Best Practices for the Structure of Social Media Posts

Best Practices for the Structure of Social Media Posts

Place the Five Ws Above the Fold

Where does the social media post get cut off by a “read more” tag? Tweet this post.You want the what, when, where, who, and why to appear above that point — in that order.

This is no place for witty introductory text. Your online audience is skimming these social media feeds at lightning speed. They’re going to skip over your post that reads:

[Company], a leader in burying the lede and being ignorant of the medium, would like its misunderstood audience to know … read more.”

social media icons wearing grad caps


Beyond the Five Ws

Make use of the nuances of the various social media platforms: their tone and features such as events settings, links, and photos. Don’t risk looking like an ill-informed old-schooler trying to hang with the cool kids.

These are some of the sources on good communication practice that stand out in my memory:


Make Tweets Shorter

Leave room for the text that is automatically added to retweets, at least 5 characters plus your handle. For me, that means “RT @scieditor:” otherwise people have to fiddle with your wording to make it fit, and in this twitchy culture, they’re more likely to abandon the effort than to take the time.
Max tweet size = 120 characters to encourage sharing.

Why This Post?

I recently asked to forward my best practices for social media communication. While I haven’t kept a running summary of what I’ve learned from constant practice and study over the last 20 years, I’m pleased when people want to learn about this; it really is an interesting area.

For more on social media, check my series and collection of others’ posts (scroll the window below). I also recommend reading more on this blog, where I post advice and the best resources I find each week, many of them related to communication.

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