Over 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram every day, and 40 billion have been shared in total since the inception of the platform in 2010 (yes, it’s been 9 years, how incredible!)
When it first became popular, Instagram was known as the photo-sharing social media platform. Facebook was about giving your friends a live update as to what you were doing, Twitter was helping its users flirt with 160 characters at a time and no one was really all about the photos.
But when Facebook brought the platform two years later in 2012, they slowly made changes to the algorithm that made it just as important to write good captions as it did to have good eye-catching photos.
After all, Instagram’s robots don’t have eyes, so they can’t actually SEE the photo, so you have to tell it what the photo is about.
Side note – when I was running ads in December for a hashtag training webinar, I had someone comment on my advert telling me that it was trendy not to use hashtags any more. I responded that it was cool that she thought that she didn’t need to use hashtags, but considering she had the same follower count as I did but had a quarter of the engagement, I wished her luck in a hashtag-less world, and proceeded to train business owners who want to learn!
There are 4 important steps to make a great caption on Instagram, here they are broken down.
1) The caption itself
Ever noticed how Instagram shows the user just the first few lines of text underneath a post? That’s your 2nd chance to entice the reader to click “more” and read on, the first being the image that made them stop scrolling.
The caption can be as long as you like (up to 2200 characters) but this is your chance to really connect with your audience by doing any of the following to build that know, like and trust factor.
· Solving a problem that your target market have
· Give advice that your target market would like to receive
· Give insights into something about your work or a recent experience
· Give your personal opinion
· Tell personal stories
· Teach new skills or give facts and figures that are relatable but interesting to your target audience
· Be inspirational
2) Usage of emojis, font changes and line breaks
Although not proven or had the record set straight by Instagram officially, it’s said that the use of emojis can help your post stand out. Emojis can invoke emotion in a way that is usually quite funny and charming, which helps you better connect with your audience. Not an emoji user? No, me neither, but even something simple like using the camera emoji at the end of your post to depict who took the photo can work too.
Line breaks are always useful; it helps your reader split up the text in their mind, especially in this day and age when people skim read. It’s also great to use line breaks (or full stops) to separate the caption from the hashtags as that helps the human reader know when to stop reading. Anything that keeps the reader reading the caption will help your engagement.
Ever used different fonts? I’m betting that you are not familiar with this as not many people do it, or know that it’s possible. There are some font changes out there like Yay Text that can change your text into different fonts. I like the posts that only change a few words to make them stand out – I think it works really well.
3) Call to action
Even if you don’t want to be selling all the time (and why would you if you follow the 3, 2, 1 method of posting), you can still invite people to take action. Some examples are:
· Comment below if…
· Tag a friend
· Check out the link in my bio
· Ask me a question below in the comments
· Double tap if you agree
· Save this post so that you can come back and action what I have taught you (I will do a blog post on why it’s great to get your followers to save a post soon)
Without a call to action, you are not invoking an emotional response to your post. Chances are, if it resonated with your target audience, you will have made them feel like they belong reading your post, so they will gladly take action. Ever seen an IGTV or a story where you felt like the person was speaking directly to you, then you took action because it was totally you? That’s what you are trying to do with your followers.
Yes, I know, this is my favourite subject! Here’s just a few little tips to help you out with hashtags
· Always try to use 30. If you can’t think of 30 (ideas for how to get over this below), then put at least 11
· Don’t use the same 30 hashtags on each post; Instagram considers this spammy
· Research hashtags in your niche in advance so that you don’t sit on the sofa trying to find the right hashtags for every post, trying to think of every word you can hashtag
If you want some more insight into what kind of hashtags you should use, take my quiz here to find out.
So there you have it, four different elements to your captions – the text, the emojis, the call to action and the hashtags. Which element of this do you have nailed already and which do you need to improve? Let me know by dropping me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org