For a successful social presence, we all know that stunning imagery which is able to stop an Instagram user mid-scroll is essential. What's often overlooked, however, is the caption that guides them through from there.
Make no mistake, an off-hand, unconsidered, or non-existent caption is a missed opportunity. While Instagram is, of course, a predominantly visual platform, the words you choose to accompany your content have power, and shouldn’t be wasted.
This is yet another area where marketers can look to influencers for inspiration.
They cultivate connection
Captions offer a direct line of communication to your followers. Whether you use your words to share how an image was made, offer advice, or explain how you’re feeling, they can add value and help your audience get to know you and your business better.
Captions give you the chance to offer your followers something more, allowing them like they're on part of the process. This can help create a better relationship with your audience, and cultivate a more loyal following.
They boost engagement
While the Instagram algorithm is a hotly contested topic, one thing we do know is that it favors posts that get engagement. If your post is boosted by the algorithm, more people will have a chance to see it, and it could even end up in the Discover tab.
Captions are one way to boost your engagement, which Instagram measures in likes, comments and time spent on a post.
You can encourage comments by asking your followers questions, or craft longer captions so that your followers spend longer on your post. With 2,200 characters at your disposal, the options are endless. Test out different lengths with your audience and see what resonates best - just be sure to make the first sentence the most engaging as that’s where it'll cut off in the home feed.
They help you get discovered
Including hashtags in your captions can help to extend the reach of your posts. They help you get in on trending conversations and enable your post to pop up among similar content, ready to be found by like-minded communities.
The data insights offered by Instagram business accounts will give you guidance on how often your posts are being discovered thanks to hashtags, which should help inform your strategy. The jury is still out on the optimum number to include, but it’s important to make sure that those you do include are highly relevant to the content you are posting.
General hashtags like #ootd are widely searched and tagged, so using them will see your content enter a large pool of endlessly updating posts. More niche hashtags will be searched less often, but will have a better chance of being discovered, and more longevity. Given this, it’s smart to include a combination of both popular and niche tags.
We've outlined a step-by-step Instagram caption process in this graphic.