INFO 8. Writing Instagram Captions that Encourage Engagement and Expedite Growth
Writing Instagram Captions that Encourage Engagement and Expedite Growth
Writing captions on Instagram that encourage engagement is a crucial and often overlooked component of developing an Instagram marketing strategy. Coming up with good Instagram captions can be really, really hard. The fact is if you want to be successful on Instagram, you can’t let your Instagram captions become an afterthought!
While writing quality Instagram captions (arguably) may not be as important as creating quality visual content, writing quality captions is one more thing that gives you an edge over competitors in your niche and gets more potential followers to choose your page over the next one. So, writing good captions is important because it will encourage higher engagement from your followers and expedite your account's growth.
Captions that are well thought out and have a personalized voice each time keep followers coming back to your page for more, as if you are a long-lost friend that they are getting back in touch with each time that they scroll through your feed.
While it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, the visual content you post on your Instagram page, no matter how high quality, is not enough on its own to really build your brand and a loyal Instagram following. In the caption of your high quality visual content is where your brand's voice and personality shine through.
What makes a great Instagram caption?
A great Instagram caption will add context, show off your brand’s personality, entertain the audience, and prompt your followers to take action.
Captions can be up to 2,200 characters in length, include emoji, and up to 30 hashtags. Of course that doesn’t mean your captions should be hashtag-ridden essays with lots of distracting emojis. As with any piece of good web copy, your Instagram caption should be attention-grabbing and easy to read. It should also speak to the content and your audience.
How to Write Great Instagram Captions
Know your audience and establish your brand’s voice
The first step to creating quality captions for your Instagram page is to first recognize who is going to be reading those captions in the first place. Who is your audience on Instagram? To answer this question, refer to this section of the info product.
Once you have determined who it is that is going to be reading your captions, you can custom tailor your captions to satisfy your audience. Determine what is receptive by your audience and establish your brand voice.
Compile a list of your favorite Instagram accounts (and other accounts from your industry or business vertical) and see if any brand voice stands out to you. Once you find a few voices you like, combine them to create your own brand voice that resonates with your audience, and practice consistency! Your Instagram captions should sound and feel like the rest of your marketing channels.
Developing your brand voice in three simple steps:
- Define: First, choose three words that capture the personality of the voice you want for your brand. Then limit those words with three more words. Here are a few example: Bold, but not arrogant. Loud, but not obnoxious.
- Differentiate: Next, review the communications of your competitors in your Instagram niche. What’s the tone? The attitude? Are you going to copycat? Or distinguish yourself?
- Monitor Your Audience Engagement: Each time you reply to a message, post a status update or upload a video, you’re pushing your brand voice. And on social media, users come to you with questions and concerns, which means you have to maintain that brand voice when responding.
Take your time writing Instagram captions- write drafts
Once you have established your brand voice, you can begin to craft great Instagram captions. One of the biggest reasons people have trouble writing Instagram captions is because they are so eager to post their most recent Insta-worthy photo that they make the caption an afterthought and try to write it on the fly, which definitely isn’t ideal. Captions should be consistent to your brand's voice, well thought out, and provide value.
Answer these questions to edit your Instagram captions:
- How are you adding value for your audience?
- How are you adding value to your post?
- How are you adding value for your brand?
Remember that most people scroll through their Instagram feeds at a brisk pace. If there’s any doubt as to how long your caption should be, keep it brief. Give context where you need to, but if the post speaks for itself, let it.
That said, if there’s an interesting story to tell behind the photo, then share it. Some of your captions can take a longer-form when you deem fit, when there is a story to be told behind the image. As impressive as Tesla's visuals are, the accompanying text in this particular post adds value by providing insight into the story behind the post and one of Tesla's values- clean energy.
When writing longer-form Instagram captions, it is important to remember that your caption will get cut off in the feed after around 3-4 lines of copy and users will have to click “see more” to read anything beyond this point. Instagram allows up to 2,200 characters in any one caption (including emojis and up to 30 hashtags – more on both those subject later).
With this in mind, it’s worthwhile front-loading your caption with the most essential details or CTAs, leaving the finer details, @mentions, and hashtags to the end. For example, if you’re a foodie brand, you might choose to share an entire recipe in your caption, but be sure to lead with the key point (such as the name of the dish in the recipe) so it’s super clear what you’re showcasing from the outset. If you try to be too creative or wordy in the first few lines, you run the risk that your audience will miss your point entirely.
That said, longer-form content can still encourage people to sit around a bit longer and interact with your post, particularly if there’s a heartwarming or intriguing story to narrate the image.
Using captions to drive engagement: calls-to-action, geotags, and hashtags
Include a call-to-action in your Instagram captions to drive engagement
Every once in a while, it is good to include a call to action in your captions. Including a call to action in the captions of your Instagram posts will drive increased engagement. It will show your customers that you value their opinions and love to engage in conversations with them online.
There are many different ways to include a call-to-action in your captions that all serve different purposes and have different benefits.
5 popular calls-to-action:
1. Double Tap:
Encourage your followers to give your photo a like! Not only will you see a boost engagement on that particular image, but you’ll also become more likely to show up in other users’ feeds.
2. Leave a comment:
Ask your Instagram followers to leave a comment in the comments section of your post sharing their experience that is relevant to the topic of your post. Multiple people will comment on your post, then people will reply to other peoples' comments - leaving you with a snowball effect of engagement from your followers. Of course, your content has to be engaging enough initially to entice your followers to comment on your post, so make sure you post quality content consistently. To learn how, visit "How to Create Quality Content Consistently."
3. Tag your friends:
Ask your followers to tag another Instagram user in the comments of your post. This will get new eyes on your business and encourage conversation among your audience.
4. Follow link in bio:
Suggest that your followers click the link in your Instagram bio! This could lead them to your business’ website, another social media profile, your blog, or any other location that is meaningful for your business.
5. Follow me:
Encourage people that may come across your posts in the explore page and on hashtags to follow your account.
Using location tags to drive engagement
Another great way to drive more engagement to your Instagram posts is to use location tags. Location tags not only get your posts seen by more people, but they also get your posts seen by people in your area. Whether you’re a local business trying to reach nearby customers, or a global brand that wants to target audiences in specific regions, geotags come in handy. Plus, after the Instagram algorithm shifted the way content is displayed to users, your brand needs to find new and innovative ways to achieve as much reach as possible.
An Instagram geotag is the specific location, down to the latitude and longitude, of where you’ve stored your Instagram content. Geolocations are gathered from the physical location of your mobile device, which allows users to store or tag their content to those coordinates.
To get users engaged with your specific Instagram location, you have to start tagging your own content. Some users might be hesitant to share content to your location–especially if there’s little to no content already there. The best thing to do in this situation is promote your geotag and encourage users to share.
Use hashtags to drive engagement
Last but not least, using hashtags in your Instagram captions is one of the best ways to drive more engagement to your Instagram posts. However, as with all things Instagram marketing related, there is a right way and a wrong way to use Instagram hashtags. If you overuse or abuse hashtags, Instagram's algorithm will limit your account's discoverability and lower your engagement rate. Using Instagram hashtags the right way is a major key to explosive Instagram growth. Here is our step-by-step guide to Instagram hashtags.