Updated: November 21, 2020

How to Write Instagram Captions That Get More Likes, Comments and Sales

Table of Contents

Instagram is one of the best resources for coaches, content creators, and entrepreneurs to quickly grow a new brand or revitalize a pre-existing one.

There is, of course, more to a successful Instagram post than just the caption, but as that is the only copywriting involved, we’re going to focus on it. An Instagram caption is essentially the same as a Facebook headline. And just like a well-written converting Facebook headline, you want your Instagram captions to power up engagement and sales for your business.

Demographics of Instagram

Really Know Your Audience

When it comes to writing engaging captions, you first must know your audience. Your captions must be highly targeted and properly relevant to your buyer persona.

You need to know what your audience wants; thinks they want and needs. When you’re writing captions, you need to know exactly who you’re writing that content for precisely.

This takes time, and it requires engagement on your side. You need to look over your followers’ Instagram accounts and scan through their comments to get a sense of what content they’re actively engaging with. If you still find it difficult to get a true sense of their expectations, don’t hesitate to ask. People enjoy talking about themselves – that’s why social media is so successful.

For example, if you provide car customization services primarily to non-experts, you’re not going to write captions that cater to a more advanced audience. 

Of course to truly know your audience requires a lot of surveying. 

I recommend you occasionally hop on your Instagram stories and ask what your audience wants to know from you, what their goals are when it comes to your niche (fitness, business, career, etc.). Ask what their struggles are right now. Find out what are their pain points.

These are things that you really want to know because it helps you with your content creation and caption writing.

Write Up A Quick Buyer Persona / Ideal Client / Preferred Audience Profile

Whether you choose to call this your ideal audience or client or your preferred buyer persona, the purpose is the same. 

Jot down the characteristics of your ideal customer including financial means, common traits, desires, goals, typical pain points, level of engagement, etc.

I recommend referring back to this quick profile now and then to keep yourself focused on your bottom line. After all, if your buyer persona is 30+ years of age, you’re only wasting time marketing to those aged 18-26. Sure, you’ll have more followers and more engagement, but don’t waste time designing posts and stories for that demographic. They don’t pay the bills.

Instagram users by age

Develop An Engaging Hook

When writing an Instagram caption, you must have an engaging hook.

With Instagram, the first 125 characters are the most important of your entire caption. After 125 characters, Instagram will cut it off and the person will have to click more. So, focus entirely on nailing those first 125 characters.

Your goal is to get as many people clicking more than you can so that they’ll read the entire piece of content. If the first 125 characters grab attention, your caption will be read in its entirety.

Instagram Caption Examples With A Good Hook

Leaning into my original example of a local car customization service, they may post a caption a polarizing caption that reads, “Why most auto detail shops suck…” Most people will read that quickly and decide they need to click and read more.

Another route the same small business could take is to write, “Why your car is so boring…” or “Why you secretly hate your car…”. Both are somewhat polarizing statements, and both will attract more clicks to expand your content.

Asking a question in the first 125 characters is also a good way to develop engagement. Of course, doing this well means you have to know your target audience and buyer inside and out. You need to ask a question your audience has, that they would want you to answer.

An example of this type of caption may read, “Want to know how you can DIY stellar customizations on your ride for under $50?”

Now that’s an intriguing question and therefore there’s a higher chance people will click to read the complete answer. Plus, you’re not selling anything, rather, you’re giving away valuable insight and education which, in turn, will build your brand and develop trust with buyers.

It’s especially important that you have the first engaging hook in mind and that you work to make it as attention grabbing as possible. You need to stop them from scrolling and command their attention for a few seconds, long enough to entice them to click more.

If you spend some time looking at the most popular posts on Instagram, you’ll notice they all have a few things in common. Strong hooks, cliffhanger moments that cause people to be curious and want to learn more, and either a polarizing statement or a question.

Content & Copywriting For The Win

The next component that will help you strengthen your Instagram caption writing strategy is to ensure you have incredible content and killer copywriting.

Killer content means having content that speaks to your ideal audience, as previously discussed. You must know what your targeted buyers want to see, hear about and find engaging. Once you know that, you can easily track it down and give it to them.

It’s the killer copywriting that proves the most difficult for most people. And as an entrepreneur, this skill is essential. You must be good at communicating succinctly with text.

Now I know a lot of people aren’t interested in taking the time to develop strong copywriting skills, and certainly you could hire a social media manager or Instagram marketing agency, but consider the opportunity cost.

As a business owner or marketer without strong copywriting skills, you’ll always have to hire someone to write your sales pages, lead magnets, website copy, Facebook ads and email marketing campaigns. Wouldn’t it just be easier to take some time and learn how to do it yourself?

Top 3 Copywriting Persuasion Tactics for Instagram

Future Pacing

What future pacing means is when you’re writing your captions, you’re helping your audience visualize their Point B.

You’re telling them where they could go or might end up. Everyone has a Point A and a Point B. Point A is where they are right now and where they probably aren’t all that happy or satisfied in life. Point B is where they want to be, and you’re going to tell them how you can get them there.

By incorporating future pacing in your caption writing, what you’re essentially doing is helping your audience paint the vision of their future and showcase what their life could look like if they had your service or used your product.

Scarcity

As the word implies, this is writing copy that makes people feel they’re missing something. Essentially, you’re using the fear of missing out to create a sense of urgency for them to push them to act.

Once you know your audience very well, you can adapt your product or service marketing and create an Instagram caption that taps into that urgency. Remember, creating scarcity can drive up the urgency for your audience to act.

Strong Call-To-Action (CTA) Captions

You’re using future pacing to give them a glimpse of their lives with your product or service, and you’re using scarcity to build a sense of urgency to act, but what action specifically?

There are two types of call to actions that exist on Instagram: a primary CTA caption and a secondary CTA caption.

The primary call to action is your social boost request. You see it all the time on Instagram and YouTube. “Tag me”, “Comment below”, “Double tap”, “Show me some love”. This is your first ask of your content viewers, to boost engagement of your post.

It’s this primary short-term boost that’s the most meaningful on Instagram. It increases your engagement numbers which leads to higher likes, shares, and comments. Eventually that leads to more followers.

The secondary CTA focuses on your long-term lead generation needs.

Oftentimes, your secondary call-to-action caption will encourage someone to download your lead magnets or watch your free training to grow your email list.

My Final Instagram Caption Writing Tips

Now you know how to create engaging captions with a strong hook, but what matters in the end is how you put it together.

  • Make sure your Instagram caption is readable and breathable.
  • Be sure you have clean line breaks.
  • Accept that most people won’t read every word of an extremely long caption, so focus on actionable content to prove your brand and expertise.
  • You can use your photo carousel in each post strategically by adding captions within the carousel, making them readable and engaging.

And my final thought on this topic – don’t get discouraged.

Instagram captions, copywriting and strong hooks will take you time to master, but I assure you, one day you will. When that day arrives, you’ll be glad you stuck with it and your business will be better for your determination and commitment.

J. Fleischmann
J. Fleischmann
James is a content strategist, sites manager and copywriter for ServerWise. He's written 51 e-books for clients resulting in over 600,000 new leads as a ghostwriter. James lives in Texas with three dogs and has a Longhorn as a neighbor.