Let’s face it, not everyone is lucky enough to be a great photographer AND a great copy writer. Even if you have the perfect, attention-grabbing Instagram photo it can fall flat if you don’t have a killer caption to go along with it. Utilizing the 2,200 characters that Instagram gives you can go a long way to help build a loyal audience, increase engagement in your feed, and gain traction for your brand in general. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track when It comes to captioning.
Know Your Audience:
Ever wonder who’s actually seeing all of this great content you’re putting out there? Instagram can help you figure that out so you can speak to them in your captions with more intention. Clicking on the little bar graph in the top right corner of your account will unlock the mystery of who is following you, how old they are, their gender, location, and what days and times they are looking at Instagram. This information is invaluable when creating your social media plan and knowing when your posts will gain the most traction.
Have A Voice:
Like it or not, even if your Instagram isn’t representing a company, your social media is your personal brand. People respond to consistency and they want to feel like they know what they’re getting when they follow you. Having a particular voice for your account is important. Will you be serious, informative, silly, personal…? Whatever you decide your voice is, make sure you stick to it.
State The Important Stuff First:
Only a few lines of text actually show up in the preview of a caption before Instagram cuts you off with “…more”. Ideally people will then click “…more” and read the eloquent and hilarious caption you’ve painstakingly created, but chances are they won’t. Make sure to put the most important part of your caption in the first few lines to be sure your audience is getting the gist of your message.
Let’s Talk About You:
Telling a backstory is your chance to go a little deeper and let the audience get to know a bit about you as a person or a company. Create a connection with your audience by telling them a story about the photo, how you built your company, or what you were thinking when you created that post. It shows them that there’s a real person behind your account and that will help them relate to you, your company, or your brand on a more personal level.
Pose A Question:
Asking a question gives your audience a reason to engage with you in the comments. Just be sure to respond and engage with their comments in return. This will help to build a relationship with your audience and adds authenticity to your feed.
Use A Quote:
When you can’t think of the perfect thing to say, chances are someone else has already said it better. There is a reason popular quotes have become popular – they’re relatable and/or inspiring. When in doubt, choose a great quote that captures what you’re trying to say and leave it at that. Just remember to give credit where credit is due.
Call To Action:
Don’t just talk at your audience, give them a way to engage with you. Instagram doesn’t allow links to be added to captions so including a link in your bio and referencing this in your captions can send your audience to your website, an interesting article, or a specific product. If your followers love your feed, of course they’ll want to share it with their friends! Ask them to tag someone who would love your feed in the comments. Contests are also a great way to get people engaged! This is the perfect opportunity to ask them to tag a friend, use a specific hashtag, or share your post in their own feed to help spread the word.
Lighthearted While Staying On Brand:
The overall tone of Instagram is pretty laid back in general so being a stick in the mud doesn’t really fit the vibe of the platform. Unless your Insta feed represents a serious cause or subject matter where a lighter tone wouldn’t be appropriate, then remember to keep your copy lighthearted while still staying on brand.
When you’re at a loss for what to say and you just can’t resist throwing in a pun that’s too good to pass up, then go for it. Everyone loves a well-placed pun, but being punny doesn’t always have to mean being cheesy. The @guaclock account has some pretty great guacamole puns and they just keep them coming. It’s the tone and voice of their brand and it works. Just remember not to overdo it.
Emojis are cute, colorful, eye catching, and can tell a story all on their own. One emoji can also represent an entire word or mood so they can help to keep your copy brief while adding something fun to the text.
Write A Few Drafts:
In this instantaneous social media driven world we’re living in it might feel like that post needs to happen right this second; but what’s the rush? There’s nothing worse than publishing a post with a mediocre caption and then thinking of the perfect zinger 5 minutes later. Take your time. Think. Get feedback from a friend or coworker. Edit. Then post. The world can wait a few minutes.
Don’t Go Hashtag Crazy:
Filling your caption with hashtags can be an eyesore for your audience. Choose your hashtags wisely. Using the “popular” list of hashtags that pops up when you’re typing your caption is helpful when deciding which hashtags are going to be most useful for you. You can also use three vertical dots to separate your caption from the hashtags or add your hashtags to the first comment on your photo to keep your caption looking clean.