We have all been there… Staring at the screen. Willing for something catchy, charismatic and exactly on brand to come to mind. Trying to think of a caption can be one of the biggest roadblocks people have towards posting on social media. Whether you’re tired, out of ideas or just not a ‘natural writer,’ there are certain tools you can use to make writing them easier.
What makes a social media caption effective?
Firstly, you need to look at what actually makes a social media caption effective. Not only what makes a caption effective, but what is the reasoning behind making this post. Consider several questions: Why are you writing it? Who is your target audience? And what do you want them to get out of this post? When you start to think about these questions, you begin to clear the roadblock a little bit, clarifying the direction and topic you should be writing about.
Effective social media captions are charismatic, relatable and engaging. They prompt action from your viewers and audience. They draw them in. Captions are a way of providing more information than what is in the imagery of your post. Good social media captions are quick and catchy – just like social media, but they still convey your brand’s voice. Basically, they draw people to take the action or meaning that the poster (you) prompt them to from a post. Here are some of our top tips for writing effective social media captions!
5. Consider Your Purpose
Take it from a content writer: when you don’t know the ‘why’ behind the piece you are writing, it makes it incredibly difficult to put the metaphorical pen to paper. When you consider the purpose of your social media post, alongside the theme or message it is giving, it streamlines your train of thought, making the process far simpler. For example, imagine a close friend asked you to write their CV and cover letter. However, they did not tell you what position or which industry they were applying for a job in. That would make it incredibly hard to know what to include, how to format and what tone to use. The purpose of your post will vary based on a number of factors, including: the social media platform you are posting on, your business and the content of your post.
Very generically, for businesses there are several types of content: informational, promotional and filler. Informational posts are posts that are specific to your business. They may be about your branding or your team, about your industry, or even general information about the product groups and/or services that you provide. Promotional posts highlight specials and deals that are currently running, as well as anything relating to your specific products and/or services. Filler posts are content that is uploaded, that may or may not be branded, but basically is a place holder to ensure posts are regularly going out.
The purpose of informational posts is to educate your audience on your business and industry. To provide information specific to your brand and to highlight the unique differences your business has. In other words: selling your brand; they should help people to remember your brand. Promotional posts, however, are specifically to highlight an event or singular product/service offered. Their goal is to sell a specific item, highlighting their best features and make people want to take immediate action. Filler content serves the purpose mentioned above – to be a place holder – and the purpose behind them may just be to lighten the mood, or to increase engagement from your audience.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Use Emojis (But Not Too Many…!)
Emojis are an excellent way of catching the attention of a social media scroller. They can be used as a highly effective tool to highlight features, or even to bring clarity to the meaning and tone of a post. A recent study has actually looked at the relationship between engagement and emoji use. It varies on the social media platform used, but in general emojis have been shown to boost engagement, or the amount of interactions your post has. One study asked 1, 000 social media users directly and found that over 50% of them were more likely to engage with a post that has an emoji in it.
You know your brand voice. Emoji use may feel unnatural or unprofessional for your brand. We have all seen those posts that use so many emojis, it makes the caption pretty much unreadable. Emojis do have the ability to spark engagement and capture attention, but there is a golden rule to using them; Everything in moderation. So, use emojis where you feel they are relevant and on-brand, but don’t let them overtake the text or underlying message and purpose!
3. Make Use of Synonyms with a Thesaurus
Sometimes you know what you want to say, but it just doesn’t sound right. You just cannot think of the right word, or phrase that matches the tone of voice you want to speak in. Or perhaps the word isn’t catchy enough. This is where a thesaurus comes in handy. If you haven’t used one before, you can find heaps of them online. You simply type in the word you want to use, and it suggests a number of other synonyms – words that have the same meaning. This makes it easier to ensure you posts aren’t repetitive or bland. Think back to the purpose of your post and what you are actually trying to articulate.
There is a delicate balance between providing enough information to a user and the amount of content that user will actually read. Again, this is both brand and platform dependent. Facebook has a lengthy character limit for its posts: 63, 206 to be exact. Whereas Twitter has a notoriously short character limit of 280 and Instagram sits somewhere in between at 2, 200 characters. The purpose of the content you are posting will also drive the length of your caption, to a degree. For example, filler content, because it is aimed at engaging and entertaining your audience, generally will have a catchy, short caption that takes no time to read. Informational, however, may have a longer caption, allowing you to place more information into the caption instead of cramming it into your content imagery. Consider your target audience: how much time do they realistically have to read this content and why are they reading this content?
1. CTA, CTA, CTA!
The difference between just posting on social media and marketing yourself on social media is the presence of a ‘Call to Action’ or a ‘CTA.’ A CTA is a phrase that prompts a consumer to take actions based off of the social media post that they are viewing. Common CTAs encourage users to do things like: ‘shop now’ or to view links, call the business and make a booking. When acted upon, you are immediately closing the gap between someone scrolling on, potentially forgetting your brand and making the instantaneous decision to engage with your business. CTAs are generally not as common on filler posts but should always be present when making promotional posts and in most informational posts.
Social media captions can be tricky and time consuming to navigate. However, when you consider the purpose of your social media posts and utilise certain tools they become like second nature. Remember that social media is consistently changing and evolving. The need for fresh and new captions, while still present, is less important as users spend increasing amounts of time online and are consistently consuming new content. It is always better to post than to not post, so don’t let caption writing get in the way of your brand’s social media usage!