8 Tips to Master Social Media Captions
Table of Contents:
- Feature Your Goal and Intended Action
- Consider What Viewers Want
- Get to the Point! And Fast!
- Add Context or Clarity
- Know Your Audience
- Be Authentic
- Encourage Viewers to Engage
- Remember to Engage with Viewers, Too
Social media is an excellent marketing tool for reaching new customers, establishing a familiar and trusted brand image, and staying connected with former and potentially-revisiting customers. Of course, your posts are key to achieving these purposes, but what about captions? Oftentimes, we fail to realize just how important those brief little sentences are to connect with customers. So while blank or low-effort captions may be a go–to, changing your caption-writing habits may be just what you need to get the results you want from your social media platforms.
But what should your captions look like to help you get these results?
My name is Hannah Robertson: Force Media’s copywriter with years of writing experience. In this blog post, I will cover the 8 key features your followers need to see in your captions to take the desired action.
Let’s dive into what each of these points would mean for you.
1. Feature Your Goal and Intended Action
The keyword to keep in mind as you write your caption is intention. Captions are meant to be brief, so every word that you write should help you reach your goal for the post. I’m going to bet that, as a business, your goal is to, well, grow your business. That is a very broad goal, however, because it does not address how you intend to grow your business.
A more specific goal for being online may be:
- Getting people to follow your account
- Connecting with your audience
- Creating a more personable image
Once you decide your goal, you can be much more intentional about what your caption includes, as a post meant to connect with viewers might include more comment-worthy questions or humor than a post meant to advertise a new service.
2. Consider What Viewers Want
A great way to select the goal for your post is to first identify the goal of your whole account. Why are you on social media? What do viewers gain by following this account that they might not get on your website, mailing list, etc.?
For Force Media, our social platforms are primarily meant to include others in our process. We post announcements, behind the scenes footage and images, and showcase final products. That way, anyone who has not worked with us can see what to expect from our team and our process and those who have worked with us can see that we are proud to have worked with them. For that reason, our captions often explain any context for the post and a call to action: working with our team.
Just as we discovered, learning why customers follow your account is an excellent way to determine what your goal should be for your posts and captions.
3. Get to the Point! And Fast!
People move fast online. When I say “fast,” I mean two-seconds-per-post fast (CareerArc)! So when you have your audience’s attention, get to the point before that scrolling thumb cuts you off. Your first few words should clearly communicate what you are trying to say.
If you do have a long caption, revisit our keyword: Be intentional. Why is it this long? Do you have a good reason for that? Longer captions may be necessary for certain posts, but make sure the caption is as short as it can possibly be to meet your intended goal.
4. Add Context or Clarity
Let’s take a moment to reference a caption from one of our Instagram posts:
This caption accompanied one of our finished video projects for a client. As you can see, the caption’s job was to provide the necessary context for followers to understand that this video is what Force Media finished products look like. Without this caption, followers would have no definitive way of knowing who made this video or why we posted it.
That said, captions are an opportunity to provide context or to reinforce what you're posting. Can you give a new perspective to that photo or video with your caption?
5. Know Your Audience
As is the case with all marketing strategies, knowing your audience is key to social media caption success. Specifically, understanding your audience’s age range will affect the tone you adopt, the method of engagement to promote, your use of emojis, slang, and more.
Try to mimic the way your target audience talks online so they can immediately understand that this account – and this company – is a good match for them. If this age group is different from your own, it may be a good idea to hire a social media manager of that age group to be more authentic.
6. Be Authentic
Being authentic is one of the hardest things to do online, but your audience will know if you aren't being authentic. If you're naturally a funny person, add humor into your post. If you're not, don't pretend to be funny. If you want to try something new, that’s great! Just remember to stay true to yourself as you do.
That said, remember to be true to your brand as well. Certain professions or audiences need tones that reflect what is being advertised. For example, if you are formal and uptight, you may not be the best at writing captions directed toward children. If you find yourself in a similar case, you might want to hire a social media manager of the ideal voice to create the captions.
7. Encourage Viewers to Engage
Remember: Social media is SOCIAL!!! Use captions as a chance to encourage followers to interact with the post through questions or a call to action. Interaction comes in many forms, such as tagging friends, commenting with questions or feedback, or sharing posts on their account.
To get the interaction you want, however, keep your audience in mind. Certain age groups or demographics will feel more keen to share certain types of posts, so tailor your call to engage with the post with the audience that the caption is for.
8. Remember to Engage with Viewers, Too
Your followers will do a lot for you, but don’t expect them to do everything! You need to be just as social as they are. Try to respond to comments when appropriate, tag anyone mentioned in your post, and, finally, use hashtags that your target audience may follow. Hashtags are an excellent way to expand the reach of your post, so be sure to include relevant ones in your caption!
- Be intentional about your time online. Knowing your goal for a post and your time online in general will make your captions much more effective.
- Keep your captions as short as you can make them. That said, long captions can work so long as you have a reason for that length.
- Use captions to add necessary context to the pictures or videos you post.
- Know your audience and adopt a voice that appeals to that audience, especially in regards to aspects like age and education. To do this authentically, we recommend hiring a social media coordinator with the ideal voice.
- Captions are great for encouraging viewers to comment and share posts with friends. Remember that social media is social, which means that you should also be engaging in your comment section and with the features available in your chosen social media platform.
Social media is an excellent marketing resource, and captions are one of the best ways to achieve your goals for being online. Remember to be intentional, brief, smart, social, and true to yourself, and your captions will perform precisely as they should.
If you ever feel stuck, don’t hesitate to look at successful accounts for inspiration. Should your accounts have similar goals to Force Media’s, you can find our social media accounts at the following links:
There you have it! Now you know what your followers are looking for and how to tailor your captions to meet their expectations. We wish you the best of luck on your caption-writing journey, and we can’t wait to see what you come up with.