The Social Media Post Checklist: 9 Examples of Engaging Social Media Posts

One click and you’re done! Sharing on social media is as easy as clicking a single button.

But a little more effort gets you a lot better results. Especially in a super crowded space like social media, more time and attention on each social media post is the key to much better engagement.

Let’s start with an example of a social media post that combines all the elements we recommend. It’s easy to imagine how this sample post would get more traction than just a simple share.

example of a social media post

Here are guidelines for what to post on social media for business, and how to roll up your sleeves and upgrading your social content with better writing, images and mentions. Adding these elements to your posts will increase visibility and engagement on everything you share.

In these social media post examples, we’ll use Twitter, but these guidelines are relevant to every social network.

1. Headline best practices

Most social media posts are headlines, so for starters, use every trick in the book for maximizing click through rates.

  • Promise a specific benefit
    Three Social Media Examples That Trigger Donations For Non-Profit
  • Use numbers
    How to Increase Engagement on Social Media Posts by 529%
  • Ask a question
    How Does Social Media Affect Search Engine Rankings?
  • Create urgency
    3 Ways to Adapt To Instagram Changes Before Your Competition Does
  • Trigger curiosity or emotion
    3 Things You Didn’t Know About The Facebook Algorithm

For a complete list, see How to Write a Headline That Won’t Get Ignored, but ignore the keyphrase tips. This is social, not search. Keyphrases aren’t important here.

2. A second headline

A second headline will give the reader another reason to click. It gives them a better idea of what the content is all about. You’ve got plenty of room, so why not write two headlines?

The second headline is a second chance to catch attention and get them to engage.

The Buzzsumo research on headlines found that the top-shared posts on Facebook were 15 words long on average. Here’s a 15+ word, double-headline social media post example:

3. Special characters and emojis

Special characters add visual prominence. Just notice how these characters stand out on this page:
→ An arrow is an easy way to draw attention to a link in your social post
☞ A pointing finger may be even better
★ Using a star can make something stand out
✔ Adding a checkmark shows that something it’s actionable

Some social media networks will also support emojis. But don’t overdo it. And make sure that these more playful, less formal characters fit with the voice and tone of your brand, or you may upset your boss.

4. Hashtags

A hashtag is a clickable keyword or topic, such as #contentmarketing, #blogtips or #Chicago. They can increase the visibility of your social posts, especially hashtags for trending topics.

When someone clicks a hashtag in any post, they’ll see all the posts with that hashtag. If they see yours, that’s good! But if someone is looking at your post and they click the hashtag instead of the link to your content, that’s bad. So use them only if you believe your content is more click-worthy than the other content on that hashtag.

Instagram posts don’t include links, so hashtags there won’t compete with links to content. That may be one reason why Instagram posts include often have tons and tons of hashtags.

5. Line breaks

Few marketers do this, so it’s a good way to help your posts stand out. Line breaks increase the vertical height of your social post, making it more visually prominent in the social stream. Also, the additional whitespace keeps text within the post itself from getting too crowded.

Currently, all the social networks allow for line breaks, except for LinkedIn.


If there is a compelling soundbite from the article, use it as the text in the social post. It could be educational or inspirational quotes. Anything that that will help it stand out.

7. Visuals

Images are critical. Research consistently shows that more visual social posts get more shares, engagement and clicks than other social media content. Social is a visual.

If your website is properly programmed, the featured image from the article will automatically appear in the social post when shared.

If there is a more compelling image from within the article, such as a diagram, add it manually. Some social networks let you add a tiny gallery of images.

Images with faces are powerful attention grabbers. And when the headline is included within the image itself, it is much more likely to be read. Create new images for social posts that include the author’s picture and a catchy headline. Puppies also work well.

Better yet, go all in and make short social media videos describing the article. This can actually be done in seconds using the native video features of Facebook and LinkedIn.

Don’t just write an article and share it. Share it with a short video of yourself explaining the article. Make a commercial for everything you make.

8. Power trigrams

Steve Rayson’s research on 100 million headlines has decrypted the psychology of social media users. It gives us a powerful cheat sheet for word choices. Steve discovered which trigrams (three-word combinations) appear most often in the most shared posts on social media.

“Will make you” is clearly a powerful phrase in social media. Steve reminds us that it can be used in two different ways. It appears in headlines that trigger curiosity (10 Biochemical Disaster Stories That Will Make You Want to Sterilize Your Entire Lab) and in headlines that indicate a specific benefit (The 3-Point Checklist That Will Make You a Better Lab Technician).

For most marketers, the explanatory trigrams are more useful in marketing than the emotional ones.

Please, no clickbait

“Clickbait” is a headline that attracts a visitor, but an article that doesn’t live up to the promise. They may give you a short-term benefit but they reduce trust over the long run. If your headline says “These 10 stunning photos will make you cry tears of joy!” …I’d better be crying as I read your article.

9. Mentions

Mentioning others in your social media posts is a super powerful social media tip. It’s part networking, part promotion and part gratitude. Mentioning or “tagging” someone is simple and it’s so fundamental to social media, that you’ve likely already done it hundreds of times. But in case you need a refresher…

If they’re active on social media, they’ll see the notification and be glad for the mention. They may even reshare your post with a simple click.

If you mention someone who isn’t active on social media, they probably miss it unless they have email notifications turned on. So it’s ideal to mention people who are active in that network and likely to engage with the content.

Who to mention

Mention contributors or anyone who helped to create the article. It lets them know it’s live, but it’s also a small way to say thank you. The social media mention is an important part collaborative content marketing. It’s also a way to bring the article to the attention to new people who might love it.

Here are the types of people you can mention when sharing on social media:

Anyone quoted or cited in the article

If you quoted someone, a mention is a way to let them know. Share the quote itself on social media, mention them and link to your article. Similarly, use social media to mention anyone whose research you cited in your article.