UPDATED January 2020
Coming up with really good Instagram captions can be hard. Really hard. I can still struggle with writing captions for Instagram and I’m a social media manager. Should your Instagram captions be funny? Serious? Inspirational? Should you use emojis and hashtags? And what about your call to action? Oh, and how long should they be?
We all know that Instagram is a visually-dominant platform, but you can’t let your captions become an afterthought. To help you get started and create captions that are as great as your photos, we’ve put together this guide with all our top tips.
Why is a good Instagram caption important?
While your image is an incredibly important aspect of Instagram, your caption could be the key to your post being seen by more people. The new algorithm tends to favour posts that get a lot of engagement. When a post receives a tonne of likes, comments, and tagging – this signals to Instagram that it’s high quality content that other users might want to see to. That means your posts get pushed up higher in the algorithm!
Not only does it help your post become more visible but it provides an opportunity for you to create an authentic relationship with your audience.
How long should my caption be?
While celebrities like Kylie Jenner can get away with a single emoji as her caption, for brands and businesses, lengthy captions that champion storytelling and authenticity are driving great results. This is also referred to as ‘micro blogging’. Don’t overplay your hand though. Not every caption needs to be a mammoth story, sometimes you only need a few words to create impact. Research from Fhor indicates our captions are getting longer, check out the graph below showing us that the longer our captions, the better the engagement.
How to write a good Instagram caption
So, what does a good Instagram caption look like?
Simply put, it needs to provide context, add personality and inspire your followers to take action. Whatever your goal, you need to be seen as adding value – ask yourself these questions:
How are you adding value to your audience?
How are you adding value to your post?
How are you adding value for your brand?
Making the first part of your Instagram caption super engaging is the best way to boost the amount of time people spend viewing your post. Remember when the punch line was always at the end of a story, for Instagram you want the punchy, attention grabbing element in your first line before the caption is truncated (shortened) – so it’s visible without them having to click “more”.
One of the biggest reasons people have trouble writing captions is because they try to do it on the fly, which definitely isn’t ideal. A much better approach, is to schedule your posts in advance and taking the time to write (and rewrite!) your captions when you’re in a creative mood. You could try using a scheduling tool like Later or Buffer: Social Media Management Platform.
Aside from the obvious tips on using proper grammar and spelling, one of the most important parts of any good caption is your tone of voice. Your Instagram captions should sound and feel like the rest of your marketing channels.
When defining your brand’s voice, think about questions like:
Will your brand use abbreviations like WTF or LOL?
Will you use emojis? 🤔
Is your brand voice funny and playful, or is it more educational and informative?
| There is nothing more off putting than a brand with no personality. #dontbeboring
To emoji or not emoji? 🤷
You can use emojis to add personality to your caption. You can insert them into the beginning of your caption to catch the eyes of your followers with a bit of colour, so they want to click more or you can replace whole words with emojis.
Everyone loves a good emoji 👍 so even adding an emoji to the end of your caption is inviting. 😍
This is a big one guys, tagging the handles of other Instagram users is an easy way to share the Insta love and build on partnerships. If you are using someone else’s image, please make sure you tag them, your followers will potentially follow them as well. Remember, that other brands on Instagram could tag you too!
#How many do you use? #Where do you put them? #How do you come up with them?
| A hashtag is searchable text!
That’s the simplest explanation on why we use hashtags.
Instagram has a rule that a maximum of 30 hashtags can be used on an individual caption, but that doesn’t mean you have to use all 30! Make sure your hashtags are relevant to your brand, your caption and your purpose. You also want to make sure your post doesn’t look to spammy, so either create a few lines between your caption and hashtags by using full stops … on separate lines. Or you can add the hashtags immediately to your first comment. There’s no evidence which concept is better for engagement, so it’s purely opinion based on which one you like best.
The ‘popular’ hashtags like “love”, “happy” etc may get you a few more likes, but it’s not going to do much for your growth in the long run. Instead of using popular hashtags, it’s better to use the top Instagram hashtags that have an engaging community behind them AND are specific to your audience. Never forget to include your branded hashtags either, as it helps inspire user-generated content (UGC). You will always see us use #bantergroup in every social media post.
For some inspiration on hashtags, check out Display Purposes | Photo Hashtags for the Modern Trollop
So you have written a great caption, but what do you want your audience to do with it. Hit the like button and keep scrolling? Nope! You obviously want them to engage with your post – so that means you need a call to action. Whether it’s as obvious as “Sign up to the link in our bio” or “Download our eBook” or as simple as “What do you think?” Or “double tap if you agree“.
A call to action will bring engagement to your post.
As captions get longer though, it’s easier for your call to action (CTA) to get lost amongst all of the caption copy. It is possible now to use a custom font to draw more attention to your CTA. Now there’s no need to go crazy here, but creating a custom font is easy to do. All you have to do is paste your CTA into a custom font tool, such as IGFonts to generate a whole range of fonts you can then simply copy and paste into your caption.
Coming up with good Instagram captions might seem hard, but if you want your Instagram to be successful for you and your brand, it’s important that they aren’t an afterthought.
So what are you waiting for? Start scheduling, writing and rewriting your Instagram captions so your audience can see the value in your commentary and engage with your brand. #nailinstagramcaptions