How To Write Social Media Captions That Drive Engagement
Small but mighty, the social media caption is often overlooked. Your social media captions shouldn’t be an afterthought. You’ve spent all this time creating killer content on your main website or blog only to miss the mark with promoting it on social media. A good social media caption has the power to attract, engage, and convert your audience.
One of my favorite brands that I like to support and learn from, does a Facebook live video every evening. It’s almost like a podcast but in the format of Facebook Live. The owner of the business walks through his shop showing the work completed that day and what is in inventory. He also discusses business practices, branding, and motivation. One evening he discussed his method for optimizing social media posts and it’s stuck with me ever since. From a branding perspective, your content needs to Entertain, Educate, and Equip.
Entertain – Use memes, videos, or other entertaining photos to captivate the reader and get them to smile or laugh. Invoke an emotion.
Educate – Teach them something or give them a piece of information they didn’t know or think about.
Equip – This is your call to action. This could be signing up for a free newsletter with exclusive content, linking to a blog post for more in-depth information on the topic or product, signing up for a membership, or an Amazon affiliate link.
“you don’t need every visitor to buy something, you just need some of them to buy something. 10%. Let’s say you have 10,000 followers or visitors. If you can convert 10% of them to purchasing something, that is 1,000 purchases.”
Knowing how to write social media captions will determine your conversion rate on your social media posts and any paid ads that you run.
The Importance of Great Social Media Captions
Social media platforms skyrocketed in 2020 with most of us stuck at home and physical stores closed. Social media platforms are on an upward trajectory with a predicted 4.41 billion users by 2025. Global lockdowns forced businesses to pivot to digital marketing and e-commerce with a focus on social media strategies.
That means more opportunities for online sales and customer conversions, but it also means more competition from rival brands who are also forced to make the digital pivot. It’s almost as if COVID leveled the playing field a bit. With businesses all making the digital pivot, it was now a matter of who could stand out the most and get out ahead of the pack.
To capture the attention of social media users scrolling through their feeds, it takes a great image and a winning caption.
The Basics Of Writing Social Media Captions
Though grammar and punctuation rules are looser on social media, they still exist. In regards to spelling, you have no excuses! Double-check your social media posts before you schedule them to go live. I have the Grammarly plugin installed on my laptop and use that to catch any high-level errors.
Stop writing for the algorithm and start writing for humans.
Captions can be written in 3rd person but usually, the 1st perspective works best: “We would love you to join us for a webinar” is much more effective at influencing the reader instead of “Contentworks Agency invites you to join a webinar.” Writing captions in the 1st person keep it more personal and authentic.
When writing captions for the different social media platforms, remember that they all have different character limits. This is why your message is going to be a little different across each channel. Well, that and the audiences on each is different. Here are the current character limits for each platform.
LinkedIn Company Update: 700
Tiktok: 140 characters
Keep your social media captions simple. If they are too lengthy, contain too many bullet points, or are just overall too busy, people will just scroll past them. In my experience, social media captions that are short and to the point work best. A general rule of thumb is to ask one question and keep the language simple.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into actually writing a social media caption.
Make Your Social Media Captions Intentional
When creating your social media post captions, think about what the intention behind the post is.
Are you promoting an article or blog post? Are you trying to create engagement with your audience? Do you want them to take a specific action after reading your post? Or are you simply sharing your personality?
Knowing the reason behind why your posting is the first step in creating a successful social media caption that engages your audience.
You don’t necessarily need to strategize every single post, but you do need to have an outcome in mind that you’re aiming for.
Keep The Important Stuff At The Top Of The Post
Regardless of which social media platform you’re using, it’s essential to write the important stuff first. This is to grab short attention spans of people and to avoid the important text from disappearing below the Read More cut-off.
The maximum character count for an Instagram caption is 2,200 characters, but after 3 to 4 lines, your text is cut off until they click on the post to read it in its entirety.
The same happens on Facebook and Linkedin which only allows 280 characters before being cut off. Additional text on Twitter would need to be added as additional tweets on the thread.
That doesn’t mean your captions need to be really short. Instead, front load them with important content or calls to action and leave any hashtags and @mentions for the end.
Include A Call To Action (Be Strategic)
Including a call to action is a great way to make your social media captions more engaging, while also inviting some type of action. You can ask your followers to visit your latest blog post or answer your question.
Not every single social media caption needs a call to action. Asking people to do something too often could cause you to lose some of your audience. How would you like to have a friend who only asks you to do things for them? It’s the same principle.
Be strategic about how often you use a call to action and also the type of call to action you’re using. Change up the frequency and type throughout your social media posting schedule.
Master Your Hashtag Game
Hashtags are great for connecting users around a particular subject, sparking virality around a launch or sale, and raising awareness for important issues. They’re an important part of a social media caption. Hashtags will make it easier for people to find your content on social media platforms too since you have the ability to follow hashtags.
Do hashtags increase engagement? Hell yes, they do! Research clearly shows that 11 hashtags on an Instagram post are the sweet spot.
No Hashtags – 18% interaction per 1k followers
1 Hashtag – 29% interaction per 1k followers
2 Hashtags – 41% interaction per 1k followers
3 Hashtags – 39% interaction per 1k followers
4 Hashtags – 31% interaction per 1k followers
5 Hashtags – 43% interaction per 1k followers
6 Hashtags – 33% interaction per 1k followers
7 Hashtags – 30% interaction per 1k followers
8 Hashtags – 39.5% interaction per 1k followers
9 Hashtags – 49.5% interaction per 1k followers
10 Hashtags – 22% interaction per 1k followers
11 Hashtags – 79.5% interaction per 1k followers
Instagram will suggest hashtags to you based on their popularity when you open a new post and type out the #symbol followed by an incomplete search. Many hashtags come with emojis, which can really make your post stand out from others in your space.
Ensure that the hashtags you’re using are relevant to the content of the post. Using hashtags that have huge followings and no relevance will get your profile flagged as spam by Instagram. I also suggest using hashtag groups. Create a handful of groups, each containing 11 hashtags, that you can rotate through as you post.
Tell a Short Story
Audiences are looking for authentic content that speaks to them and connects them to a brand.
Storytelling does exactly this. Storytelling is not just for blogs, podcasts, or YouTube videos. Storytelling can be used for social media captions and work really well too. Think of these posts as microblogs.
Share a struggle, a success, or any story that your audience can relate to. Telling a story will highlight your personality and can help create moments of real connection with your audience.
Writing social media captions can be a little stressful at first, but always go back to basics. Social media is, after all, social.