While we often think of Instagram as being a visual medium, having the right captions for your audience is hugely important in growing your audience. The right caption can boost your likes, and comments – and engagement is what it’s all about!
Today, we’re bringing you some of our favourite Instagrammers from the HIBS100 community, and thinking about what makes their captions sparkle.
Oh, and we absolutely DON’T mean adding dozens of emojis and hashtags in an attempt to hoodwink people into finding your photos!
Know Your Audience
The most successful Instagram accounts target a specific audience and community – the Instagrammer knows who is following the account, what sort of things they’re likely to be interested in, the sort of things that will make them smile, the foods and hobbies they’re likely to enjoy.
Forever Amber knows her audience is interested in fashion, but also in questions around beauty, self-esteem and confidence – so this caption about comments on her own pale skin will resonate well with Amber’s audience.
“She needs to get a tan!” “OMG, you’re so pale!” “Well,you don’t have much of a tan, do you?” On the blog today, I’m answering a reader question about society’s discomfort with pale skin, and how to deal with all of the stupid comments those of us who don’t leave the house without SPF 50 get every time we dare to bare our offensively pale skin😉 http://liketk.it/2r9R3 @liketoknow.it #liketkit . . . #retroswimsuit #retroswimwear #pinupstyle #retrostyle #onepiece #onepieceswimsuit #pale #palegirl #paleskin #redhair #redhead #redhairdontcare #naturalredhair #sunbathıng #swimmingpool #poolside #poolgirl #paleskinproblems #paleskinned
Use a Consistent Voice
Along with topics and interests, it’s important to think about having a consistent ‘voice’ in your Instagram captions, just as it’s important on your blog.
A voice embodies the characteristics of your feed – are you snarky and witty? positive and affirming? Friendly and light-hearted?
Lucy over at Capture by Lucy shares images of food, interiors, flowers and more – but her posts often have a chatty, personal story attached about her dog’s nicknames, nursing her Mum, looking after her boys – it makes Lucy’s feed really accessible and feel like chatting to a friend.
Hello from the hazy cliff tops of our favourite seaside 💕I’ve no idea what these are but I wish I could grow their pink Pom Pom heads at home. There’s nothing better, when the sun is shining, than watching your boys and their pals making sand slides, eating sandwiches off plastic plates and watching the world go by. Simple pleasures and not spending a penny! So much love for Southbourne. Hope you are having a lovely bank holiday wherever you are 💕
Don’t Be Afraid to tell a Story
Most people scroll through their feed quickly – so it’s better for captions to be short rather than long (as a general rule).
But some Instagrammers use their channel to tell stories behind their photos – and this can be really compelling, if the stories are great! In the case of Katie from Mummy, Daddy, Me, you have a beautiful image, but the story adds even more value to the page.
We’ve arrived in Los Angeles. 💕💕💕 I’m so excited to be here, in a place that has been a part of the pop culture of my growing up years through films, music and magazines. We arrived earlier today and spent most of the afternoon driving around just looking at different parts of the city without even really getting out the car. I remember people saying to me that you can’t really walk anywhere, that there is no centre as such, and that seems pretty true to us so far. It’s absolutely huge, just ridiculously long street after ridiculously long street, with traffic jams and queues everywhere. We are actually staying in Santa Monica rather than LA as we thought it would be a bit more family friendly, but we are going to go into LA to do all the typical touristy stuff- I want to take a photo with the Hollywood Sign, walk down the walk of fame and perhaps even do one of those cheesy celeb tours if @jonjonellison will let me. 😂 Normally we try and not be touristy and visit places the locals do, but I’m all about the cheese and tourist stuff here. 👍🏻As we were driving along we spotted the most amazing wall. 💕 California Dreaming indeed 💕 I love this photo of my big girl jumping. We are all so excited to be in La La Land. @mummydaddymetravels #visitcalifornia #kidifornia
Get to the Point
While bloggers like Katie can engage readers with mini-stories, it’s key to remember that Instagram only displays the first few words of your caption by default – so any key words or important phrases need to be placed here. If you’re going to mention brands or other users, and hashtags, make sure those go AFTER the important stuff.
Here’s a great example from Laura at Cardboard Cities:
my final @notanotherbill gift! a rather snazzy pair of scissors to add to my collection. they look lovely on my little crescent dish! I’m going to miss getting these lovely items in the post each month. . . . . #proptoit #inmypropcloset #flatlayforever #prettyflatlays #foreverfaffing #myflatlaysandfinds #pursuepretty #theweekoninstagram #ofsimplethings #yellowinmysquare #huntgramcolor #yellowisitmeyourelookingfor #colors_ofourlives #amonthoflovely #thelifestylecollective
Use Hashtags Sparingly
Using hashtags can boost engagement on your posts substantially, so don’t forget about them – but don’t use so many that your actual caption gets lost in the crowd.
You can make hashtags less obvious by using a series of line breaks above them – then users won’t see them unless they hit the ‘more’ button on your caption. Or add them to your comments (although recent comments suggest that Instagram is less keen on this and may limit visibility of posts).
Lindy from Squidgyboo uses lots of hashtags in her posts, but leaves a big gap to avoid her captions getting crowded:
Hiding from Eurovision by editing photos and trying to book my flight for my August holiday. Anyone else get the ‘this flight is no longer available’ message all the fracking time?!?!!! *deep breath* I’ll try again tomorrow morning. . . . . . . #pilealove #pileapeperomioides #plantgang #thingsthatmakemehappy #botanicalpickmeup #natureisbeautiful #greenyourfeed #houseplantclub #plantsinfocus #plants
It’s a tried and trusted technique – invite engagement by asking your readers for advice, tips, or responses to a question – it can be as simple as, “What are you guys up to this weekend?”
Here’s Rachel from The Ordinary Lovely asking for opinions on fake greenery:
What are your favourite tips for Instagram captions? And which accounts inspire you?