Engaging Instagram Captions: The Secret Sauce to Dominating Instagram

Most Instagram users think that the key to capturing your followers’ attention are the images you post. I mean, yea – photoshop perfect images with eye-popping colors are great. However, your Instagram caption is what convinces your audience to stop and leave a comment. Yes, you read that right, engaging Instagram captions are the true gamechanger. They capture the hearts and minds of your audience.

This likely leads one to wonder – how do you craft engaging Instagram captions? What triggers your audience to leave a comment, share, or save your post? Lastly, what is the best length for an Instagram caption?

In this post, we will cover how to write captions that will compete with the big time marquee brands.

However, before we jump into some stellar tips, led’s discuss the Instagram algorithm.

What is Instagram engagement?


Engagement is a critical performance indicator marketers use to decide whether or not an Instagram account is successful. You guessed it, engaging Instagram captions are often a hallmark of said successful accounts.

Why? Well, it’s pretty simple, really. The Instagram algorithm prioritizes engagement over every other metric. The number of people who see your content correlates directly with the number of people who engage with your posts. In short, more engagement means more visibility, which, in turn, increases the chances of new people discovering your content.

Engagement Rate

Figuring out your engagement rate is really quite easy. Divide your interactions by your followers and multiply by 100 to get a percentage. You can always check out this Instagram engagement calculator if math isn’t your forté. You can also let an Instagram analytics platform do the heavy lifting for you…these things are quite literally magical.

Engaging Instagram Captions Equation

Here are a few benchmark levels to help you gauge your overall level of success:

  • Low: < 1%
  • Average: 1% – 3%
  • High: 3% – 6%
  • Awesome: > 6%

Why are engaging Instagram captions important?

  1. Engaging captions complete your post. Images alone cannot express your brand’s personality. Your captions complement the visuals and help convey your story with a unique voice.
  2. Captions allow for engagement with your audience. They provide an awesome avenue to ask questions, get to know your audience, describe product features, or share personal stories.
  3. Captions help grow your engagement rate. Better engagement rates increase the chances that more people will see your future posts.

We’ve hammered home the value of engaging Instagram captions. Now it’s time to explore a few methods to write effective Instagram captions.

How to write engaging Instagram captions

Grab their attention with the opening line

You want to deliver the most important information right away before Instagram truncates your caption. Make sure to include your keywords here.

You also want to create a sense of desire, so your audience clicks on the “…” to read more.

A well-crafted opening should capture people’s attention. It also needs to make them want to read the rest of your caption.

Use emotion to connect with your audience.

Once you captured your reader’s attention, you need to connect with them on an emotional level. Numerous studies have shown that most people engage with posts with which they can relate. A great way to make this happen is to share a story. A great way to go about this is to incorporate many “I” and “mine” terminology. This makes your readers feel as if they’re part of your story.

People love stories of transformation, overcoming adversity, and personal growth. In short, emotional captions are engaging since our brain reacts better to stories than cold hard facts.

Ask questions to create engaging Instagram captions

Asking your audience questions is one of the fun ways to get more people to interact with your Instagram posts. You can also straight-up ask your audience to leave a comment too!

Want to get to know your audience on a deeper level? Well, all you need to do is ask questions in your Instagram captions! Hubspot knocks it out of the park with this post by including the phrase, “we want to know from you.” This simple phrase makes it more personal, which, in turn, makes people feel like their opinion matters.

Here are some other ideas…

  • Ask for feedback on your product/service
  • Simple “yes or no” / “a or b” polls
  • Choose your favorite option 1, 2, 3 or 4
  • Get your customer to share their opinion
  • Tag a friend challenge
  • Ask your followers to guess a fact about yourself/your business
  • “Leave a comment for a chance to get featured”

Include relevant hashtags to increase engagement

No caption is complete without a series of on-point hashtags.

If you’re not sure which hashtags to use, use the Instagram search tools and type in your industry. This basic search will yield a handful of recommended hashtags. All you have to do now is select those that fit in with your branding and voice.

You can also employ the services of a hashtag generator tool to get ideas. You can then put the hashtags from the hashtag generator back into the Instagram search tool to find even more!

Steal a writing technique from the pros to create engaging Instagram captions

Want to write Instagram captions like a marketing pro?

Well, you should consider using the Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) formula as a guide. You’re likely asking, “why is this effective?” Well, it has a simple structure that has proven worthwhile in the realm of social media.

Let’s take a look at a post from @vanessalau.co

Attention: Vanessa starts her post with a question that grabs her followers’ attention “why sales calls are unsuccessful”. If you were a coach you’d probably have this issue as well.

Interest: Next, she builds interest by touching on the negative impacts arising from this issue. For example, if your calls are unsuccessful, you’ll also have to deal with a, b, and c effects. A bit of drama in this section should create a climax for the next step.

Desire: This is where you come in with your solution that can solve the problems highlighted in your previous section. Vanessa introduces her BGA program as the ultimate solution. You could also show social proof, before and after transformations, or any unique features of your product.

Action: Finally, end your caption with a call-to-action. This is very important because you need to direct your reader to take the next step (action). You can ask your followers to click on the link in your bio, leave a comment, or buy a product.

Don’t overlook your call-to-action (CTA) when writing engaging Instagram captions

A well-written caption that is rich with value is useless if you forget to include an engagement CTA. Just because someone likes your content doesn’t mean that they’ll automatically leave a comment. Sometimes you need to remind them to take action. Otherwise, you’ll leave them wondering whether, or not, you want them to leave a comment.

So, rather than having a person guess if you’re open to comments, ask your followers directly to take action.

Longer or shorter captions?

Instagram allows you to use 2,200 characters…that’s roughly 200 words! To put things in perspective, that’s nearly 8 times the number of characters that Twitter allows!

However, just because you can include more characters doesn’t always mean that you should use more characters. Again, it all comes down to engagement. Does your audience want to read a mini-essay or do they want to get right to the point? The answer ultimately lies in Instagram’s algorithm. Longer captions take more time to read, thus people spend more time on your post. The more time people spend on your post, the better your post performs.

According to a study by Later.com & Fohr, longer captions yield better engagement rates. Captions between 500-1,000 characters had the highest engagement rate (that’s roughly 65-75 words).

According to Fohr, the average caption length has more than doubled since 2016. Furthermore, those with longer captions garnered the most engagement! Fohr also predicts that our feeds will consist of captions with an average length of 405 characters in 2021. Again, let’s put this figure into perspective…that’s roughly 65-70 words!

Now, we’re not stating that every caption should be thousands of words long. However, writing a full sentence is a great start to an engaging Instagram caption. Lastly, a full sentence instead of a few emojis could help you drastically increase your Instagram engagement.

Format your engaging Instagram captions with line breaks

Instagram is a visual platform. That being said, producing a solid block of text is anything but aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, it makes reading it a total headache.

Use line breaks and emojis to format your captions into bite-size chunks that are easy to read. It’s also a wise idea to include your hashtags in the first comment. Doing so makes your caption look neat and less spammy.

Closing thoughts

No matter how much you struggle to beat Instagram’s latest algorithm, it all comes down to one thing – engagement. The more engagement you have, the more potential your brand has to grow. Use the tips shared in this post to write captions that attract your followers and convince them to interact with your posts.

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