How to Write a Caption on Instagram

Do you ever get lost in Instagram’s visual symphony, excited about the ocean of creative pictures you’re guaranteed to be…

Do you ever get lost in Instagram’s visual symphony, excited about the ocean of creative pictures you’re guaranteed to be greeted by every time you open the app? You might be the type of Instagram user who meticulously crafts the perfect shot — playing around with lighting, angles, and ratios.

The people who see Instagram as a feast for the eyes may think of Instagram captions as an afterthought at best and a special form of torture at worst. Does that sound familiar? If you’ve ever typed a few hastily-imaged words only to ask yourself why you’re bothering, this guide about how to write a caption on Instagram is for you.

We’ll show you how to use Instagram captions to turn a static moment into an exciting conversation — allowing you to connect with your followers and light the comments section up like never before.

How to Write Instagram Captions: At a Glance

Are you a fan of quick fixes? You might not feel like exploring the topic of how to write Instagram captions in depth. Here’s the “too long; didn’t read” version — which also shows you exactly what we’ll cover in this guide:

  • Instagram captions offer a unique opportunity to connect with your followers.
  • Writing Instagram captions that resonate with your followers requires understanding your audience, defining the purpose of your caption, and developing a uniquely recognizable voice.
  • Don’t let your Instagram captions be an afterthought — write several drafts, let them percolate for a while, and make sure you proofread and edit your captions for Instagram before posting them.
  • Share your most important thoughts first — but don’t be afraid to write longer captions. Telling stories is one of the best ways to draw your followers in.
  • Add well-chosen emojis and hashtags to add depth, character, and humor to your Instagram captions.

How do you do all that? Read on to discover how to write winning Instagram captions that invite a barrage of comments!

What Is a Caption on Instagram?

So, let’s start with the basics. What is an Instagram caption? If your knee-jerk reaction is, “Well, obviously, an Instagram caption is the text that goes with your posts!” you’re right — but you’re also missing the point because there’s more to Instagram captions than meets the eye.

An Instagram caption is an opportunity.

Depending on your goal, your caption allows you to:

  • Show off your unique personality.
  • Get your readers and followers to think, drum up excitement, and ignite a spark that sets your comments section on fire.
  • Shed light on what’s going on — because pictures may paint a thousand words, but those words may be completely meaningless without context!
  • Persuade your followers to do something — and that’s especially important if you run a business Instagram account. (In that case, think of Instagram captions as free real estate for your best copywriting efforts!)

Every caption tells a story. What’s yours? If you’re already asking yourself how to do Instagram captions, you understand that captions matter. The effort you put into your captions for Instagram can make the difference between a few lonely likes and a crowded comments section. Captions are the secret sauce that turns your Instagram page into a real community.

How to Caption Instagram Posts: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you excited to start writing Instagram captions that don’t just frame your photos and videos but actively build your community? Discover a step-by-step look at the process you can use to level up your captions.

1. Consider Your Goals (Personal vs Business Instagram Accounts)

You can’t successfully decide how to caption Instagram posts without asking this basic question — why are you on Instagram in the first place? Unless you run a business Instagram page, you may never have asked yourself this question. It’s worth exploring, though, because the answer helps you decide what direction to take your captions in.

People with personal Instagram accounts may make Instagram posts to:

  • Keep their friends and relatives updated about their lives.
  • Share their passions and hobbies.
  • Connect with like-minded people they don’t know IRL.
  • Brighten their followers’ days.
  • Have fun.

Brands have different goals, and their Instagram posts can:

  • Build brand awareness and loyalty.
  • Play an integral role in their approach to customer service.
  • Inform and educate future and current customers.
  • Drive sales — directly (through Instagram Shopping) and indirectly.
  • Attract new talent, because Instagram can also be a valuable recruitment tool.
  • Showcase their company culture.

Asking yourself what you’re hoping to achieve with your Instagram posts is a great exercise that helps you write better captions, so please take the time to ponder this question!

2. Know Your Audience

As you learn how to write Instagram captions that resonate with your audience, it’s vital to have a good grasp of who your followers are.

Do you have a personal Instagram account, and do you know (most of) the people who follow you in person? That makes things a lot easier! You’ll understand your followers’ sense of humor, values, and interests, and even if the people who see your posts are very different (think grandma vs friends), you can find a way to strike the right balance in your Instagram captions.

Businesses have more research to do, though. Brands need to understand the demographic categories their target audience falls into to write captions that connect and build loyalty. Even if you’re not quite sure about that part yet, you do have an easy “in” — all your customers love what you do and want to stay updated on your news!

3. Define the Purpose of Your Caption

So, you have a photo or video to share. What story do you want your caption to tell? You might want to frame your photo, update your followers about exciting news, share something you’re proud of, lift your spirits, make people laugh, or inspire your followers to comment on your post. (That’s just a start, of course — think about it!)

Taking the time to consider what purpose a particular caption serves may seem pointless, but it really helps! When you know why you’re writing an Instagram caption, you’ll never be tempted to say, “Yeah, so this is my cat, and here’s a photo of him” ever again!

4. Craft the Perfect Caption

Do you ever get the urge to share a photo or video right now? That sounds familiar — but not everyone can write Instagram captions on command, especially if you want your captions to hit the sweet spot.

Here’s a scenario that will sound familiar to every Instagram user: You hastily post a so-so caption only to think of an A+ pun half an hour later. Yes, you can edit captions on Instagram, but by that time, everyone will already have seen your mediocre caption in action!

How do you avoid that pain? Don’t share your post until you’re happy with the caption. That may involve waiting until your creative juices start flowing, or it may mean writing a terrible draft, walking away, and coming back to your Instagram caption when you’re in a better mood.

Another great idea? Have a little brainstorming session where you write as many different captions for the same post as you can! This takes the creative pressure off, and you’ll usually end up merging ideas from several of your drafts to create the perfect Instagram caption.

Make a habit of giving yourself a “grace period” before you take your Instagram posts live, and you’ll soon discover that writing Instagram captions is an art that gets easier with time.

If you have a business Instagram page, you can avoid last-minute caption panic by making a social media posting calendar and scheduling time for caption writing well ahead of the time your post is due to go live.

5. Add Emojis to Your Instagram Caption

Emojis have quickly emerged as the universal language of the internet, and they’re so important on social media that it’s nearly impossible to talk about how to caption Instagram posts without considering emojis.

How do you get your emojis right? Just like writing cool Instagram captions should never be an afterthought, you can’t just tack a string of emojis onto the end of your caption and call it a day.

Here are a few tips on using emojis more effectively in your Instagram captions:

  • Replace key nouns within your caption with relevant emojis. Think “🎉 time” instead of “party time” and “☕” instead of “coffee.” Using emojis in this way allows you to shorten your Instagram captions while also making them more exciting.
  • Closing your captions with highly relevant emojis is another excellent idea, but please keep them relevant — and don’t use more than three or so.
  • If at all possible, try to make your emojis match the colors that dominate in your photo posts. It’s a great way to turn your captions into an extension of your pictures, and while your followers may not even consciously realize it, it results in a “cleaner” look.

6. Edit and Proofread Your Caption

Typos and grammar make your Instagram captions look unprofessional at best. At worst, they can totally change the meaning of your message — sometimes in awfully embarrassing ways.

Unfortunately, the odds of grammar and spelling faux passes rise immensely if you write a caption in Instagram. Your smartphone’s keyboard is one of your worst enemies at times, and autocorrect always conspires to make you look dreadful.

The moral of the story? Double and triple check every Instagram caption before you post it!

7. Choose Your Hashtags Carefully

Hashtags are more than a handy “map” to your content. While they do make your posts easier to discover, they also add personality (and, very often, humor). Picking the right hashtags is an art form, not a science. You can make it easier by:

  • Googling trending hashtags related to the type of post you’re about to make.
  • Using the Explore Page to discover cool new hashtags relevant to your brand or interests.
  • Keeping an eye on the hashtags your Instagram friends use in their own posts.

Don’t be afraid to add unique hashtags to your posts, either — this can help turn your caption into a winner. Two last tips? Don’t use 30 hashtags if your caption is a short one-liner, and try to avoid duplicating text from your captions in the hashtags. (If you’re posting a “weekend vibes” caption, don’t add #weekendvibes as the only hashtag!)

We won’t tell you to limit yourself to three or four hashtags, because the ideal number of hashtags depends on your goals and the length of your Instagram caption. Social media research into how many hashtags to use has led to contradictory results, so this is a question you’ll ultimately have to answer on your own. Whatever you do, use common sense!

Tips and Tricks to Write Better Instagram Captions

Still wondering how to write captions for Instagram? Perhaps you’re looking for a simple formula for success! (Spoiler alert: That doesn’t really exist, but our tried-and-tested tips and tricks will help you write Instagram captions that resonate with your followers!)

1. Never Bury the Lede

People have short attention spans. Start your caption off with the most important information. You’ll find the prime real estate in the first 140 characters of your Instagram caption — because that’s the part your followers can see without tapping the More button to read your entire caption.

Starting off with the juiciest bits is great advice for everyone, but it’s especially important for businesses, which depend on great captions to drive sales and connect with their customers.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Write Longer Captions

Story and Reel captions should ideally be shorter, but don’t be scared to transform the captions you write for your Instagram feed posts into micro-blogs. Somewhere along the line, we all seem to have absorbed the “lesson” that short captions are best. That’s not necessarily true! Social media research has shown that longer captions of around three paragraphs often attract more likes and comments. That’s the good stuff!

3. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Are you wondering how to write an Instagram caption that attracts lots of comments? Try asking questions, and make them complex! Questions invite your followers to talk about their favorite subject — themselves. They also do a great job of reminding your Instagram community that your posts are a conversation, rather than a monologue.

4. Develop a Consistent Voice

If your followers can tell your Instagram captions apart from everyone else’s from a mile away, you know you have developed a consistent personal brand. (With a bit of luck, it’s one your Insta fam absolutely loves!)

Developing a unique voice is easy if you have a personal Instagram page. Be yourself and write all your own captions. It’s a lot trickier for brands, though. If multiple employees write captions for your Instagram page, establishing clear guidelines ensures that your customers can always look forward to the same, consistent voice.

5. Play Around with Mini-Narratives

All great novels have arcs featuring three key stages — setup, conflict, and resolution. If you’re excited to experiment with micro-blogging in your Instagram captions, try to make use of the same format to craft exciting stories your followers can’t wait to read.

6. Use Line Breaks for Longer Instagram Captions

Impenetrable walls of texts are the enemy. Unless you craft witty or punchy one-liners, use line breaks. They make your Instagram captions more readable, so your followers don’t give up before the end!

Writing Captions for Instagram: A Look at Caption Types

Still looking for inspiration? If you’re asking yourself what is caption on Instagram, it’s helpful to remember that Instagram captions aren’t just one thing. Here, we’ll explore the different types of Instagram captions you’re most likely to come across — with some cool examples.

Descriptive Instagram Captions

Descriptive Instagram captions do what they say on the tin — they describe the photo or video they accompany and add much-needed context. You can think of them as the “bread and butter” of Instagram captions, because descriptive captions are the most common and least creative. They can, however, incorporate poetry, wordplay, or clever observations.

You’ll know them when you see them, but let’s illustrate the concept:

  • “Escaping to the mountains, where the air is crisp, the views are stunning, and nobody bothers me about deadlines.”
  • “The essence of pawesome! There’s nothing like a dog’s slobbering kisses after a long day’s work.”
  • “Just in! Pilea peperomioides goes by many names, but our favorite? The friendship plant! Get your own, grow pups, and share them with all your friends!”

Storytelling Instagram Captions

Storytelling captions are the deepest captions you’ll find on Instagram. By creating a narrative, they share emotions and invoke a mood. While narrative captions are the hardest to write, they’re some of the most fascinating to read.

Let’s say you capture a lazy moment on the couch, reading a good book while it’s pouring outside. You could say “rainy days are book days,” but why stop there? You could turn your experience into a story by saying something like:

“As raindrops knock on my window, inviting me to soak up the dreary afternoon mood, I escape to the portal into another dimension. Cozy living room corners open the door to new worlds. Coffee in hand, sci-fi on my mind.”

With a bit of creativity, you can take that half-hearted attempt at a cute story to an entirely different level — sparking meaningful conversations about the power of good books!

Storytelling captions don’t work for every type of photo, but you might be surprised where a little creativity can take you. You don’t need to force yourself to use overly poetic or flowery language to craft an effective narrative Instagram caption, by the way. Stay true to your voice, and see where it takes you!

Question-Based Instagram Captions

Instagram captions with open-ended questions are a superb way to encourage your followers to start a conversation in the comments section. The winning formula? Start your caption with a short statement and continue by asking interesting questions you’d genuinely enjoy getting answers to.

Here’s how it’s done:

  • “Discovering the meaning of “cozy” under my grandma’s hand-knitted blanket while my cat purrs by my side. What’s your favorite way to spend a cold winter day?”
  • “Proudly introducing our latest arrivals: Crossbody bags in seven popping colors! How will you wear yours? Which of these cool hues caught your eye? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!”

Call-to-Action Captions

In marketing lingo, a call to action is any message designed to inspire a specific action. On Instagram, that might be liking, sharing, or commenting. While businesses purposely write call-to-action captions to drive sales, the same techniques can help people with personal Instagram accounts generate buzz in the comments!

Let’s take a look:

  • “Baking up a storm in the kitchen! What’s your all-time favorite dessert, and have you ever tried making it at home? Let’s start a #dessertchallenge! Share your hits and misses!”
  • “Coming soon… a big surprise! Want to be the first to gain exclusive access? Click the link to sign up!”

Monitoring the Success of Your Instagram Captions

You came here to discover how to how to write a good Instagram caption — and we hope the tips we’ve equipped you with help you find your groove! It is, however, also crucial to remember that writing winning Instagram captions is never a solo adventure. Your followers are the ultimate judges!

If you don’t have a business Instagram account, which brings access to the valuable Instagram Insights analytics tool, you can still gauge the success of your Instagram captions the old-fashioned way.

Keep an eye on the number of likes, comments, and shares your posts get as you experiment with different types of captions. Likes are a seal of approval, but positive comments mean even more. After all, it takes more effort to write a comment in reply to a winning caption than to double tap! Meanwhile, negative or critical comments help you understand what to steer clear of next time.

A Final Word

Who knew that writing Instagram captions could be so complicated? As it turns out, Instagram isn’t just about stunning visuals. The messages that accompany your photo and video posts make your story come to life. Your captions turn beautiful photos into meaningful ones, and cool videos into exciting adventures.

Now that you know how to write Instagram captions, keep experimenting. You’ll find your voice before you know it, and you’ll know you’re on the right track when you’re met with a tsunami of interesting comments!