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Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

by Mary Ivanova

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Coming up with a solid instagram caption seems to be an easy task that just comes naturally for some and becomes a big challenge for others. Are long captions called for? Should you use emojis? I just want to post this picture because it looks good, can I go no caption at all? Does anyone even read any of this?..

Hopefully, this blog post will provide some helpful tips for you to never feel stuck coming up with a caption again. Apart from doing your research and understanding how your audience communicates, its needs and how you can cater to them, there are a few universal tips for creating an Instagram caption that works.

Don’t announce it, just talk

I’d say one of the best approaches to creating a great Instacaption is simply talking to your followers. Instead of writing from the perspective of making a one-sided announcement or adding a title to your image, discuss your new product, current affairs, fashion trends, social issues – anything to get the comments rolling and actually start a conversation. See if you audience engages and do more of what ticks.

Here’s how Allure Magazine does it:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

No, seriously, have a normal conversation – tell them what to do, when you need to. See this example (and I know everybody hates swiping through an image gallery, but trust me, this time you’ll want to):

https://www.instagram.com/p/BmZnB_zlTOD/?taken-by=netflix

Speak the language

And if you are going to talk to your followers, might as well use their language. Scout your target audience’s accounts and see how they communicate in order to discover what lingo you can and should replicate.

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

One user whose ability to write relevant captions that “speak the language” I truly admire is pop sensation Ariana Grande. Captions on her 125 million strong account are usually short and sweet, and no matter how trivial, repetitive or bizarre the visual might be, the caption is always “on point”. Besides, it rarely fails to come off like a text from a friend – brief, silly and only marginally comprehensible:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

If you can replicate that kind of authentic messaging, you are well on your way to genuinely connecting with your audience.

Be predictable

Maintaining a theme? Why not have a style for your captions as well? While using the same structure for captions in your personal Instagram might feel a touch pretentious, similarly structured captions on a brand account feel soothingly recognizable. Everybody understands the person behind a brand’s account is a paid professional, so repetition says “consistent and reliable” instead of “inauthentic and vain”.

Develop a great caption template and stick to it for a time. This is how Miu Miu does it:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

And here’s an example from Primark:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Utilize emojis

Fluent in Emoji? Well, then it’s your time to shine because emoji-filled caption is upbeat, fun and fits Instagram mood perfectly. Here’s how Divinity LA Bracelets are leveraging the trend:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Another account that knows how to use an emoji, while circumventing the risk of only relying on safe, overused emojis, is Califia Farms:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Sephora is also quite nifty with its emoticons:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Be informative

Another way to boost your Instagram caption is including information about your product. Sizes, names of collections, prices, locations for the products featured in the post will all work handsomely as you are providing your audience with helpful info to help them decide on a purchase, should they consider your product or service.

Here’s a post from Sephora that not only showcases the available shades of the product, but also lists the price for the featured foundation:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Decor store Desenio is providing exact sizes and item titles for anyone interested to look up the pieces on their website:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Or be mysterious

I know I’ve just advised you to keep your captions informative, and this might feel like the exact opposite of that, but hear me out.

Instagram is all about having some friendly fun, joking around and chilling, which means that it’s just the place for vague cryptic captions, multi-post announcements and subtle clues. You don’t have to be all informative and useful all of the time – hype up your upcoming release or event with an ambiguous message, like this post by Clear:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Contentious Caption Styles

Now, on to the more controversial caption options.

Wall of text

Some accounts like to include a really long caption that either tells a story or is a step-by-step guide like this post by Lipton:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Are long captions great? Well, they can be and many argue that telling a story or providing useful information justifies the long read. Yet, the glaring point of concern is – such captions get truncated in users’ feeds, so many won’t even ever see your insightful and inspired message.

Tag me once

Another questionable caption practice is going extra with all the tagging. Tagging Serena Williams wearing your merchandise is fine:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

But including every single player featured in your ad may result in users just skipping your caption altogether:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

#Totallyhashtagged

Getting weird with the hashtags is another faux pas. Long, rarely used hashtags or hashtagging some of the words within your caption text is just plain weird. Nivea here just barely pulls it off:

Caption This: The Perplexing Art of an Instagram Caption

Image from Instagram

Our minds filter out hashtagged words which makes captions that include #organic #hashtags difficult to read. And if you hashtag full sentences #youknowwhoyouarewinkwink, be sure we are all feeling that slight flush of second hand embarrassment on the other end of the screen;)

Just go with tried and true classic that works and put all your hashtags (no more than 30!) at the end of your caption.

Closing thoughts

Now, you might not to need to sweat over a perfect Instagram caption every single time you are crafting an Instagram post – when a decent one can get the job done just as well, – but it helps to be able to lift up great visual content with matching verbal communication.

Use the above tips and let us know if they helped, and share your own findings regarding what works for you in our Crello Users group on Facebook.

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