How to Write an Effective Instagram Caption

Small Business Marketing |

Do you know how to write an effective Instagram caption?

I know, Instagram keeps on changing the rules, and it’s hard to keep up sometimes!

Here are three simple tips to keep you writing engaging and lively captions alongside your beautiful snaps on the ‘gram.

This post is aimed at bloggers, business owners, and anyone who has an audience in mind when they create and share their content.

Read on, get inspired and get writing!

Three Steps to Write an Effective Instagram Caption

1- Think about your ‘who’


Wait, who?

It’s not you, that’s for sure!

Instagram is a supremely powerful marketing tool but don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s a popularity contest, whatever the numbers might seem to tell you.

Before you share a single quote or flatlay, know your intended audience.

Oh, but it could be helpful/interesting/inspiring for so many people … I hear you. I’m not saying this to clip your wings!

But if you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.

Get specific, visualise your tribe and talk directly to them, the way you would if you met them in the toilet queue at a festival, or hot-desking at that cafe you love with the great espresso.

If you can’t tell me right now what your dream client ate for breakfast this morning, where was the last holiday destination they googled and where they’re meeting friends for drinks this weekend then we need to have a chat!

You can have a couple of dream clients in mind, but don’t make a crowd. Consistency and getting specific are really important when it comes to talking about what you do best, and the sooner you can learn that, the sooner you will be attracting those passionate and engaged followers to your grid.

2 – Think About Your Opening

How many words will they see before clicking ‘see more’ on Instagram?


Not very many.

So make them count!

If this means engineering your caption to put an eye-catching word right at the front, then do it.

I tend to choose one word which summarises the vibe I’m trying to get across in my caption and image. I might then go on to say something quite different, but you can be sure that by the end of the text, I will have made my point and it will be something to do with that very first word.

Examples of my recent, all important first-words (lol, on Instagram captions, I sound like a proud mother or something) include:






And yes, always in capitals, always ‘internet yelling’.

Sorry, not sorry!

You only have a few seconds as people scroll, so make the words count!

3- Think About Your Hashtags

Oh gosh, this could be a blog post all of its own, but let’s talk quickly about hashtags.

How Many?

First up, just because you can use 30, doesn’t mean you should.

The algorithm is always changing, but let’s think about this from a more ‘common sense’ point of view.

Try to use hashtags which are actually relevant to the image, and don’t just use them for the sake of it.

I usually use around 7-12 hashtags, and it might be a mix of descriptive (like #coffeegram, #departedoutdoors) tags which are clearly connected to what the image is, but also more ideas or content-based hashtags:

#herestothecreatives, #communityovercompetition or #alifeofintention aren’t easy to express in a photograph alone, but if they match the theme I’m discussing in the caption then I’ll use them.

How to Pick

First up – do a little research.

If you’re using lots and lots of hashtags which are super popular, this isn’t always a good thing.

#latergram (43.5million posts) #coffee (89.5million posts) and #travelblogger (21million posts) are popular tags, sure. But they are now so huge that your post will disappear very quickly into the Instagram ether.

Aim for something with less than a million uses, and mix it up with the numbers.

And as for choosing hashtags… wanna know the number one mistake people always make?

They just think about, and use, hashtags that THEY like.

Have you ever started using certain hashtags, getting a bunch of new followers and then realised that you have attracted lots of people in the exact same niche as you?

Now, this isn’t a bad thing, it’s great to connect with your competitors, create a community and support those around you!

However, it does mean that your hashtags aren’t working as hard as they could do to bring your dream customers or readers to you.

Let’s think about this differently.  

When you use hashtags to search for information or ideas, how do you use them?

If you’re anything like me, you’re searching #bringbackthewildflowers for floral inspo, perhaps #ig_prague to find out where to eat brunch on holiday, or #flatlayforever to indulge in some beautiful layouts.

You might look up #yogaeverydamnday for motivation, #plantfuellife for plant-based food ideas for that dinner party, or #kinfolklife for dreamy, creative shots.

But wait, I thought we weren’t supposed to be looking at the hashtags we love?

Correct – you need to get back into that mindset of what your dream reader or customer loves!

Think about where they hang out, what their hobbies are, who they love to follow on Instagram and what they are scrolling on the daily commute, or whilst they wait in line for that almond milk latte.

Use it to create a list of hashtags that you can use to connect with those people who don’t know that they need your awesome content or product in their life yet.

Good job, guys!

How about a little summary for those in the back?

Still got questions about hashtags, locations, filters, or anything else Insta-related? Feel free to drop me a comment, or get in touch!


And if we aren’t already connected on Insta then come hang out, you can find me at @saramcqueencreative.


Stay magical, and let me know if this has been helpful for you xxx