Social media, as everyone knows, has become the way of the world, and for business, it’s now emerged as the way consumers validate businesses before making any purchase decisions. But what entices people to make that purchase decision? Yes, visuals are a big part of it, but we look at visuals as the initial attraction to the product, service, or message you’re looking to send.
What gets hard cash into your pocket will (in most cases) come down to the caption that’s written for that post. It seems pretty straight forward, right?
That’s what we, along with 99.9% of the world thought until we started writing them. Cramming all of the great ideas you have into a two-to-four sentence simple and easy-to-understand caption, isn’t always as easy as it seems – especially when it comes to getting money into your pocket.
Effective captions come down to understanding that simple sells, period – and it may seem crazy, but the shorter the caption, you’ll tend to find, the more time consuming it is.
A study by Agora Pulse proves just that. They tested the engagement between posting on Instagram with captions versus without. Since Instagram is 100% image-driven, they hypothesized that captions wouldn’t change a thing in engagement. Spoiler alert: they were wrong. The posts with captions got a higher reach and engagement. Specifically, they had 53.03% more engagement in likes, 28.78% in reach, and 127.5% in comments. The numbers don’t lie – captions are a must for growth. It’s like having a car without gas; you won’t go anywhere.
Follow these nine steps, and you’ll create caption “gold.”
Set a Goal
Before anything else, you want to think about your intention – basically what you want to do with your audience. Do you want to connect with them? Or have them take a specific action after reading your post? Once you have your reason, writing an engaging caption will become a much smoother and easier process.
The First Sentence Matters!
The first sentence is your hook. It sets the tone for the whole caption. If it’s too generic, then your audience will instantly swipe to the next post on their feed. We can’t say we blame them – would you keep reading if the first sentence bored you? Lead with a hook and front-load your captions. That way, people are more inclined to click on the “more” option to keep on reading, initiating further engagement.
Now comes the “nutrients” of your caption: the value. What value does your post bring to the reader? There are three main ways to deliver value.
Offer tips and tricks
People love hearing other perspectives and unique ways of doing things. Tips and tricks will establish you as an “expert” in your industry.
Educate the reader
We believe education is motivation. When you can teach someone something new, they instantly build trust with that brand/individual.
Bring out an emotion
Emotions are powerful. If you can make someone smile, say “wow,” or cause someone to tune everything out and focus on the information you’ve provided – you’ve gained their trust and raised your brand’s awareness. A win-win!
People connect with people. In fact, 91% of customers prefer brands to be authentic on social media. Being “by the book” or “politically correct” won’t always gain you the most followership (as weird as that may sound). The best way to stand out from the competition is to be genuine.
As with step two, keep your audience in mind. Think of them as a friend and acknowledge them in your captions. Using “you” in captions makes people feel included and heard, establishing a connection.
Tell a Story
When you tell a story, you create imagery which elicits an emotional response, and in turn, sells – if told properly, that is. Stories resonate with humans emotionally and compel us to become loyal consumers. Just look at Dawn dish soap, for example! The product: a dish-washing soap. Not much there. But their marketing strategy goes beyond the product and associates it with saving wildlife. Washing your dishes AND saving cute animals? Pretty hard to say no to that. Dawn does a good job of tugging at your heartstrings, which results in people becoming advocates for their brand.
Keep It Short and Simple (K.I.S.S.) vs. Keep It Long and Lethal (K.I.L.L.)
When you’re on social media, are you there to read long paragraphs for every single post you see? Probably not. You’re not alone; 76% of people skim and scan over reading. That’s why you shouldn’t K.I.L.L. when it comes to your caption(s). Or else it’ll kill your chances of people reading through your posts and engaging.
A good caption is short and easy to read. So K.I.S.S. when writing your caption.
“But I have so much to say!”
We know that statement all too well. To simplify your thoughts, extract only the most important details. You can use bullet points, and line breaks to arrange your thoughts and make the content more appealing to the eye. But remember: it’s quality over quantity when it comes to captions.
Switch the roles for a second. If you saw your post as a follower or someone who just stumbled upon your post, answer these questions:
Make sure you answer every single question with yes. If not – it’s back to the drawing board.
The last yet crucial step is how you initiate engagement. To do so, you can include a call to action, a question, or hashtags.
Call to Actions
Calls to actions are the key to promoting engagement with your audience. Tying in with the first step, you use that initial intention to dictate your call to action. Encourage them to visit your website, contact you, check out your services, etc.
Invite people to comment on your post by asking questions! People tend to comment more if you ask an open-ended question as well, drumming up engagement.
Don’t forget hashtags. Hashtags work – they bring your posts up to the surface for those who are interested in that particular hashtag. Increase your social media presence by using #relevant hashtags to your brand.
Use Emoji’s (When Necessary)
Emoji’s are meant to give off emotion, and they’re also fun! You won’t use them all the time, but they appeal to the identity of social media as a whole. Being able to express an emotion through a little symbol allows people to see what emotion they’re supposed to feel in your caption.
That’s it – you’re on your way to making great captions!
If you’re still cursed with that writer’s block, you’re in luck! We offer affordable yet high-quality services in content writing, social media management, and more. Creating great captions is just one of our many marketing talents.
Just remember: captions are a must. Images may say a thousand words, but captions ensure the right words are said.