Visual content is all the rage, and nailing this aspect of your marketing is sure to give your brand a boost. Yet while a picture speaks a thousand words, sometime you need to add a few of your own in order to engage with your audience, and get them involved with your content.
These captions serve a range of purposes, from explaining the image itself, to offering up an insight or opinion on the image’s content, or giving details of a related product or promotion. They serve as the voice of your brand, speaking directly to your customers as they take an interest in your content.
However, it’s not always easy to stand out from the crowd, so it’s important to ensure your caption game is on point. Here are some tips on creating killer captions for your visual content, and how this can help your business go from strength to strength in 2018.
Know Your Limits
We’re talking about character counts; do you know how much space your caption will take up, and whether your chosen platform can take it? Twitter, as we know, allows for 140 characters, but when you include an image, this consumes 24 of those characters. The rest are yours to spin into some snappy, engaging copy to make your audience stand up and take notice.
Facebook is a little more lenient, with 477 characters on display before any remaining text is hidden behind a ”read more” link. However, it is often sensible to cut down your captions to half that at most, especially as if you plan to post on Instagram as well, the “read more” cut-off comes at 140 characters.
Customers scrolling through their newsfeed are far more likely to take notice of an insightful caption attached to an interesting image, than to a wall of text appending that same image, unless that text offers explicit value. So while it can take time to get used to fitting your thoughts into so few words, you’ll soon develop a feel for how long your copy can afford to be, and how best to use it to win over your potential customers.
Lead With Your Key Points
As users scroll through their social media feeds, they are unlikely to read your captions in their entirety, even when you keep them brief. As such, it is important to ensure that the words they see first are those that tell them the most about what you’re trying to convey.
NASA nails this consistently, tying together captivating imagery with trending topics, all while delivering bitesize science lessons in simple English, such as this Black Friday post on black holes.
Once you’ve won your audience’s attention, you’re free to say as much as you like, within the platform’s limits. But in those opening characters you need to be as clear and concise as possible. For example, “Look at this beautiful shot of two basking sharks swimming off the coast of Cornwall.” takes far longer to get to the point than: “Beautiful basking sharks sighted off the coast of Cornwall”.
Of course, your caption still needs to be coherent, and easy to understand. However, you can arrange your sentences to place the primary subjects first, where they will immediately catch the eye, and engage with your potential customers.
Use A Consistent Voice
Whether your brand is fun-loving, serious, or just a bit off the wall, it is vital that the same mood and personality is conveyed throughout your content. This enables your audience to build familiarity with your brand, and recognize it more readily.
Your brand’s voice should be a reflection of the values of your business, and the expectations of your customers. Once you have identified the style and tone of this voice, you can incorporate it throughout your marketing efforts, and use it to improve your understanding of customer interactions with your business.
It’s not always easy to cram all this into a social media caption, especially on a platform such as Twitter where every character counts. However, as you become more adept at crafting your content, you will be able to produce captions that engage and inspire, guiding customers to your website, and increasing the recognizability of your business.
Use Hashtags With Care
Hashtags are still part of the social media landscape, and they can often be useful for organizing your posts, and structuring marketing campaigns. They’re also a neat way to add a little extra personality to your posts, and show that your brand is up to speed with social media trends.
However, hashtags can also make posts appear cluttered, or difficult to read. As such, it is worth separating hashtags from the main body of text. Often this will mean hiding them behind the “read more” option, when using longer form posts on platforms such as Facebook. On the other hand, a study of user engagement on Instagram suggested that including at least one hashtag had been observed to increase post engagement by 12.6 percent.
The key is to choose hashtags that are highly relevant to your brand, and also easily searchable. Pay attention to trending tags, and always check out how a hashtag is being used by the platform’s community before using it yourself.
While these tips will prime you for delivering quality captions for your content, never forget that the most important ingredient is the unique voice of your brand. Everything else is just a guideline, and should not require you to compromise on the style and tone of your brand’s message.
Your customers will become familiar with the personality of your brand, and a sudden change could cause them to feel less confidence and trust in your business. Be consistent throughout your content, and always keep your audience in mind when writing your captions.
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