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Writing Instagram Captions that Convert: Content, Formatting, and Hashtags

In this guide, you’ll unlock how to get more likes, more comments, and better reach using Instagram captions. You’ll discover why Instagram captions are so important, and why you shouldn’t ignore the powerful engagement that a well-written caption can garner.


We’ll also share can’t-miss tips on how to write a great Instagram caption — real, actionable tips you can use right away. Plus, we’ll introduce you to how to perfectly format your captions, and how to choose the best hashtags for your posts. Finally, we’ll sprinkle in some great, real-world examples of Instagram captions to inspire you. Let’s get started!


Source: Adobe Stock



WHY CAPTIONS ARE IMPORTANT


Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users, with more than 500 million of them using the platform every single day. So what’s the key to reaching that enormous audience? Perfectly written Instagram captions.


A good Instagram caption will capture your scroller’s attention. A great Instagram caption will stop them dead in their tracks. The more time a reader spends reading your caption and engaging with your post, the better your post will rank in the Instagram algorithm. With enough engagement, your post can end up on the highly coveted Explore Page, bringing more eyeballs to your posts than ever before.


Source: Social Stand



HOW TO WRITE AN AMAZING INSTAGRAM CAPTION?


So what is the secret formula to writing the perfect Instagram caption?

Use this formula: Context + Personality + Inspiration = Engaged Followers

Here’s how to make it happen:


TIP #1 – WRITE A KILLER FIRST LINE


You need to put everything into that first line. Not only does Instagram cut off your caption at around the first two or three lines, the first line has to capture your reader’s attention, or they will just keep scrolling for better posts.


So make that first sentence count! The trick is to deliver the attention-grabbing element of your post in that first line before the caption is cut off, making it visible in your reader’s feed, without them having to click “more”.



Here are some attention-grabbing elements you can put in your first line:

  • Spark their interest with some hard-hitting stats

  • Pique their passion with a disruptive statement

  • Tap into their egos by asking a question

  • Trigger an emotional response with a compelling narrative

  • Share an exclusive offer that they can’t pass up

  • Tease their curiosity and keep them guessing

Whatever you choose, it needs to capture their attention quickly so they will actually click “more” and engage further with your post.


Social Nature using humour in their caption


TIP #2 – ADD A STRONG CALL-TO-ACTION


Once you have captured their attention with the first line of your caption, you need to give them something to do with that interest!


Use active language: A strong Instagram call-to-action (CTA) that uses phrases like “register now”, “buy now”, or “click more” will help your audience know what to do next.


Virgin uses active language in their CTAs


Creates a sense of urgency: Your CTA has to create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out). Phrases like “for a limited time only”, “available to the first 100 customers”, “only 24 hours to use this discount code” will get your followers to act quickly before their interest disappears.


Hudsons Bay builds FOMO in their captions before a sale.


Uses "you" statements: The goal for your Instagram CTA is to make your readers feel like you are talking directly to them. “Create a free Keyhole account today” is just not as effective as “Create your free Keyhole account today.” Make it about your reader, and not about you.


Keyhole connects the post to the reader with “you” statement.


Stand out: Before you can get your followers to do what you want them to do, you have to capture their attention. Make your CTA stand out. Make it colorful, use great images, and use emojis, anything that says “eyes over here”.


Sephora uses vibrant colors to draw attention to their CTA.


A bonus Instagram CTA tip!:

Ask your followers to tag their friends in the comment section of your post. Adding “tag a friend who needs this!” or “tag someone who would wear this” is an incredible way to boost your post with the Instagram algorithm.


TIP #3 – ADD VALUE TO YOUR POSTS


Your captions are Instagram currency—what will you trade for their time? Offer tips, expert advice, or even humor to increase the added value of your Instagram caption.


Adding value to your posts will encourage your followers to engage more by sharing, bookmarking, or commenting, helping to boost your Instagram analytics in the process.


Instagram For Business often adds value by posting tip, wins, and case studies


TIP #4 – TELL A STORY


This is where your brand personality can shine. Every brand has a narrative style, and every product or service has a story. Tell it. Be specific, cover the senses by tapping into sensory words that describe taste, sound, sight, touch, feelings, or emotions. Connect your reader with what you are talking about.


Red Bull uses storytelling to increase engagement.


TIP #5 – HAVE FUN WITH EMOJIS


Emojis are everywhere on Instagram—if you aren’t using them, then you are not speaking the native language.


Emojis are part of Instagram culture.


With nearly 3,000 emojis (and counting) out there, you can have some fun incorporating them into your captions.


The benefits of using emojis:

  • They animate your captions

  • They add visual interest, helping your post stand out

  • They draw attention to actions

  • They break up dense copy in your posts


Emojis are often part of McDonalds’ captions, bringing attention to CTAs and keywords.


Just don’t overdo them. A few, carefully placed emojis can boost engagement, but if you overdo it with too many, you can lose your message and send your readers packing.


You should also make sure your emojis fit in with your branding and tone of voice. Many businesses are incorporating approved emojis into their brand style guides, ensuring consistency in overall messaging across all social media platforms.


TIP #6 – BE PURPOSEFUL IN YOUR CAPTION LENGTH


Like with everything in marketing, your focus should be quality over quantity. Instagram trends have varied from the short and punchy to longer “micro-blogging” posts. There’s really no right or wrong length for Instagram captioning.


The more you post, the more you will see what works for your followers. But when you are first starting out or if you are in doubt, it’s best to stay on the shorter side.


Madewell does a good job at fitting caption length to post type.


About micro-blogging: This is a newer Instagram trend and a fantastic way to connect with your readers on a deeper level—quickly turning them from followers to brand loyalists. Micro-blogging is a popular trend for for storytelling!



TIP #7 – USE HASHTAGS


Instagram hashtags are the key to ensuring people actually find your posts—so make sure you’re using them properly. Hashtags act like keywords. They’re trackable on Instagram through Instagram Analytics and other sentiment analysis tools like Keyhole, and can be the difference between popularity and obscurity.



INSTAGRAM CAPTION FORMATTING TIPS


Proper formatting makes your captions and posts easier to read. The easier it is to read, the more people will ready them and take action. When you are formatting your captions on Instagram, here are a few things to keep in mind.


1. USE LINE BREAKS

Line breaks are a great way to split up long chunks of text. To add line breaks on Instagram, just hit return!


2. CREATIVE BULLET POINTS

Bullet points are another great option for eye-catching text. You can use emojis or copy and paste text-based symbols from a text editor for DIY bullet points.


3. USE EMOJIS LIKE PUNCTUATION

It’s easy to go overboard with emojis. Used the right way, they make your caption easier to read. Used the wrong way, they clutter everything up. Use emojis like punctuation: at the end of a sentence or thought.


4. USE SHORTER SENTENCES

Long posts have their uses, but long sentences rarely do. Keep sentences short and sweet to make them easier to read, and use punctuation where helpful.


Bonus tip: But that said—normal grammar and punctuation rules don’t always apply on Instagram. It may be more authentic to write more casually and without full punctuation.



CHOOSING THE BEST HASHTAGS


Instagram hashtags are an important way to make sure your posts are searchable, and is the best way to get discovered by new audiences. This can transform into better engagement, more followers, and ultimately, more customers for your business.

Make sure you are making the most of them!


DIFFERENT KINDS OF INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS


1. BRANDED HASHTAGS

Branded hashtags are your own creation—unique to your business. Common branded hashtags are company names, taglines, or the name of a product or campaign.


This is an amazing opportunity to extend your brand identity and show your marketing creativity. Remember, your branded hashtag might have nothing to do with your brand name, just make sure it has everything to do with your brand identity.

Starbucks uses branded hashtags to celebrate the opening of their new roastery.



2. COMMUNITY HASHTAGS

Community hashtags connect groups of like-minded users to a specific subject. They don’t need to be connected to a business, but they can be. This type of hashtag is broader and less focused than branded hashtags, and is all about bringing people together. It can represent a lifestyle, a philosophy, or a movement.


If you want to create a community hashtag, keep the scope narrow to optimize the amount of engagement. Stick to a niche interest that will easily build a community around it.


ShakeShack combines a community hashtag with their branded hashtag to connect the two communities.



3. CAMPAIGN HASHTAGS

Campaign hashtags have a shorter lifespan than branded or community hashtags.

They can last a few short days, run for a season, or even for a year. But the point of them is to promote a campaign, product launch, or partnership, and are stopped being used once the promotion has ended.


Coca-Cola uses their campaign hashtag #KindnessStartsWith to engage users.



HOW TO FIND THE BEST INSTAGRAM HASHTAGS FOR YOUR POST


In order to be prosperous with hashtags, you need to be strategic—not only with which ones you choose, but when you choose to use them as well. The most popular Instagram hashtags are used millions of times a day, but that doesn’t mean that you will get your fair share of engagement just by adding #cats, #truelove, or #blessed to your posts.


#cats has over 100 billion posts



To be found, it’s better to use hashtags that are more niche to get your audience truly engaged. It also will bring in more qualified users that are relevant to your industry and brand.


But how do you find them?


The best way is to look. See what your followers, competitors, and industry leaders are already using. A great way to find more niche but related hashtags is to look at the “Related Hashtags” section under bigger topics, like in the example above.



A FINAL NOTE


When it comes to creating Instagram captions, being strategic is key. Instagram is also a wonderful opportunity to show off your brand personality. Combining your own unique voice and point of view on this laid-back platform lets you reach out to your audience in new and exciting ways.


Need help in crafting perfect captions for your Instagram posts? Contact us here!




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