Topic (00:28): How to write the perfect Instagram caption.
Tip #1 (1:21): Know Your Audience
It all goes back to your audience. Ask yourself, “Did I take time to do the research to understand who my demographic is on Instagram?” If you’re promoting on other social media networks, who you’re targeting on Instagram might be a little different. That could be different depending on age, gender, some of their interests, some of the things that they like to talk about when they’re on Instagram versus Facebook or Pinterest or LinkedIn or some other platform. Take the time to do your research.
Basic Demographics: Where are they from? What’s their age? What’s their gender?
Basic Psychographics: What are their behaviors? What are their interests? What gets them to respond? What kind of accounts do they follow on Instagram?
Deep Dive Psychographics: What makes them tick? What gives them pleasure? What gives them pain? What makes them want to share something? What makes them want to repost something? What makes them want to comment on something?
Spend the time getting to understand your audience, because the more you understand about them, that’s going to get your account a lot more reach. If you haven’t already started building buyer personas, one of the best tools that comes with a free sheet that you can download is through hubspot.com/make-my-persona.
Tip #2 (3:05): Speak Conversationally
It is important to speak in the right tone and voice that’s appropriate, but also remember this is social media. Instagram of all platforms is definitely not where you want to feel overly formal. So speak conversationally.
Now that does not mean overuse of slang or making typos or using a bunch of shorthand when you’re typing your caption. You still do need to be professional, but there’s a difference between formality versus being professional. Remain professional but remember that you’re here to start a conversation with your audience. You’re here to communicate with them and you want, in a sense, to humanize your brand, show that there are real people behind your product or service.
Tip #3 (4:17): Test Long Captions vs. Short Captions.
On Instagram today, you have 2,200 characters that you can fit into a single post. I recommend, if you haven’t done a long post yet, test it out and see what kind of responses you get from it. Sometimes it can really benefit you to tell a story behind a photo. Remember, Instagram is a very visual network. So if you can link to that photo, a story that connects with people, particularly your audience emotionally, gives them background, helps them feel something, helps them understand something, gets them wanting to know more, sometimes a long caption can help you achieve that.
Now in the same breath, sometimes short captions—just something short and sweet—is nice and refreshing too. So really think about testing both variations and paying attention to your Instagram analytics, which are in the app if you have a business account. That will help you get a read on how much reach your posts are getting whether it’s a short caption versus a long caption. Like I always say…Always Be Testing!
Tip #4 (5:36): Use Hashtags
An absolute must on Instagram! It is an extremely hashtag-friendly network, as people can follow hashtags. There are two different schools of thought on where you can add your hashtags. Some people like to include the hashtags at the bottom of the actual post. Today, you get up to 30 hashtags that you can include on your post. Other people like to include it in the comments area where, again, the limit is 30 hashtags.
From research, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The key is to do it, though. Make sure you’re taking the time to research hashtags, as well. One great resource for finding hashtags in your niche is RiteTag.com. Build a list of hashtags relevant to your brand. You might actually use 5 to 10 per post, but build a list of 30 to 50 hashtags that you can rotate as you’re writing your captions and that’ll help you gain a lot more exposure in the long run, especially if you’re launching a new Instagram account.
Tip #5 (6:46): Convey Your Most Important Message In The First Line
When you publish a post on Instagram, most people are only going to see one to two lines before the “see more” cut and they have to open up and engage with your post to read the rest of your caption. Even if it’s a short caption of just two sentences, they still must click “see more.” So, make sure that first sentence really grabs people’s attention.
For example, if you’re running a giveaway, then you need to say “$20 gift card giveaway” or “dream vacation giveaway” right away. Don’t wait until later in the post to say that. You have to draw people in and capture them as they’re scrolling through the feed. The best way to do that is to convey that important message before they have to click the “see more” button. If your first sentence is enticing enough, they will click to read the rest of your post.
Tip #6 (7:58): Communicate Your Call To Action
If your goal is to generate website traffic, make sure somewhere in that post (or even multiple times in that post) you’re giving people guidance on where to go to get more information. Most commonly on Instagram, people will say, “click the link in bio.” Remember, links are not going to be active as hyperlinks in your caption.
Pro Tip: While hyperlinks may not work in post captions, they do in Instagram Messenger! Ask your audience to Direct Message (DM; private message) you if they have more questions. That gives you the opportunity to drop your links in an active, clickable way. This gets you both engagement and traffic back to your website.
You could also drive engagement on the post by asking people to do simple things such as:
· tap the Like to agree
· drop a heart to agree
· comment to agree or disagree
· Like to agree or comment to disagree
· answer a question in the comments
· insert an emoji if you can relate to the post
If your caption is long, you might state your CTA more than once. If it’s a short post, at least say it at the end of your caption to give people somewhere to go next.
If you’ve already been posting on Instagram for a while, go back and revisit two to three of your most recent posts and think about, “How can I use these six tips to rewrite those posts?” Give yourself a little bit of practice. And once you’ve practiced and thought, “Hey, if I rewrote the post this way, it might be more effective,” start testing it out. Get to work on your future posts, whatever your scheduling, whatever you’re planning, and use these six steps that we just outlined to perfect your captions.
We get a lot of these topic questions from our clients, workshop students, and general audience, so please feel free to ask us your own questions by tagging or messaging us on social media! You can also learn more digital marketing insights by listening to more episodes of our 10 Minute Marketing podcast or reading our blog.