At its creation, Instagram was unique because you couldn't just post text - like Facebook and Twitter allowed. Instagram has always been a media first, text second platform. But in today's oversaturated online space, media-only posts will no longer fly as an effective social strategy. Captions are beyond essential. They give context to your photo or video, and most of all, they give your followers a story to latch on to and hopefully, buy into.
"People buy stories, not products." - Amandina Altomare, CEO & Founder of Media a La Carte
The Rise of the Microblog
One of the biggest trends of 2021 on Instagram has been long form captions that seem more like mini-blog posts. This trend has been coined "microblogging" by the social media community. These long form captions tend to pull readers in, providing them with a story, inspiration, or education. But how long are these captions really getting? According to a study done by Fohr, caption lengths have more than doubled since 2016.
Media A La Carte's average caption length for our last 10 posts clocks in at 118 words. The caption lengths in this set of 10 posts ranged from only 11 words to over 200 words. Our trick to making long form caption writing more achievable? Focus on quality long form captions on your static feed posts. Because Instagram is no longer prioritizing photo only posts in the algorithm, you need to give these posts a little boost by giving the caption some extra love. Be sure to actually add value to your caption, not just fill it with fluff to hit a certain word count. And always add a strong CTA. And if we're being honest, your caption isn't what makes or breaks your Instagram Reels, so if you're feeling overwhelmed with the amount of writing you need to get done, start by sacrificing the length of your Reels captions. The reel below gained 126K views, and its caption is only 14 words long.
Why Should You Write Longer Captions?
Why? Because longer captions are tied to better engagement rates. If someone is captivated by the story you are sharing, they're more likely to chime in in the comments or share your post to their story - both important actions for boosting your post with the Instagram algorithm. According to Fohr, since 2016 engagement rates have steadily been rising in tandem with the length of captions. The data is clear: if you want better engagement, you have to put a new focus on quality copywriting that gives your followers real value. According to the chart below, when captions broke 1,000 characters (which is typically about 140 - 250 words) the engagement rate hit 5.97%. For context, Kim Kardashian's engagement rate is 2.24%.
How Many Words Should Be in Your Instagram Posts?
Are we suggesting that every single Instagram caption you write should be 1,000+ characters. Absolutely not. That amount of writing would be unrealistic, and honestly, your followers would get burnt out by having to read that much every single time you post. So what's the beginning word count goal you should be trying to hit in your captions? According to Fohr's research, you should start by trying to write 70 words for your long form captions. As you get comfortable writing longer captions, you can begin challenging yourself to get that word count to grow while still providing value in your caption.
Value is essential to the long form caption game. We cannot stress this enough. Do not just write nonsense to make your captions longer. This is not a high school essay you're adding fluff to so you can finish the assignment. This is your business.
The caption below from Media a La Carte clocks in at 196 words, and what does it do? It shares our story. The best long form captions pull back the curtain to show the brand's humanity. This forms trust between the followers and the brand.
Batch Your Content and Schedule it Ahead of Time
Writing longer captions is going to take more time. There's really no way around it. And if you try to think about a valuable caption on the fly when you're ready to post on Instagram, it's probably not going to go well. Our advice? Schedule out your content in advance and batch all your long form captions at once. When you get in the flow of writing, you'll be able to slowly but surely move your word counts up, and then when it's time to post, you won't have to worry about writing something brilliant in the moment. We suggest using scheduler apps like Later or Planoly, and Facebook's Business Suite is a good option if you're looking for a free solution.
Now go pour yourself a cup of coffee, pull out your laptop, and get to writing longer captions that will entrance your audience and make your engagement rates soar!