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Published September 22nd 2022

Useful Tips and Best Practices for Writing Instagram Captions

Writing engaging captions for your Instagram posts and visuals are not as easy as it sounds. Here is a helpful guide to improve your caption writing skills and give you some inspiration.

Instagram is the world’s most popular visual social media platform and has revolutionized how we communicate and post online. In 2021, 1.21 billion people and businesses worldwide used the platform on a monthly basis. This huge pool of potential customers provides brands with a great opportunity to win new leads and engage with their customers to increase brand loyalty. 

Photos and videos are the first things that come to mind when we hear Instagram. Captions on Instagram, however, provide a great opportunity for brands to make their posts, reels, and Instagram stories (even) more captivating. 

In this blog, we go through everything you need to know about Instagram captions, including: 

Let’s dive in. 

What are Instagram captions? 

With Instagram captions, the author can provide context and more information to the visual. People can express their emotion or motivation for why they took or why they’re posting this picture or video. 

In addition to using relevant hashtags, captions are a valuable tool to grab the viewer's attention and get them to follow directions. For example, you can animate them to check out the link in your bio and lead them to your website.

Why should you use Instagram captions? 

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but visuals have their limits. You can put only a limited amount of written copy into a visual or video before it looks cluttered and people lose attention. 

Captions are a great way to provide more information to a post, story or reel. Brands can introduce their brand, products, or services in more detail and give the audience the chance to learn more about your brand. Captions can be informative, entertaining, inspirational, thought-provoking, and engaging. It’s also a great place to show the human side of your brand.

Asking your audience a question in the caption can be a good way to fuel engagement and start a discussion. This post and caption from WWF, for example, asks followers a thought-provoking question and people react to it: 

You have a wide range of possibilities on how you can use captions. This will depend on your wider goals and social media strategy. We talk about this in more detail here

In summary, you should use Instagram captions to: 

  • provide more information and context 
  • reach more people
  • achieve a higher engagement rates
  • provide call to actions 
  • lead your audience to your website

How to add captions to Instagram Stories and Reels 

Instagram Stories and Reels have different editing options than the classical Instagram feed posts. Once you decide which content you want to upload to a story, you have different editing symbols to choose from at the top. Click on the text symbol and add your caption. You can then choose from different fonts and colors or give it a background color to make it more noticeable. Lastly, you can decide where your caption should appear, for example, at the bottom of the story. 

Instagram Reels have the caption options from Instagram Stories and posts combined. This means you can add a caption as part of your reel (like in Instagram Stories) and add a caption to describe the reel like you would do for a regular Instagram post. You can add captions on your Reel after choosing your content and proceed to the preview section. The interface is pretty similar to Instagram Stories and adding text here works the same way. After you finish editing your reel, you can add a description in your last editing step. This works similarly to adding captions to regular posts. 

Adding captions to video content can come in handy to reach people who watch your video content with the sound off. 

Useful tips for writing captivating Instagram captions

Ideal word length for captions on Instagram   

The limit for Instagram captions is 2,200 characters. This gives you enough bandwidth to provide a lot of information. However, there is no need to write captions this long. 

How long should your perfect Instagram caption be? This really depends on the type of content you’re posting and the motivation and goals you have for your post. There’s no golden rule in terms of length. One-word (or one-emoji) captions can be as engaging as a lengthy description. 

If you go for a longer caption, you should keep in mind that Instagram cuts the preview after the first two lines. This means you need to grab readers' attention with the first sentence to animate them to tap on your post and reveal the whole caption.  

No matter how long or short your caption is: Keep it simple. Use language readers are familiar with and avoid jargon and long, complicated sentences.  

Here are some things you should consider in terms of caption length: 

  • Is the information you provide already presented in the visual? 
  • What is the message you want to get across? Is it, for example, educational or entertaining? 
  • Are there other ways to divide the information into smaller chunks? For example, splitting it into more than one post? 
  • Are there other resources that could provide a deeper understanding of the topic? 

Keep your social media strategy in mind

Are you writing a caption with one word or only emojis? Sounds easy, right? Writing an engaging caption can be harder than it looks. As social media manager, you probably were at least once in the situation of staring at the screen, not knowing what caption to write.

A good way to start is to look at your social media goals. What do you want to achieve with your social media presence? Do you want to engage with your community or do you want to generate more leads? Do you want to raise brand awareness or deepen brand loyalty? 

Your goals are the foundation for creating your social media posts, including writing captions. One of the worst things brands and content creators can do on social media is to lose their tone of voice. An inconsistent tone of voice can confuse followers and even put them off. The tone in your captions should be in line with your brand voice which should take into account how your followers communicate. A young fashion brand, for example, can often afford to be way less formal in their communication than a traditional insurance brand. 

Format your captions and make them more readable 

Lengthy captions can be hard to read and you risk losing your readers' attention. If they lose interest after the first few sentences and miss your call to action, your caption wasn’t that successful.

Try splitting your captions into smaller paragraphs to make your caption easier to read. You can simply use the enter button in the edit window to add breaks. You can also add headings to structure the copy further. 

Spice things up: Use emojis and different fonts 

Besides formatting, there are some other things you can do to make your caption more captivating. For example, you can use emojis or use different fonts to highlight certain sections in your caption. 

With fonts, you can experiment with different styles. Instagram posts don’t have a font editor included, but there are a couple of font generators out there to help you out. Just make sure that the chosen font style fits your brand style. In Instagram Stories and Reels there are a selection of fonts you can choose from.

Emojis are an important part of our online communication. They add context and emotion to the text and make a post more fun. You can use emojis to give your posts a specific emotion or tone.

You can add emojis that underline the sector you are operating in, for example, if you sell dog or cat treats, then it might make sense to add some cat and dog emojis from time to time. You can also use emojis to structure your caption, for example, as bullet points or to highlight specific words or your call to action. 

Get here an overview over the most popular emojis and tips on how to use them.

Add a call to action in your Instagram caption

Don’t forget to add a call to action to your caption. When you post on Instagram, you usually want people to do something. Do you want them to share their opinions and feedback in the comments? Do you want them to share your post in their stories or tag their friends? Do you want them to check out your website? 

Make it clear what your call to action is and animate the reader to do so. Maybe you can offer a discount on a product from your Instagram post to lead them to your online shop. Keep in mind to highlight the call to action with either formatting your copy or adding emojis.

Use the tagging functionality in your Instagram captions

Not only can you tag other accounts in your Instagram post setup, you can also do it in your captions. It’s a great way to highlight your collaborations with influencers, content creators, and other brands or give some recognition to people involved in your projects. 

You can also use tags to quote testimonials like in the post below or use it to post user generated content. With tagging, you make sure to give the audience more information, make your stakeholders aware of your communications, and give credit to the creator.

Measuring the success of your Instagram captions

Are your Instagram captions working? Which kind of captions lead to a higher engagement than others? There are different ways you can measure your results. Instagram Insights is a free feature that is part of any Instagram Business or Creator account. Here, you can get a general idea of your Instagram performance, for example, your most popular posts and the demographics of your followers.

To get more in-depth analytics about your performance, it can be helpful to use an Instagram analytics tool. There are different tools out there to match your needs. With Brandwatch Essentials, for example, you not only save time publishing your content, you can also keep track of your performance. This is especially handy if you want to compare the performance across multiple channels. 

You can use template dashboards or customize your own and easily share the report with your wider team. Once you identify your best performing posts, you can save your posts, including the captions, in the content pool in Brandwatch Essentials. This way, you can reuse your captions at a later time or share them on your other social media platforms. You can learn more about Brandwatch Essentials and sign up for a free trial here.

100 Instagram captions to inspire your next post

Now that you have some guidelines on what to consider for writing engaging Instagram captions, it’s always useful to see some examples. Here are 100 Instagram captions from one-word captions to funny one liners, from famous quotes to holiday celebrations. 

One-word Instagram captions

  • Goals
  • Epic
  • Perfection
  • Happy
  • Love
  • Weekend
  • Mood
  • Us
  • Monday (choose the day or time you post as your caption)
  • London (state where you took the picture or video)

Short Instagram captions

  • Credit: @account
  • Link in bio
  • Sneak peek
  • Coming soon
  • Yes or no?
  • From the archives
  • Behind the scenes
  • Ready for the weekend
  • Live more, worry less
  • Caption this

Motivational Instagram captions 

  • The little things in life matterIt always seems impossible until it’s done
  • Dreams don’t have expiration dates, keep going
  • Life is short and the world is wide so get out there and explore it
  • Mistakes are proof that you’ve tried
  • Be the type of person you want to meet
  • When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor
  • Follow your heart, but take your brain with you
  • When you learn, teach. When you get, give.
  • The happiest people don't have the best of everything; they make the best of everything.

Business Instagram captions

  • When daydreams become reality.
  • If you want opportunity to knock, it’s time to build a door.
  • Spot the CEO.
  • Big things have small beginnings.
  • Thrilled to have [customer] at our office today! Come back any time.
  • Want to be part of an amazing team? We're hiring! Click the link in our bio to see our current openings.
  • We are at [enter event name] and we can’t wait to meet you! Visit us at our booth!
  • Stop working hard and start working smart.
  • How many [company name] employees does it take to spell “TEAM”?
  • It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Inspirational quotes

  • "Having a dream is easy, making it come true is hard." - Serena Williams
  • "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." - Albert Einstein
  • "If you’re offered a seat on a rocket-ship, don’t ask what seat. Just get on." - Sheryl Sandberg“
  • "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln
  • "Life is a practice. You are what you do each day." - Isaac Asimov
  • "It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." - Herman Melville
  • "You change the world by being yourself." - Yoko Ono
  • "Success isn’t about the end result, it’s about what you learn along the way." - Vera Wang
  • "In a gentle way, you can shake the world." - Gandhi
  • "The best thing to hold onto in life is each other." - Audrey Hepburn

Food Instagram captions

  • Good food, good mood
  • Life happens, coffee helps
  • Don’t be upsetti, eat some spaghetti
  • Chocolate is cheaper than therapy
  • Wine + dinner = winner
  • There’s no we in fries
  • Be a cupcake in a world of muffins
  • You just can’t live a full life on an empty stomach
  • Yesterday I really wanted tacos. Now I’m eating tacos. Follow your dreams.
  • I eat cake because it’s somebody’s birthday somewhere

Seasonal Instagram captions

  • Here comes the sun
  • Springing into the new season
  • Dancing in the sun
  • Chasing the sun
  • Eat, swim, sleep, repeat
  • Freedom feels a lot like the summer breeze
  • Sweater weatherIt's never too early for pumpkin spice.
  • Winter is coming
  • A winter wonderland

Holiday Instagram captions

  • Trick or treat?
  • Creep it real.
  • Bad day to be a turkey.
  • It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
  • All I want for Christmas…Keep calm and spin that dreidel.
  • Cheers to a new year of love, happiness and success!
  • Starting off the year on the right foot.
  • Keep calm and party on.
  • Feast mode, on.

Funny Instagram captions 

  • One does not simply create a clever Instagram caption.
  • If you’re not supposed to eat at night, why is there a light bulb in the refrigerator?
  • I need a six month holiday, twice a year.
  • The older you get, the better you get, unless you’re a banana.
  • Looking at these pictures won't fix all your problems, but it's a good start.
  • Being an adult is like folding a fitted sheet. No one really knows how.
  • You never realize what you have until it’s gone. Toilet paper is a good example. 
  • We all have this one friend…
  • I'm not lazy, I'm on energy-saving mode.
  • We don't care what people think of us. Unless they're our customers. We definitely care what customers think of us.

Pop Culture Quotes

  • "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get." - Forrest Gump
  • "The rest of the world was in black and white, but we were in screaming color." - Taylor Swift
  • 2Every man dies, not every man really lives." - Braveheart
  • "You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one." - John Lennon
  • "Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up." - Batman Begins
  • "I am beautiful, no matter what they say. Words can’t bring me down." - Christina Aguilera
  • "Some people can’t believe in themselves until someone else believes in them first." - Good Will Hunting
  • "I hope you never lose your sense of wonder." - Lee Ann Womack
  • "No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world." - Dead Poets Society
  • "Just keep swimming." - Finding Nemo

That’s a wrap

With these tips and examples, you’re ready to start working on your Instagram captions skills and catch your audience’s attention. You want to make your social media management easier and save a whole bunch of time in the process? Try Brandwatch Essentials for free.

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