How To
7 min read

10 Tips to Create Social Media Captions to Engage With Your Community

Kelly Moser

July 20, 2022

Social media can feel like a black hole. 

You post something, and it disappears into the internet void.

Well, that feeling is valid, considering the average engagement rate on Instagram sits under 1%.

But don't worry. There are ways to improve that pathetic statistic. 

One of the best ways to make sure you score more meaningful interactions with your followers is to have a team brainstorming session where you create social media captions that spark conversation, encourage engagement, and inspire people to click on your content. 

In this article, we'll share ten quick tips for creating social media captions that'll make your followers notice. 

Let's dive in. 

1. Start with a hook

You've got a great picture or video to post, but do you know how to write the caption to make it go viral?

It's pretty simple: start with a hook.

A hook is an opening line or phrase that grabs readers' attention and makes them want to read more. It's not enough to say, "I love this picture" as your caption — you need to give your audience a reason to click on your post.

Hooks are attention-grabbing. They can be funny, shocking, or controversial and come in the form of a question, statement, or quote.

If nothing comes to mind right away, try asking yourself these questions:

  1. What makes my topic unique?
  2. Why should people care about it?
  3. What are some words or phrases that describe what I'm talking about?
  4. What remote work challenges have you faced?

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West Elm does an excellent job creating a hook about the availability of their best-selling sofas. 

Due to the pandemic, getting anything delivered in a timely fashion has been a struggle since the beginning of 2020. 

West Elm immediately saw their engagement skyrocket from one sentence in this post. So, getting a couch delivered ASAP is like striking gold. That's all it takes. 

2. Ask questions

Open-ended questions require the reader to use their own thoughts, experiences, and stories to answer them, rather than just giving a quick yes or no response. This can help you generate discussion and engagement with your community. 

Good examples of open-ended questions include:

  • What is your favorite holiday?
  • Where's your favorite place to visit?
  • What do you like best about remote work? 

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Olipop incorporates questions into its post about astrology signs and soda flavors. Users are encouraged to share their flavor in the comments section, increasing engagement with this post.

3. Provide value

The key to compelling social media captions is providing value to your followers.

Providing value means that you should be giving them the information they didn't previously know or maybe even showing them a new way of thinking about something. 

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For example, if you post an image of the latest product launch on Instagram, include some information about where it came from and how it came to fruition. This will make your caption more engaging for readers and make them want to keep reading so they can learn more about what's happening behind the scenes.

Or, if you post a pretty picture of a beach as Home and Jet does in this example, share the beach location and what makes it unique. People will be encouraged to save this post for use on their own Hawaiian vacation in the future.

4. Make it scannable

Reading all of the content available on the internet is impossible. It can be extremely overwhelming. There is so much information out there for readers to consume. 

Whether you are in a rush, haven't had enough coffee, or trying to multitask, we can always benefit from easy-to-read content. 

Here are a few tips to help make your social media captions scannable (so people actually read them): 

  • Use lists, bullets, and subheadings: Make it as "skimmable" as possible for your audience by breaking down the text into short sentences and paragraphs that are easy to read. Leverage page breaks and other dividers for added whitespace and readability.
  • Use short sentences: Use short sentences instead of stringing multiple ideas together in one long sentence that's hard for someone new to understand.
  • Omit difficult words: People don't have time for big words. Keep your sentences simple by using shorter words so that they're easier on the eyes and brain when quickly scrolling through social media feeds on mobile devices or computers.

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Robin Arzon, the Vice President of Fitness Programming at Peloton, shares her three-part life audit and creates a scannable caption by implementing page breaks and simple wording. 

Readers can quickly understand what her audit entails and are compelled to comment on similar experiences in their lives.

5. Create a contest or giveaway

A contest or giveaway can be a great way to engage and grow Instagram followers. The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to share content and participate in contests and giveaways. 

Make sure that whatever you do with your social media captions is relevant to their interests. 

For example, if an upcoming sports match is essential for one of your brand's target audiences (e.g., soccer fans), then running a contest about who can predict the final score would be highly effective for maximizing participation rates among those groups.

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But when it is all said and done, nothing gets an audience more excited to comment and engage with you on social media than a contest. Not only are giveaways a chance to interact with your followers, but they are an excellent way to encourage social sharing and grow your audience

For example, Copper Banking, a provider of debit cards for teens, recently ran a contest on their Instagram page. On average, Copper Banking gets anywhere from 0–10 comments on each of their Instagram posts. However, for this contest post, they received 140 comments.

Don't underestimate the power of a contest.

6. Add hashtags

Hashtags are an essential tool for businesses on social media. They help you engage with your audience and track how people engage with your content.

A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash symbol that groups conversations around a similar topic. Using hashtags, you can start conversations, share content from other users, or follow discussions on specific issues.

Hashtags are most effective when used at the end of a sentence or phrase, making them easy for others to find. They're also effective when used as part of a sentence that describes what the post is about (i.e., "This week's #MondayMotivation is about learning new skills").

Hashtags can also help you reach a larger audience and increase brand awareness.

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The Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris, a luxury hotel in Paris, uses the hashtags #Romantic, #EiffelTowerSuite, and #EiffelTower in its Instagram caption with the hopes of getting the post in front of an audience who enjoys romantic evenings in Paris. 

This audience is more likely to engage with their post than a mass audience. 

7. Keep it simple 

We're busy people, and on occasions, we simply don't want to sit there and read a three-paragraph social media caption. 

Sometimes simple and to-the-point captions are all that our brains are willing to take in at that moment. 

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Take Picsart as an example. They use simple captions paired with content created by their users on their social media profiles to promote their tools. In this case, they showcase one of the aesthetic filters available when editing your photos.

Remember, sometimes less is more.

8. Use storytelling

There's nothing quite like the power of a compelling story to make you feel something, and that's why you should use stories on social media.

If you're looking to connect with your audience in an emotionally engaging way, it's time to put your storytelling skills to work. Whether you're writing a caption for a photo or video, you can use storytelling techniques to make your content more compelling.

Storytelling involves creating an engaging narrative that pulls your followers into your story so they can feel like they're part of it. This will help them identify with what you're saying and understand why it matters, so they'll be more likely to engage with your social media post and share it with others who might appreciate it too. 

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Nike does an excellent job using storying in this example of a social media caption. It starts with a quote from Emma Raducanu, a British tennis player sitting on a dirt bike (instead of posing with a tennis racket). 

The reader is intrigued to learn more about Emma's story.

9. Incorporate emojis 

When creating captions for your social media posts, you want to be sure that they're engaging and fun. While it's tempting to write a quick blurb about what you've posted and move on, the best way to make sure you get engagement from your audience is to add a little extra flair. 

One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding emojis to your caption. Emojis are a great way to add some personality to your posts, and they can help bring a smile to someone's face when they're scrolling through their feed looking for something entertaining.

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Starbucks never disappoints with its Instagram photos. And their captions are on par as well. 

When introducing a summer drink, they leverage the sun and pineapple emojis to bring some character to the caption and instill the tropical summer vibe in the reader. 

10. Leverage AI writing tools

Are you sick of getting writer's block? Me too. 

Keeping up with social media postings is exhausting enough. Let alone sit at your keyboard, loathing the next caption you are trying to write (with nothing but cricket sounds going off inside your head). 

Don't worry. It happens to the best of us, and thankfully there are some solutions that help solve this very issue. 

AI writing tools can help you create engaging Instagram captions in minutes. And the best part, some of them are entirely free to use.

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It's simple — enter basic information about a brand and what you want to accomplish, and AI will take care of the rest. 

Talk about a no-brainer (pun intended). 

Wrapping up

When creating captions, one of the best ways you can engage your followers is by making them feel like they are part of something bigger.

You want your followers to feel like they are part of a community, a movement,  a family, or a team. 

The more you can make your readers feel like this, the more likely they'll be motivated to share content with their communities and networks, ultimately boosting engagement within your social media accounts!

Putting some thought into your captions can be a powerful tool to engage with and grow the community around your brand. Experiment with these tips and find what works best to accomplish your goals.

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