Instagram captions are one of the few places you can send a direct message to your followers. But creating a good caption takes a little more work than you might think. It’s not rocket science, but there are some tricks to writing a good caption that increases your engagement. Here are just a few of them.
What Makes a Caption Good
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a good place to start. Let’s take a look at the ingredients of a good caption.
- Appropriate hashtags. Do you know the rules of using hashtags? Ideally, you shouldn’t use more than fifteen, and they should be directly related to your product, service, or post. You wouldn’t add “#NewYork” to a post promoting a coffee shop in Seattle. That seems like common sense, but irrelevant hashtags are more common than you might think.
- Call to action. You want your caption to inspire your followers to do something, whether it’s to like your post or buy your product. Find out more about creating a solid call to action here.
- Emojis. For some reason, many people think emojis are destroying language, and that using them makes people look lazy. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Emojis are just another way to use language. Plus, they add a little more color to your caption. Just don’t go overboard – more than five emojis in a caption can be a little disorienting.
- Humanity. Captions that read as though they were written by robots will significantly decrease your engagement. Make sure your captions sound like a real human wrote them. In the age of automation, you’d be surprised at the effect a little humanity will have on your audience.
Tips for Creating Stellar Instagram Captions
- Never leave a caption blank. This is the ultimate caption sin! Posting a photo or video without adding a caption doesn’t give your followers any context. Posts that don’t have captions won’t attract the engagement you want. Always add captions to your posts.
- Always check your spelling and grammar. Sometimes, being grammatically correct is a pain in the neck, but it’s vital for businesses. Incorrect spelling and grammar make you look uneducated, and you don’t want your followers to correct you in the comments. If you’re not exactly a grammarian, type your caption into a word document, or use a grammar checker like Grammarly before you upload.
- Place the most important stuff in the first line. If your caption is particularly long, only part of it will show up. The rest of it will get shoved into a pesky “more” link. Don’t trust your followers to click that link on their own. You should give them a reason to read on. Make sure your most important points are in the first line of your longer captions.
- Point users to the link in your bio. Want your followers to buy your product? You won’t be able to include a clickable link directly in the caption, so you’ll have to direct your followers to the one in your bio. Just add a simple line like “link in bio” at the end of your caption.
- Interact with your followers. Ask them questions, invite them to tag friends, or give them an incentive to like or comment on your post. They’ll feel more inclined to engage with your post if they feel like their input is valued.
- Know the expectations of your audience. If your brand is an urban clothing brand, posting captions featuring stuffy, academic language will confuse your followers. Figuring out what your audience expects from you and what you want your captions to say to your audience will help you write a good Instagram caption.
- Tailor your tone to your brand. This is related to the previous tip. Make sure your writing style reflects your brand. Using natural language isn’t just okay – it’s encouraged. Your Instagram followers want to feel as though you’re talking to them, not at them.
- Read it out loud. This is a trick that writers use to make sure the dialogue in their novels sounds believable, though it works for most forms of written content. It’ll help you catch things that sound odd. When you read, keep these two questions in mind. Does it sound natural? And, more importantly, does it sound like something you would say?
- Avoid cliché captions. Do you roll your eyes when you see song lyrics as a person’s caption? Us too. Make sure you avoid cliché captions like the plague. You’ll save your followers some eye rolls.
- Use custom hashtags. We’ve touched on this briefly in another post, but we’ll say it again here: custom hashtags work wonders for your engagement. Try to think of a custom hashtag that’s witty and encapsulates your brand.
Examples of Good Instagram Captions
Let’s take a look at how some of the biggest names on Instagram use these tips to create stunning captions.
This is one of the latest posts on HP’s Instagram. Notice how the hashtag they use is directly related to the product. They also use emojis which are relevant to the holiday, adding a little more color to the caption. They’ve also avoided hardselling. Instead of aggressively telling their followers to buy it, they’ve showcased the product in a beautiful and unique way, letting it speak for itself.
This photo is taken from @expertvagabond, one of the biggest travel accounts on Instagram. Notice how his caption sounds human and natural. He also asks his followers a question at the end, prompting his followers to respond. His hashtag and emojis are also relevant to his post.
@wework wants to beautify the drab office space so you look forward to going to work. Their caption in this post doesn’t include any emojis, but it does have a succinct call to action. It points followers to the link in the account’s bio, not to sell a product, but to prompt followers to nominate someone for their award. The one drawback of this post is that it’s missing a few commas. Should’ve used Grammarly!
Hopefully now you can see that there’s a little more to writing a good Instagram caption than just slapping on some cliché song lyrics. Keep these tips in mind when writing your captions to increase your engagement and perhaps gain some more Instagram followers in the process.