Are you guilty of these Instagram caption mistakes?
In spite of the popular belief that Instagram is purely a visual platform for marketers, influencers and consumers, the caption you create for a post can have a tremendous impact on your engagement rates. Here are some of the most common captioning mistakes you might have made in the past with your brand’s Instagram posts and ads — along with some helpful solutions to improve engagement in the future:
No Caption at All
Some brands rely heavily on paid Instagram campaigns and follower growth from website traffic, but these alone are not sufficient to get your posts in front of enough viewers. Even if you’re in a hurry to churn out posts on a near-daily basis, it’s always preferable to include a caption rather than throwing an image on your brand’s page and hoping enough followers see and like it.
You may have noticed other brands doing this before: #everything #seems #to #be #hashtagged #even #if #it #doesn’t #need #a #hashtag #!!!
Rather than hurting your audience’s eyes with a caption drowning in hashtags, be sure to start out your caption with an engaging message written in plain English (then follow up with a couple well-chosen hashtags so you can at least increase your post’s viewership rates).
Even the highest quality, relevant images can’t make up for a terrible caption in an Instagram ad campaign. If your photo or video is spectacular, then why settle for a dull, everyday caption (or blatantly salesy message) when you can take some extra time to come up with a witty or engaging caption to accompany your post?
Did you know that Instagram users and business profiles tend to use longer captions – even when studies show that shorter captions are more effective when it comes to boosting engagement rates? A 2018 study from Quintly found that posts with 1-50 characters (out of the 2,000 character limit) receive the highest engagement rates, though a majority of posts use at least 300 characters in their captions. For best results, try incorporating a variety of lengths in your captions to figure out which length is best for your target audience.
3 useful strategies for getting to know your target audience better
Most brands conduct thorough target audience research when they’re first starting out, but not as many brands regularly check in with their target audience to see if consumer preferences and motivations have changed.
Even if you’re a smaller company with fewer resources to dedicate to routine audience research, there are still plenty of easy ways to gain valuable feedback from your audience, which can then be used to fine-tune your marketing strategy, messaging and general interactions with potential followers and paying customers alike. Here are a few things you could implement within 24 hours:
Brief Feedback Surveys
Survey programs like Google Forms and Survey Monkey are incredibly useful for marketers who want to customize their own questions and acquire deeper insights about their target audience. Survey Monkey has free and paid versions available, but you shouldn’t need more than the basic free version to get the information you need from followers.
When creating a survey, keep it as short as possible. Include only the most essential questions, and use mostly multiple choice questions to minimize survey-taking fatigue among audience members who don’t want to type lengthy responses.
To encourage people to take your survey, post links to it on your social media pages and set a deadline so people feel a sense of urgency to complete it now rather than later. If you’re not getting the number of responses you’d like to see, consider giving away a gift card to one lucky survey participant as a fun incentive to rake in more responses.
Social Media Polls
You can create polls on Facebook, Instagram (through the Stories feature) and Twitter. These polls can be treasure troves of information for brands because intrigued, social-savvy and engaged followers will likely participate. Even if you get some negative responses from brand detractors, this information will help you discover problem areas you might not have known about otherwise.
One downside to these polls is that you can only ask one question at a time. You may get dozens of responses for one poll and only a handful of responses for another poll. This disparity can lead to skewed results, so be mindful of potential limitations of this audience research strategy.
Fill-in-the-Blank Social Media Contests
A final way to engage your audience members and learn more about them is giving them opportunities to be creative and express their thoughts and opinions. For instance, you could run a seasonal contest on Instagram with a post that encourages followers to finish the sentence, “My favorite part about the winter holidays is________.”
This type of contest offers the additional benefit of raking in user-generated content and word-of-mouth awareness for your brand. Offer a prize for followers who respond to your sentence with their own pictures and your branded hashtag in the caption.
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