Using social media only goes so far if you don’t have engagement. Posts without action are just posts, you want users to be interested in what you have to say. While the visuals on the post are important, because a post that’s boring to look at won’t do well, you want to make sure you write a good caption as well. A post without a caption, or worse, a post with a bad caption, won’t get close to as much engagement as a post that has a well-written and thought-out caption. But just saying that doesn’t help you write a good caption. Below are some of the most important methods to writing good captions for social media.
Develop a Unique Voice
When posting on social media, you don’t want to sound like every other company on the internet. If you use a monotone, strictly informative voice, people will quickly lose interest. Develop a unique voice and personality for your business social media and use it in all of your captions for posts. You can make jokes, use more casual lingo; the list is endless. If you use memes in your social media strategy, try to mimic the voice style of the memes you like or vice versa.
Make sure that it’s a good combination of fun and professional, you want to be enjoyable to read but not push boundaries and cross lines. You are still a business, after all, and you want people to see you and respect you as such. But having a unique voice is important for creating a difference between you and the competition. Having a personality that is fun but still professional is one of the best ways to gain traction on social media.
Include a CTA
On many of your posts, be sure to include a call-to-action or CTA in the caption. If you don’t already know what to put as your CTA, here are some examples of what you could put:
- Check out the link in our bio!
- Comment your favorite [insert] below!
- What do you think about this? Let us know below!
- Fill out the survey in our bio!
- Tag a friend below!
If you haven’t gathered, you want your CTA to push for engagement either with your website or the post itself. Without a CTA, users won’t always think to go to your website, or may not even know that’s an option. Make the CTA clear and concise so that it’s as easy as possible for users to find what your CTA is telling them to.
It’s important not to use a CTA on every post. While you do want to drive traffic and engagement, too much self-plugging will get tiring over time for your followers. Make sure to have some posts that are informative or funny or anything else without linking to something or having a CTA.
Inform, Don’t Sell
For the most part, try to inform your followers, don’t always be trying to sell products. In fact, self-promo should be the smallest percentage of your social media, aside from holiday posts. You should consider social media as a way to communicate with leads and customers, not to sell products. While yes, social media is a useful sales tool, it also wears out quickly for users when all you post is self-promotion. You want the majority of your social media efforts to be informative. This means that you’re telling your audience about your industry. Let them in on industry secrets, or show them the behind-the-scenes of what you do for them without necessarily plugging products. You can, but do so very sparingly.
A great rule of thumb is to follow your blog. Your blog page is mostly informative rather than self-promotion and personal updates. While you do feature those topics on your blog in moderation, you focus mostly on writing about updates in your industry as a whole or going in-depth on a specific aspect of the industry. The same general posting rules go for your social media. You can post personal updates and plug in sometimes, it’s even encouraged. But you want your primary goal on your social media to be informing users about your industry, and providing them a window into your world.
Push the Important Information to the Top of the Caption
Especially on Instagram, long captions are automatically shortened to the first two lines. Additionally, people don’t want to read a long caption, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Because of these factors, you want the most important information in your caption in those top two lines or 125 characters. As far as what’s the most important part of your caption: that element is up to you. You may not be able to condense all of the information into those first two lines, so coming up with a hierarchy of the importance of information in your caption might end up being necessary. But be sure that it’s in the first two lines of your Instagram post in order to get the information out to as many people as possible.
Count Your Hashtags
Hashtags are important, especially on Instagram and Twitter. Each of these has a very different specific number of hashtags that are optimal for a post. For Twitter, it’s best practice to only use two hashtags. This is mostly due to the fact that a tweet is already limited to 280 characters. Hashtags do count against your character count, so on Twitter, it’s important to keep the hashtags to a minimum in order to provide more space for your information and update. If you do want to incorporate more hashtags in your tweet, try to work them into the content itself so that it flows smoothly. For example, if an outdoor retailer were to post:
If you’re feeling #lost, let us help you out! New compasses on our website to help you #FindYourWay.
This works the hashtags into the tweet and allows them to even add more if they wanted.
Instagram has a much more capable hashtag limit because the caption limit is much higher. You should always include at least one hashtag. Statistics show that the optimal number of hashtags in an Instagram post is 11. Posts with 11 hashtags had an almost 80% interaction rate per thousand followers. The next highest percentage is 9 hashtags, but with only a 49.5% interaction rate.
Hide Your Hashtags
You don’t want your hashtags to be the only thing people see on your Instagram post. Hashtags, while useful and super important to social media success, can easily become clutter in a caption, especially when there are as many as 11. Because of this, there are a few methods for burying your hashtags in your post so that they don’t get in the way of the information.
The first method is by pushing them down in your caption. You want to get your hashtags as low as possible. See this example from my Instagram Explore page. She has her important information at the very top, then has a bunch of line breaks. The bullets are a common way to push the information down and keep the line breaks consistently. After this gap, her hashtags are buried deep in the caption, shoved to the very bottom. This is a great way to avoid clutter in your caption.
The next method is by commenting on the hashtags on your post. This is generally the best tactic for profiles with over a thousand followers. Comments only show up, with a few short featured ones being the exception when you specifically click on the button to view comments. This method is fool-proof to get your post linked to the hashtags without them even showing up in your caption, which leaves space for a longer caption if you’d like.
While these are all very important to writing good captions for social media, there are dozens more tips that you can find on the internet that will improve your social media game. Agorapulse has a great blog on writing social media captions here. You can always improve your social media strategy to find more success, and I think that social media captions are a great place to start.
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