Content is everywhere—a two-minute scroll on social media will prove that. To cut through, your posts need to be relevant and interesting to your ideal customers to stop them from moving on to the next cat or baby video.
If you want your content to appeal to your ideal customers, you need to do more than just flinging up a hyperlink to a blog post on Facebook or LinkedIn these days.
There are many different elements to creating a “scroll-stopping” social media post: From branded design, image or video selection to the message that inspires your audience to take action (i.e. the caption).
That’s why writing an effective caption is both art and science: you need to express your message creatively while implementing technical marketing and social media strategies.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs that can master the two will create engaging social media posts that attract bigger audiences and develop deeper brand loyalty.
Are social media captions really that helpful to your business?
The pandemic brought about many changes, arguably the most significant for businesses was the need to operate and function online.
Due to limitations and needs, customers became ever-present online and that’s where the initial stages of a business-to-customer relationship now began.
Having the best products or services on the market is not enough anymore, you need to create awareness about what you do and how to help to reach your audience, the majority of which actively use social media.
Social media marketing allows you to have a strong brand presence online and increase social media engagement among your posts. That’s where captions make or break how your post performs as they encourage conversations, serve as calls to action, boost engagement and promote curiosity.
But because social media algorithms are ever-changing, getting engagement on your posts is not always guaranteed. So, instead of trying to play the algorithm or create a viral sensation, it’s best to be consistent and creative, to naturally build your audience over time. That starts by using the words, language and interests that will resonate with your target market.
7 ways to create more engaging captions
Like we said earlier, writing captions is a balance of art and science. Both have to be in play to maximise your chances of turning a social media user into a loyal customer.
Here’s how to be the perfect mix of Picasso and Einstein when writing captions.
1. Write a strong opening sentence (or hook)
Social media users have short attention spans. That means when scrolling they are bombarded with every influencer’s “look at me” posts and brands flogging their products to death.
To be the reason they stop the unconscious scroll, your copy needs to emotionally appeal to them from the very first line (that’s what’s commonly known as the hook).
It’s from here that interest is created and readers will be encouraged to continue reading.
To get the opening stanza correct, you need to understand what your audience wants from you.
Detail-oriented people (like accountants as a general rule) will like a hook that’s informational and factual, while a more creative mindset might prefer a thought-provoking question.
You can’t write a powerful hook without a strong understanding of your audience, but you should never generalise and avoid stereotypes – if you don’t know what your customers like, find out first.
2. Be relatable
Relatable captions help you develop a strong brand personality on social media. Captions are what shape your customers’ perception of your brand, depending on the tone or communication style you choose to use.
It makes sense that most consumers are invested in brands that make the effort to personalise and humanise their content.
The best way to do that is by writing captions that are conversational and include your audience in the dialogue while addressing their pain points and subtly offering a solution you can provide.
Writing a relatable caption helps you connect with your audience because it shows that you are empathetic to their needs. Using casual tones in your captions can also make your brand more approachable, so your audience won’t feel intimidated.
Inspiring your readers to take action is best done through sharing real-world stories that readers can identify with. Avoid using overly-formal jargon (unless your audience wants it at all costs).
3. Be informative and entertaining
Relaying important information is the main purpose of captions. It should give your readers a quick overview of your content and your brand. Ask yourself, what are the most interesting facts about the topic your audience needs to know? Addressing this question is best done in the body of your caption and to boost authority, you can add things like direct quotes from industry experts or relevant stats or data that prove the claims you’re making.
Facts are great but your readers will probably find your content boring if it’s too heavy on detail and light on relatability. If it’s consistent with your brand, you can spice up your captions with pop culture references and puns to make it entertaining, and using emojis is a great way to entertain too.
4. Use powerful words and language
Consumers react to posts that spark an emotional connection—it’s key to converting readers into loyal customers. You can evoke strong emotions by using powerful words and language in captions. This can result in increased engagement because your viewers are inspired to take action, based on the content you’ve created.
Using powerful words or language stirs up feelings of excitement and curiosity in readers.
While there are plenty of options, using the following phrases and words is a great way to get attention:
- Get epic results
- Skyrocket your progress
- Boost your credibility
The words you use need to align with the tone you want to set for your caption (and match your brand guidelines).
Notice how the copy in our Instagram reel references several of the words above and builds rapport? Trust us, that’s not random.
5. Ask for engagement
Sometimes the best way to get engagement is to directly ask for it. Social media is a two-way street so don’t be afraid to ask your audience to participate in your post!
For example, if you’re posting about a new blog, encourage your readers to learn more by giving them a link to do something after reading it – that’s called a call to action (or CTA). Emotion-triggering words are very useful when writing this part of your captions too.
You can also ask questions in the social media post or encourage them to give their feedback in the comments section, which can spark lively discussions between you and your audience. This can strengthen your brand presence online while building your authority as an industry expert.
6. Write bite-sized paragraphs
One of the reasons people scroll past social media posts is because they’re too text-heavy. Readers are intimidated by long paragraphs because it makes content harder to read.
If you need to write a long caption like if you’re introducing a new topic, it’s best to create bite-sized paragraphs. This will make your caption easier on the eyes and quicker to understand.
Your social media caption is like the gateway to your products and services as well as to more of your long-form content. It should highlight the most important information and encourage your audience to visit your website to learn more about the topic.
7. Manage hashtag use
Hashtags are like labels, they categorise social media posts under relevant topics or themes so that people can find relevant content more efficiently. Including hashtags in your captions can boost your post’s visibility, especially if your content is about a trending topic.
Your hashtag usage depends on what platform you’re using. Instagram is the best platform to include hashtags in your caption since it’s the way users discover content.
Generally, we recommend only using two to three hashtags on Facebook so it doesn’t outshine your content and look too gimmicky. If you’re using Twitter, you should be able to include at least a few hashtags within the character limit.
A social media post is more effective if you include a caption that gets your readers to react and that starts by following the seven tips we’ve just explained.
Want help writing captions to increase social media engagement from your brand? Let’s chat, we have a few ideas.