Own a business or manage social media for a business? Get ready! You’re about to learn everything you need to know to write social posts that’ll help you grow that brand.

It might seem like a little thing, a social post. It’s not! 

An awesome social post can turn a stranger into a follower into a lead into a customer and finally into a brand evangelist — someone who believes in you, your business, and your product or service so strongly that they’ll help spread the word. Cool, right? And sometimes it’s magic, but usually it’s not.

The best social posts are the ones that do the following:

  • Address your goals
  • Speak to your target audience (Not necessarily directly of course, like “Hey Target Market”, but rather in theme, tone, and style — speaking to their sensibilities, wants and preferences.)
  • Maintain brand consistency (either literally; or in keeping with your brand and key messages)
  • Follow social posting best practices specific to each social network
  • Engage, motivate and persuade
  • Provide a clear call-to-action (CTA)

That CTA is so important: A social post without a call-to-action can still help with brand building and earning engagement. But why miss an opportunity to encourage your target market to take a specific action? A “learn more” link is a simple example of a social post call-to-action. Less obvious is the implied action you want people to take through your post itself.

Seems like a lot to consider, but it’s important to remember that not every post needs to address every goal, audience segment, or brand message, and that following best practices (and writing great posts) will become more intuitive as you do more posting over time.

Social Posting Best Practices

If every social post has that much to do (goals, audience, branding, best practices, engage, motivate, persuade and call-to-action, oh my!), where do you start?

The chicken or the egg

Do you start with the idea for the post? Or the goal? Or the audience segment? Or the photo? Or…really, who knows. It depends on a variety of things and can change post-by-post. But here’s a good place to begin:

Social Post Types

The most engaging social network Newsfeeds/Timelines publish a combination of post types to ensure a blend (over time)  of promotional, educational, informative, and entertaining content. This is true for all social networks.

The main types of posts are:

Business Interest and Information

  • “About Us” and business history
  • Product or service highlight
  • “Behind-The-Scenes” or “Meet The Team”
  • Business value (ie: blog post, article, whitepaper, infographic or eBook)
  • Press or news release excerpt/link
  • Special event, sale or promotion (including online promotion; contest/sweepstakes)
  • Case study, testimonial or review
  • Charitable or community initiative
  • Live Post/Event; Facebook & Instagram Story

Industry News and Information

A post about or a link to an online piece of industry news or information is a great way to add variety to your feed;  to include posts that aren’t only self-promotional but rather promote the industry as a whole, providing value for the audience and often creating opportunities for @mentions and cross-promotion.

Local News, Information and Events 

As above, a link to information about local news or events can help to add variety and value, and can be particularly helpful for brick-and-mortar businesses, travel/tourism and hospitality businesses, and community groups who want to foster an environment of enthusiastic cross-promotion in a particular geographical area.

Trending Topics

A post that references a local or global “trending topic”, like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo etc. Note: These kinds of posts require serious consideration — they should not be taken lightly. What your business says (or doesn’t say) about some trending topics can make or break your brand’s sentiment on social media. (Note: This category can include holidays.)

Engagement Posts

Note: All posts should be engaging and invite engagement in some way, but “engagement posts” might include:

  • A post that @mentions another account (ie: partner, supplier, organization, influencer or customer)
  • A post that includes a question, poll or survey
  • A post that shares content from another account (can, of course, also fit into other categories)
  • User-Generated Content (UGC) ← more on this later

The “Social Stuff”

These post types can really fall into any of the above categories, but warrant their own list. While they can feel like most “casual” kinds of posts, they should still get the same careful consideration as the others. Make sure that you include these posts only if they will appeal to your target audience and uphold your business’s brand messaging:

  • Memes
  • GIFs
  • Motivational quotes, etc.

Over time, your business’s social accounts should share a variety of the above post types — a healthy mix of themes. Some even argue that a “20/80” blend is best (with only 20% of total posts being self-promotional in nature (ie: Business Interest and Information), and the rest providing general, local and industry information.

You’ll find the right fit for your brand and target audience by monitoring post performance. Nobody ever likes your industry links or inspirational quotes? Consider replacing them with another post type.

The key is simply this:

The best, most engaging social feeds focus more on providing value to their audiences (education, information and entertainment) than on promoting themselves or pushing their own agenda.

Do take that with a grain of salt.

Why? Because every post is “a little bit” self-promotional (it appears right beside your logo and business name, after all — you posted it). And everything you do on social media is ultimately helping to build your brand — that 80% of stuff you post that’s educating, informing and entertaining is providing interest (and value!) for your audience.

Beyond value

If you provide good value, your audience will provide engagement (with your posts, your Page/account, and — ultimately — your business). And one of the most lucrative engagements is the “share”. When people share your posts it represents that word-of-mouth advertising everyone wants on social. So when you’re thinking about post types, also consider what makes social content particularly shareable.

The most shareable social posts:

  • Are timely. Post about things that are happening now (in the community, industry, world) so long as they are relevant and appropriate. You can also post “evergreen” content but make it timely by putting a new spin on it — piggybacking on current trends and trending topics.
  • Tell a story; entertain
  • Speak to a sharer’s interests
  • Validate a sharer’s opinions; affirms causes and beliefs
  • Inspires and motivate. More than just a #MondayMotivation post (though it could be), great posts inspire and motivate through charitable and volunteer work posts, inspirational and aspirational stories and more.
  • Provide value; are practical
  • Have great visual appeal; awesome photos, videos and graphics
  • Are funny! Note: This isn’t always appropriate (especially right now, during Covid-19) but when it is appropriate and when it’s done well, a funny, irreverent (even a bit controversial) post can do very well on social. It’s a way to break out of the strict corporate “suit and tie” box and come across as more relaxed and approachable. (It also helps to humanize a brand.)

Character Count Limits

Each social network allows posts of different character counts. Knowing these limits before work begins on the post itself will save much frustration when scheduling or publishing.

Do note that how long to make a social post shouldn’t depend only on how much space is available. Rather, it is recommended to vary post length. Often, very short posts — intriguing language and an eye-catching image — get the best engagement.

Sprout Social shows here the available characters per social network versus the recommended post length (they’re very different):


  • Max. characters/post: 63,206
  • Recommended characters/post: 40-80


  • Max. characters/post: 2,200
  • Recommended characters/post: 140-150


  • Max. characters/post: 280
  • Recommended characters/post: 71-100


  • Max. characters/Company Page post: 700
  • Recommended characters/post: 51-100

Social Speak: @mentions, tagging & #hashtags

Using “social speak” like @mentions and #hashtags properly in social media demonstrates that a business is fluent, natural, and experienced in social. Combined with error-free text, these elements can help to boost post performance. Using them clumsily will detract greatly from the post itself and reflect poorly on your business.


An @mention is a way to include another account in your post. It links to that account and alerts the account’s owner that you’ve mentioned them. You can use @mentions in all of the top social networks, but remember that to get it to work you have to @mention their account name which may be different in each network. So check and make sure you’ve got it right. Never use @mentions randomly just to draw attention to your post — that’s bad form.


Another way to “include” other accounts in your posts is to “tag” them. Like an @mention, this will highlight that they’re included and notify the account owner. In all of the accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn) you can tag an account by @mentioning them in your post’s copy. In Facebook and Instagram, you can also tag people and accounts in photos and videos. Here’s how.

Using @mentions and tags can help to increase engagement and opportunities for cross-promotion. Doing a Facebook post about a fellow local business owner? How nice of you! If you @mention their business Page in the post, they’ll be notified of your friendly promotion, and might do the same for you one day.


Think of hashtags as a way to connect social media content to a specific topic, event, theme or conversation. They also make it easier to discover posts around those specific topics, because hashtags aggregate all social media content with that same hashtag” (hootsuite).

Hashtags are a great tool for helping to get the right eyes on your social content, and by following certain hashtags from your business’s accounts, you’ll have access to great, relevant content for sharing. (How? If you see a post that includes the hashtag #UnicornNews2020, and click on that hashtag, you’ll be shown a variety of other posts that also include that hashtag.)

You can use common hashtags (think about the kinds of things your target audience might be following and/or searching for and include them in your posts when they make sense), or you can use branded hashtags (like #yourbusinessname or #yourcampaignname).


Hashtags work on Facebook in so much as people can search content by them. Using a hashtag in your post will mean it may be included in a list of posts using the same hashtag. And people and Business Pages do use them; however, in the past several years some studies showed that including hashtags actually limited post visibility. So use hashtags thoughtfully and sparingly in Facebook — especially because the best Facebook posts are short, and hashtags add to the total character count.


Hashtags work on Instagram. You should definitely use them here. As above, people on Instagram “follow” #hashtags they’re interested in, and Instagram includes posts that use those hashtags in their Newsfeeds. But, as above, you should use them thoughtfully, and not as many as you might be inclined to include: “You can use up to 30 hashtags on an Instagram post. But, many marketers say that looks spammy. Use 5 or 6. Others say using 11 gets you the best engagement” (louisem.com).

You’ll see people include hashtags in their Instagram posts (captions), often after a string of ellipses (periods), or in the post’s first comment. This helps to “hide” them so they don’t distract from the caption. Either is fine (there are conflicting studies about which placement helps to get the most visibility). Just make sure to add your hashtags as soon as the post is published.


Yes, hashtags work well on Twitter too. Like on Facebook and Instagram, people follow hashtags so it can help to show your content to people interested in it. But don’t go crazy! Twitter recommends two (2) carefully-chosen hashtags per post only. You can incorporate them into the post itself (ie: “Do you love #BananaCreamPie? I do!”) or put them at the end — whatever feels the most natural and will be the easiest to read.


Like on Facebook, LinkedIn hashtags have been both in and out of favor. They do work (they make content searchable), and you should consider using them sometimes. When you do, use them thoughtfully and sparingly. Want to learn more about B2B Business Posting on LinkedIn. Click here.

Still not sure how to start? In the beginning, use hashtags in all your Instagram and Twitter posts, and then use them half of the time in Facebook and LinkedIn. Each month, look back at post performance and see what worked best for your audience and content.

The power of a picture (or video)

A picture can say a thousand words, and that’s so true in social media (where people are scrolling fast!). A great photo can stop scrollers in their tracks, grabbing (and holding) their attention, communicating a lot in a very little space, and etching a message (and your business) into their memories. The same goes for great graphics and videos.

From Adespresso:


  • “Posts with photos receive 179% more engagements than other posts.”
  • “Videos are the most shared post type, with 89.5 average Facebook shares.” 
  • Twitter: …case studies have shown that tweets with images get 313% more engagement.” 

From Hootsuite:

  • Twitter: Twitter data shows that tweets with GIFs receive 55% more engagement than tweets without them. Tweets with videos? They see 10 times more engagement.”

Note: This is a given on Instagram, where you can’t post without a photo or video — it’s all about the creative assets there. But LinkedIn is a little different:

From Social Media ExaminerUnlike other popular social networks, text posts tend to outperform image posts and video on LinkedIn.” That’s not to say that you shouldn’t include photos and videos with your LinkedIn posts — it’s recommended to test both.

Just starting out? Try to include great photos, graphics and/or videos wherever possible.

What makes them great? 

Well, understanding the intricacies of creating great photos, graphics and videos (ie: creative assets) for marketing and advertising could take a lifetime. Luckily, social media does lend itself to slightly less stringent rules. It’s okay to post some things that are “more DIY” and “less Hollywood-produced”.

In fact, you needn’t spend money on hiring a professional photographer or videographer (though it would likely be a good investment). Instead you might use a simple online photo editing tool to edit, fine-tune and crop photos professionally, and explore some of the many free tools for adding custom branding to your photos. We love Canva.com. If you do decide to add a little flair to your photos (or to create graphics from scratch), consider using templates for consistency.

And if you happen to find 25 hours in a day, spend some time learning about design for social media. This is a great post c/o Buffer: Social Media Design Tips.

Make them fit!

Whatever creative asset you’re going to include with your post, make sure it’s sized and formatting properly for the network it’s in. Nothing can make a social feed look sloppier than a bunch of badly-cropped photos.

Tools like Canva allow you to choose from existing (properly-sized) templates for each network. You should also find and refer to a trusted resource, like this one: the “Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes” from Sprout Socia because the networks are always changing and adding to their options.

Finally, remember that most people access social networks from their mobile devices, so ensure that your media is formatted not only for the right network, but also for mobile viewers.

What if you don’t have any photos or videos?

This is common for brand-new businesses or those just starting on social. There are websites that offer royalty-free photos and videos that can be used for business marketing on social; however, these should be used sparingly. (They’re everywhere, and chances are the photo you choose for your Real Estate Agency is also in use by the local dentist, shopping mall and elementary school.)

A simple template in Canva with a background color that matches your brand, your logo (in high-resolution, transparent PNG format) and a thought-provoking phrase in clear, sans-serif font might be a better place to start.

So you know what to post, but when? 

Posting Frequency & Time Of Day


People always want to know how often to post for social success. There are too many variables to give a single answer, but the gist is this:

  • Post too often and people see you as a nuisance and will mute, unlike or unfollow you.
  • Post too infrequently and people will forget about you.

Seeing what people respond to (what they like, share, comment on) and how often will help you to know if you’re finding the right balance. Below is one (of many) recommendations for posting frequency:

  • Facebook: 3 posts/week – 1-2 posts per day
  • Instagram: 1 post/week – 1 post/day
  • Twitter: 1 – 30 posts/day ← that’s a lot! Remember that many of those posts will be shares (retweets). Just starting out? Aim for a few tweets per week. 
  • LinkedIn: 1 post/week – 1 post/day

Time of day

Understanding when to post for success with a target market is an art (there are so many variables!), but it’s also possible to do well using common sense. For example, do post when people might be on the train in the mornings, but not after 9:00am on Monday mornings when they’ll be buried in work.

Some social posting dashboards have built-in recommended “best times for posts” accessible from their scheduling functionalities, and some social networks (like Facebook’s Insights) will actually tell you when your followers are online. But your best bet? Try a variety of times over time, monitor results, and do more of what works.

Really want to know?

There are lots of studies (often conflicting) giving time-tips for each network. A few of our most trusted resources are below:

Sprout Social says:

  • Facebook: “Wednesday, 11 a.m. and 1–2 p.m.” (The worst day to post? Sunday.)
  • Instagram: Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Friday from 10 a.m.–11 a.m.” (Worst day? Sunday.)
  • Twitter: Wednesday and Friday at 9 a.m.” (Worst day? Saturday.)
  • LinkedIn: “Weds. from 8–10 a.m. and noon, Thurs. at 9 a.m. and 1–2 p.m., and Fri. at 9 a.m.” (Worst? Sunday.)

Note: Those times will be different depending on your industry and/or objective.

That frequency and time will also change depending on the season, as well as what’s going on in your industry and the world.


So now you know what to post (post themes, post length, and “social speak”) and when to post (frequency and time of day), but how?

You can publish posts in real time from the social networks themselves. And in all cases except Instagram, can do it from your desktop computer or your mobile device. You have to publish “on the fly” to Instagram via the Instagram app on your smartphone.

You can also create your posts inside the social networks and instead of publishing them you can schedule them for later. In Facebook, for example, you’d simply choose “schedule” instead of “post”.

Or you can use a social media management dashboard. They’re third-party tools like HootsuiteSpout Social or Buffer (some of our favorites) and allow for post planning and scheduling and lots more.

Using these, you can manage and post to all your networks from one place. You can also boost posts in some dashboards (including setting and forgetting a boosting budget and letting the dashboard do it for you), plus perform some engagement, monitor engagements received, monitor your social sentiment (social listening) and produce great reports. And many offer a free version (with limits) so you can test the waters before you dive in.

A dashboard works especially well if you’re also planning to use a Social Post Editorial Calendar. In that scenario, you’d write your posts ahead of time (even in a single sitting), and then schedule them all in one go.


Scheduling posts ahead of time will help you to stay on time and on budget. Instead of going “into” the accounts daily to publish posts, an entire month’s worth of posts (and their photos/videos) can be scheduled ahead of time (including day and time, and posting to multiple networks at once). It’ll also help you to spread posts out if, for example, you’ve got 10 good ideas right now! (Better to schedule them to publish one per day.)


If you’re managing several social networks at once, you can save a little time by cross-posting — same post, multiple networks. Every post won’t be appropriate for each network, and most should be customized a little to follow the conventions of each channel. But if you can do it sometimes, it’s time- and resource-saving!

What’s more, there’s a good chance you’ve got different followers on each network so you’ll be hedging your bets and making sure more people see your content.

Posting Multiple Times

Sometimes there will be posts that make sense to have appear more than once over time. A scheduling tool can be used here too. From Social Media Examiner:

Recycle High-value Posts: You’re not limited to posting only new content to your Facebook page. Occasionally dip into your archives for an engagement spike. Look at your Facebook posts from a previous year and identify posts that created a substantial amount of engagement. Post that content again, but tweak it so it’s fresh. Recycling posts allows you to spotlight popular content that some of your fans may never have seen.”

Social Post Editorial Calendar

What’s the best way to know if you’re doing all of the above right?

That is, following all the rules for great posts, making sure you have a good mix of post types, posting at the best times and not too often or too little, and taking advantage of opportunities to cross-post and post multiple times.

You use a Social Post Editorial Calendar!

What is that? It’s a place where you can plan, draft, review (and approve) your social posts before they end up in the social accounts. Whether you take them from the editorial calendar to the accounts themselves or into a social dashboard, it can help you to avoid an “oopsies”.

There are many robust digital content management tools available that allow for customization, collaboration, and an approvals process. (Many of the social media management software platforms also include this functionality.) But for some businesses, the simplest solution works best.

One proven easy-to-use option is a simple shared Google Drive Spreadsheet — it allows for live sharing, a tracked revision history, and more. This way an entire team can see what’s happening, what’s planned, and what’s been approved. Then, once locked down, it can easily be downloaded/uploaded for bulk scheduling in a social dashboard (or have social posts copied from the spreadsheet into the dashboard or actual account).

Whatever solution is chosen for your social post editorial calendar, it should include the following:

  • Network: Where will the post be published?
  • Owner: Who is responsible for writing, editing, and publishing/scheduling the post?
  • Date: When should the post be published?
  • Post: What is the post’s content?
  • Link: What shortened link will the post include?
  • Media: What image/video will accompany the post?
  • Media Citation: What citation/credit (if any) is required for the above media?
  • Approval/Revision: Has the post been approved or does it require further edits?
  • Boosting: Will the post be boosted? With what media buy and what targeting?
  • Scheduling: Has the post been published?

We’ve created a simple Social Post Editorial Calendar template here that you can take and make your own.

So now we’ve reviewed what, when, and how to social post. Below we’ll review the “what” again, and below that look at some network-specific tips. But we bet you’re still thinking: Okay, I know the rules. I’m ready to post. But what about?

Here’s a trick:

Grab that empty Social Post Editorial Calendar and in the “Post Type” column, make space for each of these:

  1. Business Interest and Information
  2. Industry News and Information
  3. Local News, Information and Events
  4. Trending Topics
  5. Engagement Posts
  6. The Social Stuff

Now, craft a draft post for each of those categories (doing your best to follow best practices). Fill in all the spaces (spreadsheet cells) — where will your post send people (link) and what media (photo, graphic or video) will you include? Get them just right and then publish them. If you’ve got no other content in your Newsfeeds/Timelines, you’ll now have at least one of every top post type there to start drawing attention and driving traffic.

Social Post Cheat Sheet, All Networks → 

  • Make sure every post considers your goals, audience and branding
  • Use a Social Post Editorial Calendar to help with post planning
  • Publish a variety of post types and themes
  • Provide more value (education, information and entertainment) and less overt self-promotion
  • Write posts that will engage, motivate and persuade
  • Always include a call-to-action
  • Include a variety of post lengths (review recommended character counts for each network)
  • Use “social speak” properly (@mentions, tags and #hashtags)
  • Include awesome media (photos, graphics and videos) wherever possible and appropriate
  • Be thoughtful about post frequency (not too much and not too little) and test different times and days


This course focuses on Facebook Business Page posts (ie: updates) only. Don’t forget that Facebook offers much, much more, including but not limited to:

Your business would likely benefit from exploring and integrating a number of those things. Meanwhile, start connecting with your target audience today by posting right away. Facebook is still the world’s biggest, most-used social network and has a fairly broad demographic so it’s a particularly good place to post about a variety of different things.

Combine information about your business and industry as well as fun and/or feel-good content. And remember to use a great, properly-formatted photo, graphic or video with every single post, and then boost those posts to further define targeting and reach more (new) people.


As above, this course focuses on posting only. Don’t forget that Instagram Live and Instagram Stories (plus Stories Highlights) and Reels are a big part of the Instagram world today. You should learn about and consider adding those things to your Instagram strategy.

For right now? Gather up your very best visual content and plan to start posting.

One important thing to keep in mind:


On other networks, your posts sort of exist on their own (and then disappear down a long vertical scroll of other Newsfeed content). On Instagram, people will often view your galley too (not just your individual posts).

So you should give some thought to how your gallery looks as a whole. Make sure that photos, graphics and videos are cropped properly and explore some options with filters and add-ons. (Instagram as well as many (free) third-party apps allow you to jazz up your photos before they’re published. Do not go crazy with filters and add-ons. Less is usually more. Whatever you do, aim for consistency.


Also remember that links in captions (posts) aren’t clickable with regular, organic Instagram posts. (When you promote an Instagram post, you are able to add a clickable link.) Instead, direct people to the “link in your bio” and make sure that it’s updated to take visitors to the right place.


Twitter is all about up-to-the-minute information and opinions shared in bite-sized tidbits. It’s about starting and joining conversations, and sharing important and relevant information.

It’s a much less “visual” place than the other networks. You can use photos, graphics and videos on Twitter — but try tweeting both with and without media.

If you’re cross-posting content from Facebook and Instagram, make sure that you tweak it so that it jives with Twitter’s faster pace. Always include a link in your Twitter posts — Twitter can be a great way to drive targeted traffic to your website or online store, and do try to post a little more often to Twitter than you might in the other networks.

Meanwhile, explore Twitter Lists, Chats, Ads and more.


Of all the networks, LinkedIn still feels the most corporate. After all, it’s a place for making business and network connections. So modify your posts accordingly, and probably save your sassy memes and feel-good motivational quotes for Facebook and Instagram.

Make sure you post to your Company Page. (You can then share those posts from your Page to your personal profile to help increase visibility.)

This course talks about short LinkedIn updates, but you should also explore LinkedIn’s long-form content capabilities — you can publish whole articles/blog posts to LinkedIn and they can be very helpful in developing thought-leadership — that is, becoming a trusted leader in your industry and a source of valuable information for your audience. Here’s how to use LinkedIn Articles.

Nice work! That was a lot to wade through, but you did it. Now take those awesome social posts you’ve published and maximize reach by boosting them. Learn how to do that, plus lots more in our popular free online course, Intro to Social Media for Business Growth.

And if you understand the importance of social posting to build your brand, but simply don’t have time – reach out! Stir Marketing’s expert social strategists can help to keep your social feeds full of engagement-getting, lead-converting posts 🙂

Related Reading