The Ultimate Guide to Writing Killer Instagram Captions

Written by Emilija - Reviewed by Ivana Social Media / Instagram

14 min read

Photos are used on many occasions as visual vocabularies.

And it is no wonder that images sometimes have the power to replace words. There's a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, meaning that one image can convey complex ideas much better than many words can.

However, even the best and most descriptive images sometimes need a little word support.

The importance of the copy is especially relevant for businesses and influencers that use photo-based social media platforms as a primary tool to promote and market themselves.

In fact, an experiment conducted by Hootsuite in 2021 showed that long Instagram captions drive more engagement than short ones. This shows us that words are essential when it comes to driving user engagement, which in itself is a crucial factor that influences the users’ success on many social media platforms.

But even if you don’t run a business, beautifully crafted captions can help you gain more engagement on your private Instagram profile as well.

So, if you struggle to write original and creative Instagram captions for your photos, this blog post will show you how to do so, step-by-step.

Why are Instagram captions important?

Images are undoubtedly at number one place when it comes to gathering high amounts of Instagram followers.

We can define the images as the looks, and the words as the personality of your Instagram profile.

Good Instagram captions can help you build a better and stronger relationship with your audience and build your brand personality.

Another thing worth mentioning is that Instagram captions can help you reach the explore page and gain more exposure.

Not long ago, Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s CEO, explained the app’s algorithm saying that the more people comment, like, or share or spend time looking at your photo, the bigger the chances are for you to reach the Explore page.

Additionally, as mentioned before, Instagram captions help users gain more user engagement.

However, writing a great Instagram caption that will make users double-tap your photo requires attention to a few important parts.

You need to define your style, the message you want to share, and the people to whom you will be sharing the message.

But we explain all this in the section below.

How to decide what to write

man typing on laptop

Before you start writing, you need to go through a few preparations that will significantly facilitate the writing process.

  • Setting goals.
  • Detecting exactly who you are writing for.
  • Establishing what you want to say.
  • Determining how you want to sound.

Set goals

Goal setting is very important before you start writing, as goals will give you a writing angle.

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with a certain description? Do you want to get more likes or comments?

Or do you just want to inform your followers about a certain topic?

How you write a description depends heavily on the goals you set before you start.

Additional help would be to ask yourself why anyone would like to read what you have written?

This way you will discover what is essential for the reader to know and highlight those parts in your Instagram description.

Who do you write for?

Is the audience you are writing for mostly male or female or maybe mixed?

How old are they and how do they express themselves? What are their interests? What are their main pain points?

These are some important characteristics you need to know about your followers. The more you know about your audience, the more relatable and sympathetic your Instagram captions will be.

Here's an example from the world-famous clothing store Tally Weijl. The brand is present on all social media platforms and has 1 million followers on Instagram.

Tally Weijl instagram caption

Since their audience is mostly younger girls aged between 14-25 years old, the brand is using an urban style of expression and slang in their descriptions.

This way their customers can relate to the brand and develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

The post has over three thousand likes and some of the people who commented have also tagged their friends. Most likely the tagging is due to the clothes, however, the way Tally Wejil conducts Instagram marketing, which among other things, includes killer Instagram captions contributes to the successful building of their identity.

If you are not sure what your followers’ interests are, how old they are, and if they are mainly male or female, you can look for this data in Instagram insights.

What do you want to say?

Think about what exactly you want to say to your followers? Is it that you have been on vacation and that you recommend a specific place?

Think of a specific message and stick to it.

That way the descriptions will be clear and consistent.

If we go back to the previous example with Tally Weijl all they want to say is how cool that jacket is.

How do you want to sound?

Another important point in writing is the tone of voice.

Usually, it refers to how you sound when you are talking to someone.

Are you formal, informal, sad, or happy?

Adjusting your tone of voice is very important since it makes a huge impact on people who read your captions.

So, think about how you want your audience to receive your message.

If you are enthusiastic about something try capturing that enthusiasm using different words, word structure, and punctuation.

Here is an amazing description from the Instagram profile of beautiful destinations.

beautiful destinations instagram caption

Tips to write killer Instagram captions

Instagram captions can help you establish your personality and brand on the platform and can be used to increase conversions if you're selling a product as well.

So, here is how you can write successful Instagram captions using the advice we provide below.

Pay attention to the first sentence

You need to grab your readers' attention with the first sentence and make them want to keep reading.

Often, these sentences are called ‘hooks’, ‘attention grabbers’ or ‘hook sentences’ and might sound intimidating to Instagram users.

However, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you write an amazing attention-grabbing sentence.

  1. Start with a question

Questions are amazing for catching the reader's attention. Usually, questions refer to people's problems and make the reader curious about what the writer intends to say.

You can try starting an Instagram description with ‘Have you ever wondered _______?’ or ‘Have you ever experienced______?’

You can use this strategy to make people care about what you have to say and to encourage them to engage with your post more.

  1. Start with a story or a joke

Starting a description with a story or a joke always lightens up the mood and evokes curiosity.

Most people love reading an interesting story or listening to a funny joke.

By using stories or jokes users can relate to you from the start and build a connection.

  1. Start with a quote

Quotes are one more thing many users enjoy reading. Quotes can be inspiring, motivational, and illuminating and can be an amazing hook if you are trying to describe a feeling or a place.

Sometimes, one powerful quote can replace an entire caption.

Include a call to action

A call to action is an important part of your Instagram captions since it directs your followers to do something specific.

CTAs can be included anywhere in the description where the users are expected to take an action.

Most influencers include CTAs at the end of their description, however, they can be placed anywhere in the body of the caption.

Commonly, CTAs are in the form of a question that motivates users to comment on Instagram posts. But, sometimes they can also be straightforward like ‘click the link in bio’, or ‘go visit my website’ and etc.

Here is a great example of a subtle CTA from an Instagram account named kiwisoffcourse.

kiwiofcourse instagram caption

Use your Followers’ vocabulary

If you want readers to easily and simply understand what you are trying to say, a good method is to try to express yourself like they do.

For example, if you have a younger audience that uses certain urban expressions, it is a good idea to try to sound like them. This way you will get closer to them and sound friendly.

One of the world's most famous beauty brands, Glossier, uses a common form of expression in their Instagram captions to sound more like their targeted audience.

Glossier Instagram description

Use emojis and hashtags

Emojis are a ‘final touch’ to the Instagram captions plus they make the caption look more aesthetically pleasing.

Don’t be afraid of using emojis, but make sure that they fit with your brand and tone of voice.

Even if you have a more formal way of expression, emojis can still find a place in your Instagram captions if you choose them carefully.

Hand emojis, for instance, can be used for any occasion and can even serve as a substitute for CTAs.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is Instagram hashtags.

Instagram hashtags may not play a major role in the writing style and the way you sound, but they play a major part in helping you reach a wider audience by making your Instagram posts discoverable.

Many users search for content by using hashtags, so carefully chosen hashtags can help you reach a new and relevant audience.

You can choose 3-5 relevant Instagram hashtags and put them at the end of your description.

Add benefit or value

Adding benefit or value to Instagram captions is especially important for businesses and influencers who are trying to sell and promote products and services.

Emphasizing the benefits of certain products or services especially at the beginning of the Instagram captions is a way to motivate the followers to buy or use a certain product.

In addition, it may also motivate them to save, like, or comment on your post which will help you receive more exposure.

The ordinary instagram caption

Pay attention to the length

Length is another factor that you need to keep in mind when crafting your Instagram captions.

Instagram only allows 2,200 characters per caption which at first glance may look like a lot.

However, you need to be precise in the message you want to share and be careful not to get carried away with unimportant information.

Additionally, the online users’ attention span is short, and not many people are interested in reading lengthy descriptions.

Nevertheless, there is no rule that says you need to write short or long descriptions, but your descriptions need to be well-crafted, clear, and easy to read.

Bonus tip: Try the AIDA model

The AIDA model is used to identify the customer journey when customers make a decision to purchase a product.

However, this formula is also widely used by copywriters.

By answering a few questions, this model helps you overcome writer's block and come up with original ideas for Instagram captions.

The AIDA model stands for:

  • Attention - Start with a hook or attention-grabbing sentence.
  • Interest - Keep your reader's interest by explaining the problem they may face.
  • Desire - Awoke their desire to do something by explaining the solution to the problem.
  • Action- Apply a call to action so they can solve their problem.

While it might seem like the AIDA model can only be applied when the goal is to sell something, this formula can also help you structure Instagram captions more easily and sound more precise and coherent.

Killer Instagram captions checklist

Writing killer Instagram captions can be a challenge. But, practice makes perfect, so the more you write the easier it will be for you to come up with creative and original descriptions.

Still, here is a small checklist that will guide you through the process of writing your Instagram captions.

Before you start writing

  • Set goals - What do you want to achieve?
  • What are the interests of your audience? Who is your audience?
  • Decide what message you want to send. Ask yourself what your point is.
  • Decide how you want to sound - happy, formal, informal, enthusiastic.

When you start writing

  • Start with an attention-grabbing first sentence. It can be a question, story, or joke.
  • Include a CTA. It can be straightforward or by asking a question.
  • Use your followers’ vocabulary. Try to use vocabulary that your audience is using.
  • Use emojis and hashtags. Make your posts fun with emojis and searchable with hashtags.
  • Add benefit or value. Tell your followers what they receive in return by buying your product or service.
  • Pay attention to the lengths. Include only the things that are important.
  • Bonus: Try the AIDA model. Try the AIDA model to overcome writer's block.

Over to you

Instagram is an incredibly popular platform, where the competition is fierce, and every day more and more people are trying to find their way to the discover page.

The photos on this platform are important, but well-written descriptions can further distinguish you from the ocean of photos posted daily on this network.