The Many Genres of Instagram Captions: How to Spice up Your Social Media Content
Yes, Instagram marketing is mainly about creating visually beautiful content. HOWEVER, the work doesn’t end after you’ve edited your photo to perfection. There’s also the matter of writing an engaging caption that adds another layer of interest to your post beyond the stunning visuals.
One key factor that the Instagram algorithm uses to rank your posts is the amount of time that users spend viewing your posts. The longer they spend on it, the more valuable it appears to the Instagram algorithm and the more likely that your posts will be ranked higher within the feed. Getting people to stop the scroll and spend time with your post is a matter of giving them interesting and engaging content—not just in the imagery but also in the text you write as your caption. If you can get people hooked with your first sentence and get them to click “More” to read the rest, you’ll be vastly increasing the amount of time people spend with your post.
That’s why, despite the fact that Instagram is primarily an image-sharing platform, the text that accompanies your pictures is almost as important as the imagery itself.
There are, of course, any number of ways that you can go about the writing process, but certain types of captions tend to generate more interest than others. That’s why we’re sharing some tried and true formats that you can use to boost engagement and encouraging you to see that your caption should be more than just few throw-away lines of hastily written copy.
6 Types of Instagram Captions
Asking a question is a great way to get people to become a part of your brand’s story. It compels people to stop and consider their own answer, and they may even leave a response. Eliciting comments brings others into the conversation and may even spark ideas for future content.
Make your opening question short and simple to understand. You can add context in another line under the initial question, but you should make sure that users are able to quickly scan and understand what you’re saying from the beginning.
- This or that? (Left or right? Ice cream or cupcakes? Facebook or Instagram?)
- Yes or no?
- Have you ever…?
- What is your favorite…?
- What do you think of…?
Instagram gives you up to 2,200 characters for a reason.
While many users stick to short captions, Instagram is also a popular hub for so-called “micro-bloggers.” Micro-bloggers use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to tell short stories about their lives, usually sharing inspiration, useful advice, or just funny anecdotes.
Shorter than full-length blogs and longer than your average throwaway caption, micro-blogs strike a sweet spot for social media. They provide interesting a valuable information while also taking the average social media attention span into account. While some users may not feel like sitting down to read a story at that moment (sometimes you’re just in the mood to scroll), if they’re interested in the first few sentences, they’ll likely save that content to dig into later.
Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of the “in-crowd,” and that’s exactly what you can provide through creative use of your captions.
You build a sense of exclusivity by giving people a look into a world that others don’t normally see. It feels like you’re seeing a side of someone that others don’t get to see. That’s why brands post behind-the-scenes content, to give their followers an exclusive look into a “day-in-the-life.”
You can do this by sharing a story about work (excluding any confidential information, of course), giving your audience a sneak peek at an upcoming project, or just letting people know what you’re up to today. While it may seem mundane to you, these authentic moments help to flesh out who you really are and make you seem like more of a real person in the eyes of your audience.
If you’re in a creative rut, you can always borrow from someone else. Just make sure to cite your source!
Inspirational or motivational quotes are a popular choice because Instagram users are likely to save a quote to look back on at a later date. Play off of this impulse by directly telling your audience that this is a quote that they’ll want to save for the next time they’re feeling unmotivated/need a confidence boost/need some career advice/etc.
Just make sure to choose your quote wisely and look into the context surrounding the quote before posting.
Teach your followers how to do something new!
Choose something in your niche—whether it’s a recipe or instructions for building an effective Facebook ad campaign—and give your audience a step-by-step guide. Alternatively, you could offer some “expert” tips and tricks for whatever your audience may be interested in.
Instructional captions serve a dual purpose. Not only do they encourage people to linger on and save your posts, they also lend you authority as a thought leader in the community by demonstrating and sharing what you know.
Who doesn’t like free stuff?
Front-loading your caption with an appealing giveaway announcement is a great way to entice people to expand your caption and spend more time looking at your post.
To enter the contest, ask users to comment or tag a friend. Both of these actions work to boost engagement for a short period of time and make it more likely that your upcoming posts will rank higher in the Instagram algorithm. Asking participants to tag a friend is also a great strategy because it allows your existing audience to do the work of expanding your reach for you. They share the content with their friends, and if they have similar interests and enjoy your content, they’ll share it with their friends. With a strategic approach to running your contest, you could see your follower list grow exponentially.
Above all, write something that you would want to read. Sometimes we get caught up in trends and copying what the successful accounts are doing. That’s a fine strategy, but don’t forget to add some of your own personality to the mix. People connect with other people, not brands. Authenticity keeps your posts from feeling too “salesy.” So, while you should definitely make use of these general formats, remember that the most interesting type of content comes from expressing your unique point of view.