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The 6 Formats of Creative Social Media Posts Your Business Should Be Using

It can be a challenging operation to constantly come up with creative social media posts to publish across multiple platforms.

By

September 21, 2020

creative social media posts

It can be a challenging operation to constantly come up with creative social media posts to publish across multiple platforms.

But when companies commit to opening up social media accounts, they also make a tacit promise to consistently provide fresh, quality content that their online followers are looking for. Your audience is expecting to be:

  • Informed 
  • Entertained 
  • Included
  • Answered

Social media followers interact with your content alongside personal images of family photos and their friends’ vacations; so must your brand provide intimate access and communication to fit their feeds.

Yet, constantly producing creative content to feed the social media machine can be an overwhelming, intense and resource-draining operation.

Unfortunately, in place of proper planning and budgeting, most companies tend to just launch into the social feed without a long-term strategy. But running social media posts without a documented strategy is dangerous and can jeopardize your brand while guaranteeing weak results.

This lack of strategy is largely why over half of marketers are unable to demonstrate the impact of their social media investments, according to the Harvard Business Review.

While 97% of Fortune 500 corporates are on LinkedIn, 84% are on Facebook and 86% are on Twitter, companies still rarely assimilate their overarching business strategy with their social media platforms.

Often, this is because social media accounts are opened as an add-on or as an after-thought to the company’s main marketing strategy and not as an integral piece of it.

This is a major error. Producing engaging social media posts today requires talent, creativity and marketing resources. Social media has long become an essential part of a business’ external image and conversion mechanism.

Therefore, the effective development of creative social media posts only comes with the right mixture of marketing resources, creative human resources, and copywriting grace -- as does the rest of any company’s fundamental marketing tactics.

Here, we’ll list the top 6 formats of creative social media posts that we’ve discovered work best for building engagement while staying on-brand for our clients, which include multinational companies like Toys“R”Us and Dole Philippines, as well as top regional brands, like AirAsia.

The formats we’ll cover include:

  1. Carousels
  2. 180-degree posts
  3. Static images
  4. Animated videos
  5. GIFs
  6. Instant experiences

Furthermore, it’s important to make a distinction here between creative social media types and formats. While we’ll cover various successful formats here, each of one these formats can be broken down in numerous types of social media strategies across multiple platforms. We’ll save that list for another post.

That being said, we find it is most instructive to begin reviewing the major formats before you set out designing an entire social media strategy in all its nuanced glory.

Read the following list with this in mind.

1. Carousels

You are most likely familiar with carousels (or photo slideshows) as widgets or features on webpages. They are often used to display various central themes within the same screen, and have become so popular that they are now increasingly being used with great zeal within creative social media posts.

The carousel is favored among social media experts for being a very effective sales and engagement tool -- when developed and deployed correctly.

To develop creative social media posts using a carousel, the social media team first has to create what is called a treatment, which is essentially a storyline, step-by-step guide, and overall concept.

Within the treatment, social media teams will identify and pull to the fore the core message. This usually includes USPs, Reasons to Believe and other core marketing messaging that can be pulled out in the process.

Once the treatment and core messaging are documented, only then can images be selected to fit into the carousel. 

Here, we also recommend thinking of the carousel like a book: an intro image with a catchy title and illustrative image that matches it will be most effective.

Next, we typically take one or two slides to elicit ideas by using questions or a proposition. This gets the viewer thinking about the topic before going for more direct marketing techniques.

Then, the last few slides are used to showcase the product, service, promo, etc. in a way that brings the core advertising message to the viewer without being too overbearing. In our experience, crafting a subtle but strong message this way creates a more trusting brand voice.

Finally, there is a slide for the call to action, plus any contact details. With some social media platforms, such as Facebook, here it is also a good idea to use messaging or sign ups as a call to action button, which instantly pushes the viewer into the specified action.

When all of these elements come together seamlessly, the viewer will keep swiping through the carousel, progressively coming deeper into the brand messaging and treatment that we have tailored for them, ultimately bringing them to a conversion decision.

Pro tip: You can develop an effective carousel by using the best practices of drawing board design. Develop a short table of objectives, storyline, flowchart and call to action. Ensure to include all in-slide art concepts, frame copy and other details.

Dole Pineapple: Brevo used this format in the Dole Pineapple Juice Campaign. The example we provide above shows how an effective call to action should look on creative social media posts that use carousels.

This step is critical and transforms this format from being a simple slideshow into a lead magnet. By asking readers to take action at the end, you don't leave them hanging - you invite them to respond easily and quickly through an interactive social media button!

2. 180-degree posts

This format offers a panoramic experience for your audience, bringing them into an illustrative, immersive storyline that you wish to tell within their social feed.

Although 180-degree posts may not be as in vogue as they once were when they first appeared, this format is often the best way to gamify your messaging to boost engagement among certain audiences, especially millennials.

A typical approach to gamify the 180 post is called the “treasure hunt.”

This game works by asking viewers to go back and forth across the moveable in-feed image to find items hidden within, then list them in the comments section to further encourage engagement from other participants.

To develop a gamified 180-degree post, creative social media talent must collaborate closely with the marketing objectives of the business to ensure that the game is not randomized, but rather a relatable, on-brand experience.

A visual idea is then proposed to conceptually link to the product and/or service that is being advertised, then find an interesting and engaging idea to establish a treasure hunt or other game to utilize within the panoramic image.

Pro tip: Think of Where’s Waldo. Gamification using 180-degree posts with this in mind work great.

FWD Life Philippines: For this health insurance company, Brevo created a panoramic visual of people in an apartment block.

The challenge: How many people can you see exercising in the apartment building, as opposed to people eating junk food?

This post generated 135 comments of viewers responding to the challenge. You can take a look at the image and comments here and see for yourself.

Besides being a fun, creative and engaging post, the 180-degree image was able to emphasize a core message for FWD Life Philippines: the need to stay healthy and sign up for their health insurance plan.

It was Brevo’s job to come up with the concept, pitch the idea, refine it according to the client’s taste, and then produce it. That’s just one typical way how this format of creative social media posts can be developed.

3. Statics

When we say “static”, we are often referring to a key visual -- the anchor image of a campaign of which there can be several derivatives.

Additionally, statics can also be completely stand alone ideas. 

Nevertheless, the key is to include enough relevant copy that speaks to the viewer but doesn't violate Facebook's 20% rule (more than 20% in-art copy disqualifies it from being advertised properly).

In our experience, the best statics use real images with graphic art flourishes, short, snappy copy and, if applicable, the terms of the deal (discounts, promo mechanics, important dates, etc).

Pro tip: Think of your social media post like a visual-heavy print ad. It needs to disseminate your message quickly in order to stop people from scrolling, and that can be done with an eye-popping image.

Victor Consunji Development Corporation: In the social media post above, a real estate agency wanted to launch an occasion-specific campaign. This Halloween-inspired post had to keep with the brand identity -- luxury property.

Brevo decided to create a static that showcased a proper dinner set up, evoking a classy party that played into the company’s brand DNA, only adding a jack-o-lantern in the background as an accent.

The text, “Rest in Peace,” was written purposefully to stop the scroll, making the viewer do a double take before realizing that this was a Halloween-related post. This proved to be a smart way to capture people’s attention while remaining on-brand.

To create statics, Brevo gathers lots of info from our client, crystalizes their key message and then breaks it down into bite size info which we then pair with an arresting image -- something viewers will respond to. That's how a static is born.

4. Animated videos

The animated video format provides an amazing way to educate and entice viewers. 

Like any other video production, creative social media posts that utilize animated videos need a lot of production planning.

This includes script writing, which must go through several versions until all stakeholders are aligned on the final concept.

Then, once the script is locked in, a moodboard is produced to show the type of animation that will be created, as well as a storyboard that highlights the flow of the script within the animation.

Only once all those elements align can animators begin to create the first visuals for the video.

Here, voices can also begin recording in tandem with the animation, if they are called for in the script and concept.

Pro tip: Videos average in length but the sweet spot is between 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Indeed, 30 seconds may seem really short, but that is actually a lot of time to provide numerous themes and messages.

Don’t forget that the longer a video, the more attention you require of your viewer. Keeping videos short and sweet, with enough information and zero fat, is key to a successful campaign.

AirAsia: For AirAsia RedTix, we wanted to communicate three core ideas: planning, booking, and buying a ticket to an event using RedTix, AirAsia’s events platform. The tagline we came up for this service was “Plan it. Book it. Tick it,” which clearly stated the event booking process. We wanted customers to understand that RedTix offers an end-to-end solution, from planning all the way to ticking an experience off one’s bucket list.

Visually, this made for a fairly easy narrative. We began the animated video by showing how events are typically discovered (online), planned (by calling your friends), booked (again, online, via RedTix), and experienced (at a concert, showing a marked checkbox to signal the “ticking” of an item on one’s bucket list).

We ended with a clear call to action, the tagline itself: “Plan it. Book it. Tick it.” Simple, easy to understand, and quick to use. The video became a high-impact way of reaching customers, calling them to book events and enjoy the convenient RedTix service.

5. GIFs

GIFs are used and produced in a similar fashion to animated videos. But they offer a greater emphasis on the campaign’s core idea.

This is because the average GIF image is normally only about 5 to 15 seconds, which provides a more concentrated vehicle for your message.

Here, the idea is to plant an idea in the viewer's mind, but provide only enough info so they can make a decision and act on it if they want, and fast.

This is done through a quick-to-the-point CTA.

Pro tip: Think of any GIF you’ve seen. Only a single idea can fit into this format. This can be used as an advantage for the advertiser, however. Isolate your message in a quick, quirky and repetitive manner so you’ll reinforce your brand and call to action.

Shakey’s Pizza: Prosciutto is traditionally considered high-end ham in the Philippines. But Shakey’s Pizza wanted to dispel this notion and show their audience that not only rich people eat it.

Brevo was asked to introduce Shakey’s new prosciutto pizza in a celebratory fashion. 

The GIF format proved the most effective and apt vehicle for this messaging. 

In the Shakey’s Pizza GIF, we hint at the Italian flavor of the pizza through the operatic scene while heralding a brand new food item that everyone can enjoy.

6. Instant experiences

An Instant Experience (IE) is a full screen display built for mobile users which is immersive and provides a microsite-like experience.

It is among the most novel creative social media posts out there today.

For this reason, the vertical and horizontal scrolling in an IE can be complex. Yet, it provides a layered presentation of USPs, with multiple calls to action and outbound links. Think of an IE like a carousel on steroids, and produced similarly to an animated video in that it has several layers (static and/or animation) that will also need sign off and approval before production begins.

The key here is to find an overall idea that can branch into separate threads, but all come back together at the end (like a Cohen brothers film for those with short attention spans).

On social media, it is important not to oversaturate viewers with info, but to find a happy balance where the IE becomes more than a scroll through the feed, but rather an engaging visual experience.

Pro tip: Instant Experiences can seem daunting. Their apparent complexity can be difficult to explain to stakeholders. Solve this by clearly defining the narrative of each level and how it all works as a seamless whole. If you have trouble figuring it out, your company’s stakeholders will definitely not be able to follow; nail the concept fully before you present it.

Toys“R”Us Philippines: We pitched the idea of creating three price tiers for certain toys: PHP1,000, 2,000, and 3,000. We differentiated each level by color and design, making it easy for viewers to see the available levels. We also used colors to match the prices; yellow for the lowest price (accessible and fun), red for mid price (dynamic, bold) and blue for the highest priced toys (premium, thoughtful).

The tiers helped group products together and immediately gave budget-conscious customers a way to view items within their price range, rather than make them hunt through a huge mixed catalogue.

Our IE was the best performing ad in the campaign, garnering 46,843 link clicks, 38,539 landing page views and a 5.24% CTR. It’s high performance can be directly attributed to this novel format, which the target audience had never experienced before.

Moreover, the ad wasn't even boosted for engagement, yet Toys”R”Us still had over 1.2K reactions, shares and comments.

Creative social media posts for your business

Asking your team to be constantly creative can be an intense operation to manage. 

This is where hiring a professional creative marketing agency can help you generate fresh ideas that your audience is certain to appreciate.

Brevo works with companies large and small to customize creative social media posts that are built to engage while staying on-brand. Contact us today to learn how creative social media posts can stop the scroll.

Need something like this? Work with us hello@brevo.co
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