In my full-time social media job, I’ve managed to double our Instagram engagement in a year. One key part of that is strengthening our captions (also known as copy) to make them clear, inviting, and engaging.
- Start with a strong opener.
Instagram will only give you a line or two before it cuts you off and requires readers to click “Read More” to see the rest. (That’s room for about one brief sentence.)
Most readers will not click “Read More” unless you really get their attention.
A few ways to do this:
- Open with a question that invites readers to get the answer.
- Want to know how to make $$$ through IG stories?
- A statement that answers what your client is looking for.
- Ex: I made 10K in one month and here’s how
- A controversial thought or opinion.
- Here’s why I don’t use IGTV
While you should keep your whole caption concise (more on this below), it’s absolutely essential to waste ZERO space in your opening line. Also, it doesn’t hurt to type this part in all caps and/or add an emoji at the end to call more attention to your caption.
You can see in my post shown in the photo below that I used all three in order to really draw in my audience (and it worked because I had a bunch of people click through to get the freebie!)
- Write like you speak.
Don’t over-complicate your captions. Instagram is meant to build relationships and be conversational. Your followers don’t want to feel like they’re reading a textbook. They want to talk to you!
If you need a dictionary or a thesaurus to write or read your captions, you’re probably doing a little too much. Whenever you write out your captions, read them out loud. Does the language and tone sound like you? If it doesn’t—fix it.
In this post, I introduced myself with a casual “hey” and ended with an excited “let’s get to know each other!” instead of squeezing in stuffy language that doesn’t represent who I am. If it rolls off the tongue well for you, it will probably read better for others.
- Make it easy to read.
If your caption isn’t easy on the eyes, people are not going to read it no matter how good the content may be. Just because Instagram allows 2,200 characters in your captions does not mean you should use all of them.
Decide the main point of your post and keep it to that. Leave everything else for a future post.
As you proofread your caption, be hyper-critical: what could be shortened? taken out completely? If you get attached to your work (like I do), it helps to have someone else with an outside perspective (like a friend or family member) read through your copy to let you know what’s least important to them as a reader.
Along with this, space out your caption. No one likes looking at a long block of text. Add paragraph breaks to create mental pauses for your readers. Check out how I did this in the post below—can you imagine this all as one long block of text? I wouldn’t want to read that!
- Use emojis
However, when you use emojis, use them with intentionality. Make sure the emoji you’re using makes sense with the text. Don’t use emojis to replace your text but only to supplement your text. (This is important not only from a marketing perspective but from an accessibility perspective.)
Use 1-3 emojis per caption and, for the most part, keep them at the end of your sentence. This goes back to both the readability and accessibility aspects we discussed before.
The post below shows exactly that—emojis that support and add personality without taking away from the text. How will you get creative with your emoji usage?
- End with a call to action.
Whatever you want your followers to do after they read your post—whether it’s a like, comment, save, share, etc.—tell them to do it right there in the caption.
This could look like:
- Did you find this useful? Hit SAVE to read it again later!
- What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Let me know in the comments
Telling your audience what to do increases your chances of them engaging in the way you want them to and improves your opportunity for the Instagram algorithm to prioritize your post. The algorithm loves engagement (especially SAVES!) so ask for those engagements you need to fall in the algorithm’s good graces and reach your goals!
Even though this post of mine was a little longer than I’d normally do, ending with a clear call-to-action (and supporting that with an emoji!) helped my quick-reading followers know exactly what to do once they reached the end.
There you have it—my top five tips to start writing more effective social media copy TODAY! Try these out and shoot me a DM at @ambergerdes.co to let me know if you have any luck!