We’ve all done it. Had the perfect photo to post on Instagram, but lacked the capacity to come up with an equally as stunning Instagram caption ideas to go with it.
It’s probably not your fault. You’re probably a great copywriter for your brand and audience, but you’re posting when you’re busy! Which is most likely your first problem with your Instagram captions – you’re not giving yourself enough time to do it right.
Posting on Instagram and successfully getting your audience to engage with it and love it takes a bit more than a great photo. Which is exactly why you shouldn’t be posting to Instagram the next time you’re standing in line at the checkout counter at Target! (What? Is it just me?)
So, to save yourself some distress when it comes time to publish your next Instagram post, I’d like to help you out with the mental checklist I use. This is a list of ideas and things I try to remember when I post on Instagram. So, first thing is first:
3 Unspoken rules about Instagram captions
✨ #1 Draft out your captions ahead of time
(but don’t stress about getting everything perfect before you schedule your posts)
You’re going to read a lot of tips and tricks for creating an engaging Instagram caption, but don’t let it get to you. It’s often way better to have something written in draft mode than it is to have nothing at all.
Even if it’s a “notes” app on your phone with a bunch of draft ideas.
The next time you sit down to schedule your Instagram posts and photos, remember that even just a few bullet points as a caption idea (to help you get started) is better than nothing!
✨ #2 Maintain a consistent style of writing for your captions.
Consistency is key. One thing you’ll notice about some of the largest brands and influencers on Instagram is that they maintain a very consistent caption style and brand voice.
That consistency might be readily available to see when you browse their grid of stunning and flawless photos, but what you don’t see on the grid at first glance are the captions! So, the next time you see a brand with over 10k followers, pay attention. If their audience is responding with their likes and comments day after day, then chances are their consistent and have honed in on what their audience likes from them.
Once you maintain some consistency, you should be able to repeat what works. Until you do, you will never know. So – give it a try!
When thinking of consistency – you could go as far as this example from @hipdict – where every single post is a new word and their caption is “What is your definition?” OR you could just keep it in mind when you develop your own style of consistent captions 🙂
✨ #3 Remember your goal is to get your audience to like and know you first – and then to respond.
If you’re not focused on being social and creating a conversation with your audience, then chances are you’re missing the point of Instagram. It’s not enough to post a simple caption like “New blog post up #linkinprofile”.
Although that caption does have a goal in mind, it’s not very well thought out. Yes, you’re letting your audience know about your new blog post and that they can read it by clicking the link in your profile – but what happened to personality, brand voice, or character?
A better way would be to infuse your caption with some personality. Help those new followers get to know you better.
Whether your final goal is to intrigue them to click a link, entice them to share something with others, or invite them to engage – remember getting a response is only part of the goal. They have to know and like you too.
Helping them get to know you and your brand first is the first step in getting a response.
Instagram Caption Ideas & Mental Checklist
? Does your Instagram Caption grab their attention with the first line?
Just like your website, you’ve got to grab their attention “above the fold”. If you’ve ever scrolled through your Instagram feed, you’ve noticed that longer captions get cut off and you have the click “more” in order to read the whole thing.
So, when drafting your Instagram caption, your first task is to capture their attention before they have to click “more”.
? Want to make your first line intriguing? Add a title to your caption
You may have seen other brands do this before, but if you’re having trouble thinking of ways to make your first line interesting, then think about a single word or short phrase, to sum up the rest of your caption.
As an example, @espitz always puts her first phrase or words in all caps.
? Call-to-action in your Instagram Caption (but just one please)
Remember that your audience won’t likely do anything if you don’t ask them to. So, if you want them to read a blog post or check out your Instagram stories, then ask! – but just use one call-to-action. Your audience is busy like you. They’re more likely to do one thing. But as soon as you invite them to do more, they might just do none.
? Be yourself and keep it natural
Don’t force a caption when you can’t think of words to say. You’re already doing so much – right? Keeping your captions natural and in your own tone-of-voice will ensure that you maintain authenticity in your brand.
So, if you can’t read your caption without sounding cheesy, then it’s probably not natural and may even be a bit sales-y (ick!).
? Share a story, Talk about upcoming plans, be relatable, share your hopes + dreams
Not sure how to be natural or be yourself? I know, it’s easier said than done some days. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is write a caption that’s like writing an email to a close friend.
Write it like you’re telling them a story. Stories are great for captions because they give your audience a glimpse “behind the curtain”.
Not every caption needs to be a story. Long captions should be reserved for special stories – especially if it goes really well with the photo.
? If you don’t have long a story, don’t worry. Keep your Instagram Caption short (brevity is your friend!)
That said, your audience doesn’t have all day to catch up with every brand they follow on Instagram. So, keep your captions brief and don’t be afraid to do a 2nd or 3rd edit to cut out all “the fat” and unnecessary words or sentences.
? Post something funny (use puns or metaphors for your images)
I love to laugh. It’s my favorite thing to do! Just ask my husband what kinds of movies I like 🙂 My guess is that your audience loves to laugh as well. So, if you have a funny story or can take a photo to a new level with a great pun or metaphor type of caption – then go for it!
You can see in this example from @sugarandcloth that… well, you should just read it yourself 😉
More humor the merrier – I say!
? Ask questions of your audience
If you’re looking to generate engagement on your posts, then the perfect way to do that is with a question.
Keep it casual, like a regular conversation. Like this example from @thedaydesigner
? Ask your audience to tag their friends
And while you’re at it, ask them to tag their friends too! The biggest compliment your audience can give you is by tagging their friends in the comments of your post. Their saying “Hey friend, I think this is great and I think you will like it too”.
It’s possible they’ll do this themselves, but, you won’t get anywhere if you just sit around and wait for it. So, why not ask!
? Take a poll with emoji’s or ask a very simple question that’s easy to respond to
People love to use emoji’s – so why not encourage the use of them by asking a question that people can respond to with emojis. It’s fun and it can really get your audience to engage.
? Use hashtags in your Instagram caption ideas
You’re probably aware that you can use up to 30 hashtags on one Instagram post before you’re cut off – but what if you added your relevant hashtags into your caption?
You can add some dimension to your caption by adding related hashtags as words inside of your copy.
You can see in this example that @houselarsbuilt shared a timely Instagram photo and used the related Instagram hashtag right in the caption.
? Mentions in your Instagram Caption
One great way of spreading the love on Instagram is by @ mentioning other users in your caption. Whether it’s to tell a story about someone you know or to give thanks or praise to another Instagrammer – don’t forget to use @ mentions when and where you can to show and give thanks.
? Use emoji’s in your Instagram Caption
If photos and images bring your blog content to life – then emojis can do the same for your captions. These little tools can come in very handy for enhancing a story or creating breaks in your caption between paragraphs.
You can see in this example from @abeautifulmess that they’re providing tips and instructions and using emojis as bullet points to make it more interesting to read!
? Your last option should be to insert a quote, but when all else fails… go for it!
You see quotes a lot. On Twitter and even on Instagram. But, don’t let this be your go-to. It’s hard to tell your brand story and help your audience get to know you when you’re quoting someone else in every caption.
So, instead of using quotes in your captions, try creating a quote graphic as your post and adding a personal touch in the caption.
Grab a copy of your Instagram Caption Ideas Checklist (just right click and save)
? Looking for more Instagram Tips and Tricks? Here are some of our favorites:
Plus, check out these Instagram tips: