7 tips for writing Instagram captions
First, let’s look at a few fundamentals questions when it comes to Instagram captions. Like, how long can instagram captions be? And what can they include?
Answer: Instagram captions can be up to 2,200 characters long and can include up to 30 hashtags.
That’s quite a lot, right?
Your Instagram captions can also include emojis (of course 😉).
One thing your instagram caption’s can’t include are hyperlinks.
Now, there’s a difference between what your Instagram captions can contain and what they should contain. Just because you have all that space, doesn’t mean you need to fill it.
People tend to scroll through Instagram quickly, not stopping to dwell too much on the textual aspects. So, to maintain their attention your captions need to be either super captivating or super short (or both). But more on that below.
For now, let’s dig into some key things to remember when writing Instagram captions.
Analyse your audience 🧐
Formal? Fun? Somewhere in between? It sounds obvious that you should know what kind of tone connects best with your followers, but often businesses fail to go deep enough with their audience analysis.
Create some audience profiles or “avatars” so you can get to the nuances of what your customers are like and what resonates with them.
Some questions you should be asking include: What age group are you trying to reach? What type of language do they use? Do they prefer lots of text or can they hold a conversation in nothing but emoji-speak? What do they most use Instagram for? How often do they use it, when, and where?
Understanding all of this will help you craft your captions in a way that makes every follower feel you’re speaking directly to them.
@Cheetos know their audience responds well to casual language, Internet slang, and super-short witty captions.
Less is more before “more” ✍️
No, that’s not a weird typo. What we mean is that people will only see the first two lines of your caption, after which they’ll have to click “more” to see the rest.
So what you put in those first two lines matters. You have around 80 characters to draw readers in and compel them to hit that “more” link.
Let’s say you’re running a giveaway. Kick-off your caption with the word “Win!” (or at least fit it into the first line).
If you have an incredible story or lengthy heartfelt message to communicate, go for it – there’s nothing wrong with wordy captions per se. Just try to hook in readers with an interesting first line.
In this caption, @NASA kicks off with a short, catchy summary line before giving the full story below it
Here, @herponythelabel grab attention with an all-caps, emoji-flanked giveaway announcement.
Start with the call to action 🗣
If you’re not sure where to start when writing your caption, decide on your CTA (call to action) and go from there. In other words, what do you want people to do when they see this post?
Your call to action can be to shop a product or visit your website, but it doesn’t have to be. If your post isn’t specifically sales targeted, you might decide to use it to spread brand awareness or generate engagement.
Here are some possible CTAs:
- Ask questions that drive your audience to share opinions
- Direct people to click a link in your bio
- Instruct them on how to enter a competition or giveaway
- Encourage people to share their own photos/videos and tag your brand or use your campaign hashtags
- Tell people to tag a friend
This caption from @rei is short and snappy with a clear call to action, uses a brand campaign hashtag, and gives followers an incentive to share their own content.
You may recall that you can include up to 30 hashtags when you write your Instagram caption. Including that many certainly isn’t a requirement — in fact, the number of hashtags isn’t so important. What matters is choosing the right ones.
Choose your hashtags carefully and you can dramatically increase the reach and discoverability of your post.
If you haven’t yet read our Instagram hashtags guide, here’s the goal in a nutshell: look for the hashtags you can dominate or rank for. And avoid the ones that are banned or flagged. Flick’s hashtag tool finds the best hashtags for you and helps you discover trending themes you can leverage and tie in with. So even if you only use a handful of hashtags, you’ll know that they’ll be boosting the potential of your post.
@Asos jumps onto a timely hashtag with #NationalRelaxationDay.
Cross-promote your content 🤞
If you’re a brand on Instagram you need to meet your customers where they are – and that may be in their regular feeds, it may be in Instagram Stories, or it may be on IGTV…
The more of these features you use, the more chance you have of getting your brand in front of your desired audience. And to maximize the reach of each type of content, you can also cross-promote.
Maybe you’ve already used Instagram Stories to announce new posts. What about using post captions to make announcements as well? You might direct people to go and check out content you’ve created for or in collaboration with another account, or even to check out your latest Stories or IGTV video.
You can also use write Instagram captions that cross-promote content on other social media platforms. The more you can spread your message, the merrier.
Here’s an example of a brand Instagram caption from @tacobell that cross-promotes their IGTV content.
Be informative 🤓
One of the simplest yet most effective Instagram caption ideas is to add value to your content.
Here are some of the different ways you can do this:
- Add context to an image or video by telling the story behind it
- Give some instructions or helpful hints – think mini how-to guides, recipes, tutorials, etc.
- Offer interesting facts or did-you-knows
- Provide details about a product or promotion
@reformation uses this caption to inform people of their sustainability practices.
@the_attico tells the story behind a campaign shoot, giving new perspective and deeper appreciation for the images.
Be emotive 🤩
Now, we don’t mean you have to write Instagram captions that bring us to tears every time. But emotive language is certainly a powerful way to get your audience engaged.
Does your Instagram caption make me feel like I’m right there on that beach with you? Does it inspire me to take action on a cause or contribute to a campaign? Does it evoke inclusivity and a sense of belonging?
Maybe it gives me a sense of excitement or anticipation. Knowing your audience and what drives them is really important here: the words and strategies you use need to be targeted at them specifically.
Fashion brand @ganni caption their Instagram post with an inspiring quote about empowering women.
@rouje creates a sense of urgency and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) with this simple yet sales-driven caption.
To sum up…
It can take a while to get the hang of how to write Instagram captions that really compliment and add value to your posts.
Let’s go over the key steps:
- Know your audience
- Build your post around your call to action
- Make it long or short, just be sure to open strong
- Cross-promote your content
- Strategically include hashtags
- Add value to your content through words
- Emote and/or inform for maximum engagement
We hope these tips for writing Instagram captions have been helpful. Build them into your social media strategy, and you’ll soon be on your way to becoming an Instagram hashtag master.