Are you struggling to come up with what to post on Instagram?
Does content creation feel like stabbing in the dark, trying to see what works and what is not? And often, nothing seems to work.
In short, you have not cracked the code yet.
The rest of the transcript is available below the audio.
Yes, while Instagram is very much a visual platform, having a good image alone is no longer enough to make people stop and engage with your post.
So, the best Instagram caption for 2021 is short, to the point and easy to remember. You know, like those memes that tell a good story are the ones that get stuck in our head for a long period of time.
And of course, if you are a good writer, this would work. But not everyone can write concisely. I, for one, tend to need a few more words in my caption to get a message across. But I try not to be too long-winded either. Usually, I just draft this long caption and then I will go in and clean up; just take off words that do not deliver the message.
My point is the best caption should intrigue and they create a strong emotion and desire in your followers’ mind.
So do not leave the caption to the very last minute. Plan them in advance. Know what you are going to say with each post and go and find a perfect image to go with it.
I find that most of my posts that perform the best are when I have a clear message. My caption delivers that message and then I go and find a complementary image to go with it. Use a random selfie that you took like a month ago, that goes with the message.
Because for most people, what they do is that they have a great image, perhaps they have taken a cute selfie, and then they rack their brain trying to come up with what to say in the caption.
And that is how you end up with all these lame motivational quotes that everyone is doing now.
If you follow my Instagram account, you probably have seen that in one of my recent posts I shared that when you see what others in your industry are doing things a certain way, go the other way.
Do not do what everyone else is doing. You would not stand out that way.
So, back in 2014, it was probably cool to post motivational quotes, but people have seen it for the past four to five years. I think it is about time to stop that.
When everyone starts doing the same thing, it is time to do something else. This is especially important in order to stand out in a saturated platform like Instagram.
So, are you screwed? Of course not.
So, what you are going to do is to try to make your Instagram caption engaging with a few words as possible. If you have to craft a long caption, make sure that every sentence is necessary, not your grandmother story. Keep it relevant, or you will lose someone’s attention – that is the worst. People read halfway and then they are like, argh, too long, not interested, they swipe away.
And if you lose someone’s attention for a few times in a row, meaning people give up reading your long caption, what do you think would happen? Next time, this same person would just scroll right past your post without reading, isn’t it?
Even when next time, your post is super good and you have some juicy material to share, they would absolutely miss it because it is a bit like kids – you are literally telling them not to listen to you. The past three times they read your long grandmother story caption; they have to scroll away. The fourth time they see it, they are like nah, I do not think I am going to read this right now and they just scroll past you – and that is the last thing we want.
So, an Instagram post should be simple, catchy, very tailored to your brand or to your business, and then wrap it all up in one simple context.
The next thing you want to do is to make your post more engaging and more interesting, is by posting carousel post.
In terms of reach, I find that carousel post works the best because generally, people would have to stop at your post and swipe to look at more images, meaning they are spending more time on your post, which then informs Instagram that people like this post of yours and Instagram would then go "Oh, it is a good post, let us push it out to more people." Meaning you will get more reach and impressions.
Carousel posts are very easy to set up and to swipe through. If you are torn between which image for you to use, you can post them all. So, you do not even need to choose the perfect one. I always do that when even though it is a static single image post that I planned for, I took a few images and I am like oh my God, they all look good, so I just put them all in one. Why not right?
Instagram allows you to add up to 10 photos or windows in one single post. So that is basically what a carousel post is. You could even have photos and videos in that one post.
And of course, pay attention to which image or video that you use as the first image, which would entice people to want to see the rest. Your first image is also the one that will appear on your overall page, so choose wisely. But technically, you can just include everything to tell a perfect story.
There should also be an appeal for people to want to swipe left to see the other images. So, you may want to include what they will see when they swipe left in your caption.
For example, if you are doing a food post, you can say things like: “Swipe left to take a closer look at the food.”
If you are doing an Instagram vs reality post, you can say: “Swipe left to see the reality behind the shot.”
People love this kind of Instagram post. People love to see that our life is not as perfect as it seems on Instagram. And in return, it makes people feel more connected to you because they can relate to you.
There are many ways you can use a carousel post. You can create a step-by-step process post. You probably have seen it on MomBoss Academy Instagram account.
For example, “How to find a profitable niche” on the first image.
And then the second image would say something like “Here are the questions to ask yourself.”
And then the third, the fourth and the last image would be the actual questions that you ask. Of course, do not forget and always include a call-to-action on the last image of your carousel post.
If you do not have a call-to-action, at least have your brand logo to tie everything together. It is like telling a story using a slideshow and you need to have a nice ending.
Humans are wired in such a way – when we open a story loop, we need to close it. So, do not leave your readers or followers on Instagram hanging by just ending it with the last question without any call-to-action. This is to let them know that it is the last image. So, we need to always tie it up and give it a nice ending.
Here are other examples:
You can do a before and after photo. You can zoom in on your products. Or on carousel post, you can do one image and one video on the second slide.
You can also use it to break up videos that are longer than 60 seconds. Because as you know, if your video is longer than 60 seconds, it will be uploaded to IGTV. But if you want it to remain as an Instagram video or a carousel post, you can break up your video into a few slides.
If you are still not convinced to follow this approach, you will be pleased to find out that according to a recent study, depending on your profile; the number of your followings, a carousel post exceeds in engagement by 65% when compared to single image post and by 10% when compared to a video post. And it is easier to produce than making a video. So, make a carousel post.
Next, you can also create a post that will help you create consistent branding on Instagram.
So, before your next product or service release, meaning your pre-launch, start engaging with your followers and ask for their opinion. This is a great way to grab some feedback in advance. This is invaluable because, with your customers or target customers’ feedback, you can now tweak the message, the features, and the benefits of your product.
So yes, an Instagram post that is gathering and asking opinion from your followers itself is usually a post that would get you a lot of engagements.
What you need in such a post is to be sincere. Draft the caption in words that you would use if you were asking a close friend for their opinion. And reply to comments. Thank people for giving their opinion.
People love it when you take their opinion to heart because it makes your followers feel like they are part of the decision-making process for you.
The engagement that you are looking for is your best opportunity to get real feedback and to adjust your future strategies depending on their answers.
There are two-pronged benefits to this; it is a great engagement post, and it gets you feedback from the actual target audience.
Also, during your prelaunch, you can share posts about the founder of your brand or co-founders of your brand, most likely is yourself. Share something about yourself like things you may not know about us or your why behind this product, your brand or even your colleagues or team members – who are in your team, what do they do?
Highlight them, highlight their contributions. Because people love seeing human faces behind a business brand.
If your Instagram account is not an influencer account, you are a brand, people love seeing faces, right?
For example, The Chill Mom Instagram account is about me. And I can still share a few things that I have not shared before because most of our day-to-day post is more on like what I did and it is never about snippets of my childhood or my inner world, my inner insecurity. So, I can share all that on my personal account.
If you have a business account, a brand, then share the people behind it. Who is the operation manager, who is the founder, who is the director? Share their personal story.
Also, if growing your Instagram account is high on your priority list this year, even if it is not, I am telling you, it should because more and more people are coming onto the platform.
Never mind all these other platforms like Tik Tok or Club House, Instagram is increasingly where people go to make their buying decisions. They are looking for new ideas, new products.
They are used to being sold to and they will happily spend money if they see something they like. So, if Instagram is not part of your growth strategy this year, girl, you should really evaluate your marketing strategy.
Anyway, I digress, I just wanted to tell you that I am running an Instagram Growth & Monetisation Bootcamp in less than two weeks’ time! And you should absolutely sign up.
I will have so much more tips and strategies that will help you grow your Instagram account, attract real followers who are interested in your brand and how you could monetise that following for years and years to come.
For more information on what I will cover in the 5-day bootcamp, go to https://www.michellehon.com/iggrowth.
Back to what kind of post should you be posting on Instagram?
People are sick of the perfect Instagram post that suggest the perfect life. So, keep it real and share the good and the bad in your life.
Your brand, your triumphs as well as the challenges you are facing.
Show them that not everything in your life or in your work life is that rosy.
Now, I want you to take advantage of the power of Instagram videos and IGTV.
Because posting on every modality that Instagram provides, gives an integrated experience for your audience - Instagram story for snippets behind the scenes; funny snapshots, random thoughts.
IGTV gives more of that insight into what you actually do. That is where you share your expertise. Every time you post, it is an opportunity for your audience to resonate with you.
You can even repurpose some of that information that you shared on IGTV into a carousel post, a static post or highlight videos.
I do that often with my podcast interviews or my podcast episodes like this. If I have a 20-minute podcast episode, I trim it down into a quick 60-second highlight video; quick snapshot that people can takeaway. So, that is something that you can do.
One thing though, is that when you create a video for Instagram, do not forget that the first few seconds is what counts the most. They will make the audience stay or swipe away. So, make sure these few seconds are really interesting and attention-grabbing.
So, what should your Instagram video be about? Your Instagram video should answer questions that your followers might have. It can also provide an entertaining value to your viewers.
So, can you be funny? Are you a funny person? If not, make it educational. In bite-sized educational way, okay? Not long boring documentary way.
And within your video, you can ask questions to make it more engaging. You can say: “Comment down below on what you want.”
Those kids YouTube video that our kids watch all the time, they are really good at that. They are always telling people to like comment down below, leave what you like to see and all that. We should be doing more of those as well, just to make it more engaging.
Depending on the subject, there can also be a call-to-action at the end of your video or maybe, at the mid-point of your video.
What would you like your audience to do after they have watched the video? Think about that when you plan your video direction, not when you are in the midst of filming it. Plan that in advance – what is the call-to-action and then plan how the video would be like.
Next, this is a fun one. Are you using emojis on your Instagram post? Yup, I am talking about those cute faces emojis that you can sprinkle throughout your caption.
Emojis humanise text and it makes the readers read better because it conveys emotion, your mood, and the message that you want to communicate. Our human brains are primed to see faces to sort of like visualise the world and it just connects to people.
So, it is very natural to connect images and, in this case, emojis with the state of mind that you want to emphasise.
As you know, I am always on a quest to find out how to create the best Instagram post. I have been doing it for 6 years now, so I know what I do.
I found out that in one comprehensive content and engagement study, which looks at how other brands use emojis and how Instagram performance is affected by it, it says that on average, 23 is the special number you should be aiming for when it comes to emojis. That means, in your post, you should have between 1 to 23 emojis in your caption.
Well, I do not know about it, but I definitely cannot fit 23 emojis in my post. I try but I cannot.
Just try to sprinkle emojis in your post, okay? Because apparently if you have between 1 to 23 emojis in one post, your engagement rate could go up to 4.25%.
If you add emojis to your carousel post, your engagement goes up from 2% to 3.06%. And adding emojis in your video post (you can add emojis in your video too), it increases your brand engagement from 1% to 3%.
If you are wondering what are the most popular emojis that other content creators are using, here is the answer.
Number one is the heart eyes, followed by the sparkles, the heart and the last one is the camera with the flash.
So, do not shy away from using them and use as many as possible. You got nothing to lose, right?
I try to do it, anyway. It is fun. I actually use it in some of my email marketing campaigns as well. It really just makes it more friendly.
If you are thinking: “My brand is all about sophistication, luxury brand.” Well, not necessary.
Even if you are a luxury brand, you can still be engaging with your target audience who are now very, very used to seeing emojis. So, do you want to be high up there and disconnect with your audience or you want to be friendly and relatable? I
think that is up to you. Only you can answer that.
Finally, do not neglect your insights. Monitor, analyse and draw conclusions and then rethink and reshape your marketing strategy, your Instagram strategy. You can now easily compare your posts using the insights that are available on your Instagram app.
Compare your posts and it tells you which of your post performs better. You can also sort your posts by most commented, most reach and impressions.
In my upcoming Instagram Growth & Monetisation Bootcamp, we deep dive into reading these insights and analytics to find out how we can create posts that our followers want to see. And with the proven data, we can easily recreate it again and again.
There are many rules and steps that you can follow when it comes to Instagram. But most importantly, is to stay honest and true to your values when you create the type of content that your brand needs. Whether you are a personal brand or a business brand, it makes your brand message heard in this ocean of excellent Instagram post.
I see that many people are stepping up to create a great Instagram post.
If you do not step up now, your content sinks. The further it sinks; the fewer people will see your future posts on Instagram. So, step up!
To understand what do you need to post in 2021, join my bootcamp. Sign up at https://www.michellehon.com/iggrowth. It's so much fun when you see your effort pays off!