There are many elements that go into the perfect social post — visuals, posting time, reason to engage, etc — but nailing your caption can be tricky. If you’re struggling to get your social media captions on point, read on for some essential guidance.
Even the best social media captions won’t land if they’re not shared at the right time. Check out this guide to the best time for posting on social media to get the most from your social strategy.
Character length rules are made to be broken
According to the CoSchedule social optimising tool, the optimum character length for the three major social platforms are:
- Facebook: 111
- Instagram: 241
- Twitter: 103
This is the recommended caption length for engagement, which is arguably what most social campaigns should strive for.
Some posts might warrant captions that exceed the recommended character length, for instance, if you’re providing competition details.
As with most rules on this list, they’re there to be broken. While the character lengths listed above are recommended for optimum engagement, this is not a hard rule.
Write what you need but keep it concise. This is perhaps the hardest thing about writing social media captions — conveying coherent meaning in as few words as possible.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with emojis
Emojis are a divisive issue. Some brands love emojis, liberally peppering their tweets with them. But others still see them as unprofessional.
Ultimately, it comes down to your brand personality. If you’re a quirky drinks brand, emojis are perfect. But if you’re a building society? Perhaps not.
If you’re going to use emojis in your captions, it’s worth knowing that there’s a science to them. In terms of engagement, the optimum number of emojis varies. As a rule of thumb, use no more than two emojis for Twitter and 2-3 for Instagram.
Most businesses have a set variety of emojis that fit in with their brand personality. Similarly, the emojis you use should align with your tone and style. For example, a hot sauce brand might lean on the devil or skull emojis, whilst a health food company might use coloured hearts or the folded hands emoji.
A great resource for experimenting with emojis is Emojipedia. As well as letting you browse every emoji available, it also lets you easily copy and paste them to include in your social calendar spreadsheet too.
Get your hashtag game on-point
Hashtags are what get your content found. They boost awareness amongst people other than your followers and drive social shares into the bargain. In essence, they are the threads that bind all social content on a platform together.
But to really get the most from your hashtags, you need to be precise. A scattergun approach to your hashtags wastes your time, character length, and your social posts too.
This is especially important when it comes to Twitter. Tweets with two hashtags receive the best engagement, so you need to select only those that will deliver the right traffic.
Strive for relevance and variety. For instance, let’s say you’re writing a tweet about influencer marketing. Using the #influencers hashtag might seem relevant, but it will also bring you unrelated traffic too e.g. people looking for posts by influencers, rather than about them.
Finding the most popular Instagram hashtags is simple and they typically offer greater scope than their Twitter counterparts. The optimum number for Instagram is between 9-11. Consequently, you’re able to use a more targeted approach by using a blend of mass appeal hashtags (e.g. #summereats, #feelgood, etc) and more niche hashtags (e.g. #organicfood, #healthyeating, etc).
Bolster this with some quick hashtag research. Scour your competitors’ posts and see what hashtags they use and use them for your own account. Alternatively, use a hashtag research tool to create a mindmap of potential hashtags and combine those with high popularity but low engagement (for mass appeal hashtags) and low popularity but high engagement (for niche hashtags).
Keep it relevant and relatable
Your caption and your image are not two disparate elements. They should work in tandem, with each one being clearly relevant to the other.
While it might seem obvious, it’s important to make your caption relevant to the image associated with it — even tangentially. There are plenty of poor social posts that use stellar captions with great images but are completely unrelated to each other.
The connection between your image and caption can be either overt or subtle. But if the connection is genuine, it’ll work.
The same principle applies to your emoji usage too. Using summer emojis in the middle of winter is fine if you mention summer, but used outside of that context, they’ll jar.
Be subtle with your CTAs
Call-to-actions are an important part of the user journey online. They shape the process, literally telling the user the action they need to take to convert.
But while CTAs have their place — landing pages, product pages, and so on — they should be used carefully on social posts. Overt CTAs, such as “buy now” or “click here” come across as sales-y, a vibe that doesn’t translate well on social.
Your followers already know how to use social. They know to swipe up on Instagram Stories, for instance, and they definitely know how to click a link.
Assume your followers know the action they need to take. Use your caption to guide them towards it. As an example, if you’re linking out to a blog post, use a quote from the blog in your caption to preface it.
If all else fails, use emojis or other symbols to guide user action. The eyes emoji or the greater-than symbol are simple but instantly understandable.
Make that first sentence count
Some social platforms automatically crop your caption if it exceeds a certain number of characters. Instagram, in particular, cuts it after just three or four lines.
Consequently, you need to make that first sentence count. Rather than including the most important information, front-load your first line. Make it compelling, intriguing and engaging.
Competitions, questions, and other clickbait-y elements are ideal for compelling users to click the ‘See More’ button in your caption.
Armed with the above tips, you’re ready to craft beautiful social media captions that engage every time.
About the Author
Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer at MicroStartups; offering articles full of expert marketing tips and trips for new business owners. Go and check them out!
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