6 Top Tips for Better Instagram Captions in 2020
You might already post amazing photos and videos on the Instagram and IGTV feeds but if you do not pay enough attention to your social copy, particularly your Instagram captions, you may lose a key chance to connect with your followers and lead them to your website – and your products.
It’s very true that a powerful Instagram visual can make users “slow their scroll” and remain locked on your message, but in terms of promotion and sales generation, a well-thought-out caption can do a lot more heavy lifting.
But given the rather unique nature of Instagram captions – and the fact that you cannot make use of links directly – can make them especially challenging to get right.
The Power of Compelling Instagram Captions
Compelling captions can create more engagement, which is critical when it comes to Instagram’s algorithm. Strong copy in your caption will better tell your brand’s story and showcase its ‘personality’, which helps your followers realize they need what you’re selling.
With the recent updates to Instagram’s algorithm, your posts are more likely to be served (or “seen”) if the platform likes your engagement rates.
This metric looks at whether you are getting a lot of user comments on a post and whether you are responding to these comments. These changes mean that simply having lots of followers no longer guarantees your posts will be seen—as counterintuitive as that may sound.
Earlier this year, Instagram explained how its algorithm now works, saying, “What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.”
This means that what shows up at the top of an Instagram user’s channel is based on their own activity. So, as a business, you need to entice users to engage with your post, whether that means staying on it for a few more seconds, or liking, commenting on, or sharing it.
Determining Your Instagram Strategy
Before diving into caption writing, go back to the primary goals of your Instagram strategy and let them guide you. Common goals include:
- Running an awareness campaign to increase your visibility or to increase brand awareness in general
- Promoting a sale, new product launch, or new collection launch
- Collecting user-generated content with branded Instagram hashtags
If you have an Instagram Business account, you can invest in sponsored posts to ensure your photos are seen by a targeted audience.
If you’re running a purely organic campaign without investing in Instagram ads, then there are two main goals you’ll want your call to action to achieve:
- Driving followers and potential followers to read your caption, head to your profile, and click the link in your bio
- Getting followers to like, comment, or share (by tagging others)
Remember, you can’t place clickable links in organic Instagram posts, which means you have to direct users to click the link in your Instagram bio in order to visit your website or product page via the copy in your captions.
6 Top Tips for Better Instagram Captions
- Make the most of the first sentence
Instagram shortens your caption after three to four lines, so include important details in the beginning. Only about the first sentence will be seen in a user’s feed, so make sure it’s compelling or asks a question—and don’t put your call to action at the end.
- Include a call to action or ask a question
Each post should have a purpose and intention, so lead each one with its specific goal and let that goal dictate the call to action. What do you want followers to do? Visit your website? Shop for a specific product? Share the post with friends? Shop a promotion? Enter a contest or giveaway? Snap photos and share using a specified hashtag?
The key is to encourage engagement in order to create a sense of dialogue and conversation. This is also a way to work around Instagram’s algorithm, which looks at engagement as a metric to serve your posts to followers. Encouraging engagement also increases the likelihood your post will appear in other users’ feeds as a “recommended account” to follow.
- Add value
Offer tips and tricks or any kind of information to help educate or inform to increase the added value of your Instagram post. Adding value within your Instagram captions will help the user and make the post more likely to be shared and bookmarked.
- Write like a human (not a robot)
Authenticity matters. In content and captions, write as you speak. You may want to be strategic and intentional, but you also want to come across natural and like a friend to the user.
- Use storytelling
Avoid being neutral—add personality and spice to your captions. Sprinkle in emojis to add some extra flavor and animate your captions. Relevant emojis placed at the end of sentences or paragraphs can also serve as “bookends” and aesthetically break up long strings of copy. Emojis are also a great way to direct readers to take a certain action, such as clicking the link in bio.
- Use hashtags
Instagram hashtags are a key way to make your posts searchable, so be sure you leverage them properly. They act like keywords, as they have tracking and searching capabilities.
How do you know which hashtags to use? Try to make use of a mix of branded (a signature hashtag you create for your brand), community (used by people in the same industry as you, or used by the influencers you are attempting to attract), product, and other relevant trending hashtags.