Learn The Engaging, Long-form Caption Formula Method and Win!

The Engaging, Long-form Caption Formula

Whether you’re writing on behalf of a brand or for yourself, finding your voice online can be hard. With so many marketers and professional Instagrammers pushing for their version of authenticity, it’s even more difficult to develop a rhythm for engaging captions. Short, witty, and to-the-point captions are often the way for businesses to go, but it’s no secret that the long-form caption is a winner.

Want to master engaging captions? Follow our simple formula for success…


Step One: Find Your Voice

Begin by establishing who you are and what you represent. Your brand is likely already working off of a set of established guidelines. Think about how your brand’s voice on social media can convey its values, point of view, and personality. Write down a few key words to describe how you’d like your brand to be conveyed. Your images and writing should represent these words.

Step Two: Develop Your Writing Style

As mentioned above, honesty rules on social-- especially on Instagram. Your recommended writing style should be conversational and talk directly with your customers. People are more likely to engage when they feel like they know you and are speaking directly with another person (not a robot). Decide for yourself if adult-language, humor, politics, and social issues are appropriate for your brand to use or talk about online. And finally, decide what “long-form” means for you. Three sentences? All 2,200 characters? How much is too much, and what is just enough? There’s no right answer for this; as long as your audience is engaging, your caption length is OK.

Step Three: Talk Directly to Your Audience

First thing’s first, get specific right from the beginning of your caption. Your goal is for your target market to read your caption and immediately relate to the topic you’ve addressed. You need to put yourself in their shoes and their current headspace. Identify and engage with them by using words like “you” and “your.”  An easy way to do this is by asking a question that relates to your blog post, product, service, or wherever you want to send them after reading your post. Begin with phrases like:

  • Do you struggle with…

  • Are you finding it difficult to…

  • Are you currently trying to…

  • Do you ever feel like…

  • Have you ever wondered…

For example, someone in the wedding industry might begin with:

“Brides-to-be: are you struggling to make your wedding plans work on a budget? We’ve just blogged an in-depth budget breakdown including a helpful spreadsheet to track your spending. Our number one cost-saving tip could save you hundreds!”

This immediately gets interested customers wondering what number one could possibly be. This formula can go for any topic in any industry with any call to action.

Step Four: Loop Your Caption Back to Your Image

Before you post anything, you should be sure to link between the image you’re posting and the story you are telling in your caption. A disconnect between the two can create a disconnect with your audience. To take this further, create language that directs your audience from your photo to its caption and back to the photo. In other words, the audience sees the picture, reads the caption and learns something totally new that makes them take another look at the photo!

Step Five: Deliver on Your Promise

The most important part of a long-form caption is commanding your audience’s attention, but the hardest part is keeping it. Instagram will hide any parts of your caption beyond the first three lines, so make sure you draw people in with your first sentence and entice them to click for more. Once they commit to the time of clicking on your caption, make sure to deliver the quality of content you’ve promised them. There’s nothing worse than getting all the way to the end of a post and feeling like you’ve wasted your time by reading it.

Step Six: Repeat but Renew

Once you’ve mastered this formula, it can be easy to repeat the same pattern of captions over and over again with new subject matter. In order to keep your audience’s attention, make sure to switch up your tone, topics, images, and length to keep customers engaged. You don’t want them to expect the same sob story and witty joke from you each week, or for half-honesty in your captions. Be real, be open, and be you.

Best of luck!

Looking for more? I talk through each step more in-depth and offer specific examples in The Digital Brand Envy Podcast. Connect with me on Instagram at @MicheleCaruana or join us directly in Digital Brand Envy.