We all know this cliché statement: a picture is worth more than 1000 words.
Instagram is a visual social media platform, but it doesn’t mean that the texts you write aren’t powerful: they are (much more than you think!), and they can be the game-changers for your content marketing strategy. Photos or graphics may make people stop for a while, but it’s the consciously prepared caption that grabs their attention for longer than 10 seconds.
The things you write can be food for thought, an inspiration changing somebody’s life, a piece of advice someone needs right now, at this point, industry insights that will help someone get a raise or change the career path. Your words have the power to evoke emotions, make people like you, make people relate to you. They can also drive your sales, attract your perfect audience, and transform them into your brand’s loyal ambassadors.
As you see, you can’t just ignore the potential of good copywriting – and we’re here to help, as always. Today we’ll discuss practical steps which will drive more traffic to your profile and make your followers more engaged and genuinely interested in what you have to say. They won’t quit reading after the first line.
You probably have the same Instagram experience as we do: there are creators whose captions we always read, no exceptions, to the last dot. And, at the same time, there are ones who always write the same thing: at least that’s the impression we get, so we skip their captions every single time. We just know they won’t surprise us and give us any value.
The goal is to be in the first group and become a creator whose thoughts are so catchy and valuable; readers can’t skate over them. So, shall we begin and dive deeper into the topic?
Where to start?
Copywriting gurus say: the first sentence matters the most. Indeed, it plays a crucial role in grabbing the reader’s attention. Our brains like to judge so fast! It’s the combination of our captions’ very first words that makes people decide: do I want to read it? Does it sound like something WORTH my time? Won’t it be the next “copy paste” text that doesn’t contribute anything meaningful to the topic?
As you’ve probably noticed: not everyone likes to write longer forms. That’s okay: we’re all different, and we have different sets of skills. That makes the world interesting – we hear it all the time, and yes, we still can’t agree more. Anyway, when you’re a content creator, you just can’t post captions that look too lame: the ones that come across as texts written at 3 A.M or the ones written during your lunch break in 30 seconds, between two sips of coffee. You have to respect your audience and their time, so they’ll do the same.
Does it have to be time-consuming for you? It depends.
Conscious copywriting is the skill you can learn: you don’t even need expensive courses or thousand of hours spent in the library. It’s not about that at all. It’s about noticing what your audience needs, how to reach them, what type of content makes them more engaged, and how to position yourself as an expert.
By the way: that’s the most common reason why people don’t sell their products and services on Instagram: they’re not seen as experts in their field. Do you think it’s because they aren’t ones? Not necessarily. Most probably, they just lack the confidence to show off their knowledge, their industry insights, and the experiences they own.
We’ll discuss how to avoid making the same mistake because they pay such a heavy price for it – their on-line presence doesn’t bring the effects it could bring. As you can imagine, it gets certainly frustrating at times.
Let’s talk about the limits: how long should your captions be?
The longer the text, the better? Unfortunately, no, that applies to blog posts (Google search engine loves longer forms, as they most often contain more valuable information and are more innovative, the algorithm appreciates it!). Still, writing Instagram captions has different rules of the game.
The funny fact is that writing blog posts is, theoretically speaking, much easier than writing Instagram captions. The reason is Instagram captions have to be much shorter and more concise. You have only 2 200 characters to use: that’s about 300-330 words. There are no bold headlines to use. Instagram doesn’t provide us the text editor to underline the key parts of your thoughts. You have to do it differently: and accentuate the essential lines with your words, not with the styling options. A challenge? Definitely, but with a strategic approach, you’re going to master it quicker than you think.
Know your audience
Who are you talking (or, in this case, to be more specific: writing) to? Many times, when we ask this question, the silence answers. Creators and entrepreneurs don’t have an idea, or they reply with: to my target audience. But who is your target audience?
Those questions can be a little bit stressful, especially when you haven’t ever thought about them, but they’re the basis of the content marketing strategy. When you don’t know, you’re, in all likelihood, wasting your time, so it’s better to analyze it now than later.
How to do it? To analyze your current audience, go to Instagram Insights (you need to have a business or creator account to view those insights – you can’t access them from a private account). It will help you understand who your followers are, as well as how your content is performing.
Where to find this analysis? Go to your profile, and click the “insights” button. To produce winning content, you need to know what your followers are looking for on Instagram. To write engaging captions, you need to realize who the reader is. We can’t stress enough how essential it is.
Check your Instagram demographics to get to know which groups are dominating your audience. Which gender, which age group, which locations. From the level of your Instagram Insights, tap the button “audience”, and you’ll have access to all the most elementary statistics (they’re highly fundamental, and you can’t ignore them). Why? You’ll have to create different messages for women-only audiences and different ones for mixed-gender groups – the same applies to age groups. Young audiences (13-17 or 18-24, for example) will prefer reading a different caption style than a more mature group of 45-54, so it’s good to research it. Is your audience very young or relatively more mature? Are they from English-speaking countries? You have to know it, in order to prepare the suitable captions, they won’t sweep aside blankly.
By the way, we’ll discuss analyzing Instagram statistics as well as determining your ideal follower in detail soon, but for now, when it comes to demographics: if your ideal target audience is, let’s say, men 45-55 (and you want to attract them), but Instagram Insights show you that most of your followers are teenage women, then you are indubitably doing something not right with your content strategy. Your captions and the way you form the messages may be where the problem lies. It’s time to heave heart-to-heart about your strategy.
Once you know who your readers are, we need to focus on the ways to engage with them. Well-crafted captions should:
- include CTA (call to action), so your followers see that you care about their opinion and their reaction
- go through proofreading before publication: it absolutely can’t contain any grammatical or orthographic errors
- be longer than one line! If you think “anything goes”, you’re entirely wrong: each post should have a meaning and evoke some emotions, even the entertaining one with a meme. A single emoji won’t do.
We understand the struggle – great ideas don’t come out of anywhere, and you don’t always feel inspired: that’s normal; even the most creative creators admit they have bad days when no concept seems right. When you run out of current ideas for your copywriting, you can always ask your audience questions. It’s a much better option than posting random quotes or writing a confession “today, I don’t feel like writing anything”.
Questions can be your superpower (or increase your engagement rate, at least)
A simple question can bring you many valuable insights from your audience. It will increase the number of comments below the post, or maybe even start a discussion. Many times, it’s enough to ask your followers to help you choose between options A and B or ask them about their experiences with a particular subject.
It’s not only a smart tactic to make your followers open up and engage with your content. It can also be a surprisingly good way to conduct audience-research, leading to understanding your followers better and knowing much more about them. It’s a win-win solution.
Look at this post as a prime example:
Don’t bore them with salesy content
Many entrepreneurs tend to keep their content overly promotional. Even when they try to avoid it, they still post only extremely professional “suit and tie” types of materials. Don’t forget that light-hearted content is admittable too! What is more, it often makes your profile more approachable. Give them something to smile about, something funny, and showing your more human and friendly side (as well as your sense of humor).
Let’s be honest: good copywriting is critical to your success on Instagram. Improving your caption writing process can meaningfully increase your engagement rate; we know it from our own, as well as our clients’ experience. Keep in mind that your captions don’t have to be necessarily always long-winded and consist of a million paragraphs. Sometimes one, catchy and consciously written one is enough. Test different forms, don’t be afraid to ask questions, include CTAs, and monitor which copywriting type evokes your followers’ emotions.
The more you practice, the better at writing you become (and the more you learn about your audience’s reactions!) — and then ultimately, the more refined and conscious your Instagram copywriting strategy becomes.