Our 8 Tips for Writing Engaging Instagram Captions

Many users flock to Instagram to get to know their favorite brands on a more personal level (especially their favorite local brands from Bozeman!) And not writing thorough, unique, or even interesting captions can leave you in the dust.

"I'm not a writer," you say?

Well, good! Because you don't have to be. Instead, our copywriter broke down some of the top strategies she uses when she sits down to write captions for our clients.

1. Get to Know Your Audience

There's no way that your audience is "everyone on Instagram." There are ONE BILLION Instagram users as of this year. It's an impossible goal to want to reach them all.

Instead of making content for anyone and everyone, tailor your content to specific demographics. Yes, there will be research involved, but don't worry, it's super valuable info to have. Here are a few good questions to get you started:

How old is my audience?
Where do they live?
What do they do for work?
What are some activities they like outside of work?

PRO TIP: Rather than thinking of your audience as a set of data, create an audience persona with a name and defined demographic information, so you can have a fully developed idea of the actual living, breathing people you're targeting.

2. Cultivate a Unique Brand Voice  

What makes your brand different from the rest? This question is essential to ask yourself when developing a unique voice.

Make a list of words or phrases that answer that question and develop a brand voice that hits all of those points.

Some words could be: bold, playful, knowledgeable, warm, helpful, welcoming. You get the idea.

But remember, even though you're speaking on behalf of your brand, your audience can peek behind the curtain and see that you're still just a person. Don't get so lost in your brand voice that your captions are devoid of personality and authenticity.

3. Hook Your Readers 

Did you know that Instagram cuts captions off at 125 characters before the "More" button appears? Better make them count!

Using hooks to grab your audience isn't necessarily a new tactic, but if you take the time and effort to write captions that you want people to read, you need to have a few techniques up your sleeve. Starting with: a question your audience wants an answer to, a joke that they will understand, a compelling (relatable) quote, a surprising fact, or a phrase that will trigger their curiosity (i.e., "we're going to let you in on a little secret") are all excellent ways to hook your audience.

It may seem like clickbait, but clickbait isn't a crime.

As long as you don't leave your audience hanging without giving something worth reading, which leads us to our next point... 

4. Value, Value, VALUE 

Unless you're simply trying to put a smile on your audience's face, there's no reason to write a caption just for the sake of taking up space. Everything (and we mean EVERYTHING) you write should have some sort of value. Captions that are lacking value are often bypassed and not given a second thought. But, it's crucial to remember that value doesn't always equal information. Emotional value is just as, if not more important. 

Put yourself in the same position as the audience and ask, "would I want to read this? Does this caption elicit the emotion I was going for?" 

Try to give out tips related to your brand's expertise, info about your products or services, brand announcements (giveaways, sales, + events ), inspirational messages, and so on.  

5. Call To Action

A Call to Action, or CTA, is asking (or telling) your audience to do a specific task after reading your post. An excellent example of a CTA can be visiting your website, making a reservation, saving the post for later, or using a branded hashtag. 

PRO TIP: create a sense of urgency the same way traditional commercials tell viewers to "ACT FAST." Think of it as giving your audience a little nudge in the right direction.  

Not every post needs a CTA, but there's a give-and-take to posting on Instagram. If you want your followers to become customers, you need to give them easily accessible ways to interact with you, purchase your products, or request your services. 

6. Grammarly is your BFF

Our whole team SWEARS by Grammarly! This isn't an ad. We honestly just love the service! We run every piece of writing through Grammarly; EVEN THIS BLOG POST! It will catch those little mistakes that proofreading over and over again won't. But never use it as a crutch. 

Editing as you go is especially important when you're working on writing in your brand voice. If something doesn't sound right in the moment, we can promise it won't sound right later. 

7. Play with Emojis

An Instagram caption without emojis is like a pizza without toppings: fine, but where's the flavor? 

Even if you don't use emojis in your day-to-day writing, use them on Instagram to emphasize specific points/ words and draw the eye. If it still feels uncomfortable to throw out random emojis all over the place (and it's true, sometimes they just don't fit your brand), try choosing a few to be your brand's signature emojis. 

Not only will they spice up your captions, but signature emojis will also help distinguish your brand from others.    

8. Switch Things Up + Have Fun!!! 

The major benefit of using Instagram as a brand is to convey that personality you worked so hard to cultivate. So why are you boxing yourself in by trying to sell your product or service with every post? 

Let that personality shine by switching things up!

Share some memes (related to your brand and your audience, of course) to make someone's day. Break out some fun facts about your brand, your team, or your industry. Just have fun with it! 

We can't stress enough that behind each of your favorite Instagram accounts is a person (or a team of people). And you're not just reaching out to a demographic. You're reaching out to actual human beings who can choose to engage with your brand or not. 

Constantly selling over Instagram may seem a little on the robotic side and, ultimately, inauthentic. Your audience can see right through it. 

So, What's the Goal? 

The overall goal is to write better captions, duh! But, looking at the bigger picture, it's really about developing a following that trusts your brand. You can't get there without experimenting, seeing what works (and what doesn't), and, most importantly, letting your hair down a little. Instagram users CRAVE authenticity from their fav brands. Be true to your brand, and writing unique captions that users will want to read and engage with will come naturally!