Let’s think G&T (any excuse). In a social media post, the graphic – be it a photo, GIF or video – is the tonic and the caption is the gin. The tonic (usually) takes up most of the space. But it’s the gin that makes the drink (and perhaps you) really sing. So it’s worth taking the time to get the caption (gin) right. And if there’s no image in your post and it’s just a standalone caption (neat gin – we all have those moments), then getting that caption right really is paramount.
To help stop the onset of headaches (those induced by writer’s block that is), here are our top tips on how to write good social media post captions.
1. What’s the why?
Thinking about exactly why you’re posting will help focus your writing. Do you want your audience to take a specific action? Are you trying to get them to think or feel something in particular? Do you want to demonstrate that you’re an industry expert? Being really clear on your ‘why’ will help ensure you write a caption that achieves your objective.
2. Have your audience front of mind
What makes a good caption for one audience, might not for another. The content, tone of voice and style of your captions should be in tune with your target audience. Got a young, trendy, woke audience? Then use their slang and throw in pop-culture references. A finance-focused B2B audience? Then stick to professional and formal.
3. Keep it short and simple
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” True words from Mark Twain. Typing out your stream of thoughts is the quick option. But we are in a world of super fast scrollers with ever-decreasing attention spans, trying to cut through the relentless noise of content. So it is essential you put in the time to pack your message into a short, crisp, attention-grabbing caption. Concise and digestible captions are much more likely to get engagement than long, essay-like ones.
If your caption does have to be long, for example you’re sharing a list of your top 5 lessons from lockdown, then be sure to make use of bullet points and spacing. To help avoid the ‘essay feel’, try using relevant emojis as your bullet points instead of standard ones. It adds a pop of colour and personality to the caption, and is much more eye-catching.
4. Prompt interactions
Social media channels’ algorithms value content which generates active conversations with and amongst users. So if your posts aren’t generating these, they may not even appear on your target audience’s newsfeed.
Your posts need to prompt your audience to interact. You can do this by asking questions that will spark conversations or by adding calls to action. A simple way to start conversation is by flipping a one line statement into a question. For example, ‘A Pin Gin G&T is the first thing I’ll be ordering when I visit the pub again.’ to ‘A Pin Gin G&T is the first thing I’ll be ordering when I visit the pub again. What will your first order be?’
5. Share useful information
Your captions are an opportunity for you to provide your audience with useful information. This will make your audience feel that you care about them, and that you’re not just about promoting your business. It can also help demonstrate that you’re an expert in your field. Useful information you could share is relevant facts, tips, ideas etc. For example, if you’re a retailer that sells drinks, a bar, a drinks manufacturer, a party planner, you could share your favourite cocktail recipes.
6. Change shoes: What would I think if I was on their side of the feed?
Transport yourself to your audience’s jam-packed news feed. Putting yourself in their shoes is a great way to evaluate your caption. Ask yourself these questions:
Would my audience bother to stop and read the caption? What’s in it for them?
How would the caption make them feel/think?
What action, if any, would they take after reading it?
What would it make them think of my company/brand?
7. Learn from your analytics
It’s important to use the analytics on your posts’ performance to get an understanding of what your audience likes. If you consistently see certain types of posts receiving less engagement, then it’s time to try something different.
Good luck with your caption writing, if it – or any other parts of your marketing – are inducing headaches, we’re here to help at firstname.lastname@example.org