If done right, you should see results in the form of boosted engagement, follower gains, and more exposure!
(Note: To relate to as many of you as possible, I’ve written this post with brands, influencers, and creatives in mind. While reading, you might have to interpret the suggestions and apply them to the type of account you have set up. If you are using Instagram as a personal platform, you should still read through the post to get an idea of the possibilities. After all, anyone using social media should consider themselves a storyteller!)
WRITE A CAPTION: Use words, emojis, mentions, and hashtags to cement your story in the viewer’s mind.
Your visual content is the most important aspect of your Instagram post, but the caption also plays a crucial role. Captions allow you to expand upon your visuals and further your story-telling (a must for anyone involved in any type of marketing.)
If there are elements of your story that need to be strengthened or were missing in the visual content, you’ll want to include those first in your caption. The limit for Instagram captions is 2,200 characters, so you’ve got plenty of space to write. However, note that your caption will be cutoff in the feed after 3-4 lines of text. Users will be required to click “See More” to read the rest, so be sure to include the most important information at the beginning of your caption. Also, most people scroll through their feeds rather quickly, so the sooner you get to the point, the better.
So what else should you write in the caption? Here are some things to consider:
ADD LOCATION: Use a location to help local users discover your content.
Adding a location to your post will increase your engagement. Sometimes this increase is significant. Back in 2014, a study on big brand Instagram accounts reported that posts with locations received 79% better engagement than the average. I haven’t seen any updated statistics on this, but that number alone convinced me to put more attention on that aspect of Instagram post building.
If you consider the way that many people use Instagram for exploring their surroundings, the increased engagement makes sense. When I hear about a new restaurant or am looking for something to do in a neighborhood I’ve never been to, I’ll check Instagram to see what content is available already.
Once you click the location on a photo, you can see all of the previous content that has been tagged with that location. If you content stands out, people will take notice and engage with it.
When adding a location, be sure to get as specific as possible. Unless you have enough engagement on your content to reach the top posts of saturated locations such as cities or large neighborhoods, you’ll want to narrow your location down as much as possible.
If you are in New York City…in Manhattan…in a coffee shop…posting a picture of a cup of coffee, you’ll want to use the coffee shop as your location. There’s less competition to get your content seen and not to mention your content is directly related to that location, so it’ll have much more success.
TAG PEOPLE: Help your users discover related accounts and get noticed doing it.
Tagging people is a great way to assist your followers and get noticed by the tagged accounts in the process.
If you took a picture of a person, place, product, etc. and they have an Instagram account, it’s a great idea to tag their accounts directly on top of those objects in your content. By doing this, you’re helping your users easily navigate to those other accounts to get more information. If your influence is strong, those tagged accounts will take notice and you may get some opportunities to help them promote content in the future.
For any additional tags, have an apparent reason and don’t go overboard. Tagging tons of accounts on every post you upload to get noticed makes you, again, look “spammy.” I get tagged almost on a daily basis and quickly form impressions of the users that do it. If someone tags just me in one or two of their photos during a recent trip to Seoul, I’m flattered. However, if they are repeatedly tagging my account in addition to 15 other accounts, it’s hard for me to take them seriously and I just might block them.
SHARE: Expand your post’s reach to other social media platforms.
Here’s another topic that I could (and probably will) write a whole blog post about. Whether or not you share to other platforms really depends on your overall marketing plan. Ideally, you should be posting different types of content on each platform to cater to the types of followers you have there. You don’t want to feed your followers the same content across all platforms, so at least make sure you have enough other content pushed out to each to keep things interesting.
Keep in mind that there are a couple of limitations with sharing to platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Twitter has a limited number of characters, so your caption will most likely get cut off when it’s shared. As for Facebook, I’ve never been happy with the quality of shared photos. However, I do like the fact that people are able to see that your photo was uploaded from Instagram and can navigate to your Instagram profile page.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! Hopefully this blog post has been helpful and given you some things beyond the visual content to think about during your Instagram post building process. Let me know in the comments if you have other tips that you’ve found useful before posting to Instagram.
I have a lot of experience operating accounts for brands, hubs, influencers, artists, and more, so I’m doing my best to offload some of my knowledge here on this blog. If you are interested in consulting for your account(s), feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information on my services. For you photographers, don’t forget to keep checking the freebies section of this site for free Lightroom presets.