If you think that jaw-dropping photos are the only thing that helps you get social media engagement - you're wrong. Though often underrated, Instagram captions can be a powerful tool that can make or break your post. Read more for easy-to-follow tips that will help you get Instagram caption ideas in no time.
Why it’s important to write effective Instagram captions
Far too often, some businesses still place more emphasis on Instagram photos, rather than captions. Good Instagram captions have the ability to add even more context to the post – which could make a big difference increasing engagement, bio visits, or click-throughs.
Copywriting is an art, and it plays such a huge role in the social media space. Any good Instagram strategy takes the copy written for Instagram captions seriously – it puts time and effort to cram as much value and persuasiveness in those 2200 characters as it possibly can.
Why creative Instagram captions matter
Some people don’t spend enough time on Instagram captions – after all, videos and images take center stage on social media platforms. However, a great image paired with a powerful Instagram caption can make a post go even further.
Check out Anthropologie — without the caption, you would only see a woman snacking on a bowl of fruit. However, the caption directs our attention to the latest trendy Spring lounge wear.
If you’re not taking the time to add more context with captions, you could be missing out on major opportunities to build a strong community, raise brand awareness, engagement, and reach.
It’s no secret that the Instagram algorithm favors posts that get engagement. If your posts get plenty of interactions, the Instagram algorithm will give your post a higher priority in the feed, assuming that others will also find it either useful or entertaining. As a result, high-quality videos and images will then appear on more feeds – which means more engagement!
If this post gets enough engagement, the algorithm will also place it in the Explore feed. If this happens, you’ve hit the jackpot! But of course, it’s important to note that without engaging Instagram captions – your post won’t stand a chance.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some viral posts may have no caption at all. However, if you’re a business that wants to develop a solid Instagram strategy – you cover all of your bases and create A+ images AND Instagram captions.
Instagram manager at EliteAssignmentHelp, Olya Jensen sums up the importance of learning how to write Instagram captions best. She explains, “With good Instagram captions and call-to-actions, you can inspire your followers to comment on your posts, click on your bio link and so on. This then helps drive even more engagement.”
So, while creating beautiful images for your Instagram profile is really important, more engagement actually means better Instagram captions which can persuade people to do even more than only like your post.
See how Lego combines a compelling image with strong copy to increase engagement?
How to write an Instagram caption
Now that you know why Instagram captions are important, let’s get into the how.
When coming up with Instagram caption ideas you need to first outline what you wish to accomplish with your post. First, draft a copy that adds context to the image. Then, ensure that your writing aligns with your brand. Feel free to take a look at your most engaging Instagram posts to draw some inspiration.
Remember, an Instagram caption can be as long or as short as you need it to be – you have a whopping 2,200 character limit to work with. Your caption can be brief, thought-provoking, humorous, or even can tell a story. The more creative you are – the better your post will perform.
Take your time when creating your Instagram captions. Everything you write needs to provide value to your audience. Always keep this mind, even if it sounds a bit abstract and even at sometimes impossible.
Social media manager, Sarah Stanley at Academized emphasizes, “One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your Instagram captions is writing them on the go. You should think of your caption as equally as important as your image.”
To avoid this mistake, try working on posts that will be scheduled so you can take as much time as you need to create engaging Instagram captions.
11 tips on how to write the perfect Instagram caption
1. Practice, practice, practice
Write at least three drafts of your Instagram caption. This will give you a chance to edit, proofread and compare your drafts side-by-side to see which one has the most impact.
Your first draft will rarely be chosen as the best option, which is exactly why you need to give yourself plenty of time to write several.
Airbnb knows what it takes to create amazing Instagram captions. See how the image isn’t nearly as powerful alone? This is a perfect example of the importance of context.
2. Keep it short
Keep your Instagram caption short and sweet. People only see the first few words of your posts in their feeds, so don’t make them work hard to understand what your post is about.
3. Start with a good hook
Make sure you include the most critical information at the very front of your Instagram caption – this is the part that people will see. That’s why the first few words your audience sees need to be compelling and relevant. If they aren’t hooked in from the start you’ll miss out on engagement.
To peak interest, you can start your Instagram caption off with a question, use emojis, or even spark curiosity with an interesting statement. Think outside of the box, even placing a call-to-action at the very beginning of the text could work.
Intel immediately grabs your attention by asking you “What’s your secret to making any room feel like a classroom?”
4. Use call-to-actions
Call-to-actions… Doesn’t matter where you put them – but they need to be there. There are many different ways to use CTAs – not all of them end in conversions. You can interact with your audience more by asking them to comment, follow you on other social media channels, head over to your bio, and more.
Make sure to use the link space in your bio! UpWork makes it clear that their report can be accessed easily.
5. Use Emojis
Don’t be afraid to use emojis in your Instagram captions. This is a great way to emphasize or illustrate a point without bogging down your Instagram caption with more copy. You can even use arrows or other signals to highlight links, promo codes, and more.
Emojis can help your message stay short yet compelling and interesting.
6. Use hashtags in your Instagram captions
Instagram hashtags are the SEO of Instagram. They help you get in on trending conversations and even increase the chances of your content being found.
Cluse, a jewelry and watches brand, joined the popular conversation by using trending Instagram hashtags, such as #springlook and #womenstyle.
7. Ask questions
Can you resist responding to a question? Most people can’t. So, it’s always a good idea to include some questions in your captions to increase engagement.
Elle Magazine did a great job turning questions into important call-to-actions — “How can you support the Asian American community?”
It’s essential to use Instagram captions to get your audience thinking about your brand or important movements like what Elle Magazine has posted. Keep your audience engaged by asking the right questions.
8. Share your feelings about a trending event
Another way to get the conversation going is by using your Instagram captions to share your feelings about trending events, such as a new movie release, viral post, or music festival.
Giving your opinion is a great conversation starter, and will surely get your audience to respond!
Even if you’re late with a popular trend, you might as well be upfront about it! Add personality to your captions so your audience can relate to you more.
9. Use quotes and mention other pages
Both of these techniques are a powerful tool in writing good Instagram captions. When you post a picture and include a relevant quote from someone, it immediately adds an interesting touch to the events taking place in the image.
Check out GoPro’s Instagram caption. They not only use quotes, but also give credit to the content creators by mentioning their Instagram profile.
10. Focus on storytelling
You can use your Instagram captions to tell your followers something about yourself. Why have you started working in this line of work? What gave you the idea for the product or service you are offering? Has something interesting happened in your company recently?
Don’t hesitate to tell your followers about it!
See how Snuggs gives the full history of how they first started.
You can also ask your audience to share posts featuring stories about how they use your products or services. This is a fun way to improve brand awareness and increase your engagement.
11. Be human
Relatable Instagram hashtags are a sure way to boost your engagement. Why? They help you show the human side of your business and spark a conversation with your followers.
To start a discussion in the comments, share something you and your audience have in common – for example, how you feel about Mondays or how you like to spend your weekends. A flurry of comments is guaranteed!
We all know Marie Kondo’s iconic phrase and what a simple way to connect with their audiences.
How to use hashtags in your Instagram captions
Though Instagram hashtags are not mandatory, they are popular and extremely useful. They can help you get more followers, connect with customers, and build relationships with audiences outside of your own community.
When adding hashtags to your Instagram captions, you don’t have to limit yourself to putting them on the end of the copy. Instead, you can place them within your #Instagram caption to make the text stand out more.
Instagram hashtags also enable audiences to find your posts. For example, a beauty blogger could upload a picture with a new organic shampoo and use hashtags like #healthyhair, #organiccosmetics and so on. So if people are searching that hashtag, there’s a good chance they will come across this post.
To be successful, though, you need to be strategic. That means you should be selective about the hashtags you choose – and avoid generic ones that are overly used such as #friendship #love. To be discovered by your unique audiences you need to familiarize yourself with hashtags they use or search for.
Use top hashtags that have a community behind them to increase your odds of being found. The best way to do that is to see what hashtags your audience is using, as well as your competitors and industry leaders. The more niche your hashtags are – the more you increase your chances of the right audience seeing your content.
Tools to help you write the best Instagram captions
Writing the perfect Instagram caption is easier said than done. Like all copy, Instagram captions are prone to silly mistakes such as grammar errors and typos. To be on the safe side, be sure to ask a team member to proofread. Or use a range of free tools that will have your Instagram caption error-free in no time.
Best Instagram caption examples
Need Instagram caption ideas? Take a look at some of the best examples of great Instagram captions that follow all of the best practices we have outlined.
This post has all of the elements of a good Instagram post. For one, there’s a great hook and a picture that draws attention immediately. Carter Good hits all the pain points that really connect with his followers.
Humans of New York takes an interesting approach to their Instagram captions. They use the space to tell stories about the people featured in the photo. They often include quotes from the people in the post which make the content so much more personal.
National Geographic is another Instagram profile that is rich in inspiration. They consistently curate content from photographers which enables their posts to be vastly different from one another. They write engaging copy in their Instagram captions and provide their audience with valuable information and facts.
Instagram captions take your content to the next level, but you can take it even further by knowing the best times to post on Instagram. Remember not to rush when you are drafting your copy and always measure the effectiveness of your efforts so you can use objective benchmarks to understand what works. When you combine a great image with a great Instagram caption, your content is sure to go far.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.