What do you have to do to get people to follow you on Instagram? Do you need to create a post that’s shareable and jump on the old repost situation? Get a shoutout from a social media star? Buy a puppy?
If you’re asking the same questions and internally screaming for help, you might want to consider the actual words you’re putting out there.
With Instagram testing out a new like-hiding feature, it’s time to focus on engagement. The more people comment on your post, the more chance Instagram will show it to others. How to encourage comments?
Captions. Captions are the lifebuoys that will keep you afloat. Follow these simple tips and drown out the crickets with the sound of chatter and cheers.
1. Make your first words shine
Every word you write needs to offer value, but the most important information should go first. Instagram only shows the first few words of a caption, so if you want to stop the scroll and harness the hook, you need to be compelling.
Kicking off with a question can help (which we’ll get onto) or you can pique curiosity with a strong, quirky or curiosity-invoking statement.
2. Write the same caption 10 times
You know when you agonise over perfect angles for a photo, then spend 20 minutes playing with filters, then another messing about with exposure, saturation, contrast? You should be putting that level of editing into your words.
So many people chew over imagery, then slap a quick caption to accompany it. Images are vital on Instagram, but captions can really draw people in and help them make sense of your photos - and you. Try writing your caption again and again in different ways, then choose the sentences that strikes you the most.
3. You be you
Honestly, you can have loads of fun writing captions for Instagram. Think of it as a friendly, easy-going chatroom, where no one expects formal, stuffy language. Don’t try to be someone you’re not - followers can tell and it will turn them off.
Be genuine - the truth resonates. Even selfies can be honest - seriously. Caption with something like “guys this is one of those occasions I’m feeling damn good in my own skin, plz shower me with validation" and you’ll offer a level of realness that’ll probably make people laugh.
4. Ask questions
Lift your engagement rates by inspiring people to comment on your posts. Ask a question, ask for advice, or invite followers to share their experiences with you. Not only do they help your interaction with followers, they can also aid you in researching topics, offer genuine value to followers and build relationships.
Make sure there’s a clear call-to-action in your caption that makes it obvious what you’re asking of your followers, such as ‘let us know in the comments’ or ‘spill the beans below'.
Here are some engaging caption examples to try yourself:
- Would you buy…?
- What’s your favourite style/colour/pattern?
- 1, 2, 3, 4, ...which do you love the most? [Present a selection of photos of similar products for this one]
- Cats or dogs?
- Describe your day using three emojis - ours has been [insert emojis here]
- What do you love about your business?
- Who is your favourite artist on Instagram? Tag them so I can fill my feed with colour"
- OMG! Have you seen the newest episode of [insert TV series here]?
- Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
5. Show the mess
People worry about sharing feelings or personal stories on their business page. The truth is, everyone is human and life is messy. Those sunshiney influencers with a grid full of smiles still have to deal with bin bags splitting.
If you worry about divulging TMI or coming across negative, approach it with a yin-and-yang mindset. Opposite forces can complement each other. Maybe you’ve had a bad day at work but you spot the sun shining through a cherry blossom on your way home? Snap it and tell that story.
Less popular hashtags can put you in a smaller pool, helping potential customers searching for the exact product/service you provide find you.
6. Use (don’t abuse) emojis
Even your captions can be visual. Inserting emojis between your words can instantly take your copy from a sea of grey soup to serious eyeball bait, as long as you don’t overuse them. Those little smileys express our mood so well, sometimes words aren’t even necessary.
Maybe you’re sharing a photo of something so astonishing that an exploding head emoji says it all. They also make the perfect signposts to give structure to captions: arrows, hearts, flames, megaphones, aubergines, piles of poo… whatever works.
7. Hashtag responsibly
Posts with hashtags harness more engagement than those without. But you have to use them cleverly - not too frequently, not jumping on irrelevant bandwagons, not pointless.
Keep them targeted and specific and you’ll attract targeted, specific followers. Also, limit them to about seven to 10 hashtags per point, then trial which hashtags work best. Like SEO, less popular hashtags can put you in a smaller pool, helping potential customers searching for the exact product/service you provide find you.