Instagram

How to Write Good Instagram Captions: 8 Tips for Perfecting Your Copy (part 1)

At the end of the day, Instagram is all about the visuals. The quality of your photos will be the differentiating factor when it comes to gaining Instagram followers, getting them interested in your brand and what it’s about, and showing off the human side of your business.

But the hard work doesn’t end once you’ve taken that beautiful photo and edited it to perfection. The caption of your post is where you can give a voice to that visual content.

It’s where you can explain what the photo is about, tell your followers to take action, or crack a joke that makes your content all the more delightful and shareable.

If you think of the caption on your Instagram posts as an afterthought, then you’re losing out on an opportunity to engage and delight your followers in ways you can’t with just a visual. Here are some tips to help you write better Instagram captions.

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

1) Write several drafts first.

Ever thought of the perfect joke after it was a liiiittle too late to tell it? We’ve all had a similar feeling when we come up with the perfect Instagram caption once we’ve already published the post.

The lesson? Don’t rush the process. Instead, write a few ideas for captions down, sit on them for a bit, poll coworkers on which one is best, and generally take your time.

You might be asking yourself at this point, “But aren’t timeliness and chronology important on Instagram?” They can be, depending on the subject of your post. For example, professional Instagrammer Patrick Janelle says he uses Instagram as a kind of chronological journey of his activities and lifestyle. He likes to post in real time to document what he’s doing at a given moment.

But thanks to the impending Instagram feed algorithm change, the level of engagement your posts receive will soon matter more than chronology. Soon, our Instagram feeds will be ordered to show the moments Instagram thinks we’ll care about the most. The visibility of your posts in your followers’ feeds will depend on the number of Likes and comments a post has, your relationship with the user posting, and other factors.

That’s why it’s important to take your time constructing a great caption that’ll keep your followers around, delight them enough to share with their friends, and encourage them to engage with your content.

2) Front-load the important stuff.

The maximum character count for an Instagram caption (2,200 characters) is basically a formality. But the important thing to note is that captions cut off in users’ feeds after three to four lines of text.

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

That doesn’t mean you should keep your captions super short so users can see 100% of it without having to click “more.” Instead, frontload your captions with the important content or text calls-to-action — and leave any hashtags, @mentions, or extraneous information for the end.

Here’s an example of an enticing, front-loaded caption from coffee-based skincare company Frank Body:

 

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

3) Include a call-to-action.

The best way to increase the shareability of your Instagram post and engage your followers is to have some sort of call-to-action in the captions of your photos. That means using action verbs to prompt people to do something, instead of just passively scrolling by. We found that verbs generate more shares on Twitter than nouns and adjectives — the same can be true for Instagram.

For example, you might say, “double-tap if you find this funny” or “share your story in the comments.”

Here are a few other action-based ideas to get you started:

Ask a question.

Encourage people to comment with their own experiences. You might be able to draw on these experiences to shape your Instagram strategy moving forward, or to come up with new content ideas. To increase engagement and delight your followers even more, respond to users’ answers to make it like a conversation.

H&M: “All you need for a weekend get-away. Where would you go?”

 

 

Lorna Jane: “Be you, everyone else is taken. Today’s inspo inspired by our leading lady @ljclarkson – how are you finding your BELIEVE today?”

 

 

Direct people to a link in your bio.

Clickable URLs aren’t allowed anywhere except the single “website” box in your bio. That’s why optimized Instagram profiles update that URL frequently to point to their latest blog content, YouTube videos, products, or offers — and then refer to that link in their Instagram captions.

For example, are you running a contest, or want to increase subscribers to your blog? Just change the link, and then post a photo that mentions the new link in its caption.

Pro tip: Use shortened links that include UTM tracking codes so you can see how much of your traffic came from your Instagram page. (Learn how to create UTM codes to track your URLs here.)

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

To change the link in your bio, go to your profile page and click “Edit Profile.”

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

Then, simply insert the URL of your choosing into the URL box.

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

Invite people to tag their friends.

Encourage your followers to share your post with friends by inviting them to tag their friends. Here are a few examples of fun, clever ways brands have asked followers to tag friends.

Frooti: “It’s scrabble day! Tag some friends you’d like to play with.”

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

H&M: “Planning for a luxe escape with your bestie? Tag your travel partner in crime!”

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

H&M: “Planning for a luxe escape with your bestie? Tag your travel partner in crime!”

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

Invite people to enter a contest.

Contests are great for increasing engagement and brand exposure on Instagram.

Simply invite people to post their own pictures and tag them in the caption using a hashtag, like BuzzFeed Tasty does below.

 

How to Write Good Instagram CaptionsConsider including the contest’s official rules in your caption for folks who are interested, and even a link in your bio.

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

4) Limit yourself to 0-4 hashtags.

On Instagram, a hashtag behaves the same way as it does on Twitter and Facebook: It ties the conversations of different users into one stream. As long as your account is public, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Instagram post. (Read this blog post to learn more about how hashtags work on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.)

Hashtags are great for connecting users who aren’t otherwise connected to one another, but who are talking about — and interested — in the same topics, events, brands, and so on. They’re also a great way to add some fun and coy humor to your posts, like FOMU did below.

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

But: Use hashtags sparingly.

Some Instagram users include a string of searchable hashtags as a way to get more followers — but the fact is, it looks spammy to the followers you do have. If you use a ton of hashtags, people will notice, and they will think it’s lame. Limit your hashtags to three or four, tops.

And remember, you don’t have to include any at all if you don’t want to. You don’t need a hashtag to have an awesome Instagram caption. Here’s an example of a good caption with no hashtag from Starbucks:

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

Use hashtags at the end of your caption.

Unless the hashtagged phrase fits naturally into a sentence, don’t list any hashtags until the very end of the caption. That way, the part of your caption that’s more appealing to humans will come first, making it more user-friendly.

Plus, if your caption is long enough to get cut off, the hashtags that are there to connect people (as opposed to delight people) will be hidden. So the hashtags in this caption:

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

 

Will be hidden from folks scrolling by in their Instagram feeds — which is totally fine, since they’re just there for search reasons.

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

Pro tip: Need inspiration for a hashtag that’s already popular? Instagram will suggest hashtags to you based on their popularity when you open up a new post and type out the # symbol followed by an incomplete search. Here’s an example of that in action:

 

How to Write Good Instagram Captions

Save