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Before you sit down to create online content, you should have a strategy in place, both for this post and for your approach to social media in general. — Getty Images/Chinnapong

Great social media content requires more than just an appealing graphic or quotable text. Getting your message across to your audience requires careful planning and strategizing.

If you’re using social media to grow your brand, include these elements of a great social media post.

Have a clear objective

Understanding your end goal is necessary to see a return on investment from social media. By having a clear objective, it’s easier to develop a strategy that will be tailored to your target audience. Consider who you’re trying to reach — are you looking to find new customers, or do you want to strengthen your relationship with existing ones?

Creating a strategy beforehand allows you to determine what you want to accomplish using social media. Your strategy should outline your audience demographics, the social channels you’ll use, target content formats, a calendar and results analysis.

[Read more: CO— Roadmap for Rebuilding: Perfecting Your Social Media Strategy]

Use powerful images

While a powerful image isn’t everything, it’s usually the first step to draw in customers and establish your brand voice, getting more shares, engagement and clicks than other types of posts.

Images are used to tell a story, create an emotional impact and enhance your message by informing and educating. They should be clear, easy to understand and aligned with your brand. Based on your target audience, you might consider creating different types of images like infographics, art, gifs, videos and illustrations.

Write compelling copy

Compelling copy will look different depending on the social media platform you are writing for. Each platform has various differences that need to be considered when writing copy, such as general user base and varying demographics, word limits and peak hours.

Regardless of the channel you’re writing for, compelling copy requires concise and accurate information that properly addresses your audience in a friendly and personable tone. Copy should include relevant hashtags and geotags to get it in front of the right audience organically. Avoid using jargon and vague language your audience may not understand, and steer clear of sensationalist phrases, as platforms penalize for this.

[Read more: Choosing the Social Channels That Are Right for Your Business]

While your account’s follower count is important, it’s far more important for those followers to be engaged.

Stay true to your brand

When drafting content for social media, sticking to your brand and remaining consistent is key. As you develop your brand, your audience comes to expect certain things from you. They become familiar with elements of your brand identity, such as your colors, logo and tone, and ultimately can begin to recognize your brand among the competition.

Audiences look to brands for relevant and useful content they can benefit from in some way. By establishing your brand as a knowledgeable resource, customers will look to your business for inspiration and answers.

Create content that stays true to your brand, but ensure that it’s relatable and easy to digest for your audience.

Engage with your audience

Making a meaningful connection with your audience is one of the most impactful things you can do for your business online. While each business’s goals will be different, encourage your audience to share and connect with your brand by creating content that suits them.

Audience engagement is measured through comments, likes, followers, shares, retweets, mentions, hashtags and more. While your account’s follower count is important, it’s far more important for those followers to be engaged. For instance, 10,000 inactive followers aren’t going to lead to sales; however, 1,000 active and engaged followers might.

Provide a CTA

A call to action (CTA) is like a closer – you’ve drawn your audience in, now hammer home your message and let them know what their next move should be. By providing a CTA, you’re telling your audience what you’d like them to do, now that you’ve provided them with valuable content.

By providing a CTA, you’re nurturing leads through your marketing funnel and potentially converting them into customers. CTAs use instructive verbs or command words to lead your audience to the next step — for instance, to sign up for a free trial, join a newsletter or get a quote.

Learn more about planning your social media strategy in our guide.

[Read more: 4 Smart Ways to Boost Engagement With Social Media Followers]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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