How to write engaging Instagram captions: Step-by-step guide

Creating content for Instagram is fun, but it can also be challenging. You probably enjoy taking photos and videos to post on your Instagram profile. But that is not all that is required for an excellent Instagram post.

One thing that you can find difficult is writing the perfect caption for your Instagram post.

How do you come up with captions on Instagram? What should I write on Instagram caption?

Those are both questions that you probably are thinking about before posting on Instagram. I know for sure that I often struggle with the captions. I could be thrilled with a photo I’m about to post, but then I end up thinking of a good caption for hours.

Sometimes I simply feel like I have nothing to say. I bet you feel the same from time to time.

In this article, I’ll go through what you should write and how and what you need to consider when writing captions for your Instagram posts.

With these 8 simple steps, I’ve successfully come up with captions that are engaging and support my account.

Have a Purpose & Goal

Every time you post on Instagram, there needs to be a reason why you are posting. You always need to have a goal and purpose.

You probably already know why you use Instagram. Well, at least you should know that or your work could be completely pointless and worthless. You need to have a niche, a topic that your followers are interested in.

Maybe you are building a community around the passion you love. Or you want to teach people and help them solve their problems. You could even sell your own products and services.

Whatever you do, you need always to keep that purpose and end goal in mind. This will help your audience to recognize what you and your Instagram page is about.

Writing Style

The next thing you need to think about is the writing style.

There are no rules when writing on social media. It is not an academic text, so you should not worry about all the grammar rules. However, always spell check and be sure you don’t have any typos when you hit publish.

The text does not need to be formal. But then again, it can be. Formal writing is fine too if you, for example, are running an Instagram page for an organization.

It all depends on what your Instagram page is about. But you don’t need to worry about being too informal, either if that style fits your profile and purpose.

One piece of advice I would give is to be personal and unique. I know it can be challenging to write with your own style, but the more you write, the more naturally that comes. So be patient as it can take time to find a personal voice.

If your Instagram page is about you, I would definitely advise you to write in the first person to connect better with your audience. If you are controlling a business account, a good option is to write in plural (“we”) first person.

You can also address your audience by writing in the second person. Like I did in that last sentence.

Once again, it all depends on what you want to achieve. There is not a right or wrong way to write, but try to find a personal style that speaks to your audience.

And stick to that writing style. If you change it midway through, it will just be confusing to your readers.

Share value and teach your audience.

You can’t just post and write whatever you want. Well, you can, but I would suggest you don’t. For your personal Instagram profile, that is fine. But for everything else, your followers won’t find your content valuable if you write just something random.

So write what your followers want to read.

But how do I know what my followers want?

Well, that could be slightly more complicated to determine. But in any case, you should always try to give something valuable and helpful to your followers.

Whatever your topic and niche are, you should be posting and writing to solve some particular problem your audience has.

It’s a good idea to be personal, but any personal story you write should also help your followers. The value could be anything from inspiration and entertainment, to expert tips and advice on a specific topic. As long as there’s something for the reader.

If you are a fashion blogger, give some style advice: e.g., what to wear to a wedding. If you are a photographer, tell your followers how you took the shot or what struggles you had taking it. It does not have to be very deep, but as long as you tell something.

If you are selling something, like a physical or digital product, your services, try to convince your followers of your offering. You can tell your followers how your product can help them, why your product is unique or how it makes their life easier.

But always remember to give them value too without overselling. Most people don’t like ads, so try to avoid sounding and looking like one.

Engage your audience

Social media is not just about publishing stuff. It’s already in the name: it is supposed to be social. So make sure you are including your audience in everything you post on Instagram.

Don’t just take beautiful photos or videos and write a caption about your products. That is simply not enough!

What you should do is engage with your audience. And keep them with you.

So how do you engage your audience with your posts? It’s actually surprisingly simple and doesn’t need to be hard at all.

It’s all about trying to get people to react to your posts. On Instagram, you want people to hit the like button, comment on your post, and preferably even share it with their friends. That’s how you build a community.

The easiest way to get engagement on Instagram is by asking questions and opinions from your followers. By asking people something, you start a conversation. When they begin replying whatever you asked them, you start seeing an increase in the number of comments. And that counts as increased engagement, which further could help you grow your following.
Another right way to engage your audience is by encouraging your followers to tag their friends who would like the post.

How long should your caption be?

Knowing what to write is one thing, but do you ever wonder how long your caption should be? Well, it depends.

Your caption can be up to 2200 characters, which is quite a lot already. You should keep your caption interesting and valuable, so using all the characters probably won’t help with that.

Instagram is a very visual platform, so the primary focus should always be on the photo or video. But depending on your niche and, more importantly, your audience, the optimal length differs.

Some followers like to read long captions, while others don’t. My advice is to write a caption that works whether you read it entirely or just the beginning.

For a long time, I wrote concise captions. Just a few words. They were not necessarily linked to the photo but were mostly general quotes and my personal thoughts. Those can work sometimes, but I have personally found that it’s better to write slightly more.

Sure, celebrities post photos with short captions or even without a caption at all. But the difference is that they are celebrities. They will get likes and comments for any photo or caption.

The way Instagram works is very similar to a search engine, like Google. The more information you have, the better the algorithm knows what the post is about.

So I suggest you start applying similar principles as with SEO for your blog posts. Although image recognition is impressive these days, adding relevant keywords to your caption could absolutely help.

Moreover, people potentially spend more time reading your post if it is longer. Well, as long as it is actually enjoyable to read. So basically, it works similarly to how higher dwell time could help you rank higher on Google.

As long as you can include something relevant in the caption, the length doesn’t matter that much. Just don’t try to hit a specific character mark.

What to write, caption ideas.

At this point, you probably wonder what you should write about. Well, once again, I have to say that it depends. It depends on your goals, your niche, your style, etc.

But one thing you need to keep in mind is that the caption needs to be relevant, interesting, and engaging. That’s how you get likes, comments, and growth.

Here are some caption ideas that will work for multiple topics:

  • Tell about the background of the photo, the process
  • Teach, give expert tips
  • Solve a problem
  • Tell a personal story that people can relate to
  • Ask a question
  • Ask for opinions
  • Write a relevant quote. (Don’t just write a quote you like. It has to be connected!)

Write it down

When you have figured out what you want to tell in the caption, it’s time to write the final caption.

Like an article, you can divide your caption to three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. If you decide to write a shorter caption, all three isn’t necessarily required. But it’s a good starting point.

Introduction

Try to hook your followers or viewer with an exciting introduction. A good idea is to start with a question or quote that makes the reader think. The goal is to capture your followers’ interest. Obviously, the photo or video plays a big part in that, but I would say it is equally important to write an engaging, but a brief introduction.

A good introduction can be very effective alone as a caption. Start with a question and let your audience answer it. That’s a simple but effective way to get engagement.

If you are struggling to come up with an introduction to your post, try the following. Turn the problem you are trying to solve into a question. Here are some examples.

Problem: white pants are hard to keep clean -> have you ever wondered how to keep your white pants clean?
My self photographs look dull. Ever wonder how bloggers take fantastic self-portraits
No visitors to my blog. Are you struggling to get people to visit your blog
Anxiety. Do you ever feel like…

Body

Next, you need to focus on giving your followers some valuable information. The body should include the actual message and solution to your followers’ problems.

It can be anything from personal experience or story to expert tips. Or the value could be mere entertainment.

Conclusion

Finally, In a short conclusion, you should repeat your most important message. This could be what is the solution to your audience’s problem.

Make sure to include a call-to-action. Here are some simple tips to make your caption more engaging:

  • Ask a question relevant to your post: ask if they agree, ask for your followers’ opinions and tips
  • Ask them to like the photo if they agree with you

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