Just posting photos of my food, my legs, my day. Ugh. so Normal. We need to be epic. To be epic we need to do more. We need to create captions that aren’t just one thing. Not just one quote. Not just one question. We need to do it all to be EPIC.
If you’re simply using Instagram to post photos, you’re doing it wrong. While it is first and foremost a photo sharing platform, the reason Instagram is such a powerful social media tool is Instagram also gives you the ability to give context and inspire conversation. It’s not Flickr. It’s not Photobucket.
After all, the point of your account isn’t just to post photos that your fans think are nice — the point is to encourage them to feel a certain way about your brand, and specifically, to “buy” into your brand, aesthetic, style, lifestyle, or mission. Connecting to fans means that you give them a reason to connect to you. You’ve provided them a sense of wonder, awe, passion for your world and the way you see it.
Your Lens of The World
Your entire Instagram feed resembles your life, or rather, the best aspects, the most epic. Then your captions should be the same and sometimes can be better. A photo can be just an introduction to your world. View each photo as a view from your lens of the world. And thus each caption should contextualize and captivate your world.
Captions aren’t and SHOULDN’T BE the punctuation at the end of your photo sentence. They can be the beginning of a wonderful relationship. They are the conduit to a conversation, The bridge to a feeling.
Bold Strikes Gold
You’ve struck gold, when your caption surprises your fans and motivates them to have a conversation about your post — because caring means sharing, and sharing means connecting with new Instagrammers and untapped audiences. Boring is old. Bold is Gold.
So how do you build a kick ass, epic caption? There are a number of ways, but I’ll give you a few head starts.
Here’s what Epic Captions do:
Surprise fans with additional context to the photo.
Provide useful information.
Reveal photo-related fun unknown facts.
Give historical reference.
Promote a call to action.
Live in the tone of the brand.
Captions are a roadmap
Inspires further investigation. The photo is the gold at the end of the rainbow. Give your fans a roadmap to get there. For Weightloss: Explain how you lost all that weight, what you ate that day. For Travel: Tell them the way to get to this location.
Ask These Questions
- How would I like someone to respond to this caption?
- Why would someone want to respond to this?
- What is the next post I would like them to see?
Hashtags Lead The Way
Let’s say you’re posting a photo of a product that comes in different colors. Your caption asks your followers which color they like best. One follower responds with “the red one!” and you reply to them by telling them about another red product they would like as well — and you add a unique hashtag that has all of your red product photos, like #biguppsredcupps. Now you’re engaging them based on their specific tastes — and you lead them there, like a horse to water.
Pushing the Conversation
You posted a photo with a witty caption celebrating happy hour, which changed the meaning of the photo and made it fun. In addition you can ask followers to tag their overworked bestie.
That’s not all. Then you hashtag a unique hashtag that leads them to other snarky photos about hangovers only on your feed. They tagged their friends, and they got a fun little surprise to follow up on. That’s Epic.
Being epic is doing more than 1 thing. One quote, or one witty remark, won’t win your fans. Write different sections for each post. Your caption will have a dynamic feeling. Have a recurring section that you can write anything you want. These sections don’t have to have a direct context to the photo. They give your fans a way to find out more about you and spend more time with you.
Meal of the Day
Quote of the Day
Movie Quote of the Week
Poem on my Mind
Question on my Mind
Instead of directly writing a comment about the obvious subject of the photo, flip the script. For example, if you’re a hiking gear brand, and your photo is of three people in front of a beautiful waterfall — you can surprise your audience and change the meaning of the photo by focusing their attention on the role your brand plays in the photo. Instead of “What a beautiful waterfall (heart-eyed smiley face)” you could write “the shoes that get you to the breathtaking moment, every time.” Now they’re looking at the shoes, and believing in your product because they are seeing photographic evidence that your product is being used and causing happiness.
Tag Past Commenters
When someone comments on a post, and that inspires a post a few days later. Mention them. This provides them a notification to see your post and shows social proof that you listen to your commenters.
Tag Thematic Accounts
Tag thematic accounts and also provide a call to action. These are accounts that post similar photos to the one you’re posting. You can use WhoToTag.com to find them by keyword. Pick a couple and direct your fans to them to see more awesome photos like the one you’re seeing. While providing an opportunity for your work to be reposted by that account, it also shows good will towards their account. (more in a later chapter)
Another way to change the meaning of the photo is to change the perspective or incorporate history. Maybe you decide to post a photo of George Washington — which has very little to do with your brand — but your caption tells the story about how your business made its first dollar. You may not gain many sales of a specific product from this post, but you have created a personal story to share with fans, a story that shares a piece of who you are and connects it to what almost anyone can hold in their hand: a dollar bill. Or, you post a photo of the original wooden poker chip, and give a history of the chip. Then you tell them about your new casino. Now, you’ve made them feel something nostalgic.
Stop Hiding Hashtags
One particular trend that people are adopting separates comments from hashtags with the use of punctuation marks or pictograms. The reasoning behind this is that the first caption appears to be more succinct and to the point, then a call to action follows. If you are writing your captions this way, you are actually taking away from the potential to connect with your followers.
When your followers see the line, or the ellipses, they assume that the “important thought” is over — so they most likely won’t read on. Then, they miss out on all of your epic hashtags and calls to action! You’re missing out on being epic. Writing more. Capturing more attention.
Thank you for reading!
Any and all edits, suggestions, critiques are welcome.
Final draft of this essay, along with 11 more are to be published as “No Bots About It!”. Each essay hyper focuses on a single aspect of Instagram. Learn what it takes to build and grow an audience on Instagram.
Originally meant to teach e-commerce stores how to Instagram, topics covered have been a huge help to my private clients who include: Actors, Models, Pro Athletes, TV Hosts, Moms, and more. If you have passion, Instagram has your audience.
NoBotsAbout.com for more info