📱 Do you know that the average engagement rate for business accounts on Instagram is less than 1%? That's fewer than 10 followers out of every thousand. The same applies to Facebook and Twitter as well.
Social media is a wonderland for content, where businesses can connect and engage with their potential customers. But if you don’t have thousands of dollars at your disposal to spend on advertising, having a solid social media strategy is the only way you can connect with your target audiences.
This goes beyond just creating stunning visuals. Your images and videos may be captivating, but they can fail to convey your message effectively without a few compelling words. Here’s where your captions come in.
In this article, we'll explain what goes into crafting well-rounded captions and what makes them a crucial piece of social media marketing.
How to craft the perfect social media caption that boosts revenue
The perfect social media caption, like the human body, is divided into individual parts. Each serves a distinct purpose, but they all contribute to a shared purpose: to bring life to your social media posts. If your social media engagement is on the decline, it may be worthwhile to look at the kind of captions you’ve been using and fix them by following our guidelines below.
1. A punchy hook statement
A punchy hook statement is one that grabs the reader’s attention immediately and compels them to stop scrolling and click on “...more.” If your captions don’t have catchy enough hooks, it’s easy for your posts to get lost among the millions shared daily.
Hooks are different from clickbait one-liners. Both aim to pique interest, but the latter is on the spammy and eye-rolling side. Avoid “Like this if…” and “Comment your…” statements because platforms like Facebook demote these engagement baits to foster more authentic engagement.
If you want to start your caption with a riveting hook, ask yourself: What is your photo or video about?
Think of a short, relatable line before introducing the main points. Tapping into a shared problem or providing a valuable promise never goes out of style. Then, use the following tips to make it more clever and engaging:
- Play with quotes and songs: May your [product] be [the best word to describe it] and your Mondays short.
- Call out your target audience: Hey fellow [product]-lovers of Instagram, this is for you!
- Pose engaging questions: Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed this [something]?
- Add a sentence starter: Let's admit it: [share your thoughts].
In the following example, the journal shop, The Written Collective Co., used Ariana Grande's 7 Rings as a background song and tweaked its lyrics to create the caption. Look at the clever hook that responds to Ariana's “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it” line.
Here’s another interesting hook from jewelry brand, JOHN AND LUNA. Questions are great conversation-starters to inspire genuine engagement from your followers.
Great hooks can stop people mid-scroll. And if done right, they can even elicit more likes and responses. The greater the engagement, the bigger the audience you can reach.
2. The right context and intent
Did you know that 75% of brands could disappear overnight, and most people wouldn’t even care? Be one of the memorable 25% by sharing purposeful content with unique and well-written captions.
The best place to start is by asking why you’re posting what you're posting.
Assert your intent. Show your readers that sticking with your post is worthwhile. For instance, if you want to sell your products, don't just say “for sale, dm me” or “check the link in my bio.” Add a bit of storytelling in your caption while highlighting your products' best features.
Do this by knowing your audience first. Define their demographics, interests, and habits. Then, think of how you can creatively incorporate those points into your caption.
Here's an excellent example from Sunday Aroma, a shop for natural, hand-made candles. To increase product awareness, they shared a clip with a spellbinding caption to entice all coffee and candle enthusiasts. This is far superior alternative to sharing a post announcing they sell espresso-scented candles.
Write like a real person to make your captions more impactful, as Sunday Aroma demonstrates. Notice how they use powerful words like “rest” and “reflection” to bring out the intent behind their candles. They also use emojis sparingly to make their point.
It's easy to get caught up in writing irrelevant and not-so-relatable captions to stay on trend. Go back and stick to your intent to avoid these common social media caption mistakes.
3. The ideal caption length
Even with a strong hook and a clear purpose, it's possible to lose the reader's attention if the caption is too long or too short. There’s a fine balance between deciding the best length that conveys everything you want to say and not boring your audience.
Facebook's statuses have a word limit of 63,206 characters. But your caption can't be this long. Researchers say that the maximum engagement happens around 50 characters or fewer.
Twitter allows you to tweet up to 280 characters. It's not much compared to Facebook, so try different tweets to find your sweet spot. Use Twitter Analytics to analyze your monthly engagement and see how long your top tweets are.
If the 280-word limit isn't enough, use Twitter threads to share a story or an announcement one tweet at a time. It's a clever way to keep readers hooked and engaged while they wait for the next tweet.
Instagram's 2,200-character limit is also trial-and-error-friendly. In one experiment, the researcher found that longer captions received significantly more likes and comments than shorter ones.
In addition to a 3-minute clip, you have 150 characters (including hashtags and emojis) to flaunt your brand and products on TikTok. That's about 20 to 40 words, so figuring out the perfect caption length can be straightforward.
These ideal caption lengths are only a benchmark; you're free to go above or below the limit depending on the context of your post. Having consumed social media content yourself, you know when a caption is too blah or cumbersome.
As you experiment, there are ways to keep your readers engaged regardless of the caption's length. Break up your text into bite-sized paragraphs. Don’t overwhelm them with long chunks of information.
For inspiration, consider these examples from sustainable fashion brand Four Elevens. The first caption is a brief quote to complement the featured product.
Short captions like this can help amplify your brand voice. Use it only when you’re confident that the image or video is strong enough to speak for itself. It works well for platforms like TikTok, where casual content is preferred.
In the second example below, the brand uses storytelling in their caption to talk about how they used compostable mailers to support their brand's vision. It's longer, but the sparing use of emojis makes it more readable and appealing.
Longer captions provide in-depth insights your viewers wouldn't otherwise get by looking at the photo. They're the best option for strong imagery when promoting products or raising brand awareness.
Every small business has a distinct set of customers, each with a different attention span and content preference. So, do your brand a favor and figure out what pleases your customers.
4. Relevant and branded hashtags
Social media platforms offer hashtags to enable users to explore content that piques their interest. Including them in your caption is great, as research suggests. Instagram hashtags, for instance, are the most effective tool to boost user impressions.
According to the report, 3 to 4 hashtags have an average impression rate of 3.41%. But the rate drops when hashtags are overused. The least amount of engagement happens when users include 17 to 18 hashtags.
Now, the question is: which hashtags should you use? You can use popular keywords related to your business and distinguishable, branded words — or a mix of both to increase your engagement. For example, in the following Instagram post, we’ve used the hashtags #smallbiz and #noissue.
We’ve included only a couple of hashtags in the caption to avoid their overuse. Other hashtags are simply added in the comment section to increase visibility.
Pro tip: If you still can't think of a relevant hashtag, social media platforms such as Instagram will suggest popular choices once you start typing in your product or any relevant keyword.
Hashtags can make or break your social media engagement. But with sufficient keyword research, your chances of success are good.
5. A clear call-to-action
Many captions on social media end with a hashtag, a thank you note, or a complimentary closing. That practice isn't discouraged, but it's not how you increase conversion rates and drive sales. This job rests on your call to action.
A CTA directs your reader to do what you want them to do. This is where you impose your post’s intent once more. But this time, it’s necessary to make it more powerful.
Basic CTAs like “shop today” or “visit link in my bio,” without any context, are weak and (sometimes) clickbait-y. Give clear instructions as to what your readers should do next and use language that's suitable for your post. As such, personalized action phrases outperform the generic ones by 202%.
For instance, this CTA from Milla & Honey, a cafe-inspired loungewear shop, is brief but succinct and instructive. Customers don't have to scroll back to shop for the featured item because the product links are already in the image.
The following is another example of a clear CTA for a product post. This post doesn’t focus on driving sales. Instead, the main objective is to put one of the brand’s best-selling products front and center. The caption confirms that, and the thoughtful addition of a shortened URL also makes it easier for readers to take the next step.
Final reminder: Not all social media posts need a CTA. Strategize when to use it and monitor the results. Doing so will help you understand why some things work and others don't.
🤳 Wrapping it up
Whether you're new to social media or have been using it for a while, know that your captions can help boost your engagement and sales. It all depends on how you showcase your brand’s purpose — visually and in writing.
With the right words, you can convert your target audience into customers — and eventually, advocates. So the next time you hit the “Post” button, make sure you use the tips mentioned above to create a great caption.