When you consider that mobile internet usage has surged in recent years, and that 65% of people are visual learners, it's no wonder that image-based social media platforms like Instagram are incredibly popular at the moment.
And since 50% of Instagram users follow at least one business, the app is also ideal for communicating your brand's message using visual content - however creating compelling imagery is only one part of the puzzle. If you want people to engage with your content, it's important to also think about the captions that accompany the visuals.
While the visuals are undoubtedly the main attraction, captions play an understated, yet crucial, supporting role. Captions enable you to build context around the visuals, which is why they're so important.
Here are some tips for writing killer Instagram captions.
Write With an Authentic Tone of Voice
Instagram users aren't expecting a serious tone of voice - they're generally using the app in their free time to look at cool visuals and be entertained.
One of the keys to social media is to communicate like an authentic human, not a faceless corporation, and this definitely applies to crafting Instagram captions.
Old Spice is a brand known for publishing outlandish visual content, so it's only appropriate that its Instagram captions would be equally outrageous as the images.
For instance, a man battling a giant squid at the bottom of the ocean equals a fun bath time:
You won't find any "your mom" jokes on Microsoft's Instagram, but on Old Spice's unashamedly puerile page, the fans don't seem to mind too much (although they do frequently voice grievances about the quality of Old Spice's products).
Include a CTA
65% of top-performing brand posts on Instagram feature products. Directly instructing people to check out your product or make a purchase can work well on this platform.
For instance, Dell doesn't beat around the bush when asking you to try this new lightweight laptop (the funny video shows you can also use the laptop as a dumbbell for bicep curls).
Alternatively, a CTA can be used to generate engagement for the post - I recommend asking your followers to leave a comment or tag a friend.
You can also finish your caption with a question to maximize engagement. The following post from Taco Bell encourages users to think creatively. Posting a response isn't merely answering a question, it's also an opportunity to showcase your wit, intelligence and humor.
Instagram posts with a minimum of one hashtag generate 12.6% more engagement than those without.
Hashtags are a great way to create a sense of community around your brand and get people talking about your products.
In the world of fast food, Taco Bell is one of the most social media savvy brands around. Almost every post on Taco Bell's official Instagram page features a hashtag.
The #DoritosLocosTacos hashtag has been used by thousands of community members, most of whom are posting about their own experiences at Taco Bell.
I recommend keeping your hashtags as short as possible. Also, aim to use less than 10 hashtags per post for best results.
Whether or not you believe the statistic that 93% of communications are nonverbal, facial expression emojis definitely help to convey the feelings behind your words.
For maximum engagement, it's wise to use emojis which correlate to the content of the image.
Check out these posts by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), featuring two of the world's most popular fighters who are set to clash soon - Amanda "The Lioness" Nunes and Valentina "Bullet" Shevchenko.
No text is needed, the emojis and hashtags say everything.
Mention Other Instagram Users
It's important to remember that Instagram is a social network. Brands that relentlessly self-promote with little regards to community never do well.
By mentioning other users in your Instagram captions, you'll encourage them (and hopefully their followers) to comment on the post.
This post by Dollar Beard Club, a manufacturer of beard care products, features a photo of a loyal customer, and gives him the opportunity to show off his facial furniture to other beard fanatics.
By mentioning his Instagram handle in the caption, he was happy to engage with the other commenters.
Place Important Content at the Beginning
In a user's Instagram feed, captions are cut off after the first few lines. To see the entire post, they have to click the "View More" button - which they won't if the first few lines are unappealing.
This is why you need to fit the most important points into the beginning of the content. This practice is known as front-loading.
Use your most captivating words at the start and save your hashtags for the end.
Sprout Social advocates keeping Instagram captions between 138-150 characters, and I would strongly agree with this.
There are now 15 million Instagram Business profiles, a huge increase from the 1.6 million business they had on the platform in September 2016.
With so many brands publishing visual content on Instagram, crafting engaging captions is essential if you want to stand out.
Captions provide humor, entertainment and most importantly, context for the images.
Can you think of any other tips for writing great Instagram captions? Please let me know in the comments below.
Featured image via Pixabay