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71 Ways to Write a Social Media Update: Specific Tips to Engage Your Followers

Sep 8, 2014 7 min readTips / How To
Photo of Kevan Lee
Kevan Lee

Former VP of Marketing @ Buffer

Social Media Posts

I’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., 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., 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





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.


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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