Previously, we have discussed how the success of your Instagram campaign relies on your feed’s engagement levels. It is no secret that a lot of what drives engagement is the photo or video itself but you also have a chance to drive up engagement levels with a clever caption. Let’s walk through the elements of a strong Instagram caption.
Caption length – As a general rule, Instagram focuses on the visual components of a post. And while that might be the platform’s main focus, it shouldn’t be yours. A strong photo can generate a like but a strong caption is what is ultimately going to drive a viewer to comment and engage further. If what you have to say can be said in a sentence or short paragraph, do so. However, if your thought requires more space, use short sentences and implement line breaks to help improve the readability of your post. You have 2200 characters to get your message across. Use them wisely and let the post speak for itself.
Use consistent tone – Don’t stray from your branding guidelines, it’s all about consistency! If your brand voice is conversational on your website and other communications, then your audience will be expecting that on Instagram as well. Strive to keep the style of the caption consistent with your brand style and character, but adjust the communication to Instagram. What this means is that Instagram is a friendly place, a place for a relaxed style of communication. Even if your brand’s voice is super formal, adjust to a relaxed formal tone, almost as if you are talking with your boss over lunch. Write a nice, direct caption, and don’t hesitate to make use of your sense of humor or sprinkle in an emoji here and there. But ALWAYS use proper grammar and spelling!
Provide more context – Don’t assume that your audience understands the context of any post. You never know who your photo might land in front of and not all of your followers have followed your brand from day 1. Ways to provide more context to any photo is by sharing your thought process, where the photo was taken, or including a call to action. If your posting about your brand use your caption to explain who is involved, why it impacts your audience, and information about when and why it was taken. Make sure your audience knows why you felt like it was something they should see. When it comes to context, make sure to include a STRONG first sentence. If you’re planning on including a call to action, have it mentioned first. Remember that Instagram will cut off long, wordy posts and you will need to engage a reader within the first sentence to make them hit the “show more” button.
Strategize – What is going to make your audience want to engage? Some strategies brands use to drive up engagement levels are playing a game, hosting a contest (Instagram allows contests to be hosted on the platform and even requires participants to share and tag friends, major engagement and brand awareness points), providing how-to information for crafts and recipes, ask questions, and share pictures from fans’ profiles on a brand’s profile (ALWAYS ask permission before doing this). Another popular tactic is to ask your audience to “caption this”.
Instagram is an incredibly visual platform. While a strong visual component will capture your audience’s attention, it won’t drive conversations. This is why a well-crafted caption with a clear message, and possibly even a call to action, can make a significant impact on your Instagram results.