Writing to Engage vs Writing to Sell via Social Media

Back in the day, when the world of social media began and professionals soon took the reins to promote and represent brands, we always told our clients, “social media is not for lead generation.” Social media is simply for user-generated content meant to engage users through the sharing of ideas, thoughts and information. Today, most platforms offer multiple ways to reach your target audience and generate leads that eventually sell. Social media has therefore become another form of paid media. It is now advertising.

As a content developer, you now wear two hats: ENGAGE and SELL. You engage with the personality of your brand, and you sell as your brand’s copywriter. One is the target audience’s neighbor, and the other is a slick salesman trying to convince the audience of what they need. As a copywriter, you couldn’t possibly write the same for both and successfully achieve separate objectives.

Let’s take a look at how they differ and then how you can adjust your writing for success.

Writing to Engage

When you’re writing for the sole purpose of engagement, you should take into consideration how you want your audience to engage with a post. Starting with the asset or image helps to decide the tone and angle of the copy and what strategy is best to achieve engagement. A key factor to remember is that you should always speak to your audience in a way that matches both the brand and what your audience is most receptive to in order to encourage a “like,” comment or share.  At the end of the day, with social copywriting, you’re not necessarily “selling a product,” but you’re still trying to “sell a brand experience.” You want to write for people to stop, engage and take notice of the brand and what they have to offer. 

Writing to Generate Leads

This craft of writing is good ‘ol Copywriting to Sell 101. Not much has changed since the dawn of the first, great ad person. The art of convincing the human being hasn’t changed much. The psychology involved, the human nature to impulsively need, want and buy new, shiny things is still just as powerful as ever. Buyers have not evolved. No matter the media: outdoor, broadcast, print OR social media, one message remains true. A promise. The main ad message is what we call a principal claim, and that principal claim must promise the reader exactly what they’re going to get: e.g. durability, happiness, beauty, speed… But why should such a claim be believed? That’s where the support of the claim comes in. We promise you this because (insert support of claim): e.g. lab tested, survey says, 800 hp turbo engine…


  • The fastest car goes from 0-60 because it has an 800 hp turbo engine.
  • These are the perfect jeans for climbers because the knees are reinforced lab-tested material.
  • This is the most durable vacuum on the market because it has been tested by 1,000 users for 1,000 hours of use.

Pair this strategy of copywriting with a visual that not only stops a viewer but further cements your promissory principle claim and you’ve created a winning social media ad.

If you would like help with marketing and advertising in the “traditional” space or on social media, feel free to contact us. We offer a variety of services like digital marketing & analytics, marketing & brand strategy, and more to small and large companies.

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