Instagram Copywriting Guide [Bios, Captions, and Ads]

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More than 500 million people use Instagram every single day.

That’s the equivalent to Canada’s population multiplied by 12!

It’s an incredible platform to engage with customers, showcase products, show behind-the-scenes action with stories, and drive traffic.

But have you ever been stuck trying to write a caption or bio and you can’t seem to get it right?

You sit there typing out a bunch of copy, only to hit the backspace button and delete it before restarting.

Don’t worry. I got you.

I’m going to teach you how to write flawless Instagram copy that boosts engagement and sales if you keep reading.

We’ll begin with bios and captions since you’ll use those on a daily basis then I will talk about writing Instagram ads that will have you swimming in money.

Follow along 🙂

Instagram bio ideas

The biography of your Instagram account is the first impression a user will get when clicking your profile.

You can lose potential followers and engagement by not having an interesting and unique bio, so it’s key that you spend some time crafting one that stands out.

There are several different strategies you can use, such as the following.

Take advantage of hashtags

Wouldn’t it be nice to appear in more users searches naturally? Well, it’s possible.

Instagram made a change in the recent past that allows users to add hashtags in their bios.

This means that your account as a whole has a better chance of ranking within Instagram’s search results for a specific hashtag.

Talk about SEO!

Instagram hashtag in bio

You don’t want to add any hashtags, though.

You need to be strategic. You need to be smart.

That’s why I recommend you use a hashtag research tool like Keywordtool. I wrote a review on it if you’d like to read it here.

It’s a web app that allows you to research keywords, hashtags, and other terms for different platforms.

Click the Instagram tab and enter a hashtag idea to begin.

Keywordtool Instagram

The next page will display hashtag ideas along with how many posts are public for each of them.

Keyword tool Instagram results

I suggest that you find hashtags that have thousands to tens of thousands of results to maximize your chance of being found.

Ones with hundreds of thousands to millions will get you lost in the crowd.

Remember that hashtags count as characters so using them will shorten the rest of your bio. Try to find a middle ground where you can explain your brand and use a hashtag or two.

Use emojis to make a statement

Emojis are very similar to cave art back when we were cavemen.

They paint a story or emotion without any words.

That’s why they’re awesome for Instagram bios since they allow you to communicate more ideas in a single character.

Look at how Thin Slice Marketing uses hashtags to make their bio boom with life:

Emojis in bio

They use a call to action surrounded by a hand emoji that points to the reasons why users should follow them. Brilliant!

The list of resources they share on their Instagram page is also accompanied by relevant emojis.

You don’t have to use this many in your bio, but try using one or two to add personality.

Show off awards and achievements

If you got it, flaunt it.

Instagram bios are an excellent area to show off any awards or accomplishments you’ve reached in business.

These act as social proof and evidence of your work. This is especially important for anyone that offers services or products.

Quickly note any achievements that you believe followers would respect and support your brand.

How to write Instagram captions

An Instagram bio is set-and-forget. You’re done after you write it once.

However, you will be writing captions on a daily basis. That’s why it’s more important to understand how to craft them properly.

Here are some strategies for writing great Instagram captions.

Tell a story

It’s common to see a sentence or two as a caption and that’s it. When you see a huge blog post under a photo, it really stands out and adds depth.

The limit for captions is 2,200 characters or 300 words. This is plenty of space to elaborate on any photo you’re sharing.

Look how Ted did this on a post for one of their previous speaker’s:

Ted Instagram

The post is a short clip from Samy Nour Younes presentation and the caption sums up the video. They also include an inspiring quote from the speaker.

Next time you’re writing a caption, tell the story of how the image or video came about.

Start looking at the Instagram caption box as an area to write a blog post instead of a quick blurb.

Ask a question to promote conversation

Social media is all about being social.

That’s why you should ask followers a question that is relevant to the content you post.

This sturs conversations and increase engagement, which is great for Instagram SEO and building relationships.

Here’s an Instagram post with tips on boosting e-commerce growth. They end the caption asking what strategy their followers currently mainly use:

Instagram question

Tell followers to tag friends

An extremely effective strategy for making posts go viral on Instagram is by asking followers to tag friends who would like the content, too.

This creates a viral effect in which friends tag friends, who tag friends, who tag friends, and the cycle goes on.

You see this all the time with contests and giveaways where they require followers to enter by commenting and tagging a friend.

Instagram giveaway example

Look at the above photo’s caption. It’s for a skincare product giveaway which asks followers to like the post, follow them, and tag a friend.

All of these actions boost engagement. This tells Instagram that your post is important and they will be more likely to show it with other users.

Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags!

Every caption can include up to 30 hashtags. That means you can be reaching hundreds of thousands of extra people with a few seconds of work.

The key is to use a blend of low, medium, and high competition hashtags.

If you target very saturated terms, you will be pushed down the results and won’t see much of an engagement increase.

However, when you use a mix of hashtags, you will notice more followers, likes, and comments every time you post.

People have varying opinions on how to use a lot of hashtags, as well.

I personally believe that it’s fine to use all 30 within the original caption or as a separate comment afterward.

They’re available, so why not use them?

In fact, it’s been found in studies that more hashtags result in higher levels of interactions.

Here’s an example of an Instagram post in which the account uses dozens of hashtags as a separate comment:

Instagram hashtag examples

The reason why some users opt to add hashtags in a comment is that it allows the caption to be crisp and clean.

Additionally, hashtags work whether they are in the original caption or not.

Now that you understand how to write standout biographies and captions, let’s touch on Instagram ad copy next.

Consider keeping things simple

We’ve all been there.

You take a masterpiece of a photo and scratch your head forever thinking of a good caption to match it.

Well, guess what?

Some times you don’t need one!

I’m not saying leave the caption section empty, but rather write a single line or less to let the photo speak for itself.

This makes the entire post much more professional and easier to digest versus mountains of emojis and line breaks.

There are a time and place for everything, so use this strategy accordingly.

Ask questions to get followers engaging

It’s so easy to get lost in the sauce. I’m talking comments, likes, followers, analytics, you name it.

Some times we forget what social networks are all about: socializing.

That’s why the next Instagram copywriting tip I have for you is to ask questions within the caption of posts you make.

These questions should be thought-provoking and able to start conversations among other users.

People love sharing their opinions and it makes you stand out from the sea of lifeless accounts that spam content with no human element.

This also brings me to the point of engaging back. Don’t let followers look like crazy people talking to themselves. Reply to each comment with a meaningful response to show that you respect their time and energy for doing the same.

Instagram ad copywriting

The amount of active Instagram users is increasing month by month.

Instagram users over time

This means that there are more amounts of customers to reach than ever before.

It’s another reason that so many businesses invest in Instagram ads.

They are a very cost-effective way to reach a large audience and drive sales.

That’s why next I’m going to teach you how to write better Instagram ads so you can ride the wave of the app’s growth.

What does the customer really want?

If you’re writing an advertisement, it needs to focus on the product, right?

Well, sort of.

A great ad doesn’t necessarily promote the product, but rather the benefits of using it.

Every time you’re writing an ad to promote a product or service, ask yourself what the end customer is really trying to achieve by purchasing it.

Let’s say that you’re selling t-shirts, for example.

Instead of mentioning fabrics and colors in the ad, talk about how it will increase the customer’s confidence and improve any outfit.

That’s why they are really looking for.

I wrote an article I recommend you read on the difference of features versus benefits in copywriting. It will shed more light on how to use this strategy effectively.

Calls to action

Humans like being told what to do even when the next step is obvious as daylight.

Our reptile brains are incredibly lazy in this way. In fact, scientific studies have proven that our brains prefer laziness by default.

You can take advantage of this as a marketer by using calls to action.

These are statements that tell the user what action to take next.

This action usually involves getting them closer to the point of sale.

In regards to Instagram ads, you want to use calls to action to make users click the ad, leave a comment, or engage in another way.

Otherwise, you increase the odds of users seeing your ad and scrolling like they never saw it.

Check out my guide on calls to action to learn more about this copywriting technique, but some calls to action you can try right now include:

  • Buy now
  • Shop now
  • Learn more
  • Leave a comment
  • Like this post
  • Tag a friend

Irritate pain points

The purchasing process is very emotional. We often purchase products or services because of an initial problem we’re experiencing.

When you understand your customers like the back of your hand, it creates the opportunity to tug on their pain points.

This brings out emotions and reminds them of the issue they’re experiencing, further promoting them to take action to solve it.

Ask yourself what problem you solve for the customer, and tie that into your Instagram ad copy.

For example, an ad for social media marketing services could include text saying “Struggling to grow your Instagram account and don’t have the time?” since it directly appeals to many marketer’s struggles in scaling accounts.

Final thoughts on copywriting for Instagram

Instagram is a great platform for sharing content, engaging with followers, and driving sales via ads.

But you have to write excellent copy to get the results you want.

Try using emojis, hashtags, and stating achievements in the Instagram bio to make your account stand out from the crowd.

Effective strategies for writing Instagram captions include storytelling, asking relevant questions, using hashtags, and asking followers to tag friends.

These techniques will help you gain more followers and increase interaction on every post you publish.

Those that use Instagram ads can improve campaign performance by stating benefits, using calls to action, and tying in pain points of customers.

Need help writing Instagram copy or other material? Learn more about my Toronto copywriting services.

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