media contests.

Here are three that work:

  • Like, comment, and share to join. Users like your post and share it with their friends to enter your contest.
  • Tag a friend. The more friends your audience tags, the more entries they get.
  • User-generated content. Users create posts according to a theme you set and tag your business to join.

Here’s a mouthwatering example from Hallmark. (Who doesn’t want to win a bunch of beautiful birthday cards?

Plus, the mechanics are super simple.)

Remember, always stick to the contest rules set by each social media platform. Since each platform has different rules, review them first before spending time crafting your contest.

Here are some to be aware of:

Contest Rules on Instagram and Facebook

  • You are responsible for the lawful operations of your contests (eligibility requirements, official rules, and regulations around prizes).
  • You shouldn’t ask users to inaccurately tag photos (for example, don’t ask users to tag photos if they don’t appear in them).
  • You must acknowledge that your contest is not sponsored by Instagram or Facebook.

Go here for the full list of Instagram’s contest rules, and here for a full list of Facebook’s rules.

Contest Rules on Twitter

  • Don’t encourage users to create multiple accounts (for example, users may create multiple accounts to receive multiple entries to your contest).
  • Don’t ask users to post the same tweet over and over again (avoid “whoever retweets this post most wins”).
  • Stay away from content that jeopardizes users’ safety such as content containing violence, abuse, terrorism, hateful conduct, and adult content.
  • Stay away from spam and don’t post other people’s private information.

Check out this guide for the complete list of Twitter’s contest rules.

Contest Rules on Snapchat

  • Don’t use Snapchat’s trademarks and logos.
  • Don’t encourage illegal, illicit, or spammy behavior.

For more rules on what you should and shouldn’t do in Snapchat contests, check out Snapchat’s guide.

7. Tag Influencers & Bloggers You’ve Quoted in Your Message

Using quotes from influencers in your blog is a great way to spark engagement.

But don’t stop there.

Make sure to give the influencers you quoted credit by mentioning them on social media.

  • Tag them on social media with a link to your content.
  • Create an attractive graphic and tag the influencer in a social message.

They’ll surely appreciate it! Plus, it’s a great way to gain the attention of their followers.

8. Add Social Media Buttons to Your Email Newsletters

Think social media and email are competing marketing channels?

Think again.

Actually, social media and email work hand-in-hand.

One great way to use them together is to add social media buttons to your email newsletters.

This works because readers merely scan emails, and buttons stand out from text in an attractive, eye-catching way.

So, before you send off those email newsletters add social media buttons below so readers can check out what you’re doing on their favorite platforms.

Here’s an example from HubSpot.

9. Use the Right Hashtags

When used wisely, hashtags can put you in front of a much wider audience.

For example, hashtags on Instagram make your post appear on that hashtag’s page.

Like these posts with the hashtag #tbt.

But remember, hashtags don’t work equally on all social platforms. For example, they gain huge engagement on Instagram but don’t do much on Facebook.

Follow this guide on how many hashtags to use on each social platform:

  • Twitter: 1-2
  • Facebook 1-2
  • Instagram: 5-10
  • Pinterest: 2-5

10. Spark It Up with Stories

Should you take the time to post stories on Instagram and Facebook?

The short answer, yes.

The longer one: with over 500 million people saying they use Instagram Stories every day and 62% of consumers saying they discovered a new brand through stories, you just don’t want to miss it.

Plus, stories can be fun and inspiring.

Check out this one from Gucci Equilibrium.

11. Add Puzzles, Quizzes & Riddles to Connect with Users

Is this you?

You’re panicking with 100 projects for work and 200 assignments from your night college professor.

But instead of hammering into them right away…

…you take a quiz to find out what kind of cheese you are.

(Yup, that’s me too. Just kidding. I don’t have 100 projects for work.)

The fact is, quizzes are irresistible.

So if you want to enjoy that extra engagement, plan a fun, challenging, unique quiz or riddle and post it on social.

Like this one.

12. Engage in Current Events

One way to connect with your audience is to show how you care about the same things they do.

Like what Taco Bell did here.

The secret is to respond quickly to current events your audience cares about.

Like Oreo did when the lights went out during the Super Bowl.

Creating Meaningful Engagement on Social Channels

Yes, standing out on social is hard.

It’s not easy to make yourself heard as a brand on platforms mainly created for connection.

But here’s the thing.

Once you learn how to connect to your audience in a real, human, engaging way, you’ll watch your brand soar in no time.

These tips for creating engaging social media content are a great way to start.

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by the author,  August 2020