Posted 05.26.2020 by Meghan Crawford
We’ve all been there – staring at a blank content calendar or rewriting the same caption over and over but it’s still not working. Creative block happens to all of us. Pushing through it is a lot less painful when you have a swipe file.
A swipe file is a gallery of good ideas: examples of outstanding work to rifle through and copy when you need a little inspiration. It should function as a template library. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time you sit down to write a post. Instead, copy what you already know works.
You can have a swipe file for just about anything: copywriting, ad creative, blog headlines. For the purposes of this post, though, we’re just going to focus on social media swipe files and how to build one for your team.
If you Google “social media swipe file,” (which you probably did if you’re reading this post 👀), you’ll find tons of posts offering a social media swipe file that you can download immediately. So, you might be wondering, why bother building one from scratch?
A swipe file should be relevant to you and your team, full of examples that make sense for your audience. There’s nothing inherently wrong with ready-made swipe files – in fact, they can be a good jumping off point when building your own. But, like most things that claim to be, they’re usually not one-size-fits-all.
Besides, not all swipe files are created equal. Building your own ensures that it’s only full of the examples and best practices that you want your team to reference.
All value, no fluff.
And that value is 3-fold. With a social media swipe file you’ll be able to
That’s what our social media swipe file looks like, btw. ☝
You can grab our template below, but first… how do you build a winning swipe file like that? Glad you asked.
Let’s get into it. 😎
Before you start compiling your gallery of social media inspiration, you need somewhere to put it – and no, just saving the screenshots to your desktop doesn’t count. It should be somewhere centralized and organized, that your whole team can access and add to.
While there are plenty of tools to choose from for building your swipe file and it’s mostly a matter of preference, there are certain elements to look for that will make your life easier.
Here are our three must-haves for building a resource you’ll actually use:
Some tools to explore include:
The tool we use and recommend is Airtable.
Never heard of Airtable? Airtable is what happens when a database and a spreadsheet have a baby. In other words, it’s everything you love about spreadsheets with the extra space and power of a database.
It’s the ultimate tool for customizable, collaborative organization, which is what makes it so great for building a swipe file. The forever-free base package option doesn’t hurt.
You’ve picked the perfect tool; now it’s time to find some good social media posts to put in it.
Which begs the question:
Chances are, you know good social when you see it. But for the purposes of a swipe file, you’re looking for either the best of the best or something totally new and unique.
Some reasons we might add a post to our swipe file include:
You don’t have to start frantically scouring the web for stellar posts, either.
As you come across content that catches your eye in your feed or daily browsing on social media, you’ll be able to begin adding to your swipe file.
Now that you have your tool and your desktop full of example screenshots, it’s time to get organized. Fellow spreadsheet nerds, this next section’s for you.
(It’s also for non-spreadsheet nerds, don’t worry.)
There are two main areas to focus on for organizing your swipe file: individual swipe data fields and overall swipe category.
Let’s start with some basic fields you’ll want to fill out for each swipe:
Next up: swipe category.
You can of course have just one, large social media swipe file if you’d prefer. It’s often more user-friendly to break it down into smaller sub-categories, though. If you’re using a spreadsheet to build your swipe file, these would be your individual sheets (called “tables” in Airtable). Just how you stratify it is up to you.
We break ours up into the following three tables:
You can actually grab our Airtable swipe file template right here. We put a few examples in there to get you started. 😉
Note: This is a view only Airtable base; click the “Copy base” button in the upper right-hand corner to create an editable copy for yourself. Check the field descriptions for a quick tutorial on how to use.
Building a swipe file is a process that takes both time and collaboration.
To create something that is both useful to the whole team and easily maintained, here are a few things to keep in mind:
For more social media inspiration, check out these other resources we’ve published:
Now that you’re all set with the tools and techniques to build a winning swipe file, nothing left to do but build it.
To help get you jump started, you can download our social media swipe file template here. It’s full of some of our favorite examples of awesome social posts, ads, and accounts to follow!
Happy swiping! 👋