While gaining Instagram followers is still super important, there has definitely been a shift in focus towards creating quality content and writing engaging Instagram captions.
The question isn’t “how many followers can I get?” – now, it is all about how many of your existing and new followers can you get to engage with your content on a regular basis.
With a good engagement rate sitting at just 3%, there is a lot of opportunity for brands and small businesses alike to become highly engaging accounts simply by putting in the effort to write highly engaging captions.
So, let’s unlock the box o’ secrets and dive right in, shall we?
5 Techniques for Writing Engaging Instagram Captions
A SIZZLING START
This technique is taking me right back to creative writing in primary school, but by golly does it work a treat.
Just like a great novel or a highly anticipated superhero movie, you’ve got to kick things off with a sizzling start.
Would you want to keep watching a superhero movie if the first half an hour was all about the character eating breakfast and doing their laundry? Heck no!
What about a novel; would you turn the pages rapidly to learn more about the main character’s dentist appointment? Probably not. I mean, unless the dentist is the hulk. That’d be weird.
If you want your Instagram followers to pay attention to what you write in your captions, you’ve got to give them something interesting and intriguing in the first sentence to really draw them in.
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🚨INSTAGRAM IS CHANGING🚨⠀ ⠀ As of the 11th of December 2018, you will no longer be able to use *any* scheduling tool with a personal Instagram account.⠀ ⠀ Yep – that means, if you want to use Plann (or any other app) you’ll need an Instagram business profile.⠀ ⠀ Why? Well, that’s a question to ask Instagram. ⠀ ⠀ Basically it comes down to Facebook (and Instagram) upgrading their security measures and privacy policies.⠀ ⠀ Need some help making the switch? 💁♀️⠀ ⠀ We’ve got a few blogs on Instagram business profiles and making the change is as easy as going to your Instagram account settings. ✨⠀ ⠀ 👇Tag a friend to let them know!
MAKE IT EASY TO READ
On the note of drawing in your audience and making them want to read your caption, your sizzling start is only the tip of the iceberg!
To really keep your audience focused and to make sure they have the best chance of reading through your entire caption, you’ll need to make it easy for them to read quickly.
Those captions that look like big chunks of text from a university textbook? Not visually appealing in the slightest!
What you’ve got to remember with Instagram captions is that usually when someone is scrolling, they’re actually multi-tasking.
You’re potentially competing with music blaring through their earbuds, the crunch of their sandwich while they’re on a lunch break or the sound of their washing machine that really needs fixing.
How can you get them to slow their scroll on Instagram and click to read more of your Instagram caption, and really focus in on what you are sharing?
Line spacing. It really is that simple!
You can even use emojis as bullet points to make the formatting clear, concise and visually interesting.
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2️⃣0️⃣1️⃣9️⃣ INSTAGRAM TIPS 🤩⠀ ⠀ ⭐️ STORIES: Commit to posting at least 3-4 pieces of stories content per day. Educate and entertain your audience between Instagram grid posts and use call-to-actions wisely 💫⠀ ⠀ ⭐️ ANALYTICS: Peek at your analytics regularly and set goals for your engagement rate, follower count and Instagram-driven sales to make sure Instagram is moving you forward! 💫⠀ ⠀ ⭐️ DM’s: Respond to new DM’s daily and show your personality! Use GIFS and voice messages to humanise your brand and set up quick replies to make answering common questions a breeze. 💫⠀ ⠀ ⭐️ COLLABORATE: There are over 1 billion people on Instagram now! To stand out above the noise collaborate with complementary accounts to expand your brand awareness and increase the amount of 👀 on your profile. 💫⠀ ⠀ ⭐️ FIND YOUR TRIBE: The whole “Instagram pod” thing can be a bit gross. To truly get the most benefit out of Instagram, find yourself a tribe of like-minded people who share content that lights you up. Turn on post notifications for each other and show up when they post something new to give them some genuine love. 💫⠀ ⠀ Love these tips? Tag a friend to share them! 🌟⠀ ⠀ Photo credit @krystinesc⠀ Reposted with @plannthat
OFFER VALUE WITH EVERY CAPTION
How are you giving value to your Instagram audience with each post?
Not too sure? Here are some ideas for you:
Entertainment (funny, strange, witty captions)
Education (tips, tricks, unique insights)
Motivation (quotes, before and afters)
These are the most common ways that we draw value from the content we consume on Instagram, so have a think and decide which of these are your strengths and which you may need to work on to really increase your engagement rate.
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What makes up a winning Instagram content strategy?⠀ ⠀ 🧐⠀ ⠀ We like to say it’s a liiiittle formula known as style + substance = storyselling.⠀ ⠀ ✨ STYLE: High-quality images and videos that flow visually together to create a cohesive Instagram grid. This also applies to your consistently on-brand Instagram Stories!⠀ ⠀ ✨ SUBSTANCE: Valuable, interesting, entertaining… if what you are about to post to Instagram is none of these, take a moment to think about how you can sprinkle some substance into your caption. ⠀ ⠀ ✨ STORYSELLING: Telling your brand story in a way that does the selling for you. Invite your audience to learn about your WHY, your values and the real benefits of your product or service in a fun and unique way.⠀ ⠀ ⠀ That’s all for today folks! Come back later for more Instagram goodness 😍⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Photo credit @krystinesc⠀ Reposted with @plannthat
ASK A QUESTION
OOOoOOOoo so fun, but so scary!
How do you ask a question in an Instagram caption without getting absolute crickets in return? I’ve got a hack for that.
One of the most common reasons why you may find that no-one wants to answer your question and reply to your caption is because the question you ask in your caption in too ‘open’.
Asking an open question puts all of the focus on your audience and means that they have to take time out of their day to think about a response that they’re comfortable with sharing, that isn’t too personal and won’t put them at risk, and then they need to type that out for the whole world to see.
OPEN QUESTION: What are you up to this weekend everybody?
CLOSED QUESTION: Is it going to be a Netflix-binge or a beach trip this weekend?
By giving your audience two options to choose from (emojis work great too – i.e. pizza emoji VS wine emoji) they’ll feel less pressure to come up with something on the spot and, if you know your target audience well, they’ll be more likely to identify with one of the options and love your brand even more.
WRITE LIKE A HUMAN
Ah… the final technique that you *must* master to make sure all of your Instagram captions are engaging.
It may sound simple but this is something that so many brands get stuck on because of the fear of coming across as the big ‘U’.
Dun dun dun…
Ahhh no, my eyes… how dare I see this word sprawled across the screen!
When it comes to writing Instagram captions I know that it can be hard to find a balance between your “brand voice” and your “human voice” but I want you to rest easy knowing that more and more consumers are calling out for transparency, honesty and authenticity from the brands they follow and support.
Sure, you don’t have to be so human that you’re talking about what you ate for breakfast today, but you should definitely feel comfortable in knowing that it is okay to share a personal story when it relates to what you offer or teach as a business owner.
As the saying goes, people buy from people who they know, like and trust. You can make your brand more relatable simply by writing Instagram captions with a more personal touch.
SHORT OR LONG CAPTIONS?
To make sure that we got the right answer, we made sure to ask as many people as we possibly could.
The Plann team trudged through rainforests (no we didn’t), they clambered down mountain ranges (definitely did not) and they dived into the depths of the oceans (no way) to ask anyone and anything what Instagram caption length they preferred to read.
We also did the fairly standard ‘post in a bunch of Facebook groups and ask everybody and a cheeky Instagram Stories poll to find out what people’s preferences were for Instagram captions, and let us just say, the results are shocking!
FACEBOOK GROUP RESULTS: WHAT IS THE BEST LENGTH FOR IG CAPTIONS?
After asking hundreds of (predominantly women) in Facebook groups we have found that there was a resounding ‘YES’ for short Instagram captions.
Here are some of the main reasons that people think the best length for Instagram captions is ‘short’:
- * Long Instagram captions stress my eyes out!
- * Short Instagram captions are best, but it does depend on who is posting it.
- * Short Instagram captions keep me interested, but a good opening paragraph on a long Instagram caption works!
- * Short Instagram captions are my preference, but I often don’t even read the caption (?)
But what classifies as a ‘short’ Instagram caption?
When we asked this question to Facebook group members we made it clear that a short Instagram caption is a caption that is up to one paragraph in length.
One paragraph = up to four sentences in one ‘chunk’.
Phew! Do you think that this vote for shorter Instagram captions is going to make it a little less stressful for you to schedule a few Instagram posts in advance? We hope so!
INSTAGRAM STORY POLL RESULTS: WHAT IS THE BEST LENGTH FOR IG CAPTIONS?
We couldn’t just leave our investigating to Facebook groups and diving into the depths of the oceans (haha!) – we also had to create an Instagram Stories poll.
Now, given it was a weekend, we didn’t get *as many* responses as we had hoped, but there was still a VERY clear winner for what Instagram caption length is best.
Can you guess which length won?
Just over two-thirds of people who voted in our Instagram Stories poll said that they would rather read ‘short’ Instagram captions!
WOWZA, that’s a massive revelation!
WHY ARE SHORT INSTAGRAM CAPTIONS BETTER?
There are a few reasons why we think people are more interested in reading short Instagram captions these days:
- We’re all a bit time poor these days, so the quicker we can scroll, the better
- A lot of people wear glasses these days, so squinting for less time is preferred when you forget them!
- People generally prefer to spend less time reading, and more time enjoying awesome ictures
So there you have it. If you’ve been putting a lot of time into writing lengthy Instagram captions, try out some shorter captions and then take a look at your analytics to see what kind of results you get.
It’s important to keep in mind that while our findings show that a majority of people prefer short Instagram captions, that doesn’t mean that your Instagram audience want them!
If your long Instagram captions out-perform your short captions, perhaps it’s your audience’s preference. Or maybe, you write AH-MAZING long captions that keep your audience wanting more.
CREATE LINE SPACING IN INSTAGRAM CAPTIONS
A hot tip for creating a powerful Instagram caption is line spacing. Who would have thought?!
Adding line spacing to your Instagram captions will keep them visually appealing and make them less intimidating for the person who is in a rush, scrolling like lightning through their news feed and not wanting to waste time.
Just like how a blog post has spaces between paragraphs, adding space between points in your Instagram caption will add emphasis and make your captions more engaging.
Ready to get started? Let’s jump right to it.
How to Instantly Add Line Spacing to Instagram Captions
Step 1: Download the Plann App
If you haven’t already be sure to hop on over to the Apple or Android app store and pick yourself up the free Plann app. It is an absolute goldmine of Instagram marketing features that will rock your world (if I do say so myself).
Step 2: Start Writing!
One of the oh-so nifty features is the ability to instantly add line spacing to your captions while you are writing them.
It’s as simple as writing a line of text or a paragraph, and when you are ready to create a space just tap on the ‘return’ button until you have a clear line space.
When your content is ready to post, all you’ll need to do is click on the ‘copy&post’ button and your caption will be ready to paste in your Instagram caption section. Easy as pie!
Want a step-by-step video tutorial? Well isn’t it your lucky day.
For more awesome marketing tips and tutorials from Louise subscribe to the Solopreneur Sidekick YouTube channel.
And until next time, have a flipp’n awesome day and happy Instagramming.
Working remotely from Brisbane, Australia, Mackayla is part of the Plann Marketing team.
Originally from New Zealand, Mackayla has lived in Sunny Queensland for 10 years now. She has been hosting Instagram Marketing Workshops for Small Businesses in the Fashion and Beauty industry.
Follow @mackaylapaul on Instagram to see more of Mackayla’s work!