How to Write Instagram Captions

We’re going to show you how to boost your conversions by writing better Instagram captions on your posts.
How to Write Instagram Captions

You’ve got your Insta set up. Your branding is in place. Maybe you already have a large audience or one that’s growing steadily. That’s amazing progress. Still, you might be wondering why you’re not getting more sales or hits on your website.

Conversions are a common problem for social media managers. You can be posting amazing photos that get a fair amount of likes, yet still scratching your head over the fact that your posts aren’t converting. Likes and high follower counts are great, but they don’t necessarily create sales or customer evangelists.

We’re going to show you how to boost your conversions by writing better captions on your posts. To start, let’s talk about the biggest factor in successful Instagram captions.

The power of engagement

When you create a post on Instagram, the caption can seem like an afterthought. Edit the image, add a few words to complement the visuals and throw in some hashtags – boom. Done.

While viewers might enjoy the post before scrolling away, they’re not motivated to stick around and invest themselves in your brand.

If that’s your strategy, you may be missing one component in your campaigns that would make all the difference: engagement. Engagement is the key to getting clicks and creating brand loyalty. An engaged audience is going to stick around and they’re more likely to share your content. The place to generate that engagement is in your captions.

Does that mean you have to start writing long captions with multiple paragraphs? Not necessarily.

Instagram captions don’t have to be long at all. In fact, you don’t want to write a long thought piece or a blog post – content that’s too long will likely be skipped over. A great caption just needs to do two things:

  1. Grab attention
  2. Prompt action

If you can do those two things, you’ll have an engaged audience. You’ll start seeing a bump in your sales and get the activity you want from your account.

Let’s talk about some different forms of engagement and some practical ways you can make them work in your campaigns.

Different types of engagement and how to use them wisely

Get the emotions flowing

Emotions are powerful things. When we get pulled in by a captivating story, it’s hard not to react. It’s a common human trait to see something that moves us deeply and be compelled to respond.

For example, if you have a line of skincare products, you can share a photo of yourself makeup-free. Your caption could be about your own struggle with skin issues; the embarrassment and discomfort that comes from it. 

That kind of transparency can also make people feel connected to your content. However, it’s important to be 100% honest. If you make up a story just to provoke a reaction, your audience might see through it and you can damage your reputation.

Remember that humor also fits into this category. Getting your audience laughing – even if it’s at you – will solidify their attachment to you and your brand. More importantly, it will prompt them to share your content with their friends.

The Gentle Pit is a brand that often uses humor to prompt reactions.

screenshot of Instagram post by The Gentle Pit with a smiling dog in a car, caption reads, "Drop (sunglasses emoticon) in the comments if ur dog is def collere than you are."

In this post, you can see that the caption is very short, but they get lots of engagement. Their followers love to comment on their posts. Sharing stories is another type of engagement that can make a successful post. 

Help them share their story

This goes back to the emotions, but when a viewer responds emotionally to a post, they also might be tempted to share their own story. People love to talk about themselves, and given the opportunity, they will share their stories with you and your audience.

You may not even have to overtly solicit responses. Sometimes when you share something that others can relate to, they will take it upon themselves to share! Mik Zazon is very good at creating engagement with her  – sometimes very short – captions.

screenshot of Instagram post by Mik Zazon with the caption, "It can be so hard to advocate for yourself at first, but it gets easier, I promise!"

Writing encouraging or motivating captions like Mik often does can create a personal bond with your followers. They’ll be more likely to engage with a person or brand if they feel that bond.

Pique their curiosity

“Always leave them wanting more.” – P.T. Barnum

Creating intrigue in your captions is a fantastic way to increase engagement over time. This works especially well when you have a new product offering. Rather than simply post and describe everything in one caption, draw things out a bit. This strategy works well when paired with a link in your bio so viewers can subscribe to an email with regular updates. That way, they won’t miss out when the big reveal happens.

Dear Bella Creamery started a curiosity campaign when posting about their 5-year anniversary:

screenshot of Dear Bella Instagram post showing two women sitting in front of a wall with sprinkles on it

The key part of the caption here is, “We’re still fine-tuning details, but we’ll just share this: with this next venture for Dear Bella, the party’s coming to you.”

Their audience tends to be dedicated evangelists because they’re drawn into the mystery about new flavors or even bigger happenings with the brand.

Write a prompt they can’t resist

Sometimes you can write a caption so good, that your audience can’t help themselves. They must respond with a comment. 

screenshot of Instagram post from Weird History with the caption "That's A Moray"

Writing these kinds of captions is fun, but they still require planning. The simplicity can be deceiving. In this Weird History example, it’s only a few words, but the music note emoticons sell the joke and prompt the responses.

It’s also a good idea to offer something a little different in your caption than merely repeating exactly what’s in the image. Weird History did this well by expanding on the concept in the image, which may not have been obvious to viewers at first.

You can also simply ask a question in the caption. For example, if you sell handbags, you could take an extreme close-up shot and ask your audience what they think it is. Additionally, you can tie this into a giveaway promotion. People love giveaways and prompting responses can bring engagement. You can even link to articles and products on your website.

Share the love

If you want to level up your follower engagement, try tagging someone else in your caption. This accomplishes two things:

  1. It demonstrates social proof
  2. The tagged account will often comment and bring their audience back to you.
  3. User-generated content helps your brand make more money

For example, take this post by Lodge Cast Iron:

screenshot of Instagram post by Lodge Cast Iron with their Cook-it-All product. The caption tags the account Live Fire Republic.

The social proof comes in when your audience sees you engaging with someone else. The assumption is that your brands sync up, i.e., you’re all friends. People love to see that and it creates trust.

If the account you tagged leaves a comment, that can also prompt others to start a conversation with them. It doesn’t always happen that way, but if it does pay close attention and see if you can keep it going – in an organic way, of course.

Speaking of organic, I’m going to leave you with a final thought.

Don’t fake it, you won’t make it

While these are good strategies to use in your Instagram captions, remember that you can’t force engagement. It’s about creating genuine connections by being true to yourself and your brand.

Writing great Instagram captions isn’t difficult, it just takes a little focus. Remember the key strategies that create engagement:

  • Get their emotions flowing
  • Help them to share their story
  • Pique their curiosity
  • Write a prompt they can’t resist
  • Share the love

You have the power to create engagement with your brand and increase conversions on your posts. It’s all about planning purposeful captions.

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Article by

DJ Billings

D.J. is an experienced WordPress designer, developer, and consultant. They love all things open source, creating illustrations, and running long distances.

Article by

Picture of DJ Billings

DJ Billings

D.J. is an experienced WordPress designer, developer, and consultant. They love all things open source, creating illustrations, and running long distances.
Picture of DJ Billings

DJ Billings

D.J. is an experienced WordPress designer, developer, and consultant. They love all things open source, creating illustrations, and running long distances.
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