For a successful social presence, the importance of stunning imagery can’t be overstated.
What can often be overlooked however, is the caption. But make no mistake, an off-hand, unconsidered, or non-existent caption is a missed opportunity. While it’s a visual platform, the words you choose to accompany your content have the power to convert a scrolls to likes – or follows – and shouldn’t be wasted.
“Captions are so, so important” agrees Vamp influencer @_ninasky, “I don’t know why some people don’t put any effort into them. To have the story that goes with the photo or the video creates so much more connection. They’re definitely as important as the visual.”
We know what you’re thinking, as if you don’t do enough already. Content creators are photographers, stylists, lighting experts, videographers, models, now we’re asking you to be a wordsmith too?! Fear not, a little effort can go a long way. Here’s three ways captions can help boost your Instagram presence.
1 . They cultivate connection
Captions offer a direct line of communication to your followers. Whether you use your words to share how an image was made, offer advice, or explain how you’re feeling, they can add value and help your audience get to know you better.
@jamtuna uses words to help convey his personality to give his 30k followers a glimpse behind the scenes: “Image captions help to share your character and tell your story. I use them to tell my followers about my awkward self, with my equally awkward jokes!”
Captions give you the chance to offer your followers something more. Allowing followers to feel as if they are on a journey with you – and making yourself feel a little more #relatable – can help create closer relationship with them and cultivate a more loyal following as a result.
2 . They boost engagement
While the Instagram algorithm is a hotly contested topic, one thing we do know is that it favours posts that get engagement. If boosted by the algorithm, more people will have a chance to see your post and it could even end up in the Discover tab.
Captions are one way to boost your engagement, which Instagram measures in likes, comments and time spent on a post.
You can encourage comments by asking your followers questions, as @Bamitsjoanne explains: “When you ask a question it drives engagement really well because people tend to want to answer them. I love answering simple questions like, ‘Where are you guys from?’, ‘What’s the time where you are right now?’ I’m like, ‘I’M FROM SYDNEY!’”
Longer captions can also encourage followers to spend longer on your post. With 2,200 characters at your disposal, the options are endless. Test out different lengths with your audience to see what resonates best, just be sure to make the first sentence the most engaging as that’s where it will cut off in the home feed.
3 . They help you be discovered
Including hashtags in your captions can help to extend the reach of your posts. They help you get in on trending conversations and allow your post to pop up among similar content, ready to be found by likeminded communities.
The data insights offered by Instagram business accounts will give you guidance on how often your posts are being discovered thanks to hashtags, which should help inform your strategy. The jury is still out on the optimum number to include, but it’s important to make sure those you include are highly relevant to the content you are posting.
General hashtags like #ootd are widely searched and tagged, so will see your content enter a large pool of endlessly updating content. More niche hashtags, like #doubledenim, will be searched less often, but will have a better chance of being discovered and more longevity. So it’s smart to include a combination.