Ah yes. When you type ‘Instagram Caption Tips’ into Google you’ll likely be graced with 172,000,000 articles, reports, hacks, tactics and gimmicks that guarantee you better engagement, more followers, or a better handle around the dreaded algorithm.
With so many tactics, so many “if you do this, you’ll get that”, we decided to write a blog busting the 4 biggest myths we have seen about Instagram Captions.
Alright. Let’s dive in.
Myth #1: Instagram captions don’t matter
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. But if you think about it – an Instagram post without words is simply an attention grab.
Words and captions on Instagram provide context. Words have the ability to enrich a reader’s experience. And words hold power to build that connection with your audience beyond that double tap.
So how do you write copy that builds connection?
Through empathy and authenticity. You get to understand your audience (read: WELL) first before writing. You go back to the roots of what your brand stands for. Your voice. Your personality. Don’t just say the what, explain the how and why. Storytell. Breathe life into the image by painting an image that dives into all sense – including feel, taste and even smell.
A great example? Imagine a strawberry ice cream. No seriously. Imagine it. Looks delicious, right? No doubt it would taste awesome. But caption wise, tell us — what stands out more?
A caption with an ice cream emoji? A caption that says “Strawberry Ice cream” or a caption about a story:
“When I was around 5, Dad would take me and my little brother to the beach every Sunday afternoon for a strawberry ice cream cone at the Ice Cream truck. It was something he did every weekend without fail. It almost became a ritual.
Today with the little bro, we ended up getting a strawberry ice cream (from the same ice cream truck man!) on the way back to the car. Not only did it taste just as delicious, it took us back to those Sundays when I was little.
We just had to jump on the phone then and call Dad. We reminisced and laughed and caught up for over an hour. And I couldn’t help but realise that despite being 28?
We were all children at heart.
When was the last time you called your dad?”
This resonates just a little bit more, right?
Of course you’d tailor this to relate to your audience, but the idea is to show you just how much words enrich the post and the overall experience of the follower.
Myth #2: Longer captions are better
Long captions of course come hand in hand when it comes to storytelling – but there is no definitive rule to say that it is better than short captions. A myriad of factors come into play when it comes to whether or not an Instagram caption is going to resonate. But length isn’t one of them.
Some of the elements that do come into play though is the quality of the content, the point of the posts, to sometimes even the time of day you are posting. For example if your audience are Mums, it’s unlikely they will want to read an essay when they’re looking after their kids after school at 5pm. On the other hand, if your audience are corporates or 9-5ers without kids, it may be that before 7-8am or 5pm onwards are the best times because they would likely be scrolling through on their commute to and from work.
It’s not about the word count but instead it’s about knowing your audience (perhaps they like it sharp shooting? Or perhaps they enjoy reading a longer captioned story). However your audience likes to consume content, remember to be authentic. Be mindful and understand your audience’s pain points, and adjust your captions accordingly.
At Wordfetti, our audience enjoys consuming a good balance between long, medium and short captions.
They are a mix of small business owners, corporates (eg. Content Creators, Head of Content, to Marketing Directors for brands or organisations), as well as aspiring copywriters with the main locations our followers are from being the US, Europe and of course Australia. So to meet those time frames – you’ll likely find us posting on Instagram early in the Australian morning, sometimes during midday, or around 8pm AEST.
Myth #3: Showing personality on social media is unprofessional
Ah this is a good one. Ok. Allow us to start this subheading with a question… Why do you use Instagram?
Without getting all mind reader-ish on you – we’re going to take a wild guess and say it is one of the following: for inspiration, to see what your friends and family are up to, to follow accounts that fit in with your lifestyle, or to learn about something new.
Well. Chances are the person scrolling on the other side of that phone screen is a normal everyday human (a bit like yourself). And looking into the psychology behind why we are on Instagram, it’s likely that we aren’t scrolling on Instagram because we want the hard sell.
We are on there following accounts that convey a feeling or experience that we like, accounts we feel our values align with, and accounts we want to see, learn, and connect more with.
Personality comes into the equation here whether or not you are a small business owner, an influencer or even an organisation. People do business and connect with people. Therefore showing personality on Instagram isn’t going to make you unprofessional. It’s about being human.
In saying this though, a disclaimer.
Your brand’s personality should never be developed based off what you think is going to “sound cool” or what your competitor’s voice is. It must go back to the roots of everything like we have mentioned in this blog — who are you talking to? Who’s your audience?
And this personality? Should be reflected in not only how you write your Instagram captions but how you write on your website, your emails, your marketing collateral to even how you potentially answer the phone.
Instagram gives businesses a chance to ‘loosen up’ and chat with their audiences and learn even more about them. So the big takeaway here? Be human. Cut the jargon. Cut the hard sell. And see the platform as a cocktail party as opposed to a sales or network event.
Myth #4: Best way to measure Instagram success is by followers
Annnnnnd another myth is about to get ba-ba-usted.
Sure, a lot of followers look good. But there is a difference between having 50,000 followers of the wrong audience where only 1,000 of those buy from you or connect with you. Compared to 1,500 followers of the right audience whereby almost all can be your potential customers and will connect with you.
We know what we’d prefer!
Your success on Instagram shouldn’t be measured based off your follower count. Or even on the amount of likes on a post (because truth bomb, likes don’t pay the bills!)
Instead, focus on understanding the growth rate of your account (who are you reaching more of? are they the type of audience you want? and if not what might you need to tweak?), and how much traffic your Instagram may be driving to your website.
Instagram is a long term, consistent game fam. It’s not just about a month of great content or just 3 months. If I was to be fully frank here, it took me personally 6 months or more of continuous value packed content on our Instagram to start building the community we have now and to start driving action such a sign up to our newsletter or to visit our digital shop.
It takes time. There isn’t a quick fix. But by getting clear on your audience, understanding your voice and personality, and getting strategic with your content — you’ll be on your way to building a great community around you and your brand on Instagram.
There you have it. 4 big Instagram Caption myths busted.
Head scratching when writing your captions? Or still lost for words when it comes to generating ideas on what to write?
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Until next time.
Anita Siek is an ex lawyer turned Copywriter and the founder and director of Wordfetti. A Copywriting and communications house helping brands stand out in their industry through the understanding of consumer psychology, strategic thinking, and words.
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