Instagram captions are some of the most important tools you have for increasing audience engagement. While your pictures and videos might grab your follower’s attention, it’s the caption that convinces them to share, like, and comment on your post.

Used correctly, Instagram captions can ignite emotions in your followers, making them feel compelled to learn more about your company by visiting your website or looking at your other content.

Your Instagram captions can also increase sales, help you to reach more Instagram followers and improve your reach on social media. The question is, how do you make sure you’re using the right captions to cultivate success?

5 Ways To Get Engagement For Your Instagram Captions

1. Hook Them In The Beginning

Instagram, like most social media channels, is all about fast-paced interactions.

Your customers are scrolling through dozens of pictures on a regular basis. If they’re convinced to tap on your photo, Instagram condenses your caption to just three or four lines, meaning you need to capture attention fast if you want them to stick around.

In the news feed, you have even less of an opportunity to hook your reader, as only the first sentence of your caption will show up. Make sure those first few words immediately grab your reader’s attention by doing the following:

  • Asking a question: Your customer will want to know whether you’ve answered it.
  • Adding some visual flair: Using emojis to make your brand personality stand out.
  • Make a statement: Say something you know will grab your audience’s attention.
  • Start with your call to action: Tell your customers exactly what you want them to do from the moment they see your content.
  • Being creative: Try singing a short, catchy sentence that captures curiosity, like Mac’s “Cue the confetti.”

Remember: short and engaging sentences will grab your customer’s attention a lot faster than most long, drawn-out Instagram captions. Keep it simple and get straight to the point.

how to hook users to your Instagram captions example

2. Master The Call To Action

You’ve probably heard this a million times, but your call-to-action is the most important part of your Instagram caption. It’s how you nudge your audience to do something important, whether it’s commenting on your latest post, or checking the link in your bio.

Each post should have a specific purpose and intention, so try to avoid adding too many CTAs to one post. Instead, decide exactly what you’re going to ask your customer to do with each post on Instagram. Do you want them to:

  • Visit your website?
  • Click the link in your bio?
  • Share a post with their friends?
  • Shop a promotion?
  • Check out a new product?
  • Enter a contest or giveaway?
  • Share user-generated-content with a branded hashtag?

In this post from Zavvi, the call to action is quick and simple: “Shop today, link in bio.” The use of emojis draws attention to the CTA, which is subtly enforced throughout the entire caption, with actionable language like, “Save yourself some money on some of the biggest gaming franchises…”

Zavvius Instagram post with a CTA example

Since it’s difficult to know straight away which CTA phrases are going to generate the most engagement from your audience, try a couple of different options. Testing your call-to-action phrases and checking their engagement levels will help you to decide which to use in the future.

3. Use Storytelling

Human beings are naturally predisposed to love stories. We’ve used them for generations as a source of learning and development. So, why not add a little storytelling to your Instagram captions?

A good story will improve your customer’s emotional link to your brand and help them better understand the benefits of your product or service. Stories also help to separate your ads from “traditional advertising,” which is important for younger generations. About 69% of the Gen-Z demographic say they find traditional ads disruptive, so it’s worth trying an alternative.

When bringing storytelling into your captions:

  • Be emotional: Grab attention with meaningful, descriptive content designed to help your customers visualize, or better understand whatever you’re selling.
  • Use the right language: Stick to a tone of voice you know your customers respond to. Using the same language as your target audience will make your stories more relatable.
  • Try authenticity: Use your own experiences to make your brand seem more authentic. Talking about human experiences reminds your audience you’re not just a faceless corporation.

Airbnb is one of the best examples of a brand using storytelling the right with their Instagram captions. Each image comes with a mini-story about the location where customers can stay. You hear a little about the host, as well as getting an artistic description of the location.

Air b and b's caption example with storytelling

4. Use Sensory Words

One of the main reasons why your Instagram captions are so important is they help you to engage with your audience on an emotional level. For an Instagram account to successfully engage with its audience, it needs to feel and look like a personal journal, with real, emotional, and engaging content.

Whether you’re a big company or a smaller entrepreneur, write Instagram captions that’ll help customers to fully immerse themselves in the experience they’re sharing. This means using sensory words which can help your audience to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel your post.

The senses you need to consider include:

  • Visual: Related to sight, colors, appearance, and shape
  • Tactile: Connected to touch, and feelings of abstract concepts
  • Auditory: Linked to hearing, sounds, and even music
  • Smell: Related to scents and how they influence our emotions
  • Taste: Connected to the things we can taste and experience
  • Motion: Related to movements, and how readers experience words

Take a look at this beautiful and deeply descriptive caption from @GeorgiePuddingnPie, which uses plenty of texture and sensory words to bring the image to life:

example of using sensory words in an Instagram caption

5. Incorporate Hashtags

Instagram captions are nothing without the right hashtags. Like on most social media channels, hashtags on Instagram make your posts searchable, and ensure the right customers can find you. Adding hashtags to your captions should significantly boost your reach.

While you can certainly place a lot of related Instagram hashtags at the end of your captions, it’s also worth looking for how you can place them naturally throughout the caption text, along with @mentions of relevant people, like @GlossyboxUK does here:

incorporating hashtags within your caption example

Remember, the best Instagram captions usually contain a wide range of hashtags. You’ll need to leverage trending tags, which are common among the customers in your industry. However, it’s also worth looking into niche hashtags and more specific tags, too.

You could even encourage your followers to get involved and share user-generated content in your Instagram comments by making your own branded hashtag. A good branded hashtag will get people talking about your company, particularly if you use it as part of a competition or giveaway. For instance, ask people to share an image of them using your product with your branded hashtag for a chance to win something special.

If you need extra inspiration on hashtags to use, keep a close eye on what’s trending in your industry, as well as the hashtags your competitors and brand influencers are using.

Update Your Instagram Captions

On a visual social media platform like Instagram, it’s easy for something like a caption to end up overlooked. However, if you’re not making the most of your Instagram captions, you could be missing out on crucial opportunities to connect with, engage, and convert customers.

A good Instagram caption captures the heart and mind of your audience while gently pushing them towards a positive action for your brand. Make sure you’re making the most of your captions.