Four Steps to Writing the Perfect Instagram Caption

Nov 03, 2016 Sarah Mitus

Oh the elusive perfect Instagram caption. Have you ever sat with a photo loaded and edited on Instagram and didn’t post for HOURS because you couldn’t come up with a caption you really liked?Oh, yeah, me neither.

But in case you, you know, have a friend who goes through this, here are four steps to follow in order to write the perfect instagram caption.

1. Keep it short:  Short means short: 3-4 lines of text, or about 200 characters. This way the caption doesn’t get truncated before you’re able to get across all of the important information.

That being said, long captions do have their place! Accounts like NatGeo and Nike Running both have long captions that tell a story. Just make sure the story is indeed interesting, and that you’re consistent about it. If you post long captions on each post, your followers will expect to see them. If you try to throw one in in a sea of short captioned photos, your followers might not engage as readily.

2. Avoid hashtags: Industry practice is typically to avoid hashtags in the caption of posts, unless it’s part of a campaign or part of your actual caption. Instead, you want to add the hashtags (14-20 of them) to the first comment of the post, and do so in a way where they aren’t distracting to the reader. This is done by writing the comment in your texting or notes app, and copying it over to the Instagram comment so that it truncates after the first ellipses.

Here’s an example of what this looks like:
 

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#inkhouse #dogsofinkhouse #inkhousewoo #pr #socialmedia #agencylife #boston #waltham #sf #sanfrancisco #pragency #prssa #BOStoSFO #prlife

3. Don’t include a link: Every time an Instagram caption includes a link, another social media manager loses their wings. You can’t click a link in a caption, and no one is going to copy the link and paste it into their web browser on their phone. Please. Don’t do it.

While the best practice is to avoid click calls to action on Instagram, you have two options if you want to drive to a website: either put the link in the bio of your account for a 24-48 period after you post and reference it in the caption, or use Instagram ads to have a “learn more” button appear under your promoted post.

4. Have personality: This is the hardest thing to do, as well as the most important, and unfortunately there’s no magic bullet to creativity. But if you’re stuck and trying to bring more personality to your caption here are a few quick ideas:

  • Look at other Instagram accounts for inspiration
  • Write a caption, then ask yourself what you can take out of it
  • Think about which emojis might be relevant and include them in the caption or as hashtags
  • Consider slang terms or pun phrases that you could change to be relevant
  • Use alliteration to take your caption from average to awesome

Lastly, know that there isn’t such thing as one *perfect* Instagram caption. Each brand’s audience is different, and what works for one isn’t necessarily going to work for another. Test different things, spot trends in performance, and optimize to create more of that success.

Topics: Social Media, Instagram, How To
Sarah Mitus

While Sarah has extensive experience with social media strategy, community management, and sponsored content, she understands that second-guessing what worked in the past is the only way to be successful in the future. Prior to joining InkHouse, Sarah worked at Edelman San Francisco as the main community manager and digital content strategist for Adobe’s Digital Imaging brands: Photoshop and Lightroom. She has won numerous awards including Facebook’s Craft award, a PR News social media icon, and two Cannes Lions. She majored in Marketing and Management at the Villanova School of Business and remains an active member of the alumni community.

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