Let’s talk CAPTION WRITING. Anyone else open up their social media apps and feel this tug to post, but when you actually go to write a caption… nothin’? *crickets* I know the feeling, and sometimes I’ve wondered if it’s less WHAT we’re posting about, and more how.
Hear me out: You likely know the general topics you enjoy and commonly share about on socials, right? In my world, I call this the JK5 (you’ve probably heard me talk about it if you’ve taken The Instagram Lab). Basically, the JK5 is the 5, give or take, overarching topics you post about on social media that encompass your business, brand, and life overall. Having 5 topics adds dimension, so you’re not JUST posting about client work, or JUST sharing your products.
Yet, even if you know what your JK5 are, it can still be challenging knowing what to actually say. What to type into that ol’ blinking cursor.
If you’re like me, sometimes having some sort of structure or template to rely on makes the words flow all the easier. And guys, I think I’ve cracked the code when it comes to writing engaging captions for Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn posts. I’m ready to let you in on the anatomy of a perfect social media caption for each of these platforms, so you won’t have to feel stumped whenever you open those apps again.
The perfect Instagram caption
Instagram is always changing, but what remains is that it began as a photo-sharing app where we can tell stories, share experiences, and give insight in the captions. I love this little app for connecting me with so many incredible humans, and one way to do that is with an effective caption. Here are my rules for writing captions on the ‘gram:
I’m a fan of longer form captions because it draws people in more and gives them a chance to understand me better. BUT, that doesn’t mean to just write a giant block of text and hit post. Break up your caption into easy-to-digest sections of copy—we’re talkin’ 1 to 2 sentences per paragraph—so readers can still easily skim what you post.
Put the most thought into your first sentence:
The way Instagram works is it only shows scrollers the first two lines of your post… From there, it’s up to the reader to choose to click “more” to read the rest of the caption (and then engage with you). That’s a lot of pressure mounting on that first sentence, but don’t let it deter you. Treat sentence #1 like a headline of a blog post or the subject line of a newsletter… How can you hook readers from the very start? I like starting a caption with an engaging question, an honest thought, or even a call to action (like “Caption this photo!”).
Don’t be afraid of the emoji keyboard:
I think a lot of people think that emojis are too juvenile, but honestly, just think of them as a way to visually break up your caption and infuse some fun! Use them sparingly (2 to 3 in longer posts are plenty), but don’t be afraid of them. They add character, a break for the eyes, and intrigue as people read.
Write like you’re talking to a friend:
Even though your IG is kind of like a storyboard of your business and life, it shouldn’t feel like it’s ALL about you. How do the topics you’re writing about relate to your friends (aka, followers) on the app? How can you include them in the story?
Switch it up:
Just like you don’t want to only post about one topic, you also don’t want to share one kind of caption. Change it up between narrative/storytelling, asking questions, and sharing advice, resources, or insight on a topic.
Always include a call to action:
It might feel funky asking people to do something in your caption, but utilizing CTAs is one of the most effective ways to boost your engagement. And the more you do it, the more people will get used to responding or taking action. A few of my favorites include: “Double-tap/like this post if…”, “Leave an emoji if you agree!”, “Comment your favorite…”, and “Head to the link in my bio/my stories/my website/etc. for all the details!”
The perfect Facebook post
We post on my business Facebook page as well as our program private group pages multiple times a week. If you’re building a business online, Facebook groups can be a tremendous way to get feedback and build awareness. Here’s what we do for FB post captions:
Start all posts with something engaging:
On Facebook, it’s all about comments and interaction with others. I like to start all of my FB posts with a call to action (i.e., “Drop a GIF” or “Tell me a time when…”) before getting to the meat of the post for that very reason. The hook of the post is asking for people to share their own experience, which trust me, people will love to do! It’s human nature to want to talk about yourself, so invite people to do so on every post!
Post a mix of resources and prompts:
We share new podcast episodes and blog posts, as well as questions, conversation starters, and support threads in our FB posts. Sharing a healthy mix of resources and prompts gives people an opportunity to learn from my business away from Facebook, as well as interact directly with me, my team, and each other on the platform.
Short and sweet is best:
Unlike Instagram, you want to keep your Facebook captions nice and short. Ideally, the viewer will spend more time clicking through to a resource or responding and interacting in the comments, so leave your posts to 1 to 4 sentences max.
The perfect LinkedIn post
I’ve been digging more into LinkedIn this year, and let me just say, it’s not only a place where CEOs hang out. Actually, I’ve found it to be a secret treasure trove for online businesses and for building connections with like-minded people (not to mention, we love using LinkedIn to hire!) We only post a couple times a week there, but it’s a great way to reach another piece of your audience.
Keep the tone more professional:
Emojis and out-there questions fly on FB and IG, but when it comes to LinkedIn, the tone is still pretty professional. Cut any slang or casual lingo from the caption copy, and just keep it clean and direct.
Text-only posts perform well:
You don’t need a ton of bells and whistles on LinkedIn. In fact, posting sans any media, images, videos, or links often outperforms those snazzier-seeming posts. Like Facebook, asking engaging questions or prompting your followers to share their experiences goes a long way. And a bonus of the platform: When someone engages with your post, your post shows up on THEIR feed, so more eyes can get to it!
Share long-form content directly on LinkedIn:
Have a blog post with a professional tone that would be perfect for a LinkedIn audience? Instead of just pasting the link and calling it a day, copy and paste half of the blog post into LinkedIn’s native content publishing space with a CTA to read the rest of the post at the link. These perform a whole lot better than just sharing links.
Are you feeling all caption-inspired, you guys?! I sincerely believe having an idea of how to post in each place has saaaaved my booty more times than not. Once I pick a topic and have a gameplan, the words just kinda flow, you know? I hope these give you a little boost to banish caption writer’s block forevermore!