Social media management is an essential part of many modern successful businesses, as an established presence on social media channels is almost expected from companies at this point. Of the many different areas social media management covers, captions are generally considered the easier part of content marketing, and in some ways it’s true. Writing a few sentences to sell your content after all the blood, sweat and tears you exerted in creating it and refining the finished product doesn’t sound too difficult, does it?
But getting the caption right is just as important as the content itself. Not because it provides the same value as your content, but because the caption is what many users will use to decide if your post is worth their time or not; and despite the hours and hours you might have sunk into the meat of your social media posts, most people will make a judgement on whether to consume it within a mere five seconds. If you’ve ever found yourself dumbfounded by the lack of response for the best content you’ve ever made, it could be that your captions are letting you down.
The caption, then, is a way to sell your social media posts, while doubling up as an effective way to drive up engagement – and everyone who posts on social media wants engagement. So without further ado, here are five tips for businesses to create more engaging social media captions.
1. Recognise and take advantage of the unique traits of each social media platform
If you’ve ever tried to advertise on multiple social media platforms before, or even just used them on a casual basis, you’ll know that no two platforms are the same. So why treat them as though they are? While cutting and pasting the content between social media channels works well enough, the caption needs to be unique for a few reasons.
For one, some captions will be logistically impossible to use multiple times. To look at an example, Instagram posts have a character limit of 2,200 for their captions, while Twitter uses a mere 280 characters, so anything above 280 characters cannot be used for both platforms.
On top of that, different social media will also have different expectations for what their captions contain, and different features you can use to encourage action from the reader. Instagram users are incentivised to use hashtags on their stories (a story being a series of running sequences temporarily available on a user’s profile) to join trends and improve their SEO by increasing organic search visibility, while other social media like Twitter only allow for hashtags on regular posts. Twitter on the other hand is unique in allowing its users to directly quote other people’s posts and add their own captions underneath very easily, and you can even tag other users without them following you, making it especially effective for collaborations.
To some extent, social media platforms have started to blend together as they add more and more universal features, but the best social media captions will take advantage of the unique options each platform offers.
2. Write your captions with a specific aim
Just like how content should prioritise helping the customer over the business, social media captions are the same. This isn’t to say you can’t act in your business’s best interests as well, but the caption should still give the reader something they want.
Does it use the kind of voice and tone your audience would like, whether it be funny, serious, empathetic or excited? Does your caption tell the reader something they don’t already know? Does it provide a call to action, or prompt them to think about a certain topic?
There are a range of caption styles that can be successful, but one thing the best captions have in common is that they’re made with some kind of goal in mind, and ideally prompt the reader into giving engagement in some way.
3. Incorporate storytelling and create emotional connections with your audience
There are a few ways in which to generate memorable reactions from your captions, and one of the most important ones is through the language you use. For example, using personal pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘we’ when speaking to the reader helps them to feel that there’s a person talking to them rather than a business, adding a human element to your post. Using emotive and powerful words that aim to invoke a specific feeling from the reader is also an excellent choice, and depending on your brand voice and personality, some businesses will find success in crafting more complex similes and metaphors to enhance their copy.
That being said, there is also value in using straightforward captions for serious topics. This means using short sentences that are straight to the point, with simple language, and replacing multiple words where just one would be sufficient. This minimalistic style of caption has great dramatic effect when the subject of the caption is shocking on its own, as it presents information in a way that gives the reader a vivid image of what you’re describing, making it perfect for more emotional posts.
A story or an anecdote is another good way to connect with your audience. Stories are often used as a way to explain the motivations of a business and how it was built up from scratch, while also giving details about the life of the creator(s). They don’t necessarily have to speak only of the highs of your business and ignore the lows either. A good story or anecdote can sometimes talk about the struggles your business has faced, which not only lets the reader be inspired by and sympathise with your struggles, but also doesn’t put them off your business, as you’re usually describing a past struggle that no longer exists.
The most important thing about storytelling is that it comes from the heart, so don’t worry about needing to convey the ‘right’ message. If something is truly important to you, then it’s probably something worth saying.
4. Create a caption that can’t be ignored with a strong beginning
However brilliant your social media content may be, it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t convince people that it’s worth seeing – and that’s what the caption is for. Although a user may have followed your account already, competition in the social media space is ruthless, even on someone’s personally curated feed, and the decision to pause or keep scrolling is generally made in the blink of an eye. This means that even for longer captions, the most important part is the opening line.
But what makes a good opening line? Well, one thing the best ones have in common is that they immediately prompt some kind of reaction. You could ask the reader a question, something that makes them think about their current understanding of the world. You could imagine a hypothetical horror scenario for them, or paint a picture of what utopia their life might look like if you solved a long-time desire of theirs. You could state a fact that shocks them, make a joke that makes them laugh, or just dive right into the who, what, when, where, how, and why of your post, leaving the user no choice but to continue reading and unravel the mystery you’ve put before them.
Whatever approach you go for with your opening line, a good way to evaluate its effectiveness is to cut it off from the rest of your caption, and even your content, to imagine how someone would feel if they read it without any context. Would you be tempted to learn more, or could you live without reading on? If you even have to think about your answer, the chances are your followers didn’t, and they carried on scrolling as they were. In this case, it’s back to the drawing board for you.
5. Stay true to yourself
This might sound like corny advice from a feel-good rom-com movie, but it’s surprisingly apt in business too. At the end of the day, it’s the passion from working on something you’re excited about that shines through in a caption, and people can tell if you’re speaking to them in a way that isn’t natural to you. That doesn’t mean you should write down the first thing that comes into your head and stick with it every single time, but there should still be plenty of overlap between the things you want to say and the things your audience wants to hear to create a powerful caption. It’s just a case of filtering through everything else until you find that perfect point of connection to reach out with.
That wraps things up for the five tips for businesses to create more engaging social media captions. Hopefully by now you’re feeling more confident in making social media captions that are worthy of the hard work you’ve put into your content.
But why not go the extra step and work together with Loved Brands to create the kind of captions you can be proud of? We understand the importance of the emotional bond that forms between a business and its customers, and we also offer more extensive services in social media management to bolster your overall online presence, so book a call with us and strengthen your social media content today!