Creating and sharing world-class visuals is central to your Instagram marketing success. The quality of your photos will help you gain followers, keep them engaged, and get them to explore your brand.
On Instagram, an image is worth a thousand words or more. Still, you can’t forget about the words in your captions. It’s where you can give voice to your images.
An effective Instagram caption explains what your photo is about, recommends that viewers take action, and ideally brings an added level of delight to your post.
Here are some tips to help you write Instagram captions that are as awesome as your images.
Write Several Caption Drafts Over Several Days
How often have you come up with the perfect phrasing for a social post a couple of days after you published it?
What can you learn from this? Don’t rush the caption writing process. Come up with a few ideas. Test them with other people. Revisit them after a few days.
Of course, there are times when timeliness in Instagram will drive engagement. However, in most cases, high-quality, well-thought-out content will win. That's why it's essential to take your time constructing great Instagram captions that'll delight your followers, get them to share your posts with their friends, and encourage them to check out more of your content.
Put the Important Stuff Up Front
Most users are aware Instagram has a 2,200 maximum character count for captions. What’s more important to remember is that captions are typically cut off after three to four lines of text.
That doesn't mean you must keep your captions short so users can see the whole thing without needing to click "more." Instead, put the most essential messaging or calls-to-action near the beginning of the post and leave any additional information — hashtags, @mentions, and other things — at the end. If your posts run long, find ways to intrigue Instagram users in the first few words, so they want to read more. Asking a question at the beginning of a post can be an excellent way to do this.
Always Include a Call to Action
Your Instagram feed must generate business results. In most cases, it’s to get your followers to share your posts with the people in their networks to increase your brand awareness. In the mellow scroll, scroll, scroll Instagram experience, it’s a good idea to use your captions to remind people to share your content. Or, if you prefer, to copy a link and visit a web page, get people to comment, enter a contest, or check out your Instagram bio, where you can include a clickable link to your company website or blog. The best way to get people to act is to order (politely!) them to do so in your captions. What you ask them to do is limited to your marketing prowess and imagination.
Limit Hashtag Use
The hashtags on Instagram serve the same purpose as on Twitter and Facebook. They link together the conversations of different users into a single stream. Anyone who searches for that hashtag may find your Instagram post, especially if it has a relatively high level of engagement.
Despite the power hashtags can have in boosting exposure to your posts, use them sparingly. Hashtag packing seems spammy and could harm the credibility of your Instagram feed. It may also water down the effectiveness of your hashtags. It is a good idea to limit your hashtags to three or four.
Remember, unless the hashtagged word or phrase fits naturally into your caption, don't list your hashtags until the very end of it. That way, the part of your caption that's more informative and appealing to your followers will come first, making it more likely to be seen.
Meld Your Brand Voice into Instagram's Informal Tone
Every social network has its own tone and messaging style. Linkedin’s is formal and professional. Facebook’s is friendly and folksy. Instagram is known for being fun, lighthearted, and very human.
It’s essential to adapt your brand tone and voice to be appropriate for Instagram. Instagram users won’t adapt to how your brand messages. If your brand is typically serious, move it into the sincerity and relatability realm for Instagram. You don’t have to go all the way to jokey or silly to be appropriate for the platform. Just find a way to message your brand so its tone blends with the other voices on Instagram.
Once you find your Instagram tone and voice, use it consistently, so followers recognize it.
Take Advantage of Emojis
Emojis aren’t dead, even though many text messengers and social media users simply want them to go away. Emojis can express a lot in a single character. Even the most serious brands use emojis for this reason. Leverage them at the beginning of your posts to get attention. Or place them within sentences to replace words or strings of them. When they appear near the end of a caption, they can signal the emotion the viewer should feel.
Promote Your Other Social Channels
Instagram can’t do everything.
That’s why it’s a good idea to use some of your captions to cross-promote your other social media accounts. This is a great way to let your followers know where else they can find your content. That way, your Instagram followers could find your thought leadership content on Linkedin or company news on Twitter. Just because someone finds your business through a visual post on Instagram doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in other media types on different social platforms.
Keep It Short
Whenever possible, keep your captions brief. Instagram isn’t a word-centric medium, and followers will typically avoid reading large copy blocks. They’re likely, at best, to engage with a few words that grab their attention, especially if they enhance an image's meaning.
Learn from the Best
If you’re unsure how to write a good Instagram caption, check out what others do that gets your attention, encourages you to take action, and maybe even delights you. Like most things in life, the surest way to learn how to write stellar Instagram captions is to study the best.