With its massive user base and image-rich layout, Instagram gives you the perfect platform to visually engage your audience. In fact, it sees the most engagement among all social media platforms.

A study by Rival IQ found that the median engagement across all industries on Instagram is 1.60%. Facebook and Twitter see a median engagement of 0.09% and 0.048% respectively. That’s a colossal difference proving just how engaging Instagram is.

But with a platform that’s so focused on visuals, it’s easy for marketers to overlook another key element to engage their audience–their Instagram captions. They’ll often come up with something on the spot without giving it a second thought.

This is a huge missed opportunity to give some context to your post and open up a dialogue between you and your followers. Plus, planning your captions ahead of time will make it easier to schedule your posts and save you time.

So if you want to optimize your Instagram marketing strategy, it’s time you put in more effort to come up with captivating Instagram caption ideas that inspire action.

How to write Instagram captions that engage

First, start by learning how to write Instagram captions that will resonate with your audience. Check out these best practices that will help you create engaging Instagram caption ideas.

1. Give more context to the post

You can’t go wrong with Instagram captions that give your photo or video some context.

Not all of your posts are self-explanatory. For instance, let’s say you posted a picture of a breathtaking sunset view. Your followers won’t necessarily know where the place is or what’s going through your mind when you took the photo.

By giving some context through your caption, you can easily draw your followers in and get them to relate with you or understand you better.

For example, Brit + Co. posted an illustration of a woman sleeping with her headphones on. While the image is appealing, it doesn’t really say much about what the brand is trying to convey. To give some context to the post, it added a caption asking people if they want sleep hacks for a stress-free holiday season.

2. Use a consistent tone in your Instagram captions

If you already developed a brand voice, you probably want to use it in your website content, marketing copy and brand communications. Don’t forget to use it in your Instagram captions as well to maintain a consistent brand voice across every channel.

3. Keep Instagram captions short and easy to process

Lengthy Instagram captions may be difficult to read and process. Users typically want to quickly scroll through their feeds and they won’t necessarily have the time or patience to read through everything.

So if you want to come up with Instagram caption ideas to engage people, keep them short and to the point. Although this isn’t always possible for every single post, use lengthy captions only when it’s absolutely necessary. Even if you do, make sure you add line breaks to improve readability.

Check out this short and sweet caption from Chewy.

4. Be helpful

Consider using your Instagram captions to provide useful information to your followers. This could be anything from how-to instructions to recipes, depending on your industry. If you’re providing value through your captions, there’s a good chance you’ll draw in your audience and keep them engaged longer than usual.

Cupcake Jemma, for instance, regularly shares recipes from her Crumbs & Doilies shop through Instagram captions.

5. Use hashtags, acronyms and emojis (to a point)

Hashtags help your content get discovered, while emojis break up huge blocks of text and make them easier to read. Social media acronyms also make you more relatable by speaking your target audience’s language. Learn how to write Instagram captions that include relevant hashtags, acronyms and emojis that will resonate with your audience.

At the same time, don’t go overboard with hashtags and emojis as your caption could end up looking messy and difficult to read. See how HGTV adds a single relevant emoji along with just five hashtags in the following post.

That doesn’t mean this is the optimal amount of hashtags. We recommend testing different hashtag densities to see which one works best for you. Sprout Social’s Instagram management tools can help you with this.

6. Ask questions to drive engagement

A lot of your followers may “like” your post, but they won’t necessarily leave a comment. Drive up your engagement rate by asking a question that will compel people to comment on your post.

You can ask them to share their opinion, personal experiences or stories. Asking a question or giving a call to action at the end of your Instagram caption will give them a reason to comment.

For example, Baron Fig posted a picture of its 2020 Confidant Planner. In the caption, it asked followers what they’re excited for in the upcoming year–very relevant, very engaging.

7. When all else fails, recycle relevant quotes

No matter how hard you try, the harsh truth is that you’ll sometimes run out of Instagram caption ideas. When this happens, you can always turn to relevant and popular quotes that have already proven their success.

Since these quotes are already popular, it shows that people can either relate to them or find inspiration in them. Make the most of these quotes the next time you run out of ideas on how to write Instagram captions.

Instagram caption ideas for every occasion

While tips are good, the best way to learn is by example. Some of the best practices won’t always apply depending on the types of Instagram captions you want to write. So take a look at some of these Instagram caption ideas for different purposes.

1. For events

Provide details about the event such as date, time, purpose and venue. If it’s open to the public, share details about how people can join and end with a CTA inviting them to join.

  • Join us for [event] at [venue] on [date + time]. Link in bio to register.
  • We’ll be in [city] for [event] on [date]. Stop by and say hello.
  • *One Day Only* We’ll be opening pop-up stores across town this Saturday. Link in bio to get more details.

2. For contests

Start with the prize to instantly draw in your audience. Then provide details about entry rules and how to participate. These types of Instagram captions convey excitement while providing as much detail as possible.

  • This [prize] could be yours! Participate in our [contest]. To enter: [contest details]
  • Get a chance to win [prize]. All you need to do is participate in our [contest]. More details in bio.
  • Ever wanted to try some of our [product]? Well, here’s your chance. Enter our [contest] and you could win [prize].

3. For promoting a sale

These types of Instagram captions should get people to take immediate action. Create a sense of urgency and get people excited about the sale. Provide details about the sale amount, how people can get it and when it’s ending, so people know not to miss out on this great offer. Don’t forget to add relevant emojis to convey your excitement.

  • 10% off on EVERYTHING only for today! Link in bio to shop. Hurry before sale ends.
  • Save big on [sale category] this [holiday season/event]. Use code: [code] to get 20% off. Happy shopping!
  • We know how much you love the holidays, so we’ve decided to give you a little treat. Here’s 15% off on us. Use code: [code]. Valid till: [deadline].

4. For a product launch

For product launch Instagram captions, you need a bit of mystery along with some excitement. Your captions should be able to get people to anticipate your new product. Consider revealing some exciting details and features that they would be interested in.

  • Something exciting is coming your way. Watch this space. (Keep it short and mysterious when you can’t give out a lot of details about the launch yet.)
  • We’ve got something brewing… Hint: Think [new feature]. Get ready for an exciting announcement in the coming days.
  • You asked; we listened. We’re excited to announce the upcoming [product], which has [feature + benefit]! Coming to you this [month of launch].

5. For employee appreciation

Use your Instagram captions to give your employees the spotlight. Tell their story by explaining where they work, how they work, what they’re working on and what events they recently participated in. This is the perfect way to humanize your brand while showing your appreciation for your employees.

  • This weekend, the [company] team took part in a marathon to raise money for [cause]. Here are some photos of our fun and fulfilling day.
  • Here at [company], we value [positive characteristics]. [Employee name] has been with us for [duration] and perfectly exudes those qualities. Thank you, [employee name] for being part of the [company] team!
  • It takes a lot of skill, time and patience to produce even just a single piece of our [product]. We’d like to take this moment to show our appreciation for the people who make it all happen. Our production team works tirelessly to give you the quality you deserve and expect in our [product].

6. For celebrating a milestone

Even with these types of Instagram captions, excitement is what you should go for. You want people to celebrate the milestone with you, so find a way to involve them. Celebrating a milestone is a little sweeter when there’s a sale too.

  • We did it! [Details of the achievement]
  • [Company] turns [age]! Thank you for joining us on our journey.
  • We put our blood, sweat and tears into it and we finally made it happen! [Details of the milestone]

Start engaging with captivating Instagram captions

From a distance, Instagram captions may not seem very challenging. You may think you can easily come up with one on the spot or you can just use a single emoji. While this is true for your personal Instagram account, it won’t be wise to follow the same practice if you’re managing a business account.

Since you need to post consistently and follow a strict posting schedule, you should always plan ahead of time, which you can do with Sprout’s Instagram management tools. These tips will give you an idea of how to write Instagram captions that resonate with your target audience and engage them. Make the most of them to optimize your Instagram content strategy.