Have you ever found the perfect photo to share on social media, but as your fingers hover over the keyboard to write a Pulitzer-prize worthy Instagram caption, your mind goes blank? Yep, it even happens to us too.
You’ve got a case of Instagram caption-block. Aka the crippling stall of ideas and creativity that usually kicks in when you’re short on time and in a rush to send your post into the Instagram wild.
What if we told you we have a guaranteed cure that will have your posts live and on their merry way to engagement and conversion-heaven?
Enter our eight ways to cure your Instagram caption-block that will banish the words “what should I write” forever.
Cure 1: Use a quote
Lost for words in your Instagram captions? Why not use someone else’s?
We’re not talking about plagiarism but searching for inspiration from someone that’s appeared on television, radio, a movie screen or newspaper and let their words do the talking for you.
Make sure you know your audience (to find them, check out our how to find your target audience resource) before you start quoting anyone and everyone from the bright lights of Hollywood.
Speaking to a younger crowd? Chances are you’ll be looking for inspiration from someone with a blue certified star on their Instagram account rather than a John Wayne film.
Either way, we strongly suggest the quote comes from a stand-up citizen who hasn’t been on the wrong side of the law.
Quoting Rule 101: don’t forget to reference who said it.
Cure 2: Channel your inner comedian
We’re all funny in our own way, right?
Although psychologists, neuroscientists and philosophers are still trying to understand how humour differs for everyone, what we call ROFL-factor remains one of the most effective ways to gain cut through on social media.
Why? Because just like the adage “laughter is the best medicine” – humour allows your audience to become distracted from their day-to-day stress.
If your target audience is Millennials, Gen Y or Gen Z, you’ll want to put humour on the top of your caption-cure list. These generations are reportedly the most open and responsive to humour.
Strategically speaking it makes sense too – studies show the odds of your post being shared to friends or family is higher when you make them laugh.
If you’re lost for places to start, Google puns related to your images. You’ll be surprised how quickly the creative juices start flowing with a bit of pic-spiration.
Cure 3: If you can’t make an original joke, adapt one
Channel your inner five-year-old and remember the jokes you shared in the schoolyard, like why did the chicken cross the road? Knock knock, who’s there?
You don’t need to be the funniest person in the room to make people laugh with your Instagram captions. Simply use a bit of creative licence to adapt a joke to fit into the context of the image.
To give you an idea, we had fun horsing around with this picture for @experiencewesterndowns above.
Cure 4. Use popular sayings or rhymes
Remember the old colour rhymes or proverbs your teachers drilled into you growing up? Blue and green should never be seen, or red sky at night, a shepherd’s delight?
Clever wordplay is as simple as interchanging the words to suit the image.
Take this post above we made for @brisbaneairport where shepherd was replaced with passenger for an instant Instagram caption cure. It’s not rocket science, but is guaranteed to get you out of your caption rut and onto other things in your day.
Cure 5. Let national holidays do the heavy lifting
School holidays, Easter, Christmas, or even the fact that it’s the weekend, is one of the oldest tricks in the caption-creating book.
Diarise all the national holidays or international dates in your calendar – from Labour day to Talk like a Pirate Day (or, check out our calendar of international dates to save yourself the elbow grease) and use them as Instagram caption thought-starters.
Once you have the days diarised, make some notes on how you can best utilise these posts. Such as:
- A Willy Wonka quote for International Chocolate Day
- Emojis for International Beer, Champagne, Donut or Pizza Day
- Countdown to Christmas, Easter or School Holidays
- Research Pirate-speak for Talk like a Pirate Day
Just don’t forget to also diarise when you’ll need to take photos of the content too. It’s too late to get the team together in Santa hats on Christmas day.
Check out how we used a long weekend to promote this photo above for @brisbaneairport.
Cure 6: If words fail, use emojis
If engagement is the flame 🔥, consider emojis the moth 🦋.
Don’t think we’re promoting a lazy approach to solving your Instagram caption-itis – emojis can increase engagement.
Social Media Today reported posts with zero emojis received lower engagement than those with between one to three, and over 10 per posts receiving the highest.
Although emojis are well equipped to take centre stage for a post, it never hurts to add a few words as the backup dancers if you can – like the example above for @experiencewesterndowns.
Looking for engagement? Why not tempt your audience to get creative with an answer to a question, answering only using emojis too?
Cure 7: Tell people why you shared the post
Sometimes you need to let your guard down and get personal to cure your Instagram caption-block.
Is there a backstory to your post? If so, share it.
Harvard Business Review highlights sharing your story as a powerful way for your followers to feel more connected to your brand.
So, this is your permission to get personal about why you selected that photo and what it means to you.
Cure 8: Share a tip
Did you know Deloitte listed the need for continued learning as one of the top-rated trends for 2019?
Why not speak to the 80% of social media users who are looking for ways to continue learning by sharing a tip in your caption.
Work in the marketing industry like us – why not share your knowledge (for free), such as when it’s best to post on social media or other industry best practice?
You’ll find this knowledge exchange works both ways. Not only will your customer likely learn something new, but when you share value to customers, you’re proving yourself as a subject matter expert.
If you want your followers double-tapping on the post, make sure what you share is relevant to your audience.
Work in tourism and want more?
- Read our Instagram Tips for Tourism Businesses
- Download our 52-week Content Planner, which has content prompts and caption cures to power your social media channels for an entire year
Let us know your best Instagram caption hacks below!
By Rochelle Vaisanen
When not climbing mountains on two wheels, Rochelle can be found on the hunt for the best almond croissant around town. A lover of good coffee, food and wine, and with a passion for travel, Rochelle is always on the lookout for new adventures locally and abroad.