It is reported that businesses have just 3 seconds to capture a user’s attention when they are scrolling on social media, before their content is lost in the abyss of the digital world and their target customer has moved on to the next post.

So how can you nail their attention?

Social media channels are primarily visual, meaning that your visual content needs to be engaging enough to stop a scroller in their tracks. A well-constructed caption affords businesses more opportunity to convert their audience and nurture them further down the consumer journey funnel. It’s the chance to build relatability and develop connection with online users. Captions also give users an incentive to interact with your content on social media if they’re intrigued by the first sentence and what you are saying. So, just to clarify… CAPTIONS ARE IMPORTANT!

Here’s how to craft your very own killer captions.

How to write social media captions with impact

  1. Avoid templates and generic ideas

Your business is unique, and templated captions, or ideas for captions that are stolen off the internet, are not going to paint an accurate picture of who your business is and what you stand for. They’re robotic and processed – and a switched-on audience will see straight through them.

Just like your visual content, your captions need to be unique to you and demonstrate your brand voice, tone and persona, or how else are you going to stand out and build an authentic community with your online audience?

2. Have an intention

Before you construct your social media captions, consider, what is the intention of the post? If you can’t determine this, perhaps your content is not authentic to you or your company. If the content you’re posting doesn’t mean anything to you, have a rethink, and post something that does.

An intention could be wanting to evoke a certain emotion, hoping to encourage a certain conversion, or wanting to drive engagement and build a connection with your followers. How are you wanting to make your audience feel? What are you wishing to achieve from this post? How are you adding value to a user feed? Is the purpose of your post to educate, entertain, inspire, motivate, soothe, or inform (and the rest)?

3. Focus on an emotion

Once you have established the intention behind your post, think about which emotions you’d like to induce in your followers. Do you want them to feel supported, happy, nostalgic, annoyed, inspired, motivated? How can you cause them to feel this with your words?

Examples:

Did you know…

Guess what!

Can you believe…

Our latest results show…

How magical is this…

We just can’t comprehend…

We want you to know…

We believe that you…

Are you as shocked as we are…

4. Establish a killer first sentence, known as ‘the hook’

You need a first sentence (which appears as a preview on longer captions) to stop your audience in their tracks and interrupts the (often mindless) scroll! This is what hooks an online user in.

Direct or rhetorical questions, positive affirmations, statements, statistics, or announcements are great for grabbing attention and hooking an audience in.

Examples:

Why is it that…?

How has lockdown 3.0 left you feeling?

Start the week with…

The truth is that…

Our research found…

We bear exciting news!…

5. Tell a story

Use your social media captions to share a story with your audience, as storytelling in social media marketing is a golden strategy for generating engagement and connection online.

Illustrate a memorable occurrence that happened to you recently, detail how an event went, tell your followers why you created the product you’re posting about, or why you produced something a certain way, describe a recent hurdle you overcame, define what an achievement meant to you… you have to use your own experience, your own thoughts and feelings, and your own personal business journey for this.

Examples:

From the very beginning, we knew that we…

Our favourite part of the trade show was definitely…

Overcoming this was both demanding and challenging, but…

After years of curating…

We wanted to create this for…

6. Incorporate emojis

Don’t dismiss emojis. They’re colourful, allow creative expression, let businesses illustrate their brand personalities, are enjoyable to see and use, help articulate a point and also can break up chunky reels of words. Emojis are a fun alternative to bullet points if you are writing a longer form caption. Choose emojis that provide context to your words.

Examples:

Why not visit the new fish at our indoor aquarium this rainy weekend? 🐟🐠🌧️🌊

Join our online study group in just a couple of clicks 📚💡🎓

We still have spaces for your dogs available, so get them booked in for a good groom! 🐕🐶🐾

7. Consider SEO and keywords

Incorporate keywords you’d like to be found for on social media within your caption. This tells the social media channel you are using what your visual content is about, making it more findable across your chosen network, thus expanding your reach. Find out more about the close connection between Instagram reach and SEO.

8. Break your caption up into digestible, readable chunks

If your audience were wanting to read an essay, they’d open a book – so if you’re posting a longer caption on your post, ensure you break it up with paragraph breaks, bullet points, emojis or numbers to make it more readable and therefore more likely to be engaged with. Social media isn’t the place for a block of solid text.

9. Add a call to action

Tell your audience what you want them to do, without being forceful. Effective calls to action on social media tend to be informal and pressure-free (social media is primarily for leisure, after all);

Examples:

See what else we have in stock on our Insta feed

Drop us a DM to discuss bespoke pieces

Head to our bio to download our free resources

Feel free to add yours

Pass it on!

Pop into our store for…

Share this post with someone who needs to hear this today

10. Ask a question

Asking a question encourages thinking and social media engagement. People are much more likely to comment on your post, which social media algorithms love, if you ask them to contribute their experiences or thoughts.

Examples:

What’s the best sandwich you’ve ever had from our bistro?

Why do you think this continues to happen?

Which new product would you like to see?

How many pieces from our new collection have you got so far?

What would you go back and tell yourself before you went to University?

11. Add mentions

By using tags and mentions within your caption you are going to increase reach and engagement. Tag or mention relevant people within your caption, and always credit the author of any visual content you have used.

12. Don’t mess up your spelling and grammar

Unless it’s obvious why you’re using incorrect grammar and spelling and it is intentional, having bad grammar and spelling will make you look unprofessional, and it de-credits you and your hard work. A great way to avoid this is by planning your caption in an app or tool that highlights such errors before posting on social media.

13. Revise your hashtag strategy

You should only be using hashtags that are relevant to your business and aren’t either under or overused across social media networks. Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes – what are they searching for on social media?

Remember not to drown your post in hashtags, it’s unsightly and provides no value to the reader (unless they’re an amusing or creative play on words) – hashtags are solely to help you increase your reach, so avoid abusing them.

14. Write and edit your captions offline before posting

Following on from our previous point, captions that are planned, proofread, and edited construct a post to be much more effective than those that are not. You wouldn’t submit the first draft normally, so why do it on social media? Always give your captions another lookover before posting so that they’re as optimised and engaging as they can be.

Do you need more social media marketing advice? Look no further than these two guides from our informative digital marketing blog:

Handling negative comments and negative feedback on social media

Knowing when to post on social media for small business