How to Write for Instagram - an Easy Guide

Have you ever had the notion that you should probably post something on social media to boost your brand’s engagement but when it comes to it, you’re not sure what or how to write? Writing captions for Instagram can be particularly tricky since it’s such a visual platform and as they say, a picture paints a thousand words. Well, that may be, but the words matter too on Instagram. Without words, there is no way for a potential customer to convert to an actual customer. They need to know how to do that as well as why they’d want to. So here are our top tips for writing Instagram captions that people will want to read and click through.

1. Make it appropriate

On Facebook, the picture might accompany the text to make the text stand out more but on Instagram, the picture pulls focus. Therefore, your captions and image or video need to be connected and in sync with each other. There’s no point using a random image on Instagram that has nothing to do with what you’re saying. It doesn’t make it look more colourful; it just makes you look confused. Make sure your caption and picture are working together, not against each other for optimum engagement. For example, a picture of a pug in a raincoat might draw in the viewer, but if you’re post is about mortgage rates, your viewers will soon lose interest. You’ve just written a cheque you can’t cash.


2. Make it clear

Social Media Examiner states that “Instagram is an incredibly visual platform, based primarily on photos and some video posts. A strong visual component will capture your audience’s attention, but it won’t drive conversions. That’s why a well-crafted caption with a clear message and possibly a CTA can make a significant impact on your Instagram results.”

Instagram users don’t like feeling like you’re wasting their time. They have every opportunity to just scroll right on by what you’ve written. If they don’t understand what you’re saying, then it’s not going to have any effect other than a hint of annoyance at the wasting of their time. No one likes feeling taken advantage of, so make your point and make it clear.

3. Make it short

If you can say what you need to say in a short paragraph, then great. Most people don’t like to read essays or long rants on Instagram. Then again, if you can’t concisely make your point in one paragraph, then don’t cut important things out to save space. It needs to communicate first and foremost, preferably in a concise manner. If you can, try to keep what you have to say at 160 words or less. That will ensure that you must be selective about your language and content. This editing technique will force you to think about which parts are really important and which ones aren’t. We’re not saying that you must do this for every post. Some things need more than 160 words to do them justice, but if every other post from you is a dissertation, you’ll certainly see how that reflects in your unfollow stats.

4. Make the first line count

We cannot stress the importance of this enough. If the first line of your text isn’t engaging and attention grabbing, then they’re not going to read any more. It’s really simple; the user has to click to see past the first couple of sentences, so if you’re planning on starting off gently before getting to your main point, they will never get to read it. Imagine that you’re a comedian onstage and there is a cue of other comedians offstage. You get one joke and then the audience can all choose to swipe and replace you with another one or stick with you. You get one joke or in this case, one sentence to impress them and prove that you are worth the time it takes to hear what you have to say. There is always an endless queue of other content waiting for them if they swipe past you, so you need to prove that you deserve their time in the first line.

5. End with a CTA

This stands for ‘Call To Action’ and just means that you are inviting the reader to connect further with your company. If you were pushing your oven cleaning business, then ending with a CTA like “click to make your oven sparkle” and link to your website or contact info helps them know what to do next.

Common CTAs are phrases such as “find out more” or “order yours today”. Anything that encourages the user to take action and shows them how to do it there and then. That is what turns social media engagement into income. Think about how you would feel as a consumer about reading the CTA you have written before publishing it. Don’t think about what you want them to do (well, do) but also think about how it will make them feel. For example, “book your appointment today” suggests a level of action and urgency which may encourage the reader to respond. Then again “book today, you’d be an idiot not to” doesn’t quite have the same effect. It undermines and questions the user’s ability to make a logical decision alone. That’s not encouraging, that’s demanding and demeaning to your potential customer.

Overall, the important thing to remember is to write about something when you post to any social media platform. If you’re posting so you can tick it off your to-do list but don’t actually have anything to say, then you’re not giving your viewers any value for their time. Keep it short and concise where you can and make the first line noticeable and applicable to the post. Happy Instagramming!