Have you noticed that certain posts on the social media get more clicks, comments, and shares than others? If you look at them over time and you put them in various categories, you soon realise something: they all follow a certain recipe. They have specific structures and provoke the readers’ interest in specific ways.
These posts are prime examples of using a copywriting formula. “A formula? But where is my creativity? How do I share my brand values?” Using copywriting formulas is very different from doing copy/paste work. After all, each of the posts you have noted for their popularity look and sound perfectly suited to the brands they promote.
These copywriting formulas are, in fact, an expression of observing social media users’ behaviours, what they respond to, and what feels interesting to them. Applying them does not mean betraying your own unique tone of voice, but tuning it to your audience – to what they really want to hear from you.
To understand how easy it is to adapt each formula to your brand voice, you need to see what they consist of. Therefore, these are the most popular copywriting formulas for the social media:
- PAS – Problem Agitation Solution
This formula has been popular for decades, first with sales letters, and then with internet sales pages. It uses a simple psychological trigger: remind people of a problem they have, detail and enhance its negative consequences, and then provide relief from it through your products or services.
You can easily adapt this formula to the short style of social media posts. Each element can be comprised in a short and effective sentence. For example: “Your car broke down in the middle of the road. And your mobile battery is low. X portable recharger saves your day.”
- BAB – Before After Bridge
This formula takes the reader very quickly from one extreme situation to another. In the Before situation, they have a problem. In the After situation, they are happy and carefree. The Bridge section explains how the change happened, i.e. by using your products or services.
Here is a simple example: “John and Mary used to spend most of their weekend cleaning their house. Now they are enjoying their hobbies. It all happened after they discovered X robot vacuum cleaner.”
- The Open Loop
Do you remember the TV series where episodes ended in a cliffhanger, to be explained in the next episode? You never missed that next episode, because you wanted to know what really happened to the protagonists.
The open loop formula uses the same psychological trigger as those TV series: they leave people wondering what happens next – which they find out by clicking on the link. This formula is mostly used by magazines and newspapers and it sounds something like: “X did Y thing. You will never guess what happened next.”
Just make sure not to overuse it, as some tabloid press does, or this formula will lose its trigger value.
- AIDA – Attention Interest Desire Action
This is actually a tested, proven, and now somewhat abandoned sales strategy. However, it works just fine in social media copywriting, where the final action is not an actual purchase, but a click.
The purpose is to attract the reader’s interest and heighten it by sharing a key benefit, to the point that they really want to know what else they can benefit from if they choose the product. Apple product presentations are classic examples of the AIDA copyright formula.
- The 4 U’s – Useful Urgent Unique Ultra-Specific
You see this type of copywriting formula in special or flash sale announcements. In this formula, you start by offering a solution to your reader’s needs and then you add the urgency element to help them decide quickly. You put in your USP (unique sale proposition) and you end on the ultra-specific note of how little time/ few items are left until the end of the promotion.
“Say good-bye to dry hair. Only this weekend, special discounts on our patented bio formula. Less than 100 items left in stock.” Anyone with dry hair problems would at least feel compelled to learn more about this special offer.