How to write good Instagram captions

When it comes to promoting your business on Instagram, you may spend most of your time crafting the right images. But Instagram isn’t just about the visuals. After all, without solid captions, your audience may not fully understand the images you share. And they won’t know what action you want them to take after they see them.

Strong captions also encourage your audience to stop scrolling down their feed and actually engage with your post by liking, commenting, or clicking through to your website. And what happens when people spend more time checking out your post? The Instagram algorithm recognizes it as high-quality content and shows it to more people, which boosts your reach (score!).

How do create captions on Instagram that grab your audience’s attention and encourage them to engage with you? Use these 14 tips to write good Instagram captions that convert.

 

 

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Instagram captions have 3 main purposes: to provide context, add personality, and inspire action. Here’s how to write good Instagram captions that do all three:

Provide context

1. Know your audience

Pretty much every blog post about copywriting will tell you that you need to know your audience to write good copy. After all, if you don’t know who you’re writing for, it’s hard to write copy that will resonate with them.

But when you’re trying to write good Instagram captions, knowing your audience isn’t just about understanding what to write about. It’s also about figuring out what to include in your captions. For example, how much context does you audience need to understand your image? If you make a particular pop culture reference, will they get it? What’s the optimal caption length for them? And is it appropriate to include emojis?

Understand your audience first and write Instagram captions second.

Related: The 5 best social media platforms for promoting your blog

Example: With its focus on understated, practical luxury, this Loro Piana caption hits the mark with its audience.

 

write good Instagram captions

 

2. Use quotes

You can write a good Instagram caption without crafting more than a few words of original copy. How do you do this? By using a quote as a caption. In this case, I’m not talking about a cliché motivational quote. I’m referring to quotes that are specific to the image you’re sharing. For example, if you’re sharing an image of a person, your caption could be a quote from this person.

Of course, you don’t want to use quotes for all of your Instagram captions. But experimenting with them from time to time can be a powerful way to engage with your audience and change things up.

Related: How to write compelling social media posts + 7 free social media copy templates

Example: Flare let a quote from Prince Harry take centre stage in this caption.

 

write good Instagram captions

3. Consider length

You may be able to use 2,200 characters to describe your Instagram post. But you don’t need to use up all of this space to write a good Instagram caption. In fact, in most cases, you’re better off keeping your captions short. Remember that most people browse their Instagram feed on their phone in between other activities. So it’s often best to keep your captions brief.

How short should you go with your captions? Data shows that captions that are 138 characters to 241 characters long tend to produce the best results.

That said, if your audience is receptive to a bit more detail and it makes sense for your post, go ahead and write a longer caption. You probably don’t want to write a novel for every caption you share, but long-form captions can be a great way to share brief stories about your images.

Example: Sorelle and Co. keeps this caption short and sweet.

 

social media post

4. Place your most important content first

One of the best ways to write a good Instagram caption is to put your most important content first. Even though you can pack 2,200 characters into a caption, your copy will get cut off after 3–4 lines. So you want to make sure that you use these first few lines wisely.

How do you do this? Start off with highly engaging copy that will grab your audience’s attention and make them feel like they can’t help but keep reading. You can do this by sharing an eye-catching statistic, making a bold statement, or asking an intriguing question.

If you have room, try to place your key message and call-to-action (more on this in Tip #12) before this point too. This way, your audience will see them without having to tap “more.”

And unless they’re critical to your key message, save hashtags, @mentions, and emojis for later on in your caption.

Related: How to write social media copy for 5 different platforms + 7 free social media copy templates

Example: Take a look at how Whole Foods places a call to action (“Join us for #parmcrack”) close to the beginning of this caption.

 

write good Instagram captions

5. Use line breaks

People are more likely to engage with Instagram posts that are easy to consume. In addition to keeping them short, you can make your Instagram posts simple to read by using line breaks. Line breaks allow you to break up a large block of text that would otherwise seem intimidating. They also make your key points stand out by placing white space around them.

In the past, the only way to insert line breaks was to add a column of symbols—like asterisks—between chunks of text. However, some Instagram schedulers (including Later) now let you insert line breaks in captions just by hitting “enter.”

Example: See how Melyssa Griffin uses line breaks to make her key points more salient and the caption easier to digest.

 

 

Example of line breaks in Instagram captions

6. Edit and rewrite

First drafts are rarely the best ones. That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to craft multiple drafts when trying to write good Instagram captions. Rewrite and edit to hone your key message, cut unnecessary words, and keep your caption brief.

Related: How to write clear, concise web copy that converts + free copy planning worksheet

 

 

 

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7. Add @mentions

If relevant, use @mentions to give a shout out to other Instagram accounts that are relevant to your post. Including @mentions is a great way to connect with other brands on the platform and promote them to your audience.

Example: National Geographic uses an @mention to credit the photographer of this photo.

 

write good Instagram captions

8. Disclose sponsored posts

This tip isn’t just important for learning how to write a good Instagram caption. It’s essential for complying with the platform’s terms of use and increasingly strict FTC regulations.

In short, if you’re being paid or rewarded to promote a product or business on Instagram, you’ve got to identify your post as a sponsored post. In the past, you used to be able to do this just by including hashtags like #spon, #paid, or #partnership in the post. However, the FTC now requires that you use either #ad or #sponsored in your caption.

Whichever hashtag you choose to use, make sure it’s easily visible to anyone who views the post. This means that you shouldn’t place it in the part of the caption that’s hidden unless someone taps “more.” You also can’t bury the hashtag in a larger list of hashtags or add the hashtag word to the end of another hashtag (e.g., “nikeshoead”).

Example: Blue Collar Prep makes it clear that this is a sponsored post.

 

write good Instagram captions

9. Include hashtags

If you want to write good Instagram captions, be sure to include hashtags. Hashtags increase the visibility of your posts. That’s why posts with at least one hashtag get 12.6% more engagement than those that don’t.

How many hashtags should you include? Some people argue that you should include the maximum number of hashtags Instagram allows—30—to maximize the visibility of your post. However, data suggests that using more hashtags doesn’t necessary equal greater visibility. Instead including 9-12 hashtags seems to produce the best results.

When choosing hashtags to include in your captions, aim for niche hashtags. Hashtags based on broad terms, like #beauty and #love, may get you a few more likes. But because they’ll attract a broad audience, they aren’t the best for optimizing engagement. Instead, choose hashtags that target more specific communities, ideally ones that match your ideal customer. For example, if you own a vegan bakery, use hashtags like #veganbaking and #vegancookie instead of #food.

To keep your captions from looking spammy and cluttered, place most of your hashtags below a series of line breaks. Alternatively, add them to the first comment on your post. These hacks keep your audience from getting distracted by your hashtags. The result? They can focus on the key message and call to action in your caption.

Related: What to include in your posts on 5 social media platforms + 7 free social media copy templates

Example: See how I placed the hashtags for my post on 10 conversion-boosting Pinterest tips in the first comment.

 

social media post

Add personality

10. Have a few key themes

Branding your Instagram account isn’t just about using a consistent look and colour scheme for your images. It’s also about creating cohesion in your content by focusing on 2-3 overarching themes in your posts. For example, if you run a vegan bakery, you might share posts on 3 key topics: your products, vegan baking tips, and the benefits of eating a vegan diet.

When there’s consistency and cohesion in your Instagram posts, your audience knows what to expect from you. It also allows you to establish yourself as an expert on the topics you post about. This way, you’ll become your audience’s go-to person or brand for info about Topic X.

Example: HubSpot uses its Instagram account to share posts on its products, digital marketing tips, and general business advice.

 

 

Example of themes in Instagram captions

 

11. Maintain your brand voice

Instagram is a platform where you can get creative with promoting your brand. But you don’t want to get so creative that your audience doesn’t recognize you. That’s why you’ve got to stay consistent with your brand voice (your brand’s overall personality) to write good Instagram captions.

You can soften your tone to align it with Instagram’s approachable and casual feel. But at the end of the day, you shouldn’t seem like a completely different business on Instagram vs. Facebook.

Related: How to choose the right voice & tone for your blog or biz + free brand voice worksheet

 

 

write good Instagram captions

12. Use emojis

As long as they’re appropriate for your audience and post, don’t be afraid to experiment with emojis. Emojis can help you write good Instagram captions that grab your audience’s attention, inject personality into your posts, and up the fun factor. You can even use them to replace entire words.

How many emojis should you use on Instagram to get the best results? According to data from CoSchedule, 3 emojis is the optimal number.

Example: OPI has fun with emojis while still getting its key message across.

 

write good Instagram captions

Inspire action

13. Include a call to action

Want to use Instagram to drive traffic to your website or blog? Be sure to include a call to action in your Instagram captions. Calls to action tell people who view your post what you want them to do next (for example, to check out a product on your website or read a post on your blog).

If people follow them, you’ll achieve your goal of driving more traffic to your website, getting more email sign-ups, or getting more feedback from people in the comments on your post. And because the Instagram algorithm pays attention to engagement on your posts, calls to action that successfully produce engagement can expand the reach of your posts.

Remember that if you want to write good Instagram captions, be sure to place your calls to action near the beginning. This way, they won’t get hidden. You can also make your calls to action stand out by including an emoji that directs people’s attention to them.

Note that unlike on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn (so basically, every other major platform), you can’t include URLs in Instagram post captions. So if your call to action encourages people to visit a website, blog, or landing page, you need to get a little creative. A common hack is to use the URL field in your Instagram bio and direct people to tap on this link.

Don’t want to have to update this every time you share a new post? Use a paid tool like Later’s linkin.bio. It lets you use the link in your bio to direct people to a landing page that’s essentially a clickable version of your Instagram feed. When someone taps on an image, they’re directed to a URL associated with that particular post. With this feature, you don’t have to continuously update your bio link. Your audience will also be able to access the link associated with any of your past posts, not just your most recent one.

Related: How to write social media CTAs that boost traffic, leads, and sales + 80 CTA templates

Example: Nesha Woolery uses a call to action to direct fans to her downloadable checklist.

 

social media post

14. Ask a question

One of the easiest ways to get comments on your Instagram posts is to ask a question in your captions. That’s why it’s often listed as a strategy for learning how to write good Instagram captions. The questions you ask can be true/false, multiple choice, or open-ended questions. Just make sure they’re relevant to your post.

Example: Lole uses a question to encourage engagement on this post.

 

write good Instagram captions

Take the time to write good Instagram captions

It’s easy to make your Instagram images the star of the show and treat your captions like an afterthought. But you can’t afford to disregard your captions if you want the time you spend on Instagram to be worthwhile. Increase your engagement and conversions on the platform by taking the time to write good Instagram captions. They’ll make sure the attention you capture with an image doesn’t go to waste.

 

 

Need some help writing powerful Instagram calls to action your audience can’t resist?
Download my 80 free call-to-action templates.

Send me the templates

 

 

write good Instagram captions

 

How to write good Instagram captions that convert + 80 call-to-action templates
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