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You want your brand's social media posts to convert.

But there’s a problem:

All of your competitors want that too. With over a billion users on Instagram, almost three billion – on Facebook, and TikTok developing a cult following, no one wants to miss out on such a vast audience. And that's where a huge challenge for social media marketers comes into play.

It's the need for creating engaging yet relevant social media content that attracts the right audience and converts them into loyal followers and potential customers in the long run.

In 2021, when authenticity, diversification, and social consciousness are among the top social media trends, content subject and visual representation matter more than ever.

In this guide, you'll find out how to design social media posts to skyrocket engagement and conversion in the coming year.

Tips for designing visual content

The visual part of your social media post is the first thing users notice on their newsfeeds. It helps them decide whether they want to learn more.

Brand images, infographics, short videos, creative collages – they all work for your brand's aesthetics and recognition.

  1. Embrace colours

    With colour gradients and in-feed colour blocking on trend, you can design a recognisable and compelling profile that will encourage users to hit the follow button.

    Use gradients (a smooth colour transition) as backgrounds for quotes, questions, or memes you share on Instagram:

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    Get creative and make your profile look more professional with colour blocking (vertical, horizontal, diagonal, you choose!).

    Ensure you use harmonious tones alongside one another to achieve a cohesive grid. Or, choose a strict colour scheme for all channels - this works great for brand identity and allows you to tie all of your brand's posts together.

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    You can choose templates with your desired colour schemes for social media posts and create them in Crello, or use other graphic design tools available online.

    Consider using a social media publishing tool like Sendible to help you to plan posts in advance and save time.

  2. Get personal and socially-conscious

    The good news about being a social media manager in 2021 is that you don't have to be a professional photographer or designer to create visual content - authenticity is what’s key. The more genuine your posts look, the more users will approve of them.

    Show the real people behind your brand. Take a smartphone and reveal the faces behind your business. These personal posts will help followers feel more connected to your brand.

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    It’s important to remember the fine line between authenticity and the quality of your visual content. When taking personal photos, consider good lighting and background. You can also experiment with filters or photo editing tools like Befunky or Adobe Lightroom to make your photos look uniform and professional.

    Another critical thing to consider:

    For many users today, social media is not just about beautiful pictures and personal connections. It's a platform to declare their position, and they are ready to follow brands that support their views and work for the benefit of humanity.

    Your brand needs to be socially responsible in 2021.

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    Socially-conscious marketing now rules the day. Consumers don't just associate brands with the products they sell anymore; they respond to your social mission and participation in solving planetary problems.

    Did you know that 56% of consumers say they have no respect for businesses that remain silent on important issues? What are yours? Make sure to create visual content communicating your commitment to making the world a better place, just like cosmetics company Lush:

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  3. Share text-focused images

    As one of the top Instagram trends in 2020, text based images can help grab the attention of your followers and differentiate your brand in users' news feeds.

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    What should you post?

    Use images that feature quotes, sticky notes, handwritten drawings, infographics, or real-world references (street signs, billboards, printed newspaper ads – anything that can bring everyday communication channels online).

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    Or, post your Twitter quotes on other social media channels. Surprisingly, such posts can bring more traffic than other content types (at least on Instagram).
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  4. Add interactive elements

    In 2020, 60% of businesses used interactive elements in their Instagram stories. Why? Because this type of content performs better. For example, Stories stickers enhance video performance 83% of the time.

    Not only do animated and interactive elements help you to engage more users, but they also perform better with Instagram algorithms. It's a double-win!

    On Twitter, GIFs are a great option to consider:

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    Another trend to try is digital stickers. Icons, labels, bumper-style stickers –they all add visual information to your content, grabbing the users' interest in your message. Online graphic design tools like Crello or Animoto provide some great stickers and animations to try with your content. 

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    With location, hashtags, or mentions increasing your content reach, you could also consider Questions and Polls. Both are excellent tools to boost engagement and interaction with your social media posts.

    You can take a step further and try other creative ways to entertain your followers. Gamified content (bingo, quizzes, puzzles, etc.) serve well to involve the audience in communication.

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  5. Create short-form videos

    In March 2020, TikTok broke the Internet: With almost 76 million downloads, it celebrated a new approach to user engagement on social media. Later in August, Instagram joined the battle and introduced Reels, designed for users to create 15-second videos.

    What is that but proof that social media audiences get engaged with short-form video content now? So, in 2021 you may need to reconsider your content strategy and create more short-form videos for better engagement and conversion.


5 Tips for designing social media captions

Social media content isn’t just about the visuals. Captions also help to distinguish your posts from your competitors. Once users notice a picture, they go to the text to learn more, and that's where writing hacks come in handy.

  1. Start with a hook

    Most social media networks shorten captions after a few lines, so the very first sentence is what you need to focus on:

    Make it intriguing enough for the audience to realise they want to click "more." Also keep in mind your brand’s voice and tone - every word you use helps to shape a brand's story and personality on social.

    The most common hook on social media is a question. When you ask something that triggers a user's pain point, you engage them to keep reading in search of the answer.

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    Alternative hooks to try:

    • A joke or pun
    • A surprising fact
    • A quote from an influencer in your brand’s niche, a celeb, your CEO, or a member of your community
    • An attention-grabbing expression to create a wow-effect in your post

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    Pro Tip: It’s always a great idea to check out what your competitors are doing to get inspiration.

  2. Tell stories

    Chances are, you already know the power of brand storytelling. Given that a human brain retains 70% of info through stories, they're a great way to make your audience listen to your message.

    Telling stories on social media is the best way to make users see the world through your brand’s eyes. For brands, it's about becoming more human. Stories help you build a brand identity, share authenticity, and make a personal connection with followers.

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    Followers should recognise themselves in your story. So, master the art of narration:

    • Your story needs a hero and a structure.
    • It should relate to the real world.
    • It needs to be cohesive for the audience to respond.

  3. Add value

    Not only do social media posts need to be engaging and original, but they also should answer the "What's in it for me?" question, too.

    How can your post make the life of your followers better? What problem or pain point does it cover and solve? Why, after all, do they need to read your social media writing?

    Think like a consumer. Offer them something: step-by-step instructions, tips that could help them solve a problem, DIY content, giveaways, etc.

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    When your social media posts provide some added value, users are more likely to engage with them. They might comment, share your post, or even bookmark it.

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  4. Use copywriting tricks

    Short attention spans mean that social media users ignore long (read: annoying) sections of text full of professional slang and marketing buzzwords. So, you could try focussing on conversational captions instead.

    In short, write like a human, not a robot:

    • Use active voice verbs
    • Write in short sentences and paragraphs
    • Avoid common grammar mistakes, always check captions for typos before publishing
    • Add transition words for better readability
    • Use emojis where appropriate - they can help break up long sections of text or direct users to your call to action


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    Have you heard about neuro copywriting? It's all about writing to appeal to consumers psychology. This can mean including words and numbers in a specific orders and places so that they serve as mental hooks for the audience, making them want to engage with your post and find out more.

    Why not try this tactic in your social media posts?

     • Use descriptive and sensory words
     • Add odd numbers and beneficial adjectives whenever applicable

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    Stylistic devices such as metaphor, contrast, and repetition are also great to try:
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  5. Format for better readability

    The way you structure captions on social media can influence the readability and perceptibility of your posts greatly.

    Let's face it, it's not that comfortable to read a sheet of text, full of hashtags, with no spaces or line breaks in-between. Remember that social media users scan your posts first to decide if they want to stop and learn more. Why not make it easier for them to absorb your content?

    Try dots, emojis, or symbols like dashes, bullet points or stars to add spaces between lines:

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    Hashtags can boost reach and engagement on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but having large amounts of them in the caption can look messy and make it hard to read. It frustrates users and causes them to scroll past your post. 

    You could try "hiding" your hashtags by adding line breaks after your call to action, and posting your hashtags below, so that they won't distract users from reading:

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Wrapping up

High-quality and authentic social media content plays a core role in brand awareness, trust, and overall marketing success.

For professional social media managers, it's a must to know all the needs, pain points, and values of your target audience, in order to generate social media content that engages, informs, entertains, and solves problems.

With all of our tips in your back pocket, you’re ready to design eye-catching yet relevant and convertible content for social media.

So keep creating!

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Anastasiia Polokhlyvets

Anastasiia Polokhlyvets

Anastasiia Polokhlyvets is a digital marketing expert at Crello with a background in content, SEO, PR and email and social media marketing.

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