Instagram Captions 101 for Small Businesses
Are your Instagram posts not getting enough engagement?
Are your Instagram posts not leading to traffic and sales?
More than likely you are missing something and that something is really easy to fix - an engaging caption.
Joanne Wiebe of Copyhackers, makes a great point:
the image may capture attention, but it's the copy that closes people
Copy is equivalent to your "caption" in this scenario. Unlike your personal instagram, brands don't have friends. They make customers that become loyal and engaging because they were genuinely interested in both your photo and what you had to say. People aren't going to just like or comment when they have never heard of you. But they will like, comment or follow you because you "sold" them in your caption. And when you respond back, you then begin building a relationship.
As I'm sure you are already aware, Instagram's infamous algorithm plays a huge role in the frequency of post views, so engagement is key to getting both views to your page and traffic/sales. With little to no followers, you can't depend on anyone to like your photo from their feeds. You will have to use hashtags, a well-rounded caption, and tags (if applicable). The goal is to have your post show up higher in the feeds of the followers you do have and get additional likes, comments and followers from the hashtags also. The more people that engage in the first fifteen minutes, the greater your chances will be of showing up on the explore page. This will help to get you seen by the masses, not just a few handful of followers and can dramatically increase engagement, thus creating a domino effect.
Pro Tip: Always include the most important information at the beginning so that it ends up “above the fold,” meaning above where it will be cut off, which happens after three lines (then a “more” link appears).
So how do you craft the perfect, engaging caption for your ecommerce photo? There are several easy ways to make your captions more appealing, while simultaneously directing people to your website.
Include a Call-To-Action (CTA)
A cta is a great way to lead potential consumers to your website and/or convince them to engage with your Instagram until comfortable enough to purchase. According to Facebook, the very best CTA may be a question. Why, because posts asking for recommendations of help have a higher engagement rate that posts without questions. Questions easily lead to more comments, helping you get to the Explore page. Other common CTA's can be trigger words or phrases such as:
- tap (for shoppable posts)
- link in bio
- tag a friend
- use our branded hashtag to be featured
- shop now
By adding any of these cta's at the end your captions, encourage your visitors to interact with your page.
Pro Tip: Include your website at the end of all of your captions. Redundancy can have a psychological effect leading customers that have been browsing your Instagram to make the major step of clicking or typing in your website.
More than likely you already using hashtags or are familiar with hashtags already. Hashtags are bookmarks or categories for posts on instagram . This is a great form of free advertising when you don't have a big marketing budget. Keep in the mind of the following tips when using hashtags:
- niche hashtags work better than general tags
- You can use up to 30 per post, try not to use all 30 everytime
- use your brand name as a hashtag
- create and use a branded hashtag on your posts (i.e. novababe)
- only put 1-2 hashtags in original caption, add remaining hashtags in the first comment
- be sure the hashtag you plan to use isn't banned. Easily check hashtags you aren't familiar with in the tag search to double check. Sometimes banned hashtags can be words you didn't expect such as: #gloves or #happythanksgiving. Check out this list of banned hashtags to get a jumpstart. Using banned hashtags can potentially flag your page or shadowban you page. If it is banned, you will see this screen:
Emojis and Line Breaks
Emojis and line breaks are a great way to keep your audience engaged with your caption. Instagram does not have give options to format your captions to make more appealing, so for now, we have to work with what we have. Without being able to bold, italicize or change font sizes, we can at the least break up sentences with clever line breaks, emojis, brackets, asteriks, etc.
Emojis😊 can add personality to your captions. You can place them at the beginning of the caption to grab attention, to separate sentences, express emotion or even replace words with emojis to make the caption more fun. Just be sure you know your audience and remain true to your brand.
You can use brackets or asteriks to highlight important words or phrases so that the reader focuses on those power words. A great place to put brackets is around the product name or your call to action. [link in bio]
A line break is just as it implies, a break between words or sentences. This is especially helpful for wordy captions or checklists. There are a couple of ways you can insert a line break:
- You can simply press the "return/enter" key immediately after the last character (usually punctuation) and will be lead to the next line. If you make even one space after the last character and press the return/enter key, it won't work. It may look like it went to the next line, but when posted, it will be one paragraph.
- You can also type your caption in your notes on your phone and paste it into the app. This will also give you the line break effect.
- To get an actual space line break, simply press return/enter two times. Again, it must be immediately after the last character for it to work.
You can google generators and there are a ton that can also assist you with line breaks. Some even claim to allow you to bold and italicize text. Not sure how Instagram looks at those type of hacks, but apparently they are possible (but not necessary). In addition, you can add asterisks in between your line breaks for even more effect. Check out some of the examples of emojis and line breaks being used:
Lastly, tagging users and/or places is a great way to boost engagement. Why, because it alerts the person tagged and also shows that you work with others. For strangers that do not know you at all, seeing that you know people or that others have used your products can heavily influence their decision to work with you.
A third of Instagram users have bought an item of clothing they saw on their social network. That's about 333.3 million people+. So the consumers are there, you just have to convince them that you are legit, genuine, human and show love back.You should always use tags for at least the following:
- You’re posting user-generated content from an online community.
- You want to credit the photographer, photo stylist, art director, etc.
- You want to clarify who is being shown in the image
If you have a lot of people to tag, consider using the on-photo tagging featuring instead of crowding your caption.