At the core of it, Instagram is an image-based social network. When you’re using it as a tool in your digital marketing strategy, it’s the quality of your photos that will affect your success rate more than anything. Still, that isn’t an excuse for you to totally neglect the other content. The captions of your posts are an important factor in any Instagram campaign, so make sure they’re not all afterthoughts! Here’s my best advice for writing effective Instagram captions.
Firstly, attempt multiple drafts. Yes, an Instagram caption isn’t exactly a novel. However, drafting again and again helps any piece of writing, no matter how brief. I’m sure you’ve been in a situation before where you were trying to flirt with someone or otherwise get in their good books, then thought of a perfect joke just after the person had left. Similarly, a lot of us have thought of an ideal Instagram caption when it’s all too late, and totally useless! The lesson I learned from these instances is that you can’t rush the process if you want to pin down the most effective captions. Instead of opening Instagram and typing out the first thing that comes into your head, take the time to write down a few different ideas. Sure, timelines and chronology can be important when it comes to Instagram marketing. However, after recent algorithm updates, the engagement received by a post is starting to matter more than the timeline of a user’s feed.
Next, just like when you’re writing a meta description, get all the important details to the front. As I’m sure you know, when you’re viewing a feed, Instagram captions cut off after three or four lines. Some people try to work within this by writing out super-short captions, ensuring that their audience doesn’t have to click “more” to get the whole message. This works to a degree, but usually leaves your feed covered in minimalist captions that don’t leave you much room for creating a brand identity. The best way around this dilemma is front-loading your captions with the most important details and calls to action. If you find a formula which tempts in your ideal customer, without giving too much away in the caption preview, you’ll be able to buy Instagram views without ever spending a penny!
The most important part of any Instagram caption is the call to action. Without one of these, they’re going to stand a very slim chance of actually creating any engagement with your target market. Your call to action is what’s going to prompt a prospect to actually do something, rather than simply scrolling past. This can often be as simple as asking your target market a question that will encourage them to engage with your content. Then, you can give your own responses to this, starting a discussion and gaining even more exposure. Let’s say you ran a clothing business, and you were posting a selection from a new summer range.
You might want to stir up your target market by asking “where would you go on your dream vacation?” Pointing people to a link in your bio is also a great way to implement a call to action. You’re not allowed to post clickable URLs anywhere other than the “website” bit of your bio. Consequently, the most professionally run Instagram profiles are constantly updating this URL, and using the change to push for engagement. The next time you start running a contest, or post a new big feature on your company blog, change the URL and post a new photo with that URL in the caption. Inviting people to tag their friends in responses can also be an effective move.
My final tip: put a cap on the number of hashtags you’re using. The Instagram hashtag works exactly the same as it does on Twitter and Facebook. It takes several different conversations involving several users, and ties them all together under one tag. Provided the account that posted it is public, anyone can search for a hashtag and find the post in question. Although there’s obvious benefits in this, hashtags still need to be used in moderation. Some inexperienced marketers think that using a range of different hashtags is the best way to generate traffic, but this can do more harm than good. Your followers aren’t stupid. If they see a massive thread of searchable hashtags, it will come off as spammy, and drive prospects away in droves. Keep hashtags at the end of a caption, and limit them to about 4 per post. You should also bear in mind that a good caption doesn’t even need one hashtag!