Instagram is a visual platform, that much is obvious. It’s replete with high-quality visual images and videos, so it’s important to make yours just as beautiful.
But the perfect post is as much about high-quality visuals as it is about a great caption.
A strong Instagram caption lets you take your visual content further. With the image as a hook, you can deliver greater value to your followers by building on the aesthetic. Your visuals grab people, but your caption guides your followers towards conversion.
Use a diverse blend of hashtags for maximum reach
On Instagram, hashtags are crucial. They are what connect users with content, whether it’s images, video, photos, or graphics. Consequently, the right hashtags help the right people see your content, driving engagement into the bargain.
The optimum number of hashtags for an Instagram post is between 9 and 11. Try to use a blend of niche and specific hashtags to drive maximum engagement.
For example, a general hashtag might be #summer, while a more specific hashtag would be #summerstyletips. These drive different types of traffic with different intents, getting your post seen by a diverse audience as a result.
Make that first sentence count
You might have noticed that Instagram captions that exceed a certain number of characters end up getting cropped automatically. Your followers, therefore, need to click ‘See More’ to see the rest of the caption.
As such, you need to load the first line of your caption with a hook to grab your followers and encourage them to click to see more. The promise of a giveaway or some useful tips, for example, intrigue and excite followers.
The rest of your caption can be used to deliver more important information, but the first line should be compelling and intriguing.
Find the optimum character length for your caption
Instagram currently has a maximum character limit of 2200. While that’s a lot, you don’t necessarily need to use all of it for your captions.
Debate varies over what the optimum length caption for Instagram is, but as a rule of thumb, it generally falls between 138-150 characters. That means you need to be concise while delivering meaning, a tricky task that takes time to perfect.
Of course, like all rules, this one is made to be broken. If you’re providing the terms and conditions of a competition, for example, you might need to use more characters than optimum.
Consider how your caption will look visually too. A big ream of copy looks cumbersome and unreadable, so break it down into paragraphs of between 2-3 sentences. This makes your captions easier to read, keeping your followers engaged as a result.
Give your captions real value
We’ve already mentioned that your first sentence should grab your audience and encourage them to click to see more. But once you’ve got your followers’ attention, you need to keep them hooked by delivering them some real value.
No matter how good your first sentence is, if the rest of your caption is empty of meaning, then you’ll lose your audience.
The value you provide should align with your campaign goals, whether it’s brand awareness, a new product launch, or sourcing UGC. It might even vary depending on the kind of brand you are and the industry you operate in. But it should build on the promise of the first sentence and continue to deliver genuine value that your follower can benefit from, whether it’s a contest, giveaway, advice, or something else.
Use emojis sparingly but considerately
Emojis can be a fun and creative way of driving engagement with an Instagram post — depending on your brand. Professional B2B brands might eschew emojis in favor of a more executive tone of voice, but for many B2C, commercial brands, emojis are an engagement boon.
That said, you shouldn’t oversaturate your captions with emojis. Opt for between 2-3 per caption, and ensure they’re relevant to the caption itself. A Christmas tree emoji in the middle of summer, for example, would feel jarring.
It’s a good idea to create an approved bank of emojis that you and your team can fall back on. This helps you maintain a brand tone across your Instagram (and other social channels) and reinforces your branding in a coherent way.
Let your human side shine through
A great way to increase engagement in your Instagram captions is to just write like a human being.
On Instagram, your content appears alongside that of your followers’ friends and family. Consequently, you want your own posts to blend in with them. This means writing in a way that feels conversational and relatable.
Eschew technical language (unless your target audience is particularly familiar with it, for example, if you’re a tech and gadget brand) and use simple vocabulary. If you’re writing for a general audience, keep it readable and relatable.
Invite engagement by simply asking for it
Perhaps the easiest (and most obvious) way to drive audience engagement in your captions is to simply ask for it.
Use your captions to connect with your audience and ask them for their input. Questions, surveys, contests, and anything else that encourages your followers to comment and engage with your post are ideal.
A gentle call-to-action is useful here for encouraging input — “comment below” is a common option that guides users towards engaging with your post.
Instagram is all about visuals, but without a solid caption, your posts will fall flat. Use the tips above and craft perfect Instagram captions that drive audience engagement with success in 2020.
About the Author:
Micro Startups is your online destination for everything startup. We’re dedicated to spreading the word about hard-working solopreneurs and SMEs making waves in the business world. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe @getmicrostarted.