Instagram is largely known for visual content, but written content on this social media platform certainly plays an important role too. Captions, comments and bio descriptions can all contribute to a post’s impact. Using these written components of Instagram to the best of your ability will only help you in the long run, whether you’re hoping to establish a personal brand or working within the social media department of a company. Here’s five tips to keep your written Instagram content on point:
1. GET TO THE POINT QUICKLY IN CAPTIONS
Lindsay Kolowich has discussed how captions cut off in users’ feeds after three to four lines of text, so keep that in mind when writing captions. Get the main message out first so you can still reach the folks just scrolling through their feed.
A great example of a caption getting straight to the point. Image: Paper Source
2. USE HASHTAGS WITHOUT OVERSHADOWING CAPTIONS
Hashtags are key in the Instagram arena since they allow users to find similar posts, comments, accounts and so on, and researching what hashtags are popular for your post’s category is vital. Personally, as I’m focusing on growing my following, I use a lot of hashtags and I’ve benefited from posting them as a comment under my posts to avoid caption clutter. As Michael Aynsley explains further, “once other people leave a few comments, the hashtags won’t be viewable unless the option to ‘See all’ is selected.”
On the left only the caption is visible, whereas on the right the hashtags that were listed as comment can now be seen. Image: Mark Swick
3. INTERACT WITH OTHERS
Repeat after me: Instagram is a two-way street! According to Richard Kao commenting on others’ posts helps build your brand since most people comment back and are 401% more likely to follow you. Outside of commenting, you can also go above and beyond just liking posts in other ways, such as tagging businesses if you use their services or products and potentially starting a conversation with them or getting re-shared on their platform.
A prime example of tagging businesses in order to initiate engagement and interaction. Image: Caitlin Lindquist
4. IT’S OKAY TO BE A LITTLE INFORMAL
While you probably wouldn’t email someone a message with emojis, you can get away with a bit of that kind of informality on Instagram. Sheila Stogal expresses the importance of being open, conversational, and creative when writing captions as long as you stay consistent with the image you want to portray to your audience. In other words, if you’re hoping to portray yourself as a viable candidate for an editorial position, it’d probably be best to avoid poor grammar and a ton of misspelled words.
Here is one way a company can get away with using some emojis and playing around with an informal tone of voice. Image: Starbucks
5. ALWAYS PROVIDE CONTEXT
Pictures might be worth a thousand words but your caption still matters. In plain words from Stephanie Faris, “a photo of an object or person without context can be confusing.” Be sure to utilize an explanatory caption, and consider sharing the location or using relevant hashtags if it helps promote your message too.
The picture may be striking by itself, but the caption provides the context to let people know what the post is really all about. Image: Georgia Kaye