Uh, Instagram Captions? But do they really matter?
I mean. Isn’t Instagram purly a visual platform?
Here’s a truth bomb: Without the right words, your image on Instagram merely serves an attention grab.
Savage, but it’s true.
The words and the captions to your Instagram post holds the power to bring it all together. It has the power to enrich your reader’s experience. It has the power to drive action (whether it be visit a website, go into a store, or sign up to a newsletter). And most importantly, it has the power to drive connection.
Words matter. So if you feel like you are currently seeing no results on Instagram, struggling with Instagram captions (and spend a minimum of 30 minutes coming up with a caption), pushing out content for the sake of pushing out content (with zero plan) or for the brands whose audience are on Instagram yet can’t help but ask “Am I wasting my energy on Instagram?” – then this blog is for you.
Because we are going to dive into the 5 common mistakes when it comes to Instagram captions, and what you can do about them.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Mistake #1: Chasing just engagement, not connection.
Symptom: You’ve got followers and you’ve got double taps on your content. But they are not converting or you feel disconnected to your audience/they do not comment or DM you.
A lot of the time, we see blogs, or social media experts talk about the importance of gaining Instagram engagement. That is, of course, important, but what they don’t talk about is that a lot of likes and a lot of engagement on a post of the wrong audience and for the wrong purpose will also not help you generate leads nor will it help you connect with your audience beyond the screen.
What to do:
Talk to your audience like they are humans. Don’t post and ghost, spend 5-15 minutes after you post to engage. It’s a two way street! Get to know your audience and see Instagram as a connection platform. A cocktail party instead of a sales event where you get to meet your audience, get to know who they are and if you’re a business on Instagram, talk to your audience and provide value as opposed to doing the hard sell.
Mistake #2: Being unclear on your brand voice
Symptom: You find yourself backspacing on the caption you wrote, because “you are not sure” whether this is right for your brand. Or you have an idea as to what to write, but no idea “how to write it.”
This all comes back to brand consistency, friends. Both visually and verbally, every touch point of your brand should be consistent. Why? Because brand consistency builds trust, and people connect (and do business) with people they trust.
How do you find your brand voice, you ask?
Don’t look at what your competition are doing. Don’t develop your brand voice based off what you think sounds cool, or what Auntie Patricia who loves your brand thinks it should sound. It’s about going back to the roots of what makes your brand, your brand, understanding who your audience is and crafting your brand voice backwards. This voice should be consistent from your website, your collateral, to your Instagram.
What to do:
Get clear on your brand’s personality and tone of voice. Are you funny? Serious? Quirky? Wrap words about what this means. E.g. Our brand is fun because to us, X, Y and Z. And develop a word bank of words and phrases you would use and words you would not use. Consider: how do I want my brand to be perceived by my audience and what would they be appealed to?
Mistake #3: Not knowing the “Why” of Instagram
Symptom: You have no idea what to write. You are pushing out content for the sake of pushing out of content.
LinkedIn is not Instagram. Neither is Pinterest. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. You and I both use respective social media channels for different purposes and Instagram is no exception.
Users are on Instagram because it is an inspirational platform and a medium to form connections. Read: Instagram is not the place to do the hardsell.
This isn’t about changing your brand voice each time you’re on a platform.
It’s about understanding that when we are on these respective platforms, we are on it for different reasons. And the content we want to read on Instagram is different to if we were on LinkedIn or on a website.
What to do:
Write with your audience in mind. Understand how Instagram fits in with your Brand’s marketing strategy and be strategic about the content you post. This is not a platform to do the hardsell. It’s about finding the perfect balance between building brand awareness, fostering brand engagement and connection, conveying your brand culture and providing value.
Mistake #4: Too much “what”, not enough “how” and “why”
Symptom: There is a disconnect with your audience and minimal genuine engagement. You write captions based on the image. If it’s a strawberry ice cream, your caption will likely describe the image and say: “strawberry ice cream”
Imagine a picture of a delicious cupcake from a cupcake brand on your Instagram. One caption says: “Vanilla Cupcake”. While the other caption talks about the story of how this vanilla cupcake has been a recipe passed down through 5 generations, and how now, you can buy it from their store.” – which one stands out more?
That’s what I thought.
Go that layer deeper, paint a picture for the reader, and enrich their experience through words.
What to do:
Learn the art of storytelling. Take your audience through your thought process, and answer the questions you would be having if you were them.
If you are a business, go beyond the benefits. If you have a product, go beyond the features (e.g. why was the product designed a certain way?) and the experience and qualifications of your service (e.g. what is the real value you bring)? Give your audience a glimpse into what it feels like to work with you.
Mistake #5: Thinking there is a fast trick
Symptom: You have tried about all the hashtags and Instagram tactics in the world. Nothing is working and you are about to throw in the towel.
Building genuine brand connection on Instagram is not an overnight thing. There are no secret hashtags to use that will help you #sorry, nor are there any secret “tactics” to help you gain more followers, engagement and connection.
It is going take time. And it will need to be consistent.
I still remember when I first started our brand Wordfetti. As an ex lawyer, I knew no one in the industry. Na da. Zilch. But through a platform like Instagram, every day I conveyed out content. Content to connect with my audience. Content to provide value. Content that answers the “why us?”. It was crickets for 3 or 4 months. But then soon, an enquiry via Instagram came. And then another…
Today over 60% of our leads come from Instagram and our connection and engagement with our audience is hot all because of consistency in content. Not because of a hack. Not because of a rule about long captions or short captions. Or hashtags. Because of consistency.
What to do:
Chase connection not engagement, get clear on your brand voice, understanding Instagram’s “why”. Use a scheduling platform like Preview get plan your content out in advance in batches if you struggle to write captions on the spot.
Still not sure where to start?
We’ve put together a special 15% off code exclusive to Preview App Users and Readers to our Instagram Caption Template and Content Formula Pack (which will give you over 100 already-written caption templates to use, and a formula that will dive into the 5 content pillars as to what to post on your account to build brand awareness, connection, and loyalty).
To get yours, use the exclusive promo code: PREVIEWLOVE
Until next time!