iPhone taking a picture of a blue postcard with white First Ascent logo, standing up against a blue wall and white table. Another white postcard with black First Ascent logo on the right.

Instagram can be a powerful marketing tool. Although it is centered around visuals, the right caption can take your post to the next level. Whether you want to tell a story about your business or run a giveaway, there are a few things to keep in mind when starting out on your next post.


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Know Your Audience

One billion people use Instagram every month. That’s a lot of people. The great thing is, you don’t have to create a post that will make one billion people happy. Knowing your audience is a great first step in choosing what kind of post, and more specifically, what kind of caption you are going to create.

Finding out demographics like age groups, locations, and the jobs of your followers will come in handy. You’ll have a better idea of whether or not they’ll understand certain references and the level of detail you need to provide. But demographics only tell half the story.  If you really want to understand your audience, look at psychographics and behavior. These are your followers’ desires, interests, goals, lifestyle choices etc., and will tell you why they are looking at your posts.

Find Your (Brand) Voice

Now that you have your audience in mind, it’s time to focus on you – well, your brand. Knowing your brand voice is the next step in crushing your caption creation. Quirky? Bold? Mysterious? Light-hearted? Ask yourself how you want your brand and business to be perceived. What kind of values and images do you want to convey?

If you’re not completely sure, don’t worry. Just follow these tips:

  • Be informal – Instagram is a generally informal platform in terms of language but you make the call. This is where knowing your audience is key.
  • Be genuine – When in doubt, honesty will go a long way. Being genuine breaks down the social media barrier and shows your followers there is a person behind the business.


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Place Important Words First

Generally speaking, no one goes on Instagram just to look at one post. Your followers will be scrolling through a lot of posts, yours included. Putting the important words first is essential if you want your followers to stop and read your entire caption or do something else like clicking the link in your bio.

Instagram also shortens captions to keep the feed generally visual. This means you have 140 characters (about 3-4 lines) before your followers will have to click “…more” to view the rest of the caption.

Length of Caption

While we’re on the topic of character and line count, let’s talk about the length of your caption. You have 2,200 characters to capture attention and convey your message. Some accounts have success with a line or two. Others are equally successful when they use all 2,200 characters. Regardless of which you decide, remember its quality over quantity.

In an analysis of almost 6 million Instagram posts, 35.8% of the posts analyzed had 300 characters or more but saw that generally, posts between 1-50 characters received more interaction for accounts with followers between one thousand and ten thousand.

If you do decide to go for a long caption, breaking up the lines in 2-3 sentence chunks makes it easier for your audience to read and digest the caption you worked hard on.


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Read Your Caption Out Loud

You did it! You wrote out an engaging, unique caption for your post. The next step is to read your caption out loud. It may seem silly at first but when you stare at the words for a long time, you begin to think that it’s perfect. Reading it out loud allows you to hear any mistakes you might’ve missed when you read it back in your head.

Let someone else read it. A second pair of eyes is even better. You know what you’re trying to say with your caption but after looking at it for a while you might forget that there could be a better way to phrase it. Letting someone else look over it will determine if you missed the mark or hit the nail on the head.


Now that you’ve gotten some feedback, update your caption! You don’t have to go for a full rewrite but improving some words or phrases could mean the difference between a good caption and a spectacular one.

Types of Captions

Call To Action

No matter what type of CTA you use – Link in bio, question, tag a friend, comment what you think – you can improve engagement and activity on your posts.


Lush’s question at the end of their caption engages their followers and also implies there will be a sale.

Behind the Scenes

Let’s face it, people are nosy. A behind the scenes post and caption, like this one from IBM, breaks down the social media barrier we talked about before.



Show people something they’ve never seen before and write a caption telling them what they’re looking at. Chances are people will save it or even better, check out your profile.


National Geographic pairs beautiful photos with descriptive captions to create an experience that tells some compelling stories.

Contest / Giveaways

Everyone loves free stuff. Tip: Have words like “CONTEST” or “GIVEAWAY” at the beginning of your post, it’s an easy eye catcher and your followers will at least read the whole caption to see what it’s about.


“Free Glove Friday” by Palm Golf Co. is another great example of an opening word/phrase that grabs attention.

The Story

This type of caption can be tough to get right because of the length. If you’re telling a story, focus more on emotion and less information.


It’ll be hard to find another account that does story captions as good as Humans of NY. Remember, emotion over information.

Less is More

This is Instagram after all. Sometimes, the picture speaks for itself. A quick phrase or emoji, like this one by Adobe, can be all you need to tie everything together.


Instagram is a place with some of the most beautiful pictures you can find online. As a marketing tool, it can expand your business and your brand to new heights, and this is where the caption really shines. Your caption game is what will set you apart from everyone else. Here’s a quick overview of the tips you just read:

  • Determine who your audience is
  • Figure out your brand voice
  • Place important words first
  • Choose a length that best fits your post theme
  • Read your caption out loud
  • Revise, revise, revise!