Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms out there. With more than one billion unique users visiting the platform every month, and 63 percent of those users visiting the platform every single day, there’s a lot of opportunity for connecting with both new and potential customers — and a lot of incentive for acing your Instagram game.
Social media can impact your entire company. But, about 75 percent of brands use Instagram specifically for marketing, which means that there are many accounts, profiles, and stories to compete with for engagement and likes. And while Instagram is overwhelmingly about the visuals, if you really want your content to stand out, then you’re going to have to put equal amounts of effort into your captions.
Yes, that’s right. You can’t just post a picture and keep your captions simple and call it a day. The more thought you put into your Instagram captions, the more likely you will hit that engagement soft spot with your audience. But just because you’re a marketer doesn’t mean you’re the cleverest when it comes to crafting captions (and that’s okay!). That’s why we’ve provided eight smart and simple tips that can help you make your Instagram captions shine.
1. Know Your Core Components
Good Instagram captions do more than just explain what’s going on in your photo. So although a celebrity with millions of followers might be able to get away with just including an inspirational quote or a couple of emojis in their caption, you need to get more utility out of what you write. To make the most significant impact possible, your captions should hit on a few essential features, including showing off your brand’s personality, having a clear and obvious call to action, and including the appropriate hashtags and tags. More on all of these later.
Identifying these core components is step number one in putting together clever captions. Make sure every post has a purpose, which will make actually putting together the components a sinch.
2. Be Personable
Use the laid-back tone of Instagram to your advantage. Your captions are a great place to showcase your brand’s human side and don’t have to be all business all the time. Tell jokes, get silly, and highlight your personality as a way of forging stronger connections with your followers. Pull on popular phrases to show your audience that your company isn’t stuffy or unapproachable. The key to being personable in your captions is understanding that the platform is meant to help you pull people in. Being buttoned up and corporate won’t encourage your audience to like your photos, let alone follow your account. If you want to grow your social following organically, letting that personality peak through is a must.
3. Master the Call-to-Action
To maximize the potential of your Instagram captions, you should always be including a call to action. Be super clear in what you want your followers to do, like, “Tag a friend who needs to see this” or “Leave a comment letting us know [XYZ].” The types of conversions that you’re aiming for might not be those that directly lead to a sale — especially since you can’t include links in your captions — but they’re incredibly useful for organic follower growth and increasing engagement.
There are tons of CTA tips out there. But, these kinds of CTAs are what inspire a back and forth among your brand and your followers. They can even inspire your followers to engage with one another, which will help you use your Instagram to build a community. It’s important to be consistent with this method, however. The more frequently you encourage interaction, the more likely it will be that people will actually interact.
4. Make It a Micro-Blog
The word “caption” might make you think that you have to be as short and concise as you can, but users on the platform respond quite well to longer descriptions. Turn your caption into a micro-blog, covering a topic related to your photo and useful for your marketing strategy. You’ve got 2,200 characters to work with, which is more than enough to say something truly meaningful.
I recommend that you space out your points when going this route so that the lengthier caption is more readable. It’s also a good idea to use emojis to accompany each point, which is an added visual effect. Think about what you would want to see when reading a longer caption and use it to guide you.
5. Proofread — Then Proofread Again
Just because they’re less formal than other types of marketing copy doesn’t mean that your Instagram captions don’t have to be grammatically on point. Not proofreading is a common blogging mistake marketers make, but it’s also a social media mistake, too. Proofreading is crucial since even a small typo can take away from the integrity of your brand. Read your captions out loud before posting to check for a balanced word flow, and if you can, get a second set of eyes on your caption to check for mistakes that you might have missed.
A good rule of thumb is to type out your captions first, then use grammar tools (we like Grammarly) to check for any mistakes. Once you’ve made your corrections, email yourself the caption so you can easily copy and paste from your mobile email to your Instagram post.
6. Team Up With Influencers or Other Brands
Tagging others in your captions (and having them tag you back) is an excellent way to broaden the scope of your reach. Team up with influencers or even other brands on promotional posts and then use the caption to strengthen the connection and bring more activity to your page.
When your social media strategy includes influencer marketing, you’re able to get buy-in from a trusted third party, which strengthens your brand imprint and trust among your audience. Many people trust influencers because they know that most of them wouldn’t recommend a product unless they believed in it. Use influencers to not only get eyes on your posts but to create a tag in your captions that will be mutually beneficial.
7. Make Your Hashtags Count
Hashtags are incredibly effective at getting your content seen by people who aren’t following your account but may be interested in your content. You can include up to 30 hashtags in your caption, and each one is a chance to attract and engage with those who might not yet be following you. Be strategic with your hashtags, putting in the research to figure out what tags will open up the door to an audience you’re not already connected with. And while general hashtags like #yum and #love offer potential too, it’s the niche tags that are most likely to get your posts in front of the right people and help you interact with other communities.
I recommend searching through hashtags to see what kinds of content pops up. Also, see what hashtags other, more prominent brands in your industry are using. You’ll want a healthy mix of hashtags that have a lot of posts tied to them, as well as ones that have not so many. The latter will help your post stand out more when that particular hashtag is searched.
8. Establish a Look and Feel
Many brands pay a lot of attention to ensuring that there’s some cohesion with their Instagram images, such as using the same filter or same point of view across the board. Equally important, though, is remaining consistent in your voice. Allow your brand voice to come through in your captions, and keep a similar tone and purpose post to post.
I recommend downloading a photo editing and filter app, like VSCO, which will help you keep your images looking consistent.
Writing good Instagram captions gets easier over time, and it can be pretty fun, too. The more you do it, the more you’ll hit your stride and figure out what inspires the platform’s most engagement. Look for what works best with your particular audience, and always be on the lookout for ways to use your captions to reach an even broader pool of users.
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