While it is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, this is far from the truth in terms of social media and creative messaging. While a picture is important, a creative, strong caption is the most useful tool for conveying the message, narrative, personality, voice and overall purpose of your image. This may seem scary at first – who has not dealt with the endless agony and anxiety resulting from the dilemma of captioning posts? Put your fears aside, friends. The perfect caption is within arm’s reach, regardless of what level you are at in terms of your influencer skills, and with this foolproof method for flawless captions, the world will be at your feet.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty details of a caption, first ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your caption. A compelling caption should fall into one of three categories: informative and educational, witty and entertaining, or inciting a call to action.
An informative caption tells your audience about the contents of the post. It can be broad, addressing the general subject-matter or topic of the post, or it can be more specific, including a narrow goal or highlighting a specific mantra or fact.
What to Avoid with Informative Captions: Avoid an informative caption that feels redundant or might appear to readers as common sense knowledge. It is also important to avoid captions that might appear heavy in jargon from a particular field, such as a caption that includes numerous words that might make sense to someone in a particular industry, but would not appeal to the average member of the community.
Witty and Entertaining Captions
A witty and entertaining caption will captivate your audience by making them crack a smile or laugh, in a way that makes them want to read on and engage in your content.
What to Avoid with Witty and Entertaining Captions: The most important thing to remember is that a joke that is hilarious to one audience might not be a laughing matter to another. The world-wide web makes online and social media content available to the entire world – meaning your audience could potentially be any and every one. This is good, because you want your voice and message to reach the widest possible audience. However, it is a double edged sword, and when drafting these types of captions you must be sure to never create a caption that could be potentially offensive, politically incorrect, or isolating to a block of potential readers.
Call to Action
A caption that includes a call to action can be a unifying thing, attracting a wide audience with common goals, interests, and views. These captions should be clear in what type of action they are calling for and should be specific enough to avoid misunderstandings, but general enough to convince an interested audience to read more. These captions should be positive, unifying and encouraging, reflecting well on the content creator and their branding and messaging as a whole.
What to Avoid with Calls to Actions: Negativity does not reflect well on its source. Try to avoid harsh language or any unclear words that individuals might take the wrong way, or that could lead to bad press or harmful reactions.
Once you have decided what category you would like your caption to fall into, you are in the home-stretch. Every content creator, brand, client, and individual is different, and your caption’s wording, style, and flow should reflect the personality, brand, and goal of the platform the post is representing. This is the fun part, so enjoy!
Once you have determined what you want your caption to be, it is important to read it numerous times in order to check for errors. Also take a five minute break and then look at your post as a whole, reading the caption as if you were not the one who created it. Ask yourself what your reaction would be. Would you be intrigued? Would you want to read more? Would you find that the post is relevant to your lifestyle, interests, and needs? If the answer to any of these questions is negative, then it might be time to go back to square one, and begin the cycle anew.
And – if the answer is in the affirmative? Congratulations! You have successfully created the ultimate caption.