Marketing & Advertising

Writing Instagram Captions to Drive Sales

Instagram is a hotspot for building an audience and selling products. Each image caption allows up to 2,200 characters, or roughly 300 words, to address your products and brand.

In this article, I’ll discuss posts and captions that drive sales on Instagram.

Instagram truncates your captions to not clog users’ feeds. This means those first two (mobile) to three (desktop) lines are vital for grabbing attention. The image may entice Instagrammers to stop scrolling, but the caption gets them to read more.

Consider these examples:

  • Pique their interest: “Healthy chocolate chip cookies do exist.”
  • Pick a fight: “Unpopular opinion: we love 🍍 on our 🍕.”
  • Blog post teaser: “He has enough ties. Link in bio for our 7 favorite out-of-the-box Father’s Day gifts.”
  • Educate: “May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Our CEO shares an inspiring story with us below.”
  • Emphasize the topic in all caps: “LEARN HOW TO MAKE MONEY ONLINE ⬇️.”

Break Up Text

Use the maximum allowed characters in the caption. But you’ll scare readers away with a wall of text. A good rule is to insert a vertical space every two to three lines to separate paragraphs manually. To do this, try deleting extra spaces after a sentence, then hit “Enter” or “Return.” Alternatively, the Inst-space app will format for you.

Emojis can also break up text when used as bullet points. They also add visual appeal.

Emojis can break up text when used as bullet points. They also add visual appeal.

Emojis can break up text when used as bullet points. They also add visual appeal.

User-generated Content

Images and captions do not have to be original to your company. Content from customers using your products is compelling. It builds trust with your audience, who can see your items in a real-life setting.

In the example below, apparel retailer Reformation spotlights a customer wearing a best-selling dress.

Content from customers using your products is compelling, such as this example from apparel retailer Reformation of a customer wearing a best-selling dress.

Content from customers using your products is compelling, such as this example from apparel retailer Reformation of a customer wearing a best-selling dress.

When you repost someone’s photo, tag her in the caption (and photo) for the credit. Tagging also sparks a sense of community.

And be sure to describe clearly which product in the photo is yours.

It's clear from the caption that the t-shirt in this image is from Goop, a clothing retailer.

It’s clear from the caption that the t-shirt in this image is from Goop, a clothing retailer.

Stories

A caption of about 300 words can tell a pretty good story. And stories are usually more memorable than facts and specifications.

On social media platforms, stories connect your brand and audience. Stories help shoppers find solutions to their problems and envision becoming customers.

The example below is from Yoga Teachers College, which sells yoga products and courses. The caption includes a graduate’s testimonial about what led her to yoga and the company.

Stories, such as this testimonial from a graduate of Yoga Teachers College, are more memorable than facts and specifications.

Stories, such as this testimonial from a graduate of Yoga Teachers College, are more memorable than facts and specifications.

Educate

Presumably the goal of ecommerce merchants on Instagram is to sell products. Emphasizing best-sellers, restocks, and new items can help.

To do this:

  • Highlight the problem your product solves.
  • Talk about a lesser-known use for an item.
  • Tell a story about how your product was manufactured.

If you don’t have an eye-catching photo, use the copy as a graphic!

Dollar Shave Club includes how-to text and quick tips in its images. It’s an excellent way to entice folks to stop scrolling, while also educating them on your products.

The key is to be brief and direct. Start bullets, lists, and directions with action words — one thought at a time.

Dollar Shave Club includes text, such as how-tos and tips, in Instagram images — enticing shoppers to stop scrolling and read.

Dollar Shave Club includes text, such as how-tos and tips, in Instagram images, enticing shoppers to stop scrolling and read.

Call-to-action

A call-to-action tells your followers what to do next. Include one in every caption.

Note the example from Goop, above. The call-to-action states, “…shop our May #GLabel Core Collection.” Calls-to-action could ask followers to click the link in your bio to read a new blog post, or leave a comment, or check out your new items.

A mix of engagement (e.g., “leave a comment”), education (e.g. “read our blog post”), and sales (“shop”) is a safe way to sell products without going overboard.

Sending followers to your link in the bio section is critical because Instagram doesn’t allow links in a caption. Moreover, social media users won’t usually copy and paste a dead link, even if it’s shortened. Thus don’t even attempt inserting a link in the caption.

Instead, sync the link in your bio with your captions to help your followers.

Calls-to-action could include:

  • “Tag a friend who would love this.”
  • “Let us know your thoughts below.”
  • “Read the full story [link in bio].”
  • “Tell us your favorite!”
  • “Head to the link in bio to sign up.”

Updated Bio

A clear bio is similar to a website headline: It tells the reader what you’re offering and its unique benefit. Here’s an excellent example:

Straws are fun! But they don’t have to hurt the planet. Our reusable glass straws are handmade in the USA from the highest quality glass.

Be clear and adventurous in the bio section. Give potential customers a reason to hit that follow button.

Kaleena Stroud

Kaleena Stroud

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