Social media has taken the marketing world by storm, and more and more businesses are hopping online to promote their brand. And it seems to be working.
Hence why social media is a necessity in your marketing strategy.
As a visual-centric social media platform, Instagram is just one of the few top social sites marketers utilize to brand their business. Feeds full of photos and videos are used to highlight company culture, company updates, products, and more.
But there’s one part of an Instagram post – and social media image posts in general – that far too many businesses overlook: the caption.
What Is a Social Media Caption?
In short, a caption is used to describe an image or video that someone posts online.
They vary in character length based on the platform where you publish your content. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most common social media sites where captions are beneficial:
Now here’s the thing: No one wants to read a caption that is 63,000 characters long. You might as well write a novel if your captions are that long.
Captions in today’s social media realm should be short, punchy, and actionable. While they describe your content in more detail, they can also encourage your followers to engage in the comments or take action to further send them down the sales funnel.
While businesses often post image and video content on both Facebook and Twitter, we will focus more on Instagram captions in this article.
Why? Instagram is solely a visual sharing platform – so the pressure is on to write the perfect caption to accompany your content.
4 Elements of a Strong Social Media Caption
1. Add Context
You can post the world’s greatest photo, but if it’s not 100 percent clear what it’s about, you’re creating a guessing game for your followers.
A great caption will provide the proper context to describe or add to the imagery you published.
2. Grab Attention
Don't just settle for the most basic of captions. You want to entice your followers to keep coming back for more! Give them something good to talk about later. Grab their attention, and they'll stick around.
3. Focus on Readability
While emojis and abbreviations are fun, the best caption will use them sparingly. Puzzling emoji-only captions will just confuse your followers. To clarify: 🚫✍️🤨📱📝 (If you can't speak emoji, I said, "Don't write confusing social media captions.")
4. Compel Action
Whoever thinks captions are pointless is sorely mistaken. While all the above elements are huge factors in creating a strong social media caption, compelling your prospects to take the next step is one of the best ways to grow your business.
A great caption will end with some sort of conversion element, whether it encourages users to comment on a post, share the post, or check the link in your bio.
Tips for Creating Awesome Instagram Captions
Understand Who Your Audience Is and What They Want.
Your audience should always come first in your business, and it's no different on social media.
Before writing your caption, consider the kind of audience you attract and the kind of audience you want to attract. Depending on their age, gender, demographics, etc., you might need to write a different sort of caption.
Keep It Lighthearted.
Humor really can go a long way on social media. It fascinates the reader and makes them smile, which in turn creates positive impressions of your brand.
Depending on your industry and what you post, you can use humor, fun, and even emojis (but not too many!) to add a little lightheartedness to your content. Being a business isn't all serious... sometimes you have to show off your fun side!
Aim to Entertain.
On Instagram, you really can get away with posting fun, engaging content that highlights your company culture and the products you make or sell while entertaining your followers.
To accompany your entertaining visual content, write captions that entertain. If you're posting a picture of a dog at your office, don't caption it, "A dog at our office." While that may be a great meta-description, the caption should be an addition to any visual assets.
Spice up what you write in context to your image or video, but keep in mind that people love to be entertained. Instead of stating the obvious about a dog in the office, you can write "Buddy was having a ruff day at home, so he joined his best human friend Stacy in the office today!"
Use Your Most Important Words First.
The human attention span is getting shorter and shorter, and you can easily lose a user's attention within seconds of them coming across your Instagram posts.
To give them the most contextual information in the shortest amount of time, use the most important words at the beginning of your caption. That way, it can either:
- Entice them enough to keep reading and potentially engage with your content.
- At the least, give them the most basic understanding of your image/video.
In an example you'll see below, Wendy's is sure to use the term "Made to Crave burgers" at the very beginning of their caption. That way, users will know the names of the delicious burgers standing before them.
10 Examples of Perfect Instagram Captions
1. E! News (@enews)
Caption: This is all we ever wanted, all we ever needed. 🎤 #Coachella (📷: @nsync)
If you're an NSYNC fan, this caption will put that song in your head for days.
Short, sweet, and to the point, E! News shares a photo of the former boy band with Ariana Grande at Coachella. Within a few characters, you'll be captivated by such an iconic selfie. Plus, the use of emojis is superb.
2. LEGO (@lego)
Caption: Who are you this #Monday: 😀😟😠? #LEGO #mood #coffee
I'm almost positive every adult has played with LEGOs at some point in their life. As a fun, young-at-heart brand, LEGO's Instagram caption game appeals to its young-at-heart follower base.
Without a caption, the picture mostly makes sense: You can get an idea of the ways different people think. But, by adding the question, "Who are you this Monday?" users instantly relate to those Monday blues.
3. Wendy’s (@wendys)
Caption: Turns out our new Made to Crave burgers can't talk, like at all. It's the flavors that make them the real MVPs. Hit up DoorDash and get yours delivered today.
Known for its kickass social media presence, Wendy's captions are just as awesome as their food.
In a recent GIF about their Made to Crave burgers, they recreate a post-game interview scene, and their caption perfectly draws on that, giving them MVP status. Plus, the last sentence entices people to check out DoorDash and get a burger for themselves. 🍔
4. New Belgium Brewing (@newbelgium)
Caption: We're so ready for those summer vibes to hit 😎 Mural, is helping us get there. Watermelon + hibiscus + lime + agave, it's basically summer in a can. Find it at the link in our bio.
New Belgium Brewing naturally, brings up summer vibes that can be enticing all year long.
They captivate their followers with their vivid images and colorful scenes. Their captions are descriptive yet to the point and encourage followers to check out the link in their bio!
5. Milk Makeup (@milkmakeup)
Caption: BLUE or GREEN — which one do you see? - #hydrogrip primer is packed with 🌱blue agave extract for long-lasting grip and 🌿 hemp-derived cannabis extract for all day hydration. AKA she's pretty great 😋 - 🌿#countdowntokush: 6 days🌿
Milk Makeup loves using emojis – because emojis are fun! This caption adds more context as to what their hydrogrip primer is and why you need it. Plus, they don't forget to use relevant, brand-specific hashtags that brand their post and help get their content found.
6. GaryVee (@Garyvee)
Caption: Pls stop dwelling …. It’s the #1 thing holding you back … it’s over. there is no Time Machine … you can’t go back .. learn from it and move on … I am stunned how many DM’s I get where this is the answer 🌶️🌶️🌶️🌶️🧨
Gary Vee stays true to his brand with his Instagram post captions. It's important to get the voice right, and that comes naturally when your mission, vision, and values are clear.
Let your brand identity shine when coming up with your captions! In Gary Vee's case, as an inspirational speaker and influencer, this quote is spot on.
7. Britandco (@britandco)
Caption: “You’ll do greater things in life than dating the boy on the football team.” 🏈 #TaylorSwift and #TravisKelce are our Roman Empire.
To all the Swifties out there, we know this caption will stay evergreen! While best practice is to ensure that your captions and content will be long-lasting (unless you're working in a news organization), there are just some topics that will never get old.
Britandco is a pop-news organization, and they nailed it with this post, which will surely be relevant for years to come!
8. WeWork (@wework)
Caption: Starting the week is 'matcha' better with a furry friend by your side. #dogsofwework
Here's another great example of a clever pun and an adorable photo! WeWork's post is an excellent example of combining humor and cuteness to bring the full Instagram package to the fore.
As an office space with posts like these, they can stay relevant and top of mind for many of their users who use the internet as their main source of information.
9. Nike (@nike)
Caption: With 𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒊𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏, 𝒕𝒐𝒖𝒄𝒉, and 𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒆𝒅 at your feet, you’re ready for it all. Introducing the 𝑴𝒂𝒅 𝑹𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒚 𝑷𝒂𝒄𝒌 🎯🌀🤌⚡️
In this post, Nike uses minimal text to promote a new product launch seamlessly. The clean image with concise text conveys Nike's message without being too wordy.
10. FedEx (@fedex)
Caption: “Snow” place we’d rather be than en route to you! ❄️💜
This post is another great example of how to be playful with captioning. The play on words is divine, and it fits into the winter weather conditions at the time of this post.
With captions, you can capture the attention of your brand's followers and show off your brand's personality. Instagram allows you to have a little more fun with what you post and how you engage with your audience, so go all in and give them a reason to comment.