5 ways to make your Instagram captions more engaging

A picture is worth a thousand words, but can your Instagram post do better if you work a little harder on the captions? Here are some practical suggestions.
20 June 2018

You photos need some words to describe them. Source: Shutterstock

When you’re surfing Instagram, you see a lot of posts from a variety of accounts you follow, but the ones that are most relevant to you are the ones that give you some context before they connect with you.

For posts by friends and family, you don’t really need that context. You know who they are and what they’re about, often, you know their interests and hobbies.

However, for posts by the businesses and companies you follow, you tend to want something from the caption in order to connect with the post.

Sometimes it’s a long description, sometimes it a thought or idea that goes with the picture, but no matter what the choice, the best posts always have the right captions.

If you’re thinking about how you can craft the best captions for your Instagram posts, here are five practical tips for you:

1. Use captions to tell the story

Consider explaining the narrative of the story in the caption of the image. It doesn’t have to be a one-liner either.

A lot of news companies, for example, use their Instagram captions to talk about news stories instead of simply providing a dry note about what’s in the picture.

If you’re thinking about telling a story with your image captions, make sure you’re able to articulate why the image is important and why your followers should care.

The day after Ireland’s abortion referendum, Brenda Malone woke up early, walked to her car and took a stepladder and some wire cutters out of the trunk. Then she started climbing up lampposts and cutting down campaign posters. The first one had a picture of a fetus on it, with the words “Don’t repeal me.” Brenda is a curator at the @nationalmuseumofireland. Her goal: to preserve posters like these. “Very early on in the campaign I realized we needed to collect these banners. They spoke so strongly — they’re so creative and witty,” she said. “Rapid-response collecting,” a practice that is increasingly being adopted by museums in Europe and America, was pioneered by the @vamuseum in London. In 2014, it opened a gallery dedicated to objects acquired after they stirred public debate or looked likely to have historical impact. Brenda has been to marches calling for a change in the country’s abortion laws for years, but her views are irrelevant to her work, she said. “The museum is nonpolitical, and my job is to research this moment in history, not how I feel about it.” @pdossantos took this photo of Brenda holding one of the posters she has collected. Visit the link in our profile to read more.

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2. Add emoji 

Don’t be scared to use emojis to evoke an emotion or visually tell your followers how they should feel about an image.

No matter how “mature” or serious your brand, there’s always a case for the use of emojis.

If you’re looking to improve your captions, start with having some fun with your posts.

3. Emphasize a point

Captions are also frequently used to emphasize the point being made by the post, or to frame it in a certain way.

The caption can help you contextualize a photo, which can ensure the post is interpreted as intended.

In some cases, you could even use it to evoke a response from your audience, urging them to engage with your post.

what would be your away message? write it in the comments! @dominicknero

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4. Create a brand voice

There’s always the opportunity to create and emphasize the brand voice via social posts, especially on Instagram.

When you choose a particular style of imagery, you tend to stick with it for all your posts. Similarly, it’s a good idea to stick with your brand voice for your captions.

5. Humanize your content

Use direct quotes to explain what’s going on behind the scenes or in your head when posting if you feel it will help establish a direct link with the reader.

Doing so often helps new brands gain a strong following, especially if they’re working on a cause.