We all see ourselves as romantic artists. We have all these ideas, floating in our heads, just itching to materialize themselves as captions on Instagram. However, when the time comes, we end up looking at the caption section – and all we can think of is “Hodor.”
Writing captions is not as easy as it seems. Should it be funny? Should it be inspiring? Should it be serious? Should you make use of hashtags and emojis? What call-to-action texts should you use?
Well, you didn’t think posting on Instagram would be so complicated, did you? Well, don’t worry; with a bit of advice, anyone can become a pro at posting on Instagram. If you know what your viewers are looking for, writing captions should be a breeze.
Why Do Instagram Captions Matter?
Indeed, the most important part of posting on Instagram is the actual post – the picture. This is what captures the attention of your followers and will get you the most likes. However, the captions are just as important – mainly because they will get your posts seen by as many people as possible.
Instagram has a new algorithm that favors posts that receive a fair amount of engagement. Therefore, if a post gets a high number of comments and likes, Instagram will automatically label it as something people might be interested in.
As a result, that particular post will be bumped to the top of the newsfeed – getting you even more engagement in the process. With a bit of luck, you might even make it on the Explore page – which will get you even more visualizations.
Generally speaking, if you add captions that have effective call-to-action, you can inspire your followers to comment on your post. We don’t even have to say again why this will help you – because it will bring even more engagement.
Think about when you are looking for something to buy on the Internet – for example, a makeup set. Yes, you see the picture, and it looks glorious; however, you also look at the description to get more details.
Does it wear off quickly? Does it do a good job? Will I benefit from this? If you see a product without a description – or an unattractive one – the chances are that you will be hitting “next” very soon.
The same thing happens with Instagram captions. If they see just a picture with no interesting caption, there’s a good chance that they will only scroll down – without interacting with your post. At most, you may get a “like” given out of reflex.
The Anatomy of a Good Instagram Caption
If you put your mind to it, coming up with a good Instagram caption is not that difficult. You just have to consider the following mentions for creating a good caption. These tips can either be used alone – or combined to provide a better effect.
When writing an Instagram caption, you have to offer some information about the picture or video that you have posted. You have to make your readers truly understand the reason behind that post. If it has a story, tell it in a few sentences.
Let’s say that your pictures or videos are already amazing enough as they are; you may think that you don’t even need captions to get feedback. However, a good caption will get you even more engagement. This is because you will clarify things that your followers may have missed in the picture.
Hook People In
Instagram captions can be fairly long – but you only get around 20 characters until the “see more” option pops up. This is why you might want to place your “hook” at the beginning of your caption. Make people interested enough to click the “see more” option.
Make People Laugh
We are hardwired to react to humor, which is why you should not fail to add it in your Instagram caption. If the follower sees that part of the caption and slips even a sniffle of laughter, he/she will certainly read the whole thing.
And once they read the whole thing, they are bound to leave a comment – or at least a like. Look at Deathwish Coffee, for example; in a post, they wrote – “If you want to be something scary for Halloween, just dress up as me before I’ve had my coffee.” And after that, they posted a simple, three-word caption: “that’s scary AF.”
Simple, to the point – but humorous enough to get reactions. Since many people will relate to that, they will engage with your content. You don’t need to write something overly fancy to attract the followers; just make them laugh, and the rest will flow from there.
Pick the Right Length
Yes, if you find the right short caption, it will indeed attract the attention of your followers. However, when the time asks for it, you may also want to go for a long caption.
Write a paragraph or two in which you attract your followers into the contents and details of your pictures. Make them feel as if they are sitting down with you, with a cup of coffee in your hand, chatting with them about the topic.
You have a total of 2,200 characters for each topic – so you have plenty of space to say something that will engage your followers.
Go with a story; how your brand came to be, for example. Don’t go stingy on the details, because your followers will be breathing them in.
Reveal yourself, and let your followers see you just as you are. When you want your posts to be popular, withholding information is not a very good strategy. To create a high-quality caption that will keep your followers hooked, you first have to let them in.
Tell your reader something about yourself. A personal experience, your thoughts, something about how you have become the person you are today. Sometimes, what matters the most is not the picture – but the things happening “behind the scenes.” Allowing people to connect with you will make your page even more popular.
You may have noticed a lot of inspirational quotes going around? People like being inspired – being motivated to do better. And if you write an inspiring caption to a just as inspiring picture, then you will attract the followers to interact more with your posts.
Imagine scrolling down continuously on posts that barely hold any value to you. You keep seeing posts that you have already seen before – so there’s nothing there that you can actually use.
You don’t want your readers to get that from your posts. You want them to be able to use that information – and knowing that you are the source. This is why you should add valuable information to any kind of post – and ensure that both you and your viewers are productive by using that information.
Use Good Language
It may be social media – but if you write in a way that makes people go back several times per sentence, then you won’t really be that successful. Social media is supposed to be easy – and you’re not supposed to make your followers wreck their brains in order to understand what it is that you are trying to say.
Also, you should use short sentences – but not kindergarten-short level. Make them short enough to be readable – and try to make the paragraphs short as well. It will make the reading less intimidating for your follower.
Write a Few Drafts First
Ever had a conversation with someone, and a good joke popped up only hours after the conversation? It was a bit late to tell it at that point because it was no longer relevant. Everyone has already gone over it.
The same thing happens with Instagram captions. You think that you have posted a brilliant caption – only to realize a few hours later that you could have added something even more brilliant to it. Too late now, everyone has seen it already – which is why you should write a few drafts before posting it.
Ask a Question
When you ask a question, people feel compelled to answer it. We have been hardwired that way – that is, unless you are a completely unsocial person that refuses to interact with other people.
However, the idea of social media is to interact with other people – so if they see a question there, they will feel the need to answer. Plus, they will also feel included – which is why they will interact even more with your posts.
Ask questions about what they think, what they would do in a particular situation. It is one of the best ways to make them interact with your posts.
As a person that just joined Instagram, you might be wondering what’s with that mountain of hashtags behind every picture. Sometimes, there seem to be even more hashtags than actual texts.
Hashtags will allow people to find you – even if they are not on your followers’ list. Therefore, if you want to increase your list of followers, you should use as many as possible.
However, make sure that they are used by more people. When someone clicks on a hashtag, other similar posts will show up – so, you will appear in a variety of groups this way.
Call-to-actions work just as well as questions: they will make your followers respond to your content. However, make sure that you provide valuable content at first – because they will only start doing as you tell them to after you have gained their trust.
Yes, it might sound very cliché – but if you add a quote that is specific to a post, you may be able to get people to interact more with your content. This can be the case if you are delivering highly motivating quotes that your reader can relate to.
If you are posting something about a famous person, you can also use a quote that they actually said (for example, in an interview). This will make your post even more relevant and will take you even more high-up the newsfeed.
Creating a Brand Voice for Your Captions
If you want to go big on Instagram, it is likely because you want to make your brand voice heard. Sure, you have to be careful about spelling and grammar – but you also have to be very careful about your brand voice.
And once you have settled on that, you must be consistent. If you use your Instagram account to promote a service or a product, you have to ensure that the rest of your posts have something in common. All your captions should feel like the ones you have posted before.
Find out what kind of “voice” will resonate with your audience. Should it be a serious tone, or should it be a funnier one? Think about the product that you are trying to promote; you obviously don’t want to sound like a clown when you are talking about law services. Funny is good – but to some extent.
One good way to create a brand voice is to look at other accounts that you follow and appreciate. Let’s say, for example, that someone in your industry has a brand that you really look up to, then you should use it (or them) as your research start point.
Compile the elements that resonate with the followers and create your own brand voice. Once you have that settled, practice consistency to ensure you gain the trust of your followers.
The Practice of Emojis
You’re on Instagram; you’re bound to come across emojis at some point. Nine out of ten people on Instagram use emojis in their comments – so what makes you think you should be any different? You know the saying: when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
This is why you should not shy away from using emojis. Sometimes, an emoji can communicate a message or a feeling better than words can. Just add one simple emoji that matches a certain occasion, and it will be like your followers are staring right at you when they are reading your captions.
You can also go for a signature emoji – one that you put at the end of every caption. It will further brand your business – and your readers will know that it’s you from the moment they see the caption.
It doesn’t really matter what emoji you use; just make sure that they go with the caption. If you use a random emoji, all it will do is throw off your post’s vibe and send your readers into confusion. It will discourage followers engaging with your content – and that is the last thing that you want.
The Art of Mentions
One thing that you should never neglect on Instagram is adding mentions. If you have influencers, this will help you rise up the market and increase your number of followers.
Adding mentions will show that you are an appreciative person and that you are actually thoughtful when it comes to crediting other people. At the same time, you will make yourself popular – mainly because the ones looking at your influencer will also find your content.
Moreover, don’t think that your influencer won’t notice the promotion that you are doing for them. You’re advertising them, they’ll advertise you; it’s the law of equivalent exchange.
Plus, there is software available which you can use that will add the mentions automatically – which means that you won’t have to type them in yourself every time you make a new post.
If you have sponsored content, it is even more important to disclose your influencers. Not only will it make you Insta-famous, but it might also prevent any issues in the long run. Be nice and fair to the people on Instagram, and they will be nice and fair to you as well.
Using Hashtags to Step Up Your Game
With the changes in Instagram’s algorithm, people are wondering whether they should use hashtags in the comments – or directly in the caption. However, there’s a reason why people keep adding them to their caption: because they seem to gather more likes than if you add them into comments.
Sure, it is not mandatory to use hashtags – but it certainly helps if you choose to add them. Hashtags are not only useful when it comes to gaining followers – but they can also help you connect with your customers and influencers on Instagram.
When it comes to adding hashtags, one tip would be to not limit yourself by adding only at the end of the post. It looks bulky – and let’s be honest, by that point, no one really bothers with reading them.
On the other hand, if you place them strategically throughout the caption, they will be more visible. Plus, considering that they have a different color, they will also add more context to your captions.
The Way Hashtags Work
Each Instagram caption generally looks like this: a usually short message that is followed by (or contains) a few hashtags. These hashtags will allow you to categorize and organize your content – therefore enabling the process of optimization and content discovery.
For example, let’s say that a vlogger that focuses on food posts a beautiful green salad with the hashtags #cleaneating, #superfood, #veganfood. When other people access those hashtags, they will see your post – along with the other posts where people have used the same hashtags. It will offer the followers exactly what they want to see.
Using Strategic Hashtags
Hashtags are a great tool to make your captions more successful – but you have to be strategic about the way you use them. For example, words such as #happy, #love, or #puppy may get you a couple more likes than usual – but when it comes to your overall growth, they won’t do much for you. They are popular, but they are not specific in any way.
Instead of using these “popular hashtags,” you might want to use the hashtags that focus on a specific engaging community. You need to speak to your niche, to the people trying to look for your product. Don’t try to sell birdhouses to people looking for dog shampoo.
So, how are you going to find these cool hashtags that will attract your community in a creative, oriented manner? One good way of doing that would be to analyze your competition; see what hashtags they generally use. If a particular set of hashtags brought them a lot of comments or likes, then you might want to use them as well.
Bear in mind that you don’t have to post an endless chain of hashtags for your post to be noticed. You can just post a few of them – the ones that really matter. You will be surprised to find out the power of just a few niche hashtags. You will get the likes and comments – and they will only be from those people that matter.
You can also use the “Saved Captions” feature. This will create a template with the captions that you use most of the time – and therefore, you will no longer have to add the hashtags yourself each time you make a new post. The algorithm will do it for you.
Instagram may seem like a platform targeted at just wannabe models – but it does actually help you develop your business. A simple caption may make the difference between a product sold right away and one standing on the shelf for weeks – which is why you need to be extra careful about how you write them.
Be funny, be relevant, be direct – and more important, be informative. Furthermore, don’t forget to add mentions and hashtags; these will do wonders to the popularity of your posts. A few writing strategies can make the difference between a successful Instagram post and one that is lost in the background. So, take into consideration the tips above and step up your Instagram game.