3 Ways To Increase Your Instagram Engagement With Better Captions

Let’s be real, some days it can feel really tough (if not impossible) to get eyeballs on your content. Between Instagram’s tricky, ever-changing algorithm and competition from other brands, it can feel like even your best posts are being buried in the newsfeed.


While some people might consider Instagram descriptions to be an afterthought, they are essential for getting people to stop in their scroll. Not sure what to draft? Not to worry because here are three different kinds of Instagram descriptions that can improve your engagement.



But First…No Matter What You Say, It Needs to be in Your Own Voice

Before we dive into the three kinds of Instagram descriptions, remember that every caption you share should be in your own voice. Creating captions like your competitors doesn’t help you stand out, it makes you blend in.

Trying to come up with your own Instagram descriptions isn’t always easy, but taking the time to craft a description that is in uniquely to your brand will help to be more authentic and build greater trust among your followers.


#1 “The Quickie” – One Word or and Emoji


My three musketeers… ???

A post shared by Marjorie Lacombe ⚡⚡ (@creativekipi) on

There’s an old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words, and that’s sometimes true even with Instagram descriptions. If you’re sharing a photo that’s doing a lot of the talking, especially if it’s impactful or meant to evoke a strong emotion, you don’t necessarily want the distraction of a long Instagram post.

While this isn’t a strategy that you necessarily want to use during a launch or sale when you need to provide more context, it is a fun way to vary your captions – and keep your followers on their toes.

Take a cue from Marjorie Lacombe (@creativekipi). She’s an expert at using simple captions, often with just emojis, to make her point. As an art director and photographer, Marjorie’s feed is chock full of her favorite pastel colors and global travels. Rather than share a long narrative about her adventures, Marjorie relies on short captions and emojis to tell her story. Since she uses emojis consistently in her captions, often having a careful eye to match the emoji colors to the photo, it has become part of her brand’s aesthetic.

If you feel like your posts have been long-winded, take some time to jot down the key goals of your brand. Ask yourself:

Are there emojis that I can use that align with my brand’s look and feel?

What are some photos I’ve shared that could have used shorter or emoji captions?

Once you’ve shared a handful of shorter captions, see how your followers respond and adjust your strategy moving forward.


#2 “The One-Two Done” – One or Two Sentence Proposition


One of the best ways to encourage greater engagement is by making your Instagram descriptions into a two-way conversation.

That’s exactly what Stitch Fix (@stitchfix) does in their posts. As a subscription-based, style service, Stitch Fix knows that their followers have a wide-variety of clothing preferences and opinions. In an effort to gather feedback from their followers, and maybe encourage some to step outside their style comfort zone, Stitch Fix regularly asks questions in their descriptions.

While they do occasionally ask yes or no questions, like in this photo, they typically ask people more open-ended questions. It’s a win-win: Followers feel like their opinions are heard, and Stitch Fix can use the opportunity to respond directly in the comments. If you feel like your Instagram descriptions have you talking to a brick wall, check out Stich Fix’s accounts to help you brainstorm some engagement-worthy questions.


#3 “The Micro-Blog”-  Long Form


When we were babies, we had great determination to lift our heads, roll over, crawl, stand and ultimately walk and run. No matter how many times we fell, staying down was not an option. We wanted to keep moving forward. We wanted to try new things. To explore. At some point, many developed a fear of trying something new, of even trying again. Staying down felt safer than facing failure. But if we were to stay in that comfort zone, we will never grow. If we don’t take that step, we won’t get to where we want to go. If we don’t fall, we won’t learn from our mistakes to improve our next try. Progress won’t be overnight, it will take time combined with some trial and error, but if you never make the decision and take the action to actually try, you will never know what you are truly capable of accomplishing. ? Black Leo from @aloyoga Hair color and extensions from the best @monacosalontampa x @hairdreamsofficial ? . . #aloyoga #tampabay #monacosalon #hairdreams #familyiseverything #outtakes

A post shared by Summer Perez (@summerperez) on

One marketing strategy that can work really well on Instagram, but is really underused, is long form, micro-blog posts. While some brands tend to shy away from these descriptions, often worried that no one will read something longer than a sentence, these kinds of descriptions can make people stop in their scroll when expertly formatted.  

One account that does this particularly well is Summer Perez (@summerperez). As a yogi and fitness expert, Summer’s account is all about helping her followers live more meaningful, meditative lives. In an effort to make this emotional connection with her followers, Summer treats every post like a microblog. Whether she’s sharing conversations she has with her kids or reflections from her morning yoga ritual, each post feels authentic and unique to Summer’s account.

This focus on raw authenticity helps Summer to build trust with her followers. Even when she shares a product or service, it never feels overly salesy. The focus is always on her brand and its goal of more mindful living. If you’re struggling to show the human side of your brand, take time to reflect on the ideas and emotions that inspire you. Once you have a firm grasp on those fundamentals, you too can write a more thoughtful post.

Wondering how I put these descriptions into action?

Some might say it’s easier said than done, but trust me, these descriptions are great engagement drivers. I often use these three kinds of descriptions in some form on both my personal and business accounts.


“The Quickie” One Word or and Emoji

It only takes a little bit of scrolling through my feed and you’ll notice that I’m always buzzing about the bee emoji. Why not? It’s perfectly aligned with my brand, and I often use it in my other marketing campaigns so my followers instantly recognize it.


? YOU * * * * #bereal #beraw #beauthentic #yourbrandstory

A post shared by INSTAGRAM TIPS with #Sue? (@suebzimmerman) on


“The One-Two Done” One Sentence, Two Sentence Proposition

If you really want to make someone stop in their scroll, use all caps. It grabs someone’s attention right before they see the question that you’re posing. It’s like the one-two punch of Instagram descriptions. Be careful, some people might interpret all caps as shouting, so use it sparingly.



“The Micro-Blog” Long form, Pulls at Heartstrings

Just because you’re sharing a long-form description, doesn’t mean it has to be serious or emotional. Sharing longer descriptions is a great way to bring content from your website right into the feed, like we did here for one of our blog posts. Creating a list makes it even more skimmable and mobile-friendly.  


– 10 INSTAGRAM STORY CONTENT IDEAS . . We heard you needed inspiration and ideas for your stories, the @sbzteam has you covered. The next time you’re trying to think of something to share in your story, consider one of the following. 1. A step by step process of how you create, make, or plan something. 2. A sneak peak of your blog content. 3. A sentimental message that hits the heart of your audience. 4. A clip of a podcast you’re listening to. 5. Highlights from an event. 6. Behind the scenes of your work space or special project. 7. A teaser leading up to something you’re launching in the future. 8. Exclusive deals you’re offering. 9. Company culture. 10. Something you’re loving right now. Remember, in any of these cases, you need to relate what you’re showing to your audience and the reason they followed you in the first place. :: #theinstagramexpert – * * * * #sbzteam #bostonbusinesswomen #wegotyoucoverd #suebzimmerman #instagramstories #instagramtips #instagramtip #instagramforbusiness #instagramspeaker #instagramcoach #creativelive #weseeyou #creativepreneur #smmw18 #tcs2018 #girlboss #ladyboss #smallbusinesstips #ig_boston #bostonigers ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @planoly #planolySent via @planoly #planoly

A post shared by INSTAGRAM MARKETING is #Sue? (@theinstagramexpert) on

Which kinds of descriptions are you planning to share?


While there are a ton of different ways to write Instagram descriptions, these three are always a good go-to. But your Instagram descriptions aren’t the only way to elevate your Instagram engagement. Be sure to download my new 2018 Instagram Strategy Guide.



This free 12-page download is designed to help you quickly pull together an Instagram strategy for your business. With this guide, you’ll learn the power of Instagram and the 7 main areas you need to focus on to get started. Every day we hear from people that they would totally pay for this…but we like to over-deliver…so it always FREE!