Compelling visuals is what Instagram is all about, but an effective Instagram caption can help boost engagement, getting you more Likes and comments.

Instagram has recently changed their algorithm, making posts now appear in feeds “based on the likelihood [the audience] will be interested in the content.” That means that a photo or video with lots of comments and Likes has a better chance of appearing at, or near the top of your followers’ home stream. Having an intriguing caption that encourages your audience to engage will insure that your content gets seen more. 

What makes a good Instagram caption

A good Instagram caption should add context, show off the personality of the brand you are representing, entertain, and prompt followers to engage. Captions on Instagram can be up to 2,200 characters and can have up to 30 hashtags.

However your captions should not be too long or filled with too many unnecessary hashtags. There is no perfect number of hashtags you should use, just try and use the most popular hashtags that pertain to your picture or brand so that you can gain the most attention through them.

1. Know your audience

The better you know your audience, the easier it is to engage them on Instagram. Ask yourself who your customers are. How old are they? Where do they live? What sorts of jobs do they have? What do they do outside of work?

Once you know who you’re speaking to, you can answer questions such as:

  • Will my audience understand this reference?
  • Are emojis appropriate to use here?
  • Do I need to add more context to this photo?

2. Identify your brand voice

Ask yourself: what are the qualities and values I want my brand to embody? Make a list and use it to shape your voice. Jot down a few adjectives that describe your brand and use those to refine the voice.

For Instagram, a good rule of thumb is to try and keep things light, use humor where appropriate, and show your personality.

3. Consider length

Remember that most people scroll through their Instagram feeds at a brisk pace. If there’s any doubt as to how long your caption should be, keep it brief. Give context where you need to, but if the post speaks for itself, let it. With that said, if there’s an interesting story to tell behind the photo, then share it.

4. Place the most important words at the beginning of your caption

Captions are cut off in users’ feeds after a few lines of text, so you need to convey your key point or call to action right away. Put any @mentions and hashtags at the end.

Also, leading with the most important words is simply good writing practice. Hook the reader in and give her a reason to tap more.

5. Pose a question

One of the easiest ways to get more comments on your photo is by using the caption to pose a question to your followers.

It could be a yes or no question, a skill-testing question, or an open-ended question.You could also use the caption to solicit your audience for tips or recommendations.

6. Give a shout-out with an @mention

Does your post feature another Instagram user? Include their handle in the caption so your followers can check out their profile too. By mentioning another user in the caption, you’ll likely compel that user—and possibly some of his followers—to also engage with your content.

7. Encourage engagement with a call to action

Want to drive engagement? Ask for it by inviting people to leave a comment, tag their friends, or weigh in with an opinion. You could also make your call to action too good to refuse. Ask your followers to enter a contest to win a prize.