Writing creative, engaging captions is one of the most difficult aspects of social media marketing. Considering our unprecedented access to millions of high-quality stock images, finding the perfect visual elements for a social post is practically effortless in comparison to writing clever captions, which still requires a bit of critical thinking, skillful writing and audience awareness.
Even if writing isn’t necessarily your strength as a marketer, you can still write acceptable captions for your social media posts, as long as you avoid these engagement-ending, conversion-killing mistakes:
Spelling and Grammatical Errors
This may sound like common sense advice, but you might be surprised by how many brands slip up on the proofreading process before publishing on social media. Mistakes happen every now and again, but if you’re consistently misspelling the same words, using incorrect grammar (e.g., there vs. their vs. they’re), or using improper capitalization for certain titles, then you might be inadvertently driving followers and potential customers away with your imprecise spelling and grammar.
All Sales, No Substance
One of the most common problems with social media captions is that the brand is too focused on their message of Buy! Buy! Buy! and forgetting to consistently engage their followers. If a vast majority of your posts involve some message about buying your products/services, then it’s time for a caption makeover.
You can engage followers by asking them questions (which, in turn, gives you valuable demographic/psychographic information), running polls (a fan favorite for Instagram stories in particular), and asking them to post photos of themselves (user-generated content opportunity!). This isn’t to say you should avoid explicit sales-driven captions at all costs; instead, make sure your salesy messages are posted alongside other, more substantive captions that treat audiences like human beings instead of potential customers.
Minimal Variety in Messages
Perhaps you don’t have an issue with too many sales messages on your social profiles, yet your brand still isn’t getting the engagement you’d like to have with your target audience. What’s going on?
Read through your last 10-20 social posts and take notes on your captions. Are you mostly just asking people to like and share if they agree with the caption? Are you mostly posting statements, without ever posing questions for audience members to answer in the comment section? Are you mostly relying on evergreen captions (which are always loosely relevant) or are you incorporating recent trends and seasonal messages into your captions?
Make sure your brand is always offering insightful advice, intriguing questions, and compelling calls-to-action in your captions to prevent audience members from growing bored with your content.
Too Many Hashtags or Emojis
On the one hand, you don’t want to have a boring caption with only a general, forgettable hashtag and no emojis. On the other hand, you don’t want to drown your captions in hashtags and emojis in an attempt to appeal to audience members’ interest in diversified, clever captions.
To achieve balance and maximize engagement, strive to include one or two hashtags per Twitter post and two to five hashtags per Instagram post, along with an emoji or two. It’s important to consistently experiment with new styles (e.g., one hashtag and four emojis for a post then three hashtags and no emojis for another post) to see what types of caption content work best for your target audience.