Acing the Instagram Captions Game: Tips and Useful Hacks

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“Products are created in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” – Walter Landor

A brand’s image is just as important as a brand itself. Yes, while those two concepts are interlinked, they’re still very much separate. While you pour in your resources to make your brand legendary, its image needs the same amount of attention. And what drives the image of a brand? Right from the way it looks (logo), to the way it presents itself (brand personality), to the way it interacts (brand communication) — all of this and more contribute to the image that a brand creates and upholds for itself.

Brand Image in the Digital World

The scrutiny of a brand in the digital world is one that has a significant impact on the performance of a brand in its respective market. One wrong move could prove fatal to a brand’s reputation. Similarly, the rightly marketed campaign could put a brand on a digital map of success. It’s all about the right planning and strategy that needs to go into every marketing effort that is put into a brand, whatever the end goal might be.

So, how does a brand sustain its image in such a competitive digital market? It can do so by being different yet recognizable.

  • Thinking outside the box
  • Establishing a solid brand presence
  • Being consistent and continuous in all efforts
  • Upgrading and changing as per trends
  • Building a loyal fan/customer base
  • Setting the overall tone and communication for the brand
  • Planning for future campaigns and promotions
  • Keeping up with the latest software, platforms, and features
  • Formulating a foolproof backup plan for the brand (before every campaign)

What Role Does Social Media Play?

Social media has played a rather significant role in the boom of digital media over the years. A significant chunk of traffic for digital marketing comes from and is channeled through social media sites and apps. Take Instagram, for example. With over a billion users who are scrolling through their feeds for almost three to four hours in a day, it gives considerable leverage to brands who are looking to boost their reach. There are several tools available for brands to manage their social media in the most effective way possible.

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Take eClincher, for instance. It’s a multi-faceted social media management tool which renders a number of services, which includes publishing and scheduling, advanced analysis, content management, managing influencer marketing, and so much more.

Of course, factors like targeting the audience, budgets, campaign goals, and so on do come into play, but the moral of the story is this: social media is a powerhouse that cannot be ignored.

With that being said, many marketers today have made social media a very important part of their marketing mix, directing resources and ideas toward creating stellar digital strategies specifically for social media. And there’s a common denominator when it comes to the success of campaigns online – content.

Good content can help a brand pull itself through the toughest of times and stand up against the stiffest of competition. In such a content-driven market, brands need to pay extensive attention to how their content is presented, what message it holds, and whether or not it’s reaching their intended audience.

Next, the goal needs to be to increase visibility and customer database through impressive content (along with other factors). But yes, content is undoubtedly the driving force that can turn the tables for any brand.

The Importance of Instagram Captions in Social Media Marketing

Captions have had an interesting journey so far – from being more focused on delivering information, to shifting focus to grabbing attention. Instagram captions today aren’t just about how much a viewer understands a post or ad, but also about whether or not the consumer is interested in looking at the ad in the first place.

Words can be powerful and persuasive, especially when the right words are strung together with a goal in mind. Let’s understand this further.

For example, Brand A is an apparel brand that sells exclusively through social media and e-commerce. It caters to a younger audience, 16-35 years of age, and sells apparel that would most likely appeal to that crowd. Brand A’s products are distinctive in nature – bright colors, bold prints, abstract cuts, and designs. This means Brand A’s communication also needs to be along the same lines – edgy, quirky, and bold.

Captions for Brand A’s posts would have to stand out from the run-of-the-mill Instagram captions its competitors might be using. However, you must also keep in mind that this type of communication will appeal only to Brand A’s target audience, and not to everyone else, and that’s why it’s so specific to brand personality.

Take the online apparel sensation FashionNova for example. With over 16 million followers, the brand employs edgy and spunky communication everywhere – right from the names of its products (on the site) to the captions it uses under each post.

How to Write Brilliant Instagram Captions for Brands

Now that we’ve addressed the what and the why, let’s get to the how of writing compelling Instagram captions for brand posts.

1. Make it Audience-Specific

Ultimately, it’s your audience who is the judge and jury for your content. If your audience doesn’t love your work, then you probably need to go back to the scratch pad. Since your audience is specific to what you sell and what your brand’s personality is, you need to ask yourself some critical questions while writing Instagram captions – will my audience relate to this? Will it make an impact on them? Compel them to pay attention to the entire post? Will they remember the caption and retain it in their minds?

If your answer is a yes, or at least maybe, then you should go ahead and post that caption. However, a majority of no’s will indicate that you might need to rethink the wording and presentation of the caption.

2. Understand Your Brand’s Tone

As mentioned earlier, with the example of the brand FashionNova, they always incorporate their tone into their captions. So, you first need to be able to categorize and/or define your brand’s tone – is it quirky? Classy? Funny? Innovative? Or maybe a mix of it all?

Sometimes a brand can slightly shift from its tone of communication if a particular campaign asks for it, but not wholly. For example, McDonald’s changes its core communication based on the country it’s catering to, just like it changes its menus. But it still retains the core communication of the brand.

So, a caption written for a Spanish audience would look quite different from one written for the American audience. However, they’d still be able to identify the ad with McDonald’s as a brand.

3. The Length and Depth of it

There are shorter captions and long-form captions, and no, there’s no formula for what caption length is the most effective. Here again, the brand and its personality play an important role. If you’re a consumer brand that deals with an audience that is motivated by price, concept, presentation, packaging, and so on, and not so much by the story that went behind the process, then shorter captions are a better bet.

However, consider a brand that deals with more pressing or serious issues. For instance, climate change, animal welfare, economic growth, or health. They should invest in longer captions every now and then. It’s all about the message in this case. If you can’t communicate the core message of your ad in just a few words, then your next aim should be to create longer but still engaging captions that will be of value to your audience.

Wordplay, sentence formation, language, tone of communication – all of these need to fall into place, while keeping your reader interested till the last punctuation.

4. Grab Attention Instantly

The average internet user has a very short attention span. It’s no more than five to eight seconds before they switch over to something else. This means that in those first five seconds, it’s your job to put all the important and interesting words in your captions.

It doesn’t even have to be grammatically accurate or make 100% sense. It simply has to make a reader curious enough to read the entire caption. Then, they observe the photograph/video posted with it, all the while being able to relate the caption to the post without hesitation.

For example, Samsung posts pictures clicked by users with their Samsung Galaxy range of phones. Each picture is accompanied by a caption that is no more than 10 words long but holds sentimental value to it. For example, a caption below a picture of a family shot by a Samsung Galaxy phone read, “At the end of the day, it is family who will remain. Celebrate them #WithGalaxy.”

This appealed to the EQ of viewers, was short and crisp, but also held a lot of meaning and correlated perfectly with the image.

5. Never Skip Hashtags

Hashtags make the Instagram universe go round, and they’re getting more and more imperative over time. Hashtags work like search keywords that increase traffic and visibility for posts. If you type in a certain hashtag, it will show you how many times people have used it. The larger that number is, the more people are using it.

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Doing keyword research is an essential step in this process. By making use of popular and trending hashtags, you’re ensuring that more people are viewing your posts, whether they’re followers or not. The larger the viewership, the more improved the ROI and engagement on your posts.

Hence, always be prepared with a set of hashtags and keywords that need to be incorporated into your captions, and you’re bound to see a difference!

Creating Captions That Work

Brands like Nike, Tesla, Amul India, Durex, OnePlus create impressive captions that have a lasting impact on their audience. From food to apparel to electronic goods, brands from all industries and niches understand how a good caption can positively impact engagement on an Instagram post.

Conversely, bleak and boring captions could hurt viewership and reduce traction on posts.

If you’re a brand that’s looking to ace the caption game, remember that creativity is key, but content is king. The right combination of both might just give you the key to the kingdom.

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