Instagram Copywriting 101

In this article, you’ll discover how to create engaging Instagram copy that generates interest and increases your profits.

Nowadays, you can’t just post a high-quality photo(s) and hope for the best.

A good Instagram copy consists of three main components – it provides context, adds personality, and motivates your followers to take action.   

As much as we want to put all the emphasis on the visual component of Instagram, the copy is what persuades your audience to engage and ultimately purchase your product(s).

As you can see in the image below, all three components of strong copy have been met: context, personality, and call to action.

underarmour shoes

Context – 100% plush cushioning. 360 degrees of comfort. 

Personality – Run faster, farther and stronger in the #UAHOVR Phantom SE. 

Call to action – Tap to shop.

Writing a good caption takes time and a whole lot of trial and error.

Write your ideas down. Then step away for a moment to give your brain a break. When you feel refreshed, you’re more likely to produce higher quality captions than if you were to write them on the spot. 

There’s no size fits all when it comes to a good Instagram caption.

If you are new to Instagram we recommend trying several different caption lengths (emoji only, 1-2 words, 1-2 sentences, blogging) to see which one resonates with your audience the best.

gary provost quote

Get your point across effectively

Don’t force your readers to spend their valued time reading something that could have been communicated in less than 30 seconds. Don’t drag out sentences just to meet the social standard of long copy. 

Use everyday language

Speak to your audience as if you met them in a bar. Use common language that your audience uses daily. Write as an 8th-grader. You can’t risk your message not being understood or worse misunderstood. 

For every “I” use two to three “you”s. This magic ratio guarantees that your copy is perceived to be more about the reader than it is about you. People like to feel recognized and valued, this ratio is designed to keep your readers engaged and interested.

Always use active voice. Here are some of the reasons why you should strive to write in an active voice – makes copy smoother and faster to read, gets to the point quicker, is more impactful, and more natural. 

Do not start a caption with certain words, such as  “a”, “an”, or “the”.

Stop using too many adverbs

Most adverbs, words that end with -ly tend to be overused and should be removed from your captions. Adverbs, in most cases add unnecessary clutter. Combine two words in one.

What sounds better? You decide. 

She ran quick-ly

OR

She sprinted.  

 

Mix in a variety of punctuations

Use periods, commas, dashes, colons, and/or semicolons.

Short sentences communicate tension. Longer run-on sentences, on the other hand, help establish a frantic, hurried rhythm.

Do not use exclamations marks too often. Exclamation points generally distract the reader from the purpose of the message and leave them wondering about the tone of the message instead.   

Formatting

You may have the most amazing inspirational story to tell but if it’s formatted the wrong way, no one will want to read it. Format your captions so they are esthetically pleasing to your reader’s eyes. 

Instagram formatting can be pretty tricky sometimes. The good news is, we have a simple way to fix that – it’s called paragraph spacing. 

The easiest way to add a line break to your caption is with a symbol (✓ ,ᐧ, and ✰).

Write your Instagram captions outside of the actual app, use Notes on iPhone instead.

If you add an emoji as the last character in a paragraph, the line break will usually be deleted.

How long should my Instagram caption be?

The maximum character count for an Instagram caption is 2200 characters, captions do tend to cut off in user’s feeds after 1 to 3 lines (154 characters). Instagram does this to keep the feed primarily visualWhat does that mean? The first two lines of your caption are critical to your Instagram success. 

Instagram caption can be used to share a story, educate, or inspire –  ultimately you are trying to retain someone’s attention and guide them to the end goal (CTA), so whether your caption is a three liner or a mini blog post go ahead and share it as long as it serves the purpose. 

Focus on call to action first

To get the best out of your copy lead the first sentence with a call to action or a question to spark the reader’s interest.

Action item: “Raise your hands if you love selling.” –  (@goaldiggerpodcast) 

Call-to-action: “preorder a signed book! Signed books have been restocked.”(@nathanwpylestrangeplanet)

Major life-changing event: “About a week ago I completed a trip with an awesome group of people exploring Guam” – (@sankolder)

Upcoming Event: “Join me in live Q&A on Instagram account @ilfestivaldellosport on 30th August” – (@adam.ondra)

Motivation: “Rise above the storm and you will find sunshine!” (@womenwhodrone) 

Learn a new skill: “Lead your Small Group like a pro! – Download for FREE” (@thebandapp)

Use hashtags to your advantage

The hashtag limit caps out at 30 per post. To give your readers the smoothest experience we encourage you to post hashtags at the bottom of your copy or within the first comment.

Do you want to come up with relevant and performing hashtags for your business, fast? Check out – How To Choose The Best Hashtags For Instagram.

Do not use the same set of hashtags for every post.

Incorporate mentions to your caption

Mentions are entirely different than hashtags, they don’t necessarily  have a specific place. They can be added to captions where they make the most sense (beginning, middle or the end). You can have up to 20 mentions a post. 

Cross-promote your other social media channels

Use captions to cross promote your other social media accounts. If you use other platforms within your social media marketing strategy let your audience know, they may not be aware that you have a YouTube account or a Twitter.

Additional elements of a great Instagram copy

  • Inspire 
  • Make someone laugh 
  • Add value (insights, research or takeaways)
  • Disclose sponsored content & giveaways, more on this topic – Instagram Business. 
  • If Shoppable Instagram isn’t available, direct people to a link in bio
  • Be a human, not a robot 
  • Describe something that isn’t obvious 
  • Encourage conversations 

To leave you with this...

Writing great copy for Instagram is a great way to connect with your audience. If done correctly, your posts engagement will increase. Don’t overlook Instagram, in the e-commerce world your audience heavily depends on high-quality visuals. 

Will you implement what you’ve learned? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  

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