The Ultimate Guide to Writing Good Instagram Captions
By Jillian Warren
Updated on July 25, 2019
17 minute read
Discover simple ways to write good Instagram captions that are creative and effective for your business.
Published July 25, 2019
Stay on top of the biggest social media marketing trends!
Writing good Instagram captions can be really hard.
Should your Instagram captions be funny? Serious? Inspirational? Should you use emojis and hashtags? And what about your call-to-action?
To help you get started and create Instagram captions that are as great as your photos, we’ve put together this guide with all our top tips:
Why Are Good Instagram Captions So Important?
A great Instagram caption will stop a scroller in their tracks — and the longer someone spends reading your caption and engaging with your post, the better your post will rank with the Instagram algorithm!
Captions are a powerful tool that can be used to encourage likes, comments, and even visits to your website. And if your post gets enough engagement, it might even end up on the Explore Page!
What’s more, captions are a huge opportunity to build a stronger relationship with your audience.
And while celebrities like Kylie Jenner can get away with a single moon emoji as a caption, for brands and influencers, lengthy captions that champion story-telling and authenticity are driving great results:
The “micro-blogging” caption trend is a great way to connect on a deeper level with your followers, which in turn can boost brand loyalty.
Not forgetting that a good Instagram caption with an effective call-to-action (CTA) is one of the best ways to inspire your followers to comment on your posts. And that means even more engagement on your account.
In a nutshell, you can’t afford to leave your captions as an afterthought.
While creating beautiful content for your feed is ultra important, if you want to get more engagement on your posts, and maybe even reach new audiences, writing good Instagram captions that drive engagement is a great strategy.
In its simplest form, a good Instagram caption is one that provides context, adds personality, and inspires your followers to take action.
But writer’s block is real, and when you’ve spent time and effort perfecting your Instagram images, crafting a caption can seem like added work you don’t have time for.
To help you start writing good Instagram captions that convert readers into loyal, engaged followers, we’re sharing our top tips!
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #1: Write a Killer First Line
Making the first part of your Instagram caption super-engaging and enticing is a sure-fire way to boost the amount of time people spend viewing your post.
The trick is to ensure that you deliver the punchy, attention-grabbing element of your first line before the caption is truncated (shortened) — so it’s visible in someone’s feed without them having to click “more”.
You could spark your followers’ curiosity with an intriguing statement, or capture their attention with hard-hitting stats, trigger an emotional response or share an exclusive offer.
Whatever tactic you choose, just remember that the goal is to pique your followers’ interest, so they’re more likely to read your full caption and engage with your post.
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #2: Add a Call-to-Action
The simple act of including a call-to-action in your Instagram caption and inviting your audience to comment or like a post can go a very long way it when it comes to driving more engagement.
And the best bit — the engagement doesn’t stop with Instagram!
A good CTA can inspire your followers to engage with your business website, sign up to a newsletter or shop online!
Here’s how to nail your CTAs in your Instagram posts:
Using Call-to-Actions to Drive Engagement
If you want more engagement on your posts, all you have to do is ask!
Add a call-to-action to your Instagram captions like “double tap if you agree”, or ask a personal question to encourage more comments on your post.
Not only will this strengthen the sense of community on your Instagram account, but it will also provide positive indicators for the Instagram algorithm — which will lead to more exposure for your post.
Try to keep your CTAs fun and easy to do to encourage as many engagements as possible.
Another great call-to-action that will boost your post with the Instagram algorithm is to ask your followers to tag their friends in the comment section of your post.
This can be as simple as saying: “Tag a friend who needs to hear this!”, or “Tag someone that would wear this!”.
Alternatively, you could run an Instagram contest that requires users to tag a friend in the comments section in order to enter.
If you’re planning on running an Instagram contest, it’s a good idea to include “contest” or “giveaway” at the beginning of your caption to really capture your followers’ attention!
Using Call-to-Actions to Divert Traffic to Your Site
You can also use call-to-actions to encourage your audience to visit your website or purchase a product.
If you have over 10k followers on Instagram, you can add direct links to your Instagram Stories and invite viewers to “swipe up” to learn more.
But it can be a little bit trickier to direct your followers to your site from your post captions.
One way around this is to encourage your followers to click the link in your bio, or even visit a specific URL.
Instagram only gives you one hyperlink in your bio, so if you’re looking to optimize on that, think about using a tool like Linkin.bio by Later.
With Linkin.bio, you can redirect your viewers from your captions to a clickable landing page that looks exactly like your feed.
So your audience will always be able to find the link they’re looking for, and you won’t have to keep updating the link in your profile!
Want to drive more traffic to your website and convert followers into customers? Linkin.bio is available on all Later business plans.
Tease the Value of Completing a Call-to-Action
To make your call-to-actions even more effective, let your followers know what they stand to gain by doing it.
As Elise Darma mentions in our free How to Write Engaging Instagram Captions workshop, this can be as simple as adding “so that” to your captions — such as: “enter my competition so that you can win…” — or by setting out what your audience will learn by following your CTA!
Adding a simple reason for why your followers should follow your call-to-action will encourage them to do so, which will help you achieve your goals!
Make Your Call-to-Actions Stand Out
As captions get longer, it’s easier for your call-to-action to get lost amongst all of your caption copy.
To combat this, you can use a custom font to jazz up your captions and draw more attention to your call-to-action.
And creating a custom font is easy!
All you have to do is paste your call-to-action into a custom font tool, like IGfonts.io, to generate a whole range of fonts that you can simply copy and paste into your caption.
You can also use eye-catching emojis, capital letters, or symbols to make your call-to-actions extra visible!
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #3: Add Line Breaks to Longer Captions
Keeping your Instagram captions short and punchy is a great way to ensure your message gets across — but what about when you’ve got lots to say?
Adding line breaks to your Instagram captions will keep them easy to digest, even when you’ve got several points to make!
This simple spacing hack is great for breaking up hefty captions, that could be a serious turn-off for your followers.
Previously, you had to add individual symbols, like stars or dashes, each on a new line of text, to create line breaks in your captions.
But with Later, all you have to do is press the return key while writing your caption and you’ll have lovely, spaced out captions for your Instagram posts!
Don’t believe us?Sign up for Laterif you haven’t already and give it a try — it’s free!
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #4: Use a Consistent Brand Voice
Aside from the obvious tips on using proper grammar and spelling, one of the most important parts of any good Instagram caption is a consistent, and on-brand, voice.
Your Instagram captions should mirror your brand personality, and they should sound and feel like the rest of your marketing channels.
In general, it’s a good idea to take a more informal tone in your captions, as this will make your posts more personable — which is great for encouraging engagement!
A quick tip is to read your captions out loud and or dictate your caption to your phone using your voice notes. If it doesn’t sound like how you’d naturally speak, then it might be worth going back to the drawing board.
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #5: Pick 2-3 Focal Themes
A consistent Instagram feed aesthetic is one of the best ways to grow a large and loyal following while showing off your brand’s unique style and tone — and the same applies for your Instagram captions!
Consistent Instagram captions will give your account a stronger personality and focus, reinforcing that you’re an expert in your domain — whatever that may be!
An easy way to do this is to set 2-3 themes that you can write about time and time again.
Take for example @everlane, who keep their captions centered around their products, transparency, and sustainability.
You can even assign a regular time slot to share posts related to a specific theme. For example, beauty brand @TrinnyLondon shares a “Fashion Friday” post each week — highlighting what the team is wearing.
CONTENT PLANNING TIP: Use Later’s Calendar Notes feature to reserve slots in your content planner for a specific theme — even if you don’t have a full post ready to schedule yet!
Not sure how to pick your themes, or need some extra help drafting your captions? We have free Instagram caption templates to get those creative juices flowing!
Sign up below and we’ll send them straight to your inbox — along with access to your free video workshop!
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #6: Include Eye-Catching Emojis
When you aren’t using emojis to draw attention to your call-to-action, you can use them to add personality to your Instagram caption.
You can insert multiple emojis at the beginning of your caption to catch the eye of your followers with a bit of color, so they want to click to read more, or you can replace whole words with an emoji.
Even if you just add an emoji at the end of your Instagram caption, it will make your caption more inviting to your followers — and why not? Everyone loves an emoji!
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #7: Disclose Sponsored Posts
With FTC regulations being tightened around sponsored posts and Instagram ads, it’s more important than ever to be transparent about your posts.
When you’re being rewarded or paid to promote a business or product — whether it’s through physical payment, affiliate links, or on a gifting basis — it needs to be correctly disclosed.
A common practice among influencers is to include a hashtag like #spon, #sponsored, #ad, #paid, or #partnership in the captions of their sponsored Instagram posts.
If you want to disclose sponsored Instagram posts using a general hashtag, the only FTC-compliant ones are #sponsored or #ad.
And according to the FTC, you can’t simply hide #ad in the middle of your 29 other hashtags (especially because Instagram captions are shortened after 1-2 lines of text). The disclosure hashtag has to be easily noticed and understood by users.
That doesn’t mean you have to put #ad or #sponsored at the very beginning of your caption, but it’s obviously less likely to be seen if it’s in the middle or at the end.
The FTC also states that you can’t simply attach the word “ad” to the end of another hashtag, such as #adidasoriginalsad.
If you’re unsure, your backstop should be to over-disclose than under. Authenticity and transparency is valued on Instagram more than anything else, so it’s worth being honest with your followers.
ICYMI: Find out how to properly disclose sponsored Instagram posts according to the FTC inthis blog post!
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #8: Write Your Captions in Batches
One of the biggest reasons people have trouble writing Instagram captions is because they try to do it on the fly, which definitely isn’t ideal.
Instead of jumping from task to task, it’s much more efficient to write your Instagram captions in one solid batch writing session — so you can really get in the zone!
So whether that’s first thing on Monday morning, or it’s your last task before the weekend, carve out some time and dedicate it just to captions.
If you want to get organized with captions, you can plan your Instagram posts ahead of time with Later! With the calendar view and Visual Planner, you can craft and edit all of your captions in one go:
And once you’re happy with your captions, you can schedule and set your post to automatically go live when you want them too — making your content calendar even easier to manage!
Ready to start crafting your captions and save time with Instagram? Sign up to Later — it’s free!
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #9: Use Hashtags to Boost Your Discoverability
Not only can hashtags help you gain more Instagram followers, but they’re a great way to connect with customers, find content created about you by your followers, and build long-term relationships with influential partners!
How Instagram Hashtags Work in Captions
Hashtags help organize and categorize photos and video content, which means that Instagram knows when to show your post to viewers who have searched the hashtag, or are browsing the Explore page.
For example, a food blogger could post a picture of a smoothie bowl, and then use the hashtags #superfoods, #cleaneating, and #vegansofig when it’s uploaded to Instagram.
How to Be Strategic With Hashtags
In order to be successful with hashtags, it’s important to be strategic about your hashtag usage.
The “most popular” Instagram hashtags are just simple words, and while tagging #love, #happy, and #dog may get you a few more likes, it’s not going to do much for your growth in the long run.
Instead of using the most popular Instagram hashtags, it’s better to use the top Instagram hashtags that have an engaging community behind them and are specific to your audience.
The narrower the scope of the hashtag, the more engaged the users are. You’ll be surprised by just how niche hashtags can get!
One of the best ways to stay organized with all of your community Instagram hashtags is by using Later’s Saved Captions feature.
With Saved Captions, you can create templates to save your most commonly used hashtags.
When it’s time to schedule, simply select one of your Saved Captions to add it to your post.
And best of all? It’s free to all Later users! Learn more about Later’s Saved Captions feature in this video:
Use Branded Hashtags in Your Instagram Caption
A branded hashtag is a great way to start a conversation with your followers and increase the reach of your content.
Branded hashtags are a way for your “fans” to share with their followers how they are already engaging with your brand, and for you to inspire user-generated content (UGC). It can mean major growth for your followers and help with the overall engagement on Instagram.
Keep Your Instagram Captions Clean
Adding hashtags to your Instagram caption is a great way to make your posts more discoverable, but too many hashtags can make your captions look untidy.
Equally, adding hashtags too soon in your caption can encourage users to click away from your post — which is the opposite of what you want to achieve!
Instead, add the bulk of your hashtags to the very end of your caption, tucked away behind several line breaks!
This will keep your Instagram posts discoverable and maintain your sleek aesthetic.
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #10: Create Captions for Your Instagram Stories
Adding a caption to your Instagram Stories is one of the most effective ways to capture your viewers’ attention — especially as lots of people watch stories without sound.
Your Instagram Stories captions can be informative (so it doesn’t matter if viewers’ watch without sound) or intriguing — to encourage your audience to tune in and listen!
You can also use Instagram Stories captions to drive your followers to complete a specific action. This could be as simple as encouraging them to swipe up, or click the link in your bio.
Not only do captions encourage more activity, but they’ll also make your stories more user-friendly for people with a hearing impairment.
And there’s a ton of new apps out there to help!
For live video, you can use the Clipomatic app to automatically add subtitles as you record. All you have to do is hit the record button, speak clearly, and your words will appear in a stylish caption right on your recording.
For prerecorded video, you can use the Caption This app to automate your subtitles — just upload your recorded video and wait for your captions to populate!
How to Write Good Instagram Captions Tip #11: Optimize Your IGTV Captions
ICYMI: When an IGTV preview is shared to your Instagram feed, the caption is automatically pulled from your IGTV video title and description.
With this in mind, it’s worth thinking about how your IGTV video title and description works as a feed post caption — as previews are one of the best ways to drive more views to your video content!
Equally, if your IGTV video is part of a sponsored partnership, it’s important to disclose this clearly in your feed preview caption:
Your IGTV video descriptions are also the only place where you include clickable links on Instagram (aside from your link in bio) so it’s definitely worth encouraging your audience to watch your full IGTV video in your feed preview captions!
Coming up with good Instagram captions might seem hard, but if you want to be successful on Instagram, it’s important to not let your Instagram captions become an afterthought.
Jillian is Later's Editor. A go-to expert in social media strategy and content marketing, she has worked in both London and New York. Next up? Lisbon and Paris! You can reach out to her on Instagram here: @jillwrren.
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