I’ve had a lot of SMM apprentices and students who’ve handled my Facebook and Instagram pages. Their tasks include doing research, planning out content, creating graphics, creating captions, and scheduling. And of course, I need to train them and check their work before they post the content.
Most of the students and apprentices are pretty good. They’re very autonomous and resourceful; they make really eye-catching and brand-friendly graphics and posts. They’ve also done a great job with research and insight audits. However, there is one particular roadblock most of them have a hard time getting through: caption creation.
The content plan is already done. The graphics are all ready to be scheduled. Hashtags are researched and ready. But for some reason, most SMMs find it hard to write engaging captions that hook the audience.
In social media marketing, it’s not just all images and videos. Your video could be very inspiring and your photo could be really relevant. But a badly written caption could turn off your audience and ruin a perfectly planned post.
1. Think about the Intention Behind your Post
Is it to make them click that link, inform them of a free book or giveaway, or make them see from your point of view?
Before writing your caption, you have to know what the post is all about and what it wants from its audience. Don’t just post inspiring quotes or tips without thinking of what you want the audience to feel from the post.
You could make it long or short depending on your intention. Tell a story. Write a one-liner. As long as you know the intention behind your post, you can never go wrong.
Here’s an example of a caption that’s short, tells a story, urges parents to act, and got about 5k reach and 400 engagement.
2. KISS – Keep it Short and Simple
This may sound cheesy, but it has worked before and it’s still working now. The longer your caption gets, the more boring and irrelevant it becomes.
Try to write short captions that plainly describe the post. You don’t have to write hifalutin words to impress your audience. On the contrary, those that can be easily understood are the ones that get the highest engagement.
3. Encourage your Readers to Respond
When you write captions for posts, think about how you can get your readers to ‘think’. Asking a question makes them pause and think. Sometimes even one word can get their attention.
Have you ever seen a post with only one word as a caption: “agree?” And yet, this one word can elicit a lot of likes and comments.
Here’s an example of a post with only one sentence: “What kind of parent would do this?” And has already gotten 506 likes and comments on Instagram over a 24-hour period.
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4. If You’re Sharing a Blog Post or a Website Link, Take Only a Snippet of the Whole Post.
When you syndicate blog posts and share them in social media, you can just take one paragraph from the blog post and make that your caption. Just be sure to take the most interesting part: the one which catches the reader’s attention and would want to make him read the rest of the post.
5. Be professional – Always Proofread!
Captions with grammatical errors and incorrect punctuations, no matter how beautiful, turn people off. Make sure that you read your work before hitting that publish button. And even after publishing it, re-read your work so that you can still spot missed errors and avoid becoming an example of a badly written caption.
6. Have a Call to Action at the End of the Post
May it be: read more, click here, subscribe now, always have a call to action to tell readers what to do next.
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You could have made a beautiful picture with a really heartfelt caption. Yes, they were touched and inspired. Yes, they were able to relate to your message. But until and unless you direct the reader to what you specifically want them to do, that stirring emotions they felt will be all for nothing. It’s like watching a movie, and right before the ending, a power outage shuts off the lights and the audience is left hanging on what to do next.
Don’t keep your readers hanging. Lead them to where you want them to go and what you want them to do.
No Hard and Fast Rule
There is no hard and fast rule in creating catchy captions. The only rule I live by when I write captions and copies is that: If I were the reader and I read the caption, would I be interested enough… so interested… that there is no other option for me but to click on the link or read the whole post.
When you make your reader do exactly what you want the post to do, then your purpose in creating the caption has been met.