Don’t bore your followers to death, inspire them and make them laugh with the perfect message
By Kat Schuster
It’s Friday at 11 a.m., a peak hour for posting on Instagram, and you just spent all morning, camera in hand, meticulously positioning your product in just the right light for a beautiful first post of the day. But just as you’re getting ready to post, you find yourself lost for words. You could just slap down a double heart emoji and tag #fridayvibes, right? Wrong.
Would you post a meme without the subscript? Captions are half the work and have a direct correlation to how many likes and follows you’re getting. While images are important, the captions are essential to helping you gain new followers and engaging your current audience.
1. Don’t bury the punchline
The first sentence is the most important because it’s where the eye goes next after the photo, so you don’t want to blow it by starting off with a slow lead into your message. The app will cut off your words after three or four lines with a read more link so grab their attention by using a pun, a quote, substituting words for emojis or asking a question.
Captions should generally follow this order: message and emojis first, mentions next and save hashtags for the end.
2. Write a draft, or several
Unless there is a typo, please avoid editing your captions after they’ve been published. And yes, it does get noticed, even if it doesn’t have any likes yet. If you compose your message in a hurry and post it, it’s inevitable that you will rethink your caption once you see it on your feed. Use a scheduling app such as Later, Preview App or Hootsuite to see how your posts will look once they’re published.
3. Keep it simple
Believe it or not, one liners with an emoji are going to be your best friend. You have 2,200 characters to write the perfect message, so you’ll want to use them wisely. This isn’t a blog, it’s more of a social gallery. Take up two to three lines with your message, add a few emojis, a mention or two, a few hashtags and call it a day.
You can have a long caption every few posts, as long there’s a method to your madness.
4. Play tag
Please do not use up half of your characters to hashtag everything under the sun, it’s too much clutter. Use four to five relevant hashtags instead. Place your mentions right after the message or within your message if you’re talking to them directly. If you’re just identifying someone in the photo, save it for the tag in the image. When you’re giving someone a photo credit, use the camera emoji before the mention.
5. What’s the point?
Identify the goals of your account. Are you trying to create awareness for a movement, brand yourself or your product (or, ahem, sell stuff)? Have a call to action by asking your followers to post their own photos with a certain hashtag, repost for a contest, or direct them to a link in your bio.
So let’s recap this simple but formulaic way to format your captions:
Write a draft, use a planning app to preview, don’t bury your most important message, use emojis in your message, don’t edit after you’ve posted, save hashtags and mentions for last, have a call to action and, for Pete’s sake, please keep it brief.
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