How To
7 min read

How to write great Instagram captions: Top tips + examples

Blake Emal

June 2, 2022

Instagram is mainly a visual medium, but words matter more than you think. Captions are a valuable place to provide context for your posts, showcase brand personality, and prompt followers to take action.

That follower engagement goes a long way toward attracting customers. According to a Sprout Social survey, 61% of consumers feel audience engagement makes a brand stand out the most on social media—and your caption is the perfect conversation starter.

Create Instagram captions that blend entertainment with your brand’s personality to pique followers' interest. Not sure where to start? Copy.ai’s Instagram Caption tool will help you elevate your writing, so you can write captions that connect with your followers.

1. Post a thought-provoking quote (and don't be afraid of polarity)

Quotes are a great way to build on an existing piece of content and share ideas that align with your brand's values. Use an engaging quote (even if the message is a bit polarizing) to capture your readers' attention.

If you're having trouble finding good quotes, check out BrainyQuote, which gives you the ability to browse quotes by topic or author. Then try plugging quotes into the Copy.ai Instagram Caption Generator to create content that expands on your favorite ideas!

Nitch shares a bold opinion to spark conversation

Nitch is a popular account that often shares thought-provoking quotes from celebrities and artists. Below, they share a quote from the Icelandic singer Bjork. Here, Bjork discusses a controversial choice to pursue her art full time instead of choosing an "easy" and stable career path, noting she would never have forgiven herself otherwise:

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As reflected in the comments, followers responded to this quote divisively; some followed a similar life path as Bjork, while others found her ideas off-putting and unrealistic.

Regardless of whether readers agreed or disagreed, we can see they felt compelled to speak up. One comment inspired 14 replies!

Tuna Melts My Heart uses a heartwarming quote to inspire likes and shares

Tuna Melts My Heart is an Instagram account featuring Tuna, a delightfully eccentric Chihuahua. Tuna encourages followers to own their eccentricities with a sweet quote in the caption below:

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This account is full of lighthearted content where Tuna is the star of the show, so it's no surprise a sweet Dr. Seuss quote about owning your quirks fetched almost 30k likes and thousands of comments!

Nike inspires followers to "just do it"

By sharing a quote from skateboarder Ishod Wair, Nike encourages followers to pursue their passions diligently, which aligns perfectly with their "Just Do It" motto:

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After the quote, Nike explains Ishod's background and commitment to finding balance in his life and career. They point out that at 30, he is already 11 years into his professional skateboarding career, mainly because he refuses to waste time and consistently pursues his goals. The inspiring reflection and the quote won Nike almost 270k likes.

2. Give your followers the floor

Ask your readers a question in your caption to encourage dialogue and create connections with your followers. Passing the mic also allows you to get real-time feedback from your supporters that can help inform the content of your future posts—and possibly even your product or service.

Glossier’s question generates product praise

In the caption below, Glossier asks followers if they use the After Baume product in their skincare routine. Delighted customers share a lot of love in the comments:

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Glossier doesn’t have to hype this product—customers do it for them. In response to a simple question, followers tout After Baume as a “miracle product” that is “amazing.” These comments generate interest, so potential customers will ask for more details about the product!

Calvin Klein asks for feedback

Not sure what social content your audience wants? Ask them in your caption, as Calvin Klein does below:

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Asking opinion-based questions can help you learn about your followers and spark ideas for upcoming launches and promotions. Allowing your audience to share ideas also cultivates appreciation for your brand because followers know their opinion matters to you.

Need inspiration? Try asking, "If we could answer one question about X, what would you like to know?" or "What's something people don't know about you?"

3. Include one clear call to action (CTA)

On social media, you’re in a great position to encourage purchases. In a recent Sprout Social survey, 89% of consumers say they would make purchases from a brand they follow on social, and 84% would choose that brand over a competitor that doesn't have a presence on social.

Give your brand its best shot at success by including a call to action in your caption that gives your readers clear next steps to follow and ways to interact with your brand.

JetBlue uses urgency to create an irresistible offer

In the caption below, JetBlue puts a limited-time call to action at the beginning of their caption to attract loyal followers on the hunt for a deal:

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JetBlue asks readers to grab a room before they're gone, so followers feel a sense of FOMO—the fear of missing out. Limited-time offerings like this one inspire customers to act fast to take advantage of deals.

Use captions to create a sense of urgency—whether you want to boost sales, drive web traffic, or increase conversions.

Tentree writes an engagement-focused CTA

Eco-friendly apparel company Tentree often includes CTAs to request that users tag friends, which helps them expand their reach:

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Tentree’s CTA caption works: users responded to the post by adding their friends to the conversation, and the post grabbed over 15k likes. Current fans who are excited about your brand are likely to tag their friends, which could score your brand a lot of new followers without ever having to use traditional advertising.

4. Use captions to build anticipation around launches

When your brand launches a new product or service, you want everyone to be just as excited about it as you are. Build an air of anticipation among your followers by teasing an upcoming event, release, or promotion in your caption.

Artist Lights Bokan gives readers a sneak peek to create enthusiasm

Comic book artist and musician Lights Bokan creates Instagram-exclusive resources (like the fun treasure hunt below) for superfans to get sneak peeks of new artwork and ideas about what she might be releasing:

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Lights uses her caption to direct followers to a map containing clues about her new comic book and art snippets that have yet to be released. This artist gets her audience excited about what's next, and in her comments section, she encourages people to work together to find more clues.

Fans who follow Lights for creative content like this are more likely to explore her website, leading to more sales. Research shows that a whopping 91% of consumers visit a brand's website or app when they follow that brand on social media. Lights knows fans may be interested in more content, so she links her website right in the Instagram bio.

Morphe prepares fans to create magic with their upcoming product release

Forty percent of consumers report following brands on social media to learn about upcoming promos and discounts. Morphe knows their followers love updates about limited-edition products, so they use their caption to keep customers informed of product launch dates:

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Morphe's followers can see from the caption that the latest makeup palette launches on 3/8 and has a limited edition scent. Fans light up the comments section with remarks like "omg love" and "this is beautiful," which drive anticipation for the product.

5. Use emojis (wisely)

People love emojis in captions. According to Adobe's Emoji Trend report, 51% of respondents were more likely to comment on brand posts that use emojis in captions. In addition, 48% of respondents were more likely to follow these, and 44% were more likely to purchase products advertised with emojis.

MAC Cosmetics knows how to have fun with emojis that are relevant to their products:

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The list in MAC's caption uses plenty of emojis relevant to their glamorous aesthetic: lipsticks, diamonds, high heels, etc. When MAC uses lipstick emojis as bullet points, they give readers a colorful upgrade to a basic post with product details.

6. Choose a caption length that complements your post

Entrepreneur and Instagram coach Sue Zimmerman suggests a couple of approaches to writing good captions—one to two sentences, a micro-blog, which is a more extended caption with deeper context. Short captions with only a few words can also be impactful.

Lululemon keeps its caption focused and to the point

Athletic gear retailer Lululemon conveys an inspiring message about practice and resilience with a couple of quick sentences:

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Lululemon's message is clear—practice makes perfect—without overwhelming readers with tons of text.

If a caption doesn’t require a lot of context, try to get your message across as concisely as possible. When in doubt, aim for a couple of sentences!

The Wall Street Journal uses longer captions for context and storytelling

You may want to occasionally take advantage of the 2,200 character allowance—maybe you want to tell a story or give deeper context to an image.

The Wall Street Journal uses a long caption below to give more background and color to their post about penguins:

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Followers expect compelling stories from the WSJ, and the publication delivers with this caption. Commenters cheer the post on and share their own adventurous stories in the comments.

When creating a more extensive caption, be sure to follow WSJ's lead and break up long text walls into easy-to-read chunks.

Starbucks uses short-and-sweet captions to keep messages impactful yet simple

Starbucks coffee is a master when it comes to writing short and to-the-point captions that engage followers:

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Starbucks' “Just for you” caption comes across as a thoughtful hello from a friend, simply meant to brighten the reader's day. The coffee brand also does a great job of using the caption to play off the image's writing. As we can see, commenters got warm-and-fuzzy feelings from this post, mentioning that it is sweet and cute.

7. Use hashtags in your Instagram posts, and keep them familiar to your audience

Instagram lets users include up to 30 hashtags per post. Research on the ideal number is mixed and depends on your follower count. A study by Quintly indicates Instagram profiles with 1-10k followers do better with 1-3 hashtags, while those with 10-100k followers increase engagement with over 10 hashtags.

A Sprout Social study indicates that 25% of consumers use hashtags to find new accounts to follow—while there’s no “perfect” number, hashtags optimize your reach.

Our take: experiment with the number and placement of hashtags. Above all, make sure they're relevant to your post.

Louis Vuitton uses the caption to help followers find content

Fashion legend Louis Vuitton condenses their 2022 fashion week hashtag into "LVFW22" and places it at the beginning of their caption for quick reference:

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Louis Vuitton places their branded hashtag right at the beginning of their caption, so followers can't miss it. Sure enough, the #LVFW22 hashtag is already generating buzz from celebrities and fashion icons with almost 3k posts as of early March 2022.

Etsy opts for an uncluttered caption

In the below caption, the online marketplace Etsy groups relevant hashtags into a separate comment to keep their message clean and uncluttered:

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Readers see Etsy’s hashtags in the comments after reading the caption, so they know what to search for to find similar content.

8. Keep the same voice across all captions

When you maintain a consistent tone in your captions, your Instagram followers know exactly what to expect from you. A uniform style across your captions will keep users coming back for similar content.

Vans shoes keeps it classic

The shoe company Vans has a young audience, so their brand voice is relaxed and fun. Their voice is consistent across all of their Instagram captions, as reflected in two very different posts below:

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Vans wrote a meaningful caption and call-to-action caption that each conveyed their laid-back attitude. How? They use the same conversational tone and a sentence structure that reads like text messages from a friend. These style choices show their young audience they are unfussy and relaxed.

A strong brand identity gives your followers a sense of what to expect from you. Over time, that consistent personality makes your brand memorable.

9. Tell a relatable story

When people open Instagram, they aren't looking for an essay about your industry's strengths and weaknesses—they want to connect with other humans. Give your followers what they're looking for by sharing everyday observations and anecdotes.

Tone It Up goes with the flow

Social media often glosses over moments in life—like adjusting to a new work situation during a pandemic—that aren't fun and photo-worthy. Tone It Up reminds us we're all in it together by sharing a playful take on adjusting to new life circumstances.

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Followers responded to the caption prompt and tagged friends in the comments, boosting engagement and expanding brand awareness.

Bailey Sarian makes room for shenanigans

Bailey Sarian, creator of the Murder Mystery & Makeup YouTube brand, embraces her lack of productivity and chooses to enjoy the moment instead:

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We think putting on a "fashion show" to avoid cleaning out your closet sounds like a great idea—and clearly, so do Bailey's followers. This silly, relatable moment inspired laughs and even wardrobe questions in the comment section, along with 484k likes. Need we say more?

10. Share your favorite tips

Followers love to learn things that can help them in their everyday lives, so sharing advice goes a long way toward adding usefulness to your posts.

Yoga Girl shares on-brand wellness advice

Wellness-focused brand Yoga Girl gives followers an inside scoop into founder Rachel Brathen's daily wellness routine:

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At the bottom of the caption, the brand asks followers to share their tips for building immunity, and readers are more than happy to oblige. Followers post thousands of comments, sharing their own wellness tips and cheering on Yoga Girl’s ideas.

The Harvard Business Review offers top strategies for building connections

Half a year into COVID-19, HBR shared a few tips about handling isolation during the pandemic:

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Instead of just hashing out quick advice, HBR shows how pervasive loneliness is with stats and uses several sentences to explain each tip. The post’s attention to detail fits HBR’s reputation as a credible publication to a tee.

11. Write about exciting giveaways and contests

Tap into your audience's competitive spirit by giving them exciting ways to interact with your account.

Marvel uses creative contests to deepen brand loyalty

Marvel encourages followers to share user-generated Instagram content for a chance to win a special trip:

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Because the prize is an enviable trip to the Infinity War premiere, followers are bound to unleash their best creative efforts.

Blogilates uses giveaways to expand brand reach

The fitness brand Blogilates sparks followers’ interest by offering a gym bag from their sister brand POPFLEX in a giveaway:

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Blogilates can introduce their brand to new followers online and offline by using their caption to give away a physical product. Countless comments and 92k likes later, Blogilates has successfully generated tons of interest in the brand.

Like Blogilates, be sure to update captions when your giveaways close!

12. Don't let writer's block hold your captions back!

Are you feeling stuck? No sweat. Copy.ai's Instagram Captions tool is here to help.

Say you want to generate an IG caption for a post about a skincare product discount:

From a single sentence, our Instagram Caption tool generates a list of ideas that you can simply copy and paste into your caption or edit as you see fit.

Our tool has no limit on the number of times you can generate more copy options, so you can create good Instagram captions every time.

Use Copy.ai to elevate your Instagram captions—and have fun writing them!

Instagram captions take practice, so be patient. Follow the tips we've outlined, and you'll be on your way to writing next-level captions that increase brand engagement and reach!

Dealing with writer’s block? Use our Instagram Caption generator tool. It brainstorms for you by generating dozens of caption options for you in seconds. Get started with our free AI writing tools today!

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