Coming up with Instagram captions is a challenge, especially if you are looking to open up a conversation with your followers and increase your engagement in that way. And if you haven’t been successful doing that so far, it means your Instagram captions just aren’t captivating enough.
So, what is the secret to writing the best Instagram captions? Don’t let your caption be an afterthought! It is just as important as the photo it goes with, if not more so.
To help you get the most out of every Instagram post, we are going to share with you everything you need to know to write great Instagram captions. Keep reading to make sure you never write a dull caption again!
Why A Well-Crafted Instagram Caption Is A Must?
Before we jump into how to write the best Instagram captions, you should know why we keep stressing their importance.
In addition to helping you connect with your followers, Instagram captions can help your post to be seen by more people.
As we have covered in our previous post, Instagram’s new algorithm rewards posts that get a lot of engagement. Which means that when a post receives a lot of likes, comments and shares – Instagram’s algorithm bumps the post up in other people’s feeds so they can enjoy it as well. And if it manages to get even more engagement, it might even land on Instagram’s Explore Page – which is basically your golden ticket to growing your account.
Writing great Instagram captions is one of the best ways to encourage people to interact with your posts and in turn increasing your engagement.
Instagram captions are also very crucial in terms of driving your audience to your websites, whose links you can only include in the bio. Since Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links in the captions, your only chance at leading your followers to your website, is through a compelling and effective caption that will attract their attention enough to drive them to your bio for the link.
A compelling Instagram caption is an opportunity to increase engagement on your posts, reach new audiences and drive leads to your website. The fact that it adds a voice to your visual content and a bit of personality to your feed in general, is just another plus point.
Instagram Rules To Keep In Mind
When aiming for an Instagram caption to gain followers, you have to know a few basic rules of Instagram.
For instance, your captions may be short and sweet or long and important – but they cannot be over 2200 characters. Here are some other things to keep in mind:
1. As we mentioned, the limit for Instagram captions is 2200 characters, which is far more than Twitter’s 280; but unlike Twitter, Instagram doesn’t show you how many characters you have typed.
2. You may decide to use all 2200 characters for your captions but keep in mind that Instagram does not show all of it at once on your follower’s feeds. Instead, Instagram truncates (shortens) your caption to display only the first three lines. If you want your entire caption to show, Instagram advises you to keep the length of your Instagram caption under 125 characters.
3. Any links you add in your Instagram caption will not be clickable. While it is good for the user experience, this does make it difficult for you to link your followers to relevant website pages. This leaves you with only one option if you want to generate leads from your Instagram posts – drive your followers to your bio using a clear call to action in your caption, where you can direct them to your webpage.
4. You can add up to 30 hashtags to your captions. Unfortunately, these 30 hashtags are also counted in the length of Instagram captions, which is 2200 characters. If you add more than 30 hashtags, your caption will not be visible on your post at all. You also cannot add more than 30 hashtags in the comments. So make sure you count your hashtags in the length of your Instagram caption before you post them.
How To Write A Great Instagram Caption?
So how do you write a good Instagram caption?
As we have discussed, a good Instagram caption is one that adds value to your photo, encourages people to interact and inspires people to take action.
Let’s break it down and dive into the How.
1. Add Value To Your Visual Content
However you decide to approach your Instagram caption, you need to make sure that it adds value. Are your Instagram captions adding value for your audience? Are they adding value for your brand? For your photo, at the least?
If not, it could be because you are not spending enough time coming up with a good caption.
The best Instagram captions, like any other good written content, cannot be thought of on the fly. Our advice? Take time to think your captions through.
2. Begin with writing drafts and schedule your posts
Don’t rush your caption. Write down your ideas that you feel you can revisit later, create a good strategy, make several drafts before finalising your caption. It is vital to work your Instagram caption in advance and taking time to edit and re-edit it.
To make things easier for you, there are several tools available that you schedule and plan your Instagram posts. And now that Instagram has updated its policy to allow third party tools to schedule and automate posts for Instagram business accounts, you can focus all your energy into writing good Instagram captions instead of worrying about when to post.
3. Use a Consistent Voice
It is difficult for one person from your social media team to handle all your social media content, which is why you need to make sure you have a united strategy for defining your brand voice and build your content around it.
You may have already found a brand voice which is a strong reflection of your brand values and beliefs, all you need to do is make sure you are channelling it right. When it comes to Instagram captions, you cannot overlook your brand voice! Your captions need to sound like your other marketing channels.
Ideally, the brand voice and tone in your Instagram captions should be consistent across all your posts. This will not only humanize your brand so that your audience can connect with it easily, but also help you build a reputation for your brand in the long run.
Here are some tips to help you keep your brand voice remain consistent in your Instagram captions:
1. Designate a team of like-minded people to write the captions.
2. Design a “Voice and Tone” guide for your team members to refer to when writing Instagram captions.
3. Make sure your brand voice resonates with your target audience.
4. Read your caption out loud to make sure it sounds just as good when spoken or let a third person read it aloud for you.
5. Keep your brand voice a bit on the lighthearted side for Instagram, saving heavier content for other social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Even if your brand has a more serious voice, try to find a balance between sincerity and relatability.
4. Use emojis right
Not everyone is a personal fan of emojis, which is just as well because they have the power to make your caption look either incredibly childish, or extremely appealing. There is a fine line between overdoing it and making the emoji compliment your caption, and you need to make sure you fall in the latter category.
While back in 2015 nearly 50% of all captions included emojis, brands – even ones with a “serious voice” still continue to use emojis in their captions. That said, you don’t necessarily have to use emojis in every Instagram caption for your brand as well.
Be smart when it comes to emojis. Does your audience use emojis? If the answer is no, you might want to refrain from using too many in your captions. If your target audience does not care for emojis, they most certainly will find it difficult to relate to your brand.
Are the emojis complimenting what is being said? If your emoji is not helping you communicate your message, then don’t use them.
You don’t want your emojis to be a distraction. Rather, you want to attract people’s attention with them. So use emojis to call attention to important parts of the caption, to convey emotion or to add clarity.
Here are some tips to help you use emojis correctly:
1. Use emojis in the very beginning of the caption. The bright colourful emojis can help catch people’s eye, so that they would want to keep reading the rest of your caption.
2. Use emojis at the very end of the caption. An emoji at the end of your caption makes the caption more inviting and friendly, and it can add a bit of aesthetic to your sentence.
3. Use emojis to replace words. You can even use emojis to replace certain words, but do not overdo it. You can take a look at this directory here if you need help in figuring out which emojis mean what.
4. Use emojis to draw attention to important sentences. If you have a call to action in your caption, highlight it by placing it between a set of emojis.
In other words, using emojis can be helpful when used right, but always remember to stay true to your brand voice.
5. Keep it clean and consistent
This goes without saying, but the best Instagram captions are free from any spelling or grammatical errors for maximum readability. Aside from that, you also want to keep your caption clean by not going overboard with hashtags and emojis.
Being consistent is everything. Decide on the length of your Instagram captions beforehand. Are you someone who wants their posts to be typically long for storytelling? Or are you content with minimalistic captions?
Remember, when writing a long caption when you don’t normally do so, you might want to include a title for it in the very beginning to catch your follower’s attention.
6. Be original and creative
Get creative! Instead of describing and explaining you photo in the caption and being obvious, try to get your photo and caption to work together.
Don’t be formal and boring. Match your tone to resonate with the younger, more tech-savvy users of Instagram. That said, doing your research and getting to know your audience will help you loads in understanding what kind of content will be well received.
If you are running out of ideas, here are a few suggestions that can never go wrong:
1. Use puns and humor.
2. Use time-relevant topics/memes/trends.
3. Use quotes relevant to the context. (Not the cliche quotes, actual quotes from people featured in the post.)
4. Add behind-the-scenes stories.
5. Use inspirational or instructional information.
Experiment with these ideas and figure out how you can use Instagram captions to gain followers.
7. Encourage people to interact by asking questions
A sure fire way to get people to engage in your posts, is to ask a direct question that will prompt an answer. Asking questions show your followers that you care and value their opinion. The question can be anything from a request for an honest feedback to just a simple ‘How was your weekend?’
Make sure you take time to respond to some of the answers as well.
8. Know your audience
Knowing your audience before crafting a caption that is engaging, is a must. Finding key demographics of you audience and your target audience will make it easier for you to frame your captions in a manner that will invite the most engagement.
Find out, not only how old the majority of your audiences are, but also which gender is your brand most popular with, where they live and what sort of income they have. These are key demographics that you need to know in order to know your consumers better.
You can use third-party tools like Unbox Social to track and understand your social media performance and get insights on your where majority of your audience is located, what gender posts and stories.
When you do sit down to craft the caption, ask yourself these questions:
1. Will my audience understand this reference, based on their age & demographics?
2. Does my post need more context and explanation?
3. Will my audience appreciate the use of emojis and internet slang here? (An easy way to gauge this would be to make it relatable to the age of your audience.)
4. Is my audience looking for inspiration or entertainment?
5. Are the hashtags I’m using popular with my target audience?
Crafting your Instagram captions around these questions will help your audience relate more to your captions, resulting in increased likes, comments and shares.
9. Add mentions
Giving credit where credit is due is not only ethical but also a sure fire way of getting yourself noticed. Mentioning handles of Instagram users is a great way to connect with them, get your brand on their radar and build a relationship that can help you promote to one another’s audiences.
If your photo features someone, try mentioning them in the caption instead of just tagging them. This can bring your audience’s attention to their profiles and greatly increases your chances of getting the user to giving you the love back! Not only is the user likely to comment and share the post, but your post will also receive engagement from the user’s audiences. This is especially great if that user is an influencer with a well-established audience.
10. Be strategic with your hashtags
You know by now that using hashtags is a great way to get discovered. But no one likes a post #filled #with #hashtags #like #this. A post with even just a single hashtag gets 12.6% more engagement, so they are not completely unavoidable either. So you need to be strategic about your hashtag usage.
Here are a few simple tips for making the most out of hashtags:
1. Don’t use too many hashtags: Don’t crowd your caption with too many hashtags. While more hashtags mean more engagement, your followers don’t always like to see a post filled with hashtags. It is advisable to use 11 hashtags since it is the optimal number, if you are just starting out.
2. Keep your hashtags fresh to avoid getting shadowbanned: To keep Instagram a safe place for its users, Instagram sometimes bans a hashtag if its algorithm feels it is getting spammy. This is called a shadowban. To avoid having your post blocked, make sure you keep refreshing your hashtags.
3. Use hashtags at the end of your caption: Some people use hashtags at the end of the caption, which is great because like we discussed, Instagram only shows the first three lines of your caption and hides the rest under a ‘See More’ option. You can also use one or two hashtags throughout the post, but not so many that you distract the reader.
4. Hide hashtags in the caption and comments: Some people prefer to hide their hashtags in the caption and in the comments to not appear spammy.
5. Don’t just use the most popular hashtags: While the most popular hashtags are popular for a reason, the narrower the scope of your hashtag, the more niche audiences you will attract. And niche audiences are likely to engage more with your post.
6. Use branded hashtags: Promote your branded hashtags in your captions!
In general, be wise about how you use hashtags to get the most engagement and avoid looking spammy. If you still have questions, here’s an in-depth guide to using hashtags for growing your engagement
11. Add a clear Call to Action in your Instagram caption
Besides encouraging people to engage in your posts, you also want to find a way to sell your products or services without sounding like a salesperson. A simple way to do that, is to add a clear CTA (Call To Action) in your caption.
Not every caption has to include a call to action, but a clear CTA has to be included often if you want to increase your engagement and grow your business.
Since you cannot include hyperlinks in the caption, you would want to drive your audience to the link in your bio. Which is why a compelling CTA is so important.
You can inspire people to take action by asking them to visit your link, buy your product, use your branded hashtag, or even just like the post and share it with a friend. A study shows that a caption with a ‘like’ or ‘comment’ receives more engagement.
Things to keep in mind when adding a CTA:
1. Action words (start, stop, join, learn) are more effective.
2. Always add a CTA in the very beginning, since Instagram truncates a long caption.
In conclusion, approach your Instagram captions like you would any written content for your brand. Do not leave it for the last moment, instead prep your posts beforehand using scheduling tools.
Your Instagram caption needs to add value to your post, for your brand and for your audience also. Do this by using a consistent voice throughout your Instagram feed. Make sure you stay true to your brand voice. You also need to use emojis right, only when necessary and only when they act to attract attention and not distract the reader.
Remember to save the best information for the start, and don’t forget to be creative!
When writing an Instagram caption to gain followers, you want to encourage people to engage. Understand your audience and keep them in mind when creating captions. A good way to increase engagement is also to add mentions in your caption and the all the right hashtags.
Asking questions will also encourage people to engage with your post. And lastly, don’t forget to add a CTA to get people to engage with your brand not only inside Instagram, but also outside of it.
Now get out there and write the best Instagram captions for your photos!