Does anyone actually read Instagram captions anymore? To be honest, some people will always just scroll and double tap…or even worse, just scroll on by.
However, writing Instagram captions is not a waste of time. In fact, a caption that engages your audience also improves your engagement rate. A good caption can give people insight into who you are, tips that they can use, something to say in the comments or even a reason to save the post for later.
That doesn’t mean it is easy to write a good caption, especially if you are posting daily or even a few times a week. Writing a caption can be intimidating, which sometimes leads to captions of only a few words or just a quote. Don’t let them intimidate you though – writing a good caption for Instagram may be easier than you think and can help you grow authentically!
Why Even Bother With Writing Instagram Captions?
Instagram is definitely a visual space. You open the app and see feeds full of beautiful images. What sets one beautiful image apart from the next? Sure, sometimes it is the angle or the edit or the perspective or any number of other elements. However, the captions are where you can really connect with your audience.
Your captions let your audience, both those currently following you and those finding your images for the first time, see who you are and what you are about. Instagram celebrates relationships and real connections, and captions are how you can build those relationships. A good caption can lead to authentic comments which can lead to authentic conversations.
The photos I post with the most saves aren’t necessarily the best photos that I’ve posted (at least in my opinion). Instead, something in the caption makes people want to save the image for later, and usually it is a useful travel tip.
For me personally, I find myself much more likely to leave a comment and not just a like if the caption has something to say. Without that, it is easier to leave a generic comment like, “Nice post!” or just keep scrolling. If the caption asks a question, now I have an idea of what to say in a comment. If the caption shares a story, I can leave a comment that relates to the story.
Long story short – your captions can get you more comments and more saves as well as more followers.
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Pink Street in Lisbon (actually Rua Nova do Carvalho or known by locals as Rua Cor-de-Rosa) is not as popular as I thought it would be in the daytime. Don’t go first thing in the morning (we went around 9) – it is dirty and stinks from all the partying the night before. We went back closer to 11 am another day after it was cleaned up, and it was so much better and still empty. It doesn’t take long to see it (this is basically it), and it’s near two other popular stops, the Arco da Rua Augusta and the Elevador da Bica. I don’t have much of a sense of smell, but I could still smell the stench of Pink Street in the morning. I feel like not having a sense of smell helps with teaching middle school though ???? If you had to lose one of your senses, which would it be? . . . . . @nextvacay #mynextvacay #pinkstreet #lisbonworld #igerslisboa #toplisbonphoto #topportugalphoto #wonderlustportugal #super_portugal #visitportugal #lisbonportugal #youmustsee #traveldreamescape #effortlyss #aggielook #wearetravelgirls #dametraveler #darlingescapes #ladiesgoneglobal #sidewalkerdaily #damestravel #travelgirlsgo #girlaroundworld #sheisnotlost #teamkaptainkenny #gltlove #femmetravel #teamhelene #speechlessplaces #journeysofgirls #thetravelwomen
What Makes A Good Instagram Caption?
There are quite a few options for writing an Instagram caption that will gain engagement. The key is to make sure you are adding value somehow. You don’t have to be in a certain niche or follow just one strategy. Instead, pay attention to what works well for you and for your target audience. See which captions lead to more comments for you and which ones lead to more saves.
SHARE A USEFUL TIP
I’m starting with this one because it is the one I use the most and the one that gets me the most saves. My top posts all share a useful tip that made people want to save that post. Whether it was how to get into the Blue Lagoon for free or how to eat in a Coppa Club Igloo in London without a reservation, people wanted to save that tip for later. People love secrets, so give them a little secret that can help them out!
This type of caption works for any niche. Travel accounts can share tips for places to visit or when to visit a place to avoid the crowds. Beauty accounts can share a tip related to makeup or beauty rituals. Fashion accounts can share tips on finding great deals or putting together the perfect outfit. Food accounts can share tips to make a recipe even better or for a new great restaurant they found. Anyone can share tips in their area of expertise.
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NEW BLOG POST: Learn how you can eat in @coppaclub’s igloos with or without a reservation (link in bio) ???????? I’m not a foodie, but eating in the igloos was one of the highlights of our trip because of the experience and the view (the food was good too though!). Bonus: the prices are normal London prices, and our meal was only £20. Tag someone you’d like to eat here with! . . . . . Since we aren’t foodies, we don’t usually spend much on food and will split meals to save money for other things. What is one area you are willing to cut costs to have more money for what you love? . . . . . (No, I’m not in this one – it was before I was in front of the camera much ????)
MAKE IT A MINI BLOG POST
I don’t mean make it a long caption. Instead, I mean that you can take the useful tip idea and expand on it. Many blog posts are lists of the top 5 (or any other number) things to do or tips for something. You can leave a quick list of tips or ideas and share them in your caption.
Lists are often easier to read than long paragraphs, so making a list might help shorten up an otherwise long caption. Plus, by sharing multiple tips all at once, you make it even more likely that people will find something about that post that they want to save.
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Are you a pool person or a beach person (or a both person)? I could use a day relaxing at the pool right now, and this one looks so inviting. Even if you don’t stay at @localcavehouse, you can still go check it out (we did ask about pictures when we got there – see me?). If you’re looking for hotels in Cappadocia to go see or stay in, most will welcome you after sunrise is over even if you aren’t a guest. Here are some of our favorites: 1. @cappadocia.cave.suites – we stayed here and loved the sunrise balloon views. 2. @sultan_cave_suites – probably the most famous hotel in the area; you can visit the terrace after sunrise if you aren’t a guest or enjoy the sunrise there if you stay at @kelebekcavehotel 3. @localcavehouse – I mean, this pool says it all! 4. @museumhotel – it’s a pricier option but photos show why; you can stop by later in the day here as well 5. @roxcappadocia – this one is full of photo ops and good for sunrise views too Find out more in my Cappadocia blog post – link in bio! . . . . . Edited with the Happy Blues Tahiti preset with tweaks – link in bio and tutorials in highlights! #aggielook
TELL A STORY
Again, Instagram is about creating connections, so tell a story about your day or about the day the photo was taken. Share a story about what that photo or that place or that object or that recipe or that product means to you. Share a story about yourself to help people get to know you better. You could also share some behind the scenes tidbits that help people understand how difficult it was to get that picture.
People love a good story, so hook them in and make them want to see more of what happened in that image. If the story is too long for a caption, share a little teaser of it and then tell people to see your Instagram stories for the rest of the story (bonus – it helps get people to watch your stories and also shows Instagram people are interested when they click over to watch).
Sure, scrolling through curated feeds and edited photos leads you to believe that life is perfect for most people. However, we know that isn’t the case. Open up to your audience by sharing something that is a struggle or a frustration for you. Maybe something is going on that is stressing you out. Maybe you were really sick when you took that photo or something happened to make that photo harder to get than it looks.
Being real doesn’t mean you have to be negative though. You can still uplift people by sharing your journey. You can also share your goals or your hopes or your dreams. Maybe you are celebrating a special day or a special achievement that you want to share.
Share the special memory that is attached to the moment that is forever captured in time. Tell them how you managed to get that shot. Maybe you had to climb on top of something or get up at 4 a.m. or deal with mosquitoes eating you alive. Perhaps you sat and watched the most spectacular sunrise and just took it in after you took that shot. Maybe you met a local in that spot who made the trip that much more memorable.
You might be surprised by how people react to you showing the reality behind that perfect image. It helps people relate to you and you may find some things you have in common with others.
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Iceland definitely helped me not be so nervous/scared of heights with hiking along the cliffs, climbing up and down rocky paths to get a better view of the waterfalls and climbing this airplane wreckage by using holes created in the side over time. I did, however, rip my pants open on the airplane when I sat down and they got caught on a piece of metal. Luckily my jacket was long enough to cover it while we walked the two miles back to the car ???? Am I the only one who has things like this happen to me? Share one of your embarrassing moments below if you’re willing ???? . . . . . Edited with Happy Blues Underwater mobile preset from @travel_inhershoes presets (link in bio) #aggielook
This one may not come naturally to you, so you don’t have to force it. If there is a funny story attached to a photo, share it! People love to laugh, so give them something to laugh about. You can also share a joke that relates to the image.
This does not mean just picking a quote and copy and pasting it. It is fine to use a quote, but it helps if you share what that quote means to you or why it stood out to you. What made you pick that quote for your photo?
Being inspirational doesn’t have to mean that you use a quote though. Help people see how a dream of yours came true with that photo or how you achieved a goal. Show them that it is possible to reach their goals and their dreams too.
You can also be inspirational by reminding people that they matter. Life can be hard. Being an uplifting space that reminds people that they are important to you and to those around them inspires those who read your captions. Remind them of what they like about themselves and help turn a bad day around for them.
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Pamukkale is somewhere I have dreamed of visiting since high school. We got there before they opened at 6:30 (south entrance only) and were the first ones in, managing to have the whole place to ourselves for about 30 minutes before the first tour showed up. I have to say, it was as beautiful as I imagined…and then it was completely filled with tours. Where is somewhere you dreamed of visiting for years and finally got to visit?
TAKE THEM ON A JOURNEY
While sharing a story can be done in one post, taking them on a journey follows your story through a few posts. Maybe you’re tackling a big goal – share the progress as you go. Maybe you’re building something or creating something – share how it is going and what is working or what isn’t working. Or maybe you’re on a journey yourself. Whether it is a travel journey or a journey to self-improvement or some other kind of journey, take your audience along for the ride.
GIVE A FRESH PERSPECTIVE
Share your unique perspective on something. It could be your experience with a place or person or product or anything. Others may have already addressed that topic, but put your unique spin on it and share your perspective. Maybe everyone loves a certain place or thing, and you didn’t have those same feelings about it. It is okay to share that with your audience. Maybe some of them felt the same way or want to know that before going.
You could also challenge assumptions or confirm assumptions by providing what you know or what you have learned or realized. Maybe there is something people commonly assume about a place or product and you found it to be true or realized it is not true. Share that with your audience. Chances are that they have heard the same thing and would like to know if it is true or not.
How Can I Make My Caption More Engaging?
Once you have the content of the caption written, the hard part can sometimes be how to make it more engaging. Some captions will bring in engagement without needing to add anything. Most people will decide to save your post based on the core content of the caption and the photo itself. To get more comments on your Instagram posts though, you want to make it more engaging and encourage people to interact with it.
ASK A QUESTION
Ask a question about whatever you just wrote about the for the core content of your caption. Asking a question gives people an idea of what to say in a comment. People enjoy sharing about themselves (hello, social media!), so give them a chance to do so. It helps if the question is related to the caption or the photo. You can always do a generic question like, “What are you up to today/this weekend?” if you can’t think of anything else, but be careful with overusing those types of questions.
Asking a question is typically the easiest option to go with, but some captions don’t work with a question. There are other options to use instead.
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Did you know you can see the Blue Lagoon for free? We actually went at 3 am since that was the only chance we had to go and watched the sunrise there for free thanks to a tip from @mashonward. Instead of paying $90+ to swim in it, you can walk to the left of the visitor center and take the paths back to still see the water and landscape any time of the day or night. Find more tips like this in our full Iceland itinerary which is up on the blog now (link in bio) with lots of new pictures! What is an overpriced attraction you’ve been to? Was it worth the price? . . . . . Edited with the Malibu Sun mobile preset from the World Tour pack (link in bio!) #aggielook . . . . . #exploreiceland #unlimitediceland #topicelandphoto #iceland #everydayiceland #guidetoiceland #nordiciceland #lovelettertoeurope #bluelagoon #reykjavik
ASK FOR ADVICE
People like to share advice, so give them a chance! Maybe you are headed somewhere new or looking for advice on something to wear or need help finding a new recipe for a food item. Maybe you’re looking for a new book to read or TV series to watch. Give your audience a chance to help you out.
Give people a choice and see which option they would pick. It could be a simple either/or type of question, but you could also pose a would you rather type of situation with two good options or two not-so-good options. Sometimes just having a choice between options makes it easier for people to leave an answer than when they have to come up with the idea on their own.
Another option to try is a fill-in-the-blank sentence. This allows people to leave a short answer without having to think too much into it. Sometimes questions require a long answer, but fill-in-the-blanks let people get away with just a word or two most of the time.
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Göreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia feels like you stepped back in time…until around 9 am when the tours show up! Enjoy sunrise and then be here by 8 to beat the crowds. It’s been a while since I’ve introduced myself, so welcome to all the new faces and thanks for sticking around if you’ve been here a while (doing a thank you giveaway in stories)! I’m Christine, and I’m a huge fan of travel, running, and desserts. I do not travel full-time. I teach middle and high school English in Florida, and I love it! I have a serious sweet tooth and eat ice cream in every country we visit ???? I’m also a runner who is building back up after an injury. Help me get to know you and introduce yourself by filling in the blanks here: My name is _________ and I’m a huge fan of _____________. . . . . . Edited with the Boat Babe preset from the World Tour Collection (my favorite!) – link in bio and more tutorials in highlights! #aggielook
While you don’t want all of the comments to just be emojis, sometimes asking for a certain emoji helps bring in more comments. You might ask people to leave a certain emoji in exchange for several accounts being featured in your stories. This might encourage people who would not otherwise comment to leave a comment in hopes of getting a shout out.
With the range of emojis available now, you could also ask people to leave a comment with any number of emojis. One of my favorites that I have done is to ask people to describe where they are from in emojis. Then others had to try to guess where they were from based on those emojis. You could also have people answer questions with emojis such as their favorite food or next destination.
PLAY A GAME
I would not do this one too often, but you can also play a game with your audience. One game that I’ve seen on Instagram is two truths and a lie. You post two truths about yourself and one lie – try to make them all believable as either a truth or a lie though. People can leave a guess in the comments and you can do the reveal in your stories or comments. This has a bonus of letting people get to know you as well.
Another game idea is to do a guessing game. You could have people guess your next destination or anything else about you. They could guess with words or emojis. You can share the answer in stories or reveal it later in the comments or by updating the caption. You may even want to offer a shout out in your stories for the first person to guess it correctly. As a bonus, with this type of game, let people vote multiple times for even more comments on your post.
A third option is a little trivia game. Give people a multiple choice trivia question about you or related to the picture. Have them guess the answer in your comments. Again, you can reveal the answer in the comments by replying or in your stories. You could even offer a shout out to the first few people who guess it correctly and then reveal the answer after you have enough right answers.
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INSTAGRAM: wandering through the ruins in Ephesus and in awe of what humans could build so long ago (TIP: go straight to the Library of Celsus in the morning or save it for last in the evening if you want it without the crowds). REALITY: sitting at home watching football and working on a blog post. It’s been a while, so let’s show each other a little love. Describe where you are today in three emojis and see if someone can guess. If they guess correctly, go show them some love! Mine: ☀️???????????? (hint – see my bio) . . . . . NEW BLOG POST with my best tips for growing your Instagram – check it out and let me know what you think. Link in bio (and stories for now)! . . . . . Edited with the Happy Blues Tahiti preset from the Happy Blues and Master packs – check my stories to see how I edited this. Link in bio and more tutorials in highlights! #aggielook
ASK PEOPLE TO CAPTION IT
If you can’t think of anything to say, a last option is to ask people to caption the photo for you. You can feature winning captions in your stories or change the caption to the winning caption with the winner’s username. People can get involved and feel like they have a chance to have a permanent feature on your page. Make sure to choose the caption quickly – within 24 hours or less – to let them get some exposure. You could even put in your stories or caption a time frame for the caption to be chosen. Letting people know the time frame gives them a chance to think about it but also lets them know that they need to comment quickly if they want in on the game.
What If I Can’t Think of Anything To Say?
There are some days where you have a photo to post and nothing to say about it. Your mind blanks out and you really can’t think of anything interesting to say. That’s where using the list of ideas above can come in handy.
I keep a note on my phone of caption ideas. Being an English teacher, coming up with mini writing prompts probably comes much more naturally to me than for some. As I think of ideas for questions to ask or captions to write, I add them to a note on my phone titled “Caption Ideas” (creative, right?). On those days where I can’t think of anything to say about a certain photo, I go to that list and find one that works.
Sometimes I can’t figure out what photo I want to post next. I also use my caption list to help with this. I can look through my list of captions and sometimes a photo from a trip comes to mind that works perfectly for it. There are some that are meant for a specific photo that I haven’t had time to edit yet or hasn’t fit my feed in the past. Keeping a list of ideas helps me come up with something to say and sometimes with something to post.
If you really are at a loss and can’t think of anything, don’t be afraid to go back and rework a previous caption. I wouldn’t choose one from too recently. Instead, maybe you post a throwback photo and rework the caption you used a year ago or maybe an old caption could work again with a new photo. Chances are that people have read thousands of captions since seeing that one. They probably won’t remember that you already said it. Plus, you probably have gained some followers since the last time you posted it, so it would be a whole new caption to them.
If you still worry you may run out of ideas for captions, you can sign up below and get a list of 40 engagement ideas for captions to use or inspire you.
What are some of your best caption tips? Need some help for your specific niche? Let me know below!
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