Why are well-written captions important?
Before we get started, you should hopefully already have an Instagram account for your ecommerce business. If you don’t, check out the [Shopify Instagram] 6 Step Ecommerce Growth Plan for tips on the best way to set yours up.
Otherwise, if you’ve already set up an Instagram account for your ecommerce brand and want to improve your caption writing skills it’s helpful to understand why well-written Instagram captions are so important.
When a user is scrolling through their Instagram feed an interesting image will get them to stop and read your caption, but since you can’t include clickable links in your caption you’ll need to work extra hard to write a compelling caption that will get your audience to click through to your bio and click on the link to visit your store.
In addition to being compelling it should also be engaging since Instagram’s algorithm rewards posts that get lots of engagement. So a well written caption can increase likes and comments which means it will show up in more of your follower’s feeds.
The Basics Of Instagram Captions
Before we get into discussing the best practices for crafting Instagram captions it’s important to understand the basics.
For example, here are a few things to keep in mind when writing your Instagram captions:
- Similar to Twitter’s 280 character limit, Instagram sets a limit of 2,200 characters for your captions.
2,200 characters is a pretty significant amount so you can definitely get your message across if there’s a lot you need to say. However, keep this limit in mind when writing your captions because, unlike Twitter, Instagram doesn’t show you how many characters you’ve typed so far.
- While you may use up to 2,200 characters in your Instagram caption, not all of them will display in your follower’s feed. In fact, Instagram will truncate your caption to only display the first three lines. If you want your entire caption to display, Instagram recommends using a caption that is no more than 125 characters.
- Any links you include in your captions unfortunately won’t be clickable. Instagram does this to improve user experience so if your goal is to have your followers visit your website then you’ll want to direct them to the link in your bio by using a compelling call to action.
While the limitations I’ve mentioned above may be inconvenient, they certainly shouldn’t prevent you from marketing your ecommerce business successfully on Instagram.
So to help you get the most out of your Instagram marketing, let’s take a look at some other ways you can optimize your Instagram captions to drive engagement and sales for your ecommerce business.
Should You Mention Other Instagram Users In Your Captions?
Mentioning other Instagram users might seem counter intuitive since it could distract your followers from reading your entire caption or from taking action, but it’s a great strategy for networking with other popular Instagram accounts which can help grow your followers.
Since many Instagram accounts like to crowdsource their content, mentioning another Instagram user in your caption can get your brand on their radar which may result in them sharing your post with their followers.
Here’s an example from Instagram user @coconutbowls who shared another user’s post because they mentioned Coconut Bowls in their caption.
Since Coconut Bowls has over 200,000 followers it’s safe to assume that this resulted in lots of profile visits for the user they mentioned, which can lead to more followers and more sales.
When mentioning other users in your Instagram captions there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
First, make sure to mention other Instagram users whose followers are in your target audience. There’s no point in getting them to mention you back if their followers aren’t interested in your products.
Second, only mention one Instagram user at a time. This way your post won’t come across as spammy and it will improve the chances that the user you mentioned will share your post and mention you back.
To Emoji Or Not To Emoji
You’ve probably noticed that nearly everyone uses emojis in their captions. In fact, as far back as 2015 Instagram reported that nearly 50% of all captions used emoji.
While that doesn’t necessarily mean your brand should use emojis in your Instagram captions too, you should ask yourself the following questions before you decide:
Does your audience use emojis?
In ecommerce it’s important to understand your customers. Doing so will help you craft your messaging so your brand is relatable.
So if your audience uses emojis in their captions then it’s likely that if you were to use them as well your audience will be able to relate to your brand.
Will they help communicate your message?
If using emojis in your caption doesn’t help communicate your message then don’t include them.
Emojis should serve a purpose, otherwise they can make your posts look sloppy and end up being a distraction. Use emojis to call attention to important parts of your caption, convey emotions, or add clarity to improve engagement.
Does the use of emojis match your brand’s tone?
Emojis aren’t for everyone. You know your brand’s tone and voice best so you’ll have to decide whether emojis are too casual to include in your captions.
If your brand’s tone is casual then it might make sense to use emojis. Otherwise, if your brand’s tone is more professional then using emojis in your captions might not be a great fit.
Here’s an example of how @bonobos uses emojis in their caption to add clarity to their caption. It helps break up the monotony of an all text post to improve engagement.
In general using emojis in your captions can be helpful for marketing your brand on Instagram. However, you’ll want to make sure that you stay true to your vision for communicating your brand’s message.
What About Hashtags?
Hashtags are one of the most misunderstood components of social media. Using hashtags in your posts is the social media equivalent of search engine optimization for your website.
In fact, one study found that posts with at least one hashtag get 12.6% more engagement on average. So if you’re serious about using Instagram for marketing your ecommerce business you’ll want to keep the following best practices in mind when using hashtags in your Instagram captions.
Instagram limits the number of hashtags you can use for each post to 30, which is probably more than enough for the average ecommerce business. However, if you’re using hashtags in your Instagram caption it will also count towards your character limit.
Which brings us to the next tip.
Where To Put Your Hashtags
There are a few different placement options when it comes to hashtags, but at the end of the day it really depends on your personal preference.
The first option, and probably the most popular, is to include your hashtags in your Instagram caption after all of the regular text. Some people think it looks messy to do it this way but it really depends on your personal preference. Also keep in mind that this option will use up more of the character count in your caption.
The second option is to sprinkle the hashtags throughout your caption. The benefit of this is if your captions are long you can reduce the total character count by working them into your caption as opposed to just adding them at the end.
Some people prefer not to use hashtags throughout the caption as it makes the caption read less smoothly, but it really depends on your personal preference.
The third option is to put your hashtags in the first comment of your post. Doing this will still give you the benefit of increased engagement but it will keep your instagram captions looking less cluttered as the hashtags won’t show up in your follower’s feed by default.
Which Hashtags Should You Use?
When deciding which hashtags to use it’s important to be relevant. Remember, the goal of using hashtags is to help Instagram users discover your posts so you can get new followers and hopefully more visitors to your website.
With that in mind you’ll want to find a balance between hashtags that are commonly searched for and hashtags that are relevant to your brand.
For example, you wouldn’t want to use “#love” just because millions of people search for that keyword if your products aren’t related to the “love” hashtag. Otherwise, anyone who does come across your post after searching for that keyword will likely not be interested in your post.
Instead you should use hashtags that are closely related to your brand or products. Examples of this could be hashtags that are related to your product names, or the lifestyle of your target audience.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can even use emojis as hashtags, though you’ll need to test and see whether it results in more users discovering your posts considering the amount of people who use emojis as hashtags.
If you’re up for it, here is a list of the most commonly used emojis for you to consider using as hashtags in your Instagram captions.
A Note About Branded Hashtags
Did you know that 70% of hashtags on Instagram are brand related? This means that Instagram users are using hashtags to find, share, and interact with their favorite brands.
A branded hashtag could include your brand name, your company slogan, or a unique phrase related to a marketing campaign.
Unfortunately, branded hashtags don’t work as well if you don’t already have a significant sized following as it’s not likely users will stumble upon your hashtag if they’ve never heard of your brand before.
Here’s an example of @tiffanyandco using a branded hashtag in one of their posts.
Don’t Lose Your Voice
While there are a lot of technical components to remember when creating a great Instagram caption, you also want to remember your brand’s voice and tone when writing your caption.
Ideally, the captions for each post in your Instagram account will use the same tone. This will not only provide consistency for your audience but it will ensure that your Instagram “personality” aligns with your brand’s values.
Here are a few tips to make sure your voice and tone is consistent when writing your captions for Instagram:
- Designate one person from your team to write your captions.
- Create a “Voice & Tone Guide” for you or your team to refer to when creating Instagram posts.
- Read your caption out loud before posting to make sure it sounds just as good when spoken.
Don’t Forget A Call To Action
Finally, we have the call to action. Not every Instagram caption has to include a call to action but if you want to increase engagement (and sales) you’ll want to include a call to action as often as possible.
Since any links you put in your Instagram caption aren’t clickable, it’s very important that you put a lot of thought into your call to action and make it compelling.
Here are some examples of calls to action:
- “Like if you agree!”
- “Tag a friend that you want to share this with.”
- “Leave a comment with your thoughts.”
- “Visit the link in our bio to learn more.”
You’ll notice that some of the examples cause more friction than others. For example, it’s easier to like the post than it is to leave a comment or tag a friend.
So while it may not be practical to always ask your followers to visit the link in your bio, you’ll want to at least include some sort of a call to action in your Instagram caption to maximize your effort.
It’s also important to note that because Instagram truncates captions in its feed you may want to consider using your call to action early on in the caption, otherwise your followers may never see it if they don’t click to view the full caption.
Use Tools To Help You Post
Creating the perfect caption for your Instagram posts can be tough. Especially if you have to do it all from your phone.
Up until now Instagram has made it hard for you to create, schedule, and post to Instagram directly from your desktop. However, they recently announced that they will be adding the ability to schedule and automate posts for business accounts via their API using 3rd party tools.
This means that eventually posting to Instagram will be as easy as posting to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
In the meantime, here are a few tools you can try to help make the process go smoother which should give you more time to concentrate on writing great captions.
Grum allows you to upload images and schedule posts directly in your browser so you can manage it all from a desktop computer. This service is strictly for Instagram so you can’t use it to manage posts for other social media networks.
Unlike Grum, Later will not automatically post to Instagram for you. Instead they will send you a notification to remind you to post at the scheduled time. However they do offer a free account and other nice features like analytics so you have more insight into your post’s performance.
Similar to Later, Hootsuite doesn’t offer the ability to automatically post to Instagram but they also have a free version of their service as well as the ability to manage posting to other social media networks.
Instagram Hashtags Generator
If you’re trying to craft the perfect Instagram captions you can’t forget to include hashtags. Unfortunately it’s not realistic to manually type each hashtag one by one. Instead use a tool like Instagram Hashtags Generator to quickly generate popular hashtags related to a keyword, then copy and paste it into your tool of choice for posting to Instagram.
Instagram Captions For Ecommerce
When it comes to marketing on Instagram, many ecommerce brands don’t understand the importance of writing great captions.
Great captions can not only set you apart from your competition but they can also help you grow your audience faster which means more revenue for your business.
Fortunately, writing great captions isn’t hard. Just be sure to include a few simple elements in each post and your business will benefit from the extra effort.
What do you think? Are Instagram captions important? Leave your thoughts in the comments and I’ll reply.
Author: Michael Folling
Michael Folling is the founder of Limitless Designs and the author of 101 eCommerce Tips, a knowledge packed book on ecommerce growth. He enjoys growing businesses and writing about anything ecommerce.