When it comes to social media, Instagram is the king of photos. Beautifully shot and edited images are what it’s all about—they’re how you initially grab the attention of current and future followers. These images can help tell your brand’s story, get people interested in who you are and what you do and highlight what makes your brand truly special.
If your Instagram images are your only focus, however, you’re missing out on a vital opening to fully engage your audience. As important as it is to post unique and interesting photos, if you treat the caption as a throw-away, you’re wasting precious space in the social media universe to both connect with and engage your followers.
According to the Pew Research Center, 26 percent of the adult online population regularly uses Instagram—up from just 17 percent in 2013. As with most modern social media platforms, this rate is sure to continue to climb, meaning it’ll be increasingly more important for brands to do whatever they can to differentiate themselves, and stand out amongst all of the noise.
One way to do so is to consistently engage your audience through awesome Instagram captions. The following are three top-tier tips on how to do just that:
1) Create Your Signature Voice
As with any brand marketing, maintaining a consistent voice for your Instagram captions is important. You want your followers to instantly recognize your brand—even if it’s with only a couple of words.
Take Diet Coke, for example. The brand has integrated its latest Instagram tagline into most of its post captions. Interested? Here she is: “When you don’t have the words to describe the Diet Coke taste you love, we’ve got a song for that. #ShareACoke”
Throughout the campaign, the company’s Instagram captions maintain the same voice—short and sweet, with a reference to the displayed lyric. While this is a basic example, you get the point. Find your brand’s voice and stick to it in terms of tone, length, breadth and humor.
2) Front-Load Important Information
While Instagram doesn’t limit you like Twitter does in the character department (2,200 characters), it can be easy to forget that only the first few lines of text are instantly visible. That doesn’t mean you should limit your captions, but it does mean that the first three lines need to make an instant impact. Try to tell your story in a way that makes your followers want to click the “more” button.
While the @jeromeboateng works in the example above, it’s typically best to leave @mentions and hashtags for the end of the caption. Lead with interesting content and followers will click gladly click through to find out more.
3) Include a Call to Action
Follower participation is the best way to ensure engagement and connect with your audience. One way to entice your followers to actually do something in response to your post is to simply ask a question. Take this Warby Parker post for example:
As you can see, all but one of the six most recent comments were a direct response to a simple, “Anyone else?”
To really amp up engagement and increase your number of shares, follow up your question with an invitation to your followers to tag their friends. In the Warby Parker post above, following up the question with, “Tag some friends you’d rather be here with!” would have taken follower participation to the next level.
* Bonus Tip: Lay Off the Excessive Hashtags
Unless you’re trying to make your brand sound like a 14-year-old girl, it’s best to keep the hashtags to a minimum. Think quality over quantity—limit yourself to a few per post, but make them count.
Ultimately, as long as you put as much time, thought and effort into your Instagram captions as you do your photos, your brand should be on the right path to Instagram greatness.