In this article, you’ll discover how to create appealing Instagram captions that clearly communicate your marketing messages and encourage people to act.
Why Instagram Captions Matter for Marketers
On occasion, you’ll see celebrities or popular accounts post photos to Instagram and leave the captions blank. They generate thousands of likes and hundreds of comments without saying a word. But they also have millions of followers.
Most brands and businesses don’t have that celebrity factor and can’t get the same level of engagement by merely “showing up” with a post.
Instagram is an incredibly visual platform, based primarily on photos and some video posts. A strong visual component will capture your audience’s attention, but it won’t drive conversions. That’s why a well-crafted caption with a clear message and possibly a CTA can make a significant impact on your Instagram results.
The caption allows you to take the visual message of the photo several steps further.
Do you want a purchase of the book you feature in your image? In your caption, tell users where they can go to buy it.
It’s also your opportunity to generate much more conversation so you can better serve your audience and rank higher in the Instagram algorithm.
What Is the Ideal Instagram Caption Length?
How long an Instagram caption should be depends on how much you need to say. If you can make your point in a single paragraph, keep the caption short and don’t draw it out unnecessarily. But if you need five paragraphs to tell your story, don’t cut it short to save space.
Most people on Instagram prefer less text. They’re on the platform for the photos and videos, not to read endless text updates. So a short paragraph is usually a good goal.
Some accounts even get away with a single sentence or zingy one-liner that provides valued entertainment to their audience.
If your message requires more context or you want to include a CTA or other component in your caption, writing a few short paragraphs is completely acceptable.
Even though most people aren’t on Instagram to read long posts, some accounts have been able to use it as more of a micro-blog, writing long captions to tell a story, share important news or updates, or offer long-winded thoughts. If your content warrants this type of caption and your audience responds to it, it can work for you. Just be aware that you can only use 2,200 characters in an Instagram post.
Now let’s look at four tips for writing appealing Instagram captions that will help you improve engagement.
#1: Decide What Your Instagram Caption Will Convey
The purpose of an Instagram caption is to tell more of the story or message behind your photo or video.
If the photo or video is about a contest, sale, or event, the caption is your place to fill in the details of your campaign. Explain what it’s about, how to participate, and when it will occur.
If your post is something about your business or brand, the caption is your space to explain who’s involved, when the photo was taken, why it impacts your audience, or any other context that relates to your followers.
In general, images with lots of text don’t perform well on Instagram. So while you can capture your audience’s attention with a great image and maybe a couple of words in the photo, the caption is where you convey the complete story and details you want to share.
It’s also important to think about the structure of your caption. Currently on Instagram, when you’re scrolling through the feed, you’ll notice the caption beneath each post is truncated with “… more” after two lines of text. Instagram does this to keep the feed visual while reducing how much text appears between each post.
But this also means that people won’t see your entire caption unless they tap on “… more” to open and view it.
It’s obviously not ideal to write a great caption, tell a whole story, and include a CTA that nobody will read. To improve the chances people will click to expand your caption, make sure you have a powerful first sentence that appeals to your followers and will encourage them to tap to read more.
That first sentence is on par with a great email subject line or a blog post heading. Say something that will intrigue users to click and read more. You can use questions, bold statements, emojis, and good writing to entice your audience into wanting to see more.
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#2: Include a CTA in Your Instagram Caption
Instagram limits you to one clickable link, which is in your bio. To get people to click on that link and take action, you have to give them that directive. This is where a good CTA comes into play.
The most common CTA used on Instagram for this purpose is “Click on the link in my bio” or some variation of that.
This CTA clearly tells your audience that they can navigate to your profile and access the link there to complete the action. This works well for nearly any type of action: reading a blog post, downloading a freebie, signing up for something, watching a video, buying a product, scheduling a meeting, and so forth.
There are other creative CTAs you can include to get your audience to be more engaged and build your Instagram conversions:
- Encourage users to share your content to their Instagram stories. Most Instagram users have the option to share posts to Instagram Stories now. If you have educational content or something highly shareable, include a CTA asking them to do so.
- Prompt your audience to tag their friends in the comments. Saying something along the lines of “tag a friend in the comments who would love this tip too” is a good way to get new eyes on your content and increase engagement.
- Ask users to “tap to purchase” in Instagram shoppable posts. If you have the shoppable post feature, you can tag your products in the post for people to find out more and even purchase them. But if your followers don’t know to look for this or how to interact with this feature, a reminder in the caption as a CTA instructing them to “tap to purchase” can help drive more sales.
#3: Divide Your Text Into Short Paragraphs
Writing a great caption, in terms of copy, context, and value, is important on Instagram. But if your caption is one long paragraph, chances are your audience won’t read much of it. Instead, divide your text into short paragraphs with extra spacing to make the content easier to read and help increase activity on CTAs.
Many people attempt to add spacing between paragraphs but after uploading the post to Instagram, they find that all of their formatting is lost. This happens because Instagram has an odd formatting feature that requires you to remove any spacing or emojis from the end of a paragraph.
When typing on most mobile devices, a space is automatically added to the end of a sentence, after the final punctuation mark. If you leave this automatic space and then tap the return key, when you upload the post, Instagram will remove the line break you inserted. To avoid this, simply backspace to the last character punctuation mark in the sentence and then hit the return key. When you upload your post, the formatting will be retained.
Additionally, if you have an emoji as the last character in a paragraph, the line breaks will usually be deleted. So while you can use those emojis, just don’t use them at the end of the paragraph.
There is no set rule for formatting an Instagram caption. You can use bullet points, paragraphs, big space breaks, long leader dots or dashes, whatever method you prefer. It’s purely an aesthetic choice and has no effect on your post’s performance from an algorithmic perspective. But you do want to make sure that the caption is appealing to your audience because if they aren’t reading it or clicking through from it, it should definitely be revamped.
The Instagram caption is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on the platform and it’s imperative that you use it well to fuel your Instagram marketing efforts. While the process of writing a good caption will add significant time to your post creation, it’s worth the effort to write something that is both appealing to your audience and also valuable to you in building relationships, engagement, and conversions from Instagram.
What do you think? Do you use some of these tactics to write your captions? Are you going to try something different in your Instagram captions after reading this? Please share your thoughts or tips in the comments below.