Nailing Instagram Captions

Image by Shout & Co. for Tea Total tea

Image by Shout & Co. for Tea Total tea

So you've selected your beautifully styled image (hopefully shot for you by Shout & Co....) and you've posted it to Instagram, waiting for all of those likes and comments to come flooding through.  But they don't.  Crickets.  You might get a dribble through of likes but the comments from followers are few and far between.  Not a big deal, right?  WRONG.  Not getting much engagement on your posts could mean 1 of 3 things:

(1) Your post isn't what your followers want to see (Go have a look at my "calculating engagement" post for more on this and why you need to get it right)

(2) Your posts aren't reaching enough of your followers: given the constant changes in the algorithm, your reach is dwindling so less people are seeing what you're posting.  Keeping up the engagement on your posts helps to boost reach.  Here is a post that gives you a major hint on how to get on top of this.

(3) Your captions aren't pulling people in: it's not enticing them to read or bother to respond.  

You're patting yourself on the back because you've already read the articles I refer to in (1) and (2) above and you've already updated the way you speak to your audience.  But (3) is leaving you feeling a bit vulnerable and uneasy.

That's cool because I'm about to give you some information on how to nail your Instagram Captions.


Well, Im glad you asked!  Ultimately, a great caption shows off your brand's personality, it draws the audience in and makes them want to interact with your business.  A clever use of hashtags, emojis and copy will all work together to help you craft an impactful caption.  But it doesn't end there.  There are a few other things that need to be taken into account before your caption goes from good to great.


(1) Know your audience.  How can you talk to them if you don't know who they are?  What are they into?  What problem do they have that only your business can solve? What drives them?  Creating your ideal customer will help to focus your communication with them.

(2) Develop your brand's tone of voice.  How do you want to be perceived by your followers?  Fun and lighthearted or serious and in the zone?  Your caption needs to radiate your brand's personality.

(3) Don't beat around the bush.  Refrain from writing more than you have to, but at the same time don't skimp on any information that your audience may need to take the step towards buying your product or service.  If there is a story behind your image, tell it in a compelling way: draw the reader in.  

(4) Make the 1st sentence of your caption go KA-BOOM in your reader's head.  Instagram hides anything after that so if you're opening line isn't a cracker, they probably won't click "more".  They're gone. Outta here.  On to the next post on their feed.  

(5) Post your 23765th edit of the post.  Don't just quickly tap something out, click "share" and expect the world to go nuts for you.  Write it out, think about what you're trying to say, erase it, try again, get someone else to read it back to you, make sure your spelling and grammar are on point. Haphazard isn't gonna bring in the bucks, careful and considered will.

(6) Use hashtags: I wrote up an article on this here - go have a peek.  

(7) Talk up other profiles if it's relevant to your post.  Did a collab with another brand?  @ them.  Used jewellery from a business in your fashion shoot?  @ them.   

(8) It won't work to simply ask your followers "click on this external link that takes you away from Instagram!" - they will be reticent to do what you've asked.  Rather warm them up with small requests ("Double tap if..." / "Comment below a time when...." / "Using an emoji, tell me..." etc) and once they have come to trust that you aren't out to take them on a joyride of the internet, they'll be more open to your bigger requests.

(9) Use emojis!  I love these - especially if your brand is a bit more on the fun side.  There is a place for it with more "serious" brands - finding the selection that works with your tone of voice will be key.

(10) Ask a question: encourage your followers to give you feedback, offer their opinion or open up with their own story.  Giving them an opportunity to talk with you instead of being talked at will boost your engagement like 34587% (ok not quite, but maybe close).  It might take a few posts before your followers start opening up to you, but if you're giving them snippets of you they'll be open to sharing snippets of themselves.

(11) Get personal: Share a personal experience or a story that will give your followers a glimpse into who you are.  More on that below.


There are a few different types of captions that will help to give you some focus when searching for content for your social media profiles.  Knowing what category your post falls into will help guide the type of caption it needs to be accompanied by.

- Behind the scenes: post about your story, your passions, how your product is made, where you work from, pictures of you.  People want to know about the human behind the brand.

- Information Sharing / Educational: Can be linked to the Behind the Scenes above: create a space with your audience where they come to see you as an expert in your field: the technicalities of what you do put into an enticing caption will keep it interesting for your followers

- How-To's and Instructional: Great for foodies, gardeners, social media peeps like me and other profiles where you have information that followers might need and want to know to make their lives easier

- Giveaways and Competitions: these are always a winner with an instagram audience: 35% of instagramers say they like this type of content

- Storytelling: Linked to the Behind the Scenes and Informational types above, people want to read a good story (but of course, not tooooo long otherwise the interest will wane).  Humans of New York is great at doing this - have a look at their captions to see how he does it.


Still feeling stumped? Bewildered? Overwhelmed?  If you're left with more dread than determination after reading all of these tips (it's a lot to take into account when writing a relatively short piece of copy) don't worry!  Shout & Co. is here to help - we do this stuff all day every day.  Get in touch: