Relevant, Engaging and Meaningful Instagram captions
Instagram Ads; whatever your opinion on them, they’re not going anywhere. But if Ads are done right, then they shouldn’t really feel like Ads at all! If Ads are done right, they will fit into your account so seamlessly that your audience won’t mind if it’s an ad, because it feels genuine. Most of my Ads, which are always correctly labeled at the beginning, do not take much of a hit in engagement, some even perform better than my normal content, of course, there is the odd one that doesn’t do so great, but in general, they do well.
So here is what I do to make sure an ad feels authentic and engaging to me.
First of all, if you want people to engage with your ads then you have to be careful with what you’re advertising in the first place. It has to fit with your account. In a way, the ad has to be expected. For example, the things that I would consider advertising are books which I would read (obviously), films and other media, fashion and homeware because these are the things that I feature on my feed most often. These are the things that I feel excited about and things that I talk about. These things are part of who I am and are authentic.
So I guess what I’m getting at here is that being authentic when accepting your ads is the first step towards getting good engagement on them.
However, having an engaging photo AND an engaging caption both go hand in hand, in my opinion. You could have a really great photo, but if your caption feels too advertise-y your audience is going to be less likely to engage with it. The same goes for having a great caption. You could have the perfect caption, but if the photo doesn’t grab your audience initially, they aren’t going to take the time to engage with the photo beyond the typical ‘like’.
For me, captions are extremely important when it comes to Ads, probably more so than your normal photos because you’re trying to get as much attention as possible. An important thing to note is that your ads are likely going to take a little bit of a hit, even if it is a small one. That’s just how it works. But there are certain things you can do which will minimise that hit.
So now, finally, I’m going to talk you through how I write my captions.
The most important rule WHICH I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH is to put ‘Ad’ at the beginning of your caption. It doesn’t have to be a hashtag (but some companies will make this a requirement), but it’s super important to make it the first thing that your audience sees. You have to be transparent about it. Nothing annoys me more than seeing ‘ad’ at the end of a caption or hidden in amongst other hashtags. Just be upfront about it. Be proud in the content you have produced.
I also generally don’t immediately talk about the product, I usually save that for the second paragraph. I’ll sometimes open with an engaging question, talk about what I’m doing in the photo, or talk about the product in a more personal way.
Let me give you some examples.
Let’s take the photo that I did for Girl’s Night Out. I make the storyline of the book personal to me, by saying that losing a friend on a night out is one of my biggest fears.
For my linen sheets advert, I talked about the pose that I was doing in the photo.
It’s really important that your caption and your photo are in sync with each other. Your caption can’t just be talking about the product, you’ve got to make it personal and add your own personality into it. You’ve got to make it human.
Here are the questions I ask myself when coming up with an ad and the caption.
When I think of this product how does it make me feel, what does it make me think about?
What kind of picture comes to mind when I think about this product?
What do I think my audience will love about this product?
How can I show this product in a quirky authentic way?
What story do I want to tell my audience about this product?
How do I want to engage my audience? What is the kind of conversation I want to have with them about this product?
What do I think they will find interesting about this product? What interests me about this product?
What has engaged my audience in the past and how could I use that here?
What is the ‘vibe’, ‘trends’ going around Instagram now that I could tap into?
What is going on in the news, season, socially that I could tap into?
I could go on forever but these are always a good starting point.
As always, this is what I’ve found that works for me. Everyone’s Instagram journey is different. There is no magic formula that will make you grow or will increase your engagement. That’s something you have to find out for yourself. Hopefully, though this will give you some ideas.