Instagram has grown rapidly to become one of the most used social media apps in the world. The platform recently surpassed 700 million monthly users, putting it ahead of many of the most popular social networks, including Twitter. Now expanding into the paid social space, Instagram is fast becoming vital for brands to use in order to reach their target markets.
Just how critical has Instagram become? 60% of Instagram users have used the platform to research a brand or company, and Instagram brands typically receive over 4% total engagement on posts, compared to less than 0.1% on Facebook and Twitter. Instagram also has access to parent company Facebook's algorithms and demographic data, making it even more powerful as a social media tool.
While only 36% of marketers use Instagram (compared to 93% who use Facebook), Instagram's now massive audience has put it in the spotlight, with many brands now flocking to the platform, which is also making it increasingly difficult to stand out in amongst the established brands that are already seeing success. A critical path to success on Instagram is to craft great captions. The ideal Instagram caption will appeal to your target market and inspire engagement - and hopefully invoke positive brand association.
Here are some tips on how to be successful with your Instagram captions:
1. Cultivate a Voice for Your Captions
In order to create demand and interest for your brand, it's important to write in a consistent voice. This gives users something to expect and look forward to in an account, as well as enabling you to further develop your brand's personality and tone.
Create the optimal tone for your brand or client by taking your typical brand voice and melding it with a more lighthearted tone. The essence of your brand is still there, but in a way that's easier to digest for customers and your audience.
On Instagram, the overall tone is generally much lighter and cheerier than LinkedIn, Facebook, or news-heavy Twitter. While every brand is different, the visual nature of the medium dictates that text is minimal but impactful.
By having this established tone of voice, you'll be able to build trust and familiarity, while also expressing the personality behind your company. This unique tone will be what sets you apart from your competition - it helps you by combining your key messages and values into a repeatable language that invokes familiarity with your target audience.
2. Frontload Your Copy
Instagram has a large character limit on captions. That being said, they cut off the text of your captions after 3-4 lines, requiring a user to click "more" to view the text in its entirety.
You can avoid this by putting the most relevant and captivating information or text first, and putting hashtags at the end.
By leading with the most important words, you can pull your readers in and inspire them to engage with your content. Speaking of hashtags, they're also useful to sort your posts and generate more reach - but they don't need to be visible to be effective. By adding a hashtag, Instagram posts see an average 12.6% increase in engagement
Although Instagram provides a 2200 character limit, it's not necessary to overload your captions with information. It's better to direct users to a link in your profile or your website to capture more engagement from each unique user.
In general, social media posts have been found to receive 86% higher traffic when using 40 characters or less.
A post shared by nike (@nike) on Mar 26, 2017 at 7:44pm PDT
3. Use a Call-to-Action
The best way to engage your Instagram audience is to invite them to respond and react to your content through an effective call-to-action (CTA). By doing this you can drive engagement by asking your audience to comment, tag a friend, respond to a question, et cetera.
Here are a few other examples:
- Ask questions relevant to your audience
- Direct people to a link in your biography
- Invite users to tag their friends
- Invite people to enter a contest
A post shared by McDonald's (@mcdonalds) on Apr 1, 2017 at 7:04am PDT
Even your more fun, less sales-driven content can benefit from a clear call-to-action. This will help guide your audience on the type of engagement you're looking for, and increase the activity you get from your posts.
4. Be Strategic About Your Instagram Goals
As with anything in marketing - whether on social media or otherwise - strategy is key when it comes to successfully growing your brand on Instagram. Set goals for the types of images and captions you want to promote through Instagram and plan them so that there's variety in your content.
Create a schedule of content so that you always know what should be posting, at what time of day, and when during the week. Write out your posts in advance so you have time to perfect the caption. Pick the ideal time for your brand to post. Utilize tools like Captiona and Hemmingway which are Instagram caption guide tools that can help brainstorm and edit captions to properly fit your brand.
By creating a clear content and posting strategy for your Instagram account, you'll not only be more organized, but you'll also be able to better measure your success.
Being successful on Instagram is easier with the right strategy, and by using all of the available tools strategically. Using captions well is key to great engagement and interaction on this fast-growing social networking platform, which is overtaking many others in popularity. By using the four methods outlined in this article, you'll be well on your way to success.