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What Makes a Good Instagram Caption?

Here's the key to getting higher engagement.
What Makes a Good Instagram Caption?
IMAGE iStock
Here's the key to getting higher engagement.

As a social media platform, Instagram is incredibly visual so it is quite normal for Instagrammers to give serious attention to the process of creating stellar photos and videos, editing them to perfection to boost the number of follows and likes. This way, the audience not only gets to know what the brand is about but also shows the more personal side of any business or entity. But, if you think Instagram is all about pictures, think again. Having beautiful photos and videos is only the beginning. To get more engagement, you need good Instagram captions.

Lindsay Kolowich of Hubspot mentions that good Instagram captions explain what the photo is about and can also tell your followers to take action. Sometimes, captions can even crack jokes so the content becomes more shareable. In other words, captions take any visual message steps further and invite your audience into an ongoing conversation, both to get them interested and, more importantly, keep them interested. Instagram posts ought to be engaging a community that promotes your brand and reaches new audiences. So, as Brand24 says, your IG followers should be active on your profile. It is not enough to get likes on your posts; your followers should also be commenting on them and including themselves in the discussion.  

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PHOTO BY iStock

A great Instagram caption provides context, shows off the personality, entertains the audience, and inspires your followers to take action. Remember, though, that one or more of these intended results should be established within 2,200 characters, including emoji. So, being precise and intentional with the words and the message should be the guiding principles when writing captions. Here are some helpful tips from Hubspot and Hootsuite in creating attention-grabbing and appealing Instagram captions that improve engagement.

Here, five important things to remember:

1. Know Who You Are Speaking to

It is easy to tailor your content marketing strategy if you know your audience. This is why building audience personas is recommended. Creating audience personas involves asking important questions to find out who your target customers are, including their goals. You start with finding out your audience’s demographics and then probe more as to the jobs they have, what they do outside work, what their preferences are. Once you have narrowed down that persona, you can now answer that specific audience’s needs with the information in your captions. This makes your brand relevant to that specific audience’s needs and wants.

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2. Use the Right Voice

Identify your brand’s voice by asking what values and qualities do you want your brand to embody. Find the right tone of your message and be consistent with using it. Of course, you don’t want to be too formal or serious. Generally, Instagram users are drawn to feel-good sentiments. They like to keep things light, so to speak, and humor, when used appropriately, almost always brings positive results. It is important that your brand voice should be as appealing as Instagram’s lighthearted tone and personality.

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3. Length Is Crucial

People scroll through their feeds quickly, so be sure to front-load all the important stuff in the first three lines. Be certain that you are able to convey your call to action or key point at once. Keeping your caption within 125 characters or less will guarantee that the whole caption will be displayed. If, for example, your caption is more than three lines, you have to hook your readers and give them a good reason to tap “More.” This takes writing to a whole new level, you need to be creative. If you have much to say in your caption, you don’t want one long paragraph. Instead, divide your thoughts into easy-to-read chunks. Use short paragraphs to give readers some breathing space. Also, always be guided that the keys to creating an awesome caption are context and value. Base the length of your message on those two things. 

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PHOTO BY iStock

4. Include a CTA (Call-to-Action)

If you want to increase the share potential of your Instagram post, include a CTA in your photo or video captions. You have to use a lot more action verbs because you are prompting people to actually do something in response to your message. Phrases like, “double-tap if you think this is funny,” or “share your thoughts in the comments,” are good to include. You can also invite people to tag their friends. Other things you can do is to ask people a question and let them share their experiences. Asking questions automatically turns your post into a conversation inviting reader response. In addition, you can also ask people to click the link in your bio or invite them to enter a contest, which is great in exposing your brand and increasing engagement. Encouraging users to share your content on their Instagram stories also improves engagement.

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5. Go Easy with the #Hashtags

Hubspot explains that hashtags connect users by tying up the conversations of different users into one stream. It brings people with the same interests in topics, brands, events, and others into one place. But then, cluttering your captions with too many hashtags make your post spammy. People may think it’s lame even if they will notice the post. In all honesty, you don’t need so many hashtags to have a great caption. Use hashtags that are relevant to your post and your target audience. Limit the number of hashtags to three or, the most, four. However, if you really feel you need all those hashtags, you can “hide” them by writing them in the comment section after you publish your post. You can also separate your hashtags from the rest of your caption by placing them beneath line breaks or periods.

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PHOTO BY iStock

In addition to these five, you can include other Instagrammers in your post and give them a shoutout with a @mention. Doing this compels that specific user and their followers to like and comment on your post and will significantly make your brand more engaging. For added personality, don’t hesitate to use emojis, too. Emojis stand in for words and phrases and draw the reader’s eye in while keeping your caption short and fun. Finally, try using non-cliche inspirational quotes. Readers always love sentiment and motivation.

When writing captions, be sure that before you hit “post,” you have written several drafts on it first, and kept on editing until you got your caption perfectly right. Since writing is an art, the process should never be rushed. So, you know, take your sweet time in making magic. And if, after posting, your zingy caption gets likes and comments from people in that “conversation” you started, you know for sure that you are doing an awesome job! At the end of the day, what makes good Instagram captions definitely includes being authentic and real. As influencer Tanesha Awathi says, the audience can see right through something that isn’t true to her or her brand. “So, it is really important to be candid, real, and honest.”

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