People decide within seconds if they will engage with your social media posts. You must master writing compelling caption copy if you want to engage people with thumb-stopping content.
So how do you do it?
1. Grab their attention. These days people have the same attention span as a goldfish – just 9 seconds. If you can’t capture their attention in the first sentence, you have lost them. Quickly convey what is interesting or exciting in the first few words of your caption. You can use a free headline analyzer, which will rate your headline’s clickability from 1-100.
2. Write for your audience, not for yourself. Before you post, consider why your audience might be interested in reading your content. Are they already inclined to interact with this topic? In social media, you often get used to talking to people just like yourself. Additionally, in ministry you often use social media to push your agenda on others. Consider where your person is at spiritually and ask honestly if the topic you are speaking on is interesting to them. How does your post bless or serve them? Offer something of value to their lives to encourage them to see how their relationship with you and with Christ could grow.
3. Write like a real person. Social media is all about people talking to other people, and people are not interested in interacting with robots. When you represent your ministry or church, embrace your humanity by using words like, “we believe,” “we value,” “we love,” etc. Your posture should be relational and responsive. People tend to more often respond to posts that evoke emotion. Convey heart and feeling behind what you are writing.
4. Give people something to react to. Instead of reporting a fact, say, “here’s something you might not know.” Highlight one topic and ask them to respond.
Consider your relationship with the audience when inviting people to respond. Is your request appropriate for where your audience is at with your social media channel or is it too audacious? You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you after one date. Give people the chance to respond in small ways to lead up to the bigger asks.
Make sure to stay away from words like, “Comment,” “Share” or “Like.” Basically, anything that sounds too desperate will be penalized by Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm, which detects and devalues clickbait, showing those posts to less people. Use other words like explore, see, pass on and respond.
5. Be brief. Just because you can write longer posts doesn’t mean you should. People tend to pass over posts that feel like essays. Cut out unnecessary words and characters. Some people like to create line breaks in Instagram by adding a (.) so the text doesn’t feel like a giant block. If you continue to a second paragraph, take a moment to ask why someone might want to continue reading when they have a short attention span.
6. Make Jesus and other people the hero. There’s a tendency on social media to make channels all about yourself because of an addiction known as “Notification Validation”. (Technically, I just made this up, but it’s definitely real.) It’s easy to make your ministry out to be the hero rather than Christ or other people, but that would be a big miss. People can sense where your compass is pointed in your social media captions and other assets you share, and that has an impact on how they interact with you. Show how other people are empowered to live for Christ. Highlight a range of voices rather than the same few leaders. From time to time, repost something from a different ministry.
The mission God has called us to hasn’t changed. Jesus Christ offers life and peace in a world consumed with fear and death. In this rapidly changing environment, we need to be able to pivot.
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