by Mitt Ray
When most of us think of Instagram, the first thing that pops in our minds is photos. They are probably the most important component.
If you can share well shot photos and beautifully designed images you will of course grab the most attention and get likes. But what happens thereafter will depend on your caption. A well written caption will not only drive up engagement further but can increase traffic and sales too.
Therefore, to help you write excellent Instagram captions that get the results you want, I have written the below tips for you…
#1 Start by expanding on the image:
Very rarely does the image alone inform us of the significance of the Instagram post. Hence, you should expand on the message or story of the image with some text in the caption.
Write about why you took the photo, the story behind it or how the image is relevant to the message you want to project.
If the photo is that of a product, you can just list some of the features and write about how your followers will benefit from purchasing it.
A company that regularly writes Captions that expand on their photos is Waterstones, a bookstore chain in the UK. An example is the below photo…
As it is a picture of a book, they mention the name of the author, her previous work and then they briefly describe the contents of the book and mention the name of the artist who designed the cover.
A caption like this will convince interested readers to purchase it.
But when they share pictures like the below one they take a different route and write about the story behind why they took this photo.
It is not a product. It is just a beautiful picture of some lights. If there was no caption here I would just be left wondering what these lights are, where they were taken and what’s their significance. But when I read the caption I get the complete picture.
Therefore, you too should write captions that expand on the image. You can be very detailed as captions can be up to 2,200 characters long. The image will grab the attention and the caption will provide the relevance.
#2 Use call to actions:
Once you get your main message across, you should add a call to action that will get your post to accomplish its main goal. The call to action should laser focus on one goal only. So, have a good think about this goal and write a one-line call to action that will get results.
If you want your post to get likes, write a call to action like ‘Like if you agree’ or ‘If you enjoyed this Like it!’. For more comments you can just ask a question in your caption and for traffic you can add a link to the page (you want to drive traffic to) to your bio URL and then ask people to click on it to check out the page as you cannot share live links in your captions.
An example of a call to action that is focused on driving traffic is the aforementioned post from Waterstones that describes a new book. In the caption they ended the post with ‘Pre-order via the link in our bio’. This will drive traffic and generate sales.
Here’s another similar one where Levi’s are asking their followers to take advantage of a sale by visiting their website through the link in their bio.
You too should begin including a quick call to action like the above two businesses in your captions.
#3 Use hashtags:
After you add the call to action, you should add in some hashtags. A study by Trackmaven found that posts with 11+ hashtags get the most interactions.
So you can feel free to add in plenty, but be very strategic about it. If you are sharing something general that would be relevant to a wide range of audiences, you can just select the most relevant ones from this well researched list of the 100 best Instagram hashtags for likes. These hashtags are very popular, and they will increase engagement. Here’s another valuable resource for NGO’s.
But if you are sharing something on a confined topic you should conduct a lot of research to find the hashtags that the people you want to reach will checkout.
Discovery Channel understands the importance of adding hashtags to their Instagram posts.
Whenever they publish a post they include several hashtags and they are a combination of general and specific ones.
For example, in the above post they shared a picture of a wallaby and included general hashtags like #nature and #cute and less used hashtags like #animalportrait and #wildlifephotography.
#4 Use emojis:
Quintly found that Instagram posts with at least one emoji get 47.7% more average interactions. So use some emojis that compliment the text if you want to get more Instagram likes and comments.
For ideas on how to use emojis, check out Amazon’s Instagram captions.
They regularly add relevant hashtags to their captions.
#5 Track your data:
Following the above tips and writing better captions will get you better results with Instagram. But if you want to improve them further, you should regularly experiment with different methods like writing captions of different lengths, using different emojis, experimenting with varying numbers of hashtags, etc. to see which changes bring you the best results.
Every Instagram account will have a unique set of followers, hence, it is important for you to figure out the captions your followers want to read.
Now begin writing excellent Instagram captions…
As you can see above, Instagram captions play a major role. They can increase engagement and drive traffic and sales. Therefore, from today onwards you should spend more time writing them.
Start by just writing about the image you are sharing and then write a quick call to action that can drive engagement or traffic. After that add in other components like hashtags and emojis before publishing the post as they can increase engagement. And finally, don’t forget about experimenting with different types of captions to see which ones bring you the best results.
What steps do you take to write better Instagram captions? Did I forget to include some important steps? Please leave your comments below.
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Mitt Ray is the founder of Social Marketing Writing where he shares social media tips.