The Definitive Guide To Social Media Swipe Files

January 19, 2023
swipe files

At some point in our lives, we’ve probably gotten stuck in a creative rut. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes, all we really need is a bit of inspiration – enter, Swipe Files. 

You can call swipe files a lot of names. People call them templates, references, and even morgue files. These could be your go-to if you want to streamline your creative process. 

In this article, we’ll focus on how to use swipe files for social media. But before going through examples, we need to learn the basics.

What is a Swipe File?

Swipe files can apply to everything. You can use it for copywriting, poster design, ad campaigns, captions, workflows, email subject lines, and a lot more. 

Traditional copywriters would cut out pieces of marketing, sales letters, and headlines and store them in physical folders. The same applies today in the digital age.

If you find a great poster on social media you want to reference, save it to your swipe file. Saw a post with an amazing caption? Swipe file! Think of it as “curated resources” to draw inspiration.

Marketers that use swipe files as an integral part of their social media strategy are already reaping the benefits. Here’s why your brand should use them too. 

Why should you have a swipe file for social media?

Brainstorming content for your social media channels is hard. There will be times when you’d feel like you’ve exhausted all your ideas. 

When this happens, your swipe files can help you:

Quickly Gain Inspiration When Needed

By collecting a range of examples or reference materials in one place, a swipe file can provide a quick and convenient way to access ideas and inspiration when it’s needed.

For example, your marketing team might have a swipe file of design elements. It can include color palettes, typography, or layout ideas. 

Have Examples to Reference Ready

Have Examples to Reference Ready

Incredible social media content is often an amalgamation of other amazing work. With swipe files, you don’t need to spend a lot of effort finding references for the work you want to do. 

If you already have an idea, having references ready gives you a huge jump start. It can also serve as proof of concept. But most importantly, it’ll help streamline your work.  

Save Time Ideating and Boost Content Performance

When you have a great idea, it’s best to save it before it fades (or scroll past them). Having a series of references helps you and your team optimize your content strategies. 

With references at the ready, your team already has best practices they can look into. If everybody’s on the same page creatively, you can easily improve your content’s performance.

How can you create a swipe file?

We’ve gone through the basics and why you should have swipe files for your social media. Now, it’s time to learn how you can create your own swipe files. 

There are several sites that exist with free downloadable templates for a lot of niches and platforms. These can be excellent starting points for any brand.

But crafting your own ensures that your references are relevant to your brand and your audience. Here’s a quick rundown on how you can make your own swipe file.

Choose the Right Swipe File Tool For You

A swipe file tool will help you compile your references. There are a lot of options out there. The best one will ultimately depend on what features you value most. 

As a rule of thumb, a good swipe file tool should have the following:

  • Tag and Search Features – You need to have categorization if you want to create your own swipe file. Make sure that the tool you use has tagging features to help you identify the type of content you’re working on. It also needs to have a robust search and filter function. This will be essential as you scale up your operation and content volume.
  • Photo and Video Attachments – Your swipe tool needs to have a photo and video attachments so you can easily reference content when you need to. Links can be used as a reference but they can always be taken down or removed. 
  • Sharing and Collaboration – If you want to streamline your creative process, your swipe files need to be shareable across your team. 

Search for Successful Content in Your Niche to Swipe

Seasoned marketers won’t be strangers to quality content. It’s going to be one of those “If you know, you know” moments.

But when it comes to swipe files, you can save the best quality content you can find, or unique approaches to marketing that could surprise your audience. 

For those just starting out, some of the key factors to look for are posts with

  • Excellent copy – Strong copy is more persuasive. It helps keep readers engaged and recall the content’s main themes. And, also encourages your audience to take action.
  • Creativity – Creative material is more likely to engage and reach your target audience. It distinguishes your brand and helps build a strong social media presence. 
  • Unique perspectives – Having unique perspectives increases your content’s shareability while establishing your business as an industry expert and thought leader.

Check Curated Swipe File Resources

Writing on a blank canvas can be daunting. To help you kick things off, you can always refer to curated swipe file resources. There are tons available online.

Some sites offer hundreds of swipes. Users can choose references from different categories, niches, brands, and more. 

A great example is Facebook’s Ad Library. You can filter out the ads and find examples that have proven success and are relevant to your brand.

Other good websites include, SwipedCo, and SwipeWell.

Tap Into Ad Libraries

swipe files

You can use the Facebook Ad Library to view ads from your competition and gain valuable insights. It’s accessible to anyone and allows you to search for keywords, people, or Pages.

You can view ads currently running on a page, even if you don’t fit the demographics for that page. In addition, ads running on both Instagram Stories and Facebook can also be viewed.

Turn Off Your Ad Blocker

Ads can be annoying. But, they can be a great source of inspiration for marketers. Most of the ads that you see are targeted.

It might’ve been something you searched, clicked on, or even the videos you watched. Consider why you’re getting an ad and what makes you part of the target demographic.

Keep Your Swipe File Organized

Organizing your swipe file helps you streamline your creative process. You want to do this for two key areas: Individual Swipe Data and Swipe Category. 

Individual Swipe Data fields can include the following:

  • Summary – This describes at a glance what the sample is and why it’s your swipe file
  • Company/Brand – Where did you get this reference from? List the brands. 
  • Type of Content – What type of content is a particular piece?
  • Platform – Where did you find this piece of content?
  • Format – Is the content a photo, video, text, graphic, or something else?
  • Screenshot – Add all the screenshots but be sure to label or tag them correctly.
  • Links – Add what type of content is in the link and where it leads to.
  • Notes/Comments – Why did you add this specific content to your swipe file? Add notes for yourself, things you can optimize, or ideas you want to add on.

Next up we have the Swipe Category. This is more user-friendly, organized, and breaks down files into sub-categories. You can use tools like Google sheets for this.

Each sheet would be a new swipe file with the following tables:

  • Organic Social – Content that you found that has no boosts. These are pieces of content you found organically while scrolling through social media. 
  • Paid Social – These are content from brands that had you as part of their target demographic. Content like this is more aggressive. 
  • Accounts to Follow – These are curated lists of content from other brands you want to reference. It could also be seen as a form of competitor research. 

Key Takeaways

Swipe Files are excellent tools to help your brand streamline content creation. It’s a source of curated references, inspirations, and best practices. 

But before investing time and effort into crafting your own swipe files, consider the following:

  • Keep it organized – Swipe files can quickly become cluttered and difficult to use if they’re not organized properly. 
  • Save a variety of materials – A diverse range of materials can provide more inspiration and ideas. Consider saving examples of headlines, body copy, or design elements.
  • Keep it current – Make sure to regularly update your swipe file with new examples and materials. This ensures that you have a fresh set of ideas and inspiration to draw from.
  • Be selective – Don’t save everything you come across. Be selective about what you add to your swipe file, and only save the best examples and materials.
  • Use it regularly – A swipe file is only as useful as you make it. Make a habit of regularly referencing your swipe file when working on new projects to get the most value from it.

How do are you keeping swipe files organized? Let us know in the comments below!

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