How to write Instagram captions to boost engagement

Writing Instagram captions can be a bit of a challenge. Many of our clients often get stuck in the brainstorming phase because let’s face it, there’s only so many ways to say the same exact thing about your product, service, personality, or life in general. That said, there’s an easy way to write great Instagram captions that boost engagement, build your audience, and help you produce more content without getting stuck in ideation. Let’s break down the 7 easy steps to writing engaging Instagram captions.

7 Steps to Writing Engaging Instagram Captions

7 Steps might seem like overkill but trust me, it’s a fail-proof way to compose captions that actually make an impact on your audience. The 7 steps to writing an engaging Instagram caption are listed below.

  1. Objective
  2. Post Type
  3. Expected Outcome
  4. Relatability
  5. Action
  6. Tell
  7. Excite

We use the idiom OPERATE to remember the simple 7 step formula for writing engaging Instagram captions.


Writing Instagram captions without an objective is futile. It’s akin to posting for the sake of posting content which really adds no value to your overall marketing strategy. Instead start your caption writing process with an object in mind. Common caption objectives include:

  • Increasing engagement (e.g. comments, shares, saves)
  • Earning a follow
  • Building reputability
  • Teaching your ideal clients
  • Entertaining your community
  • Sharing promotions or sales
  • Building Trust

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to an objective. Instead, your objective should reflect a part or whole of your social strategy. For example, new Instagram accounts may need to build trust with their audience. Consequently, many of the captions created will be centered around building trust, reputability, and teaching ideal clients. In contrast, a more mature account might simply want to share promotional opportunities or spread their content by increasing engagement.

For example, Chiara Ferragni, the literal fashion #bossbabe of Instagram uses her recent Instagram post to showcase her collection. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a good ol’ fashion promo especially when you have 2.5 million followers. However, take a look at the simple flair she adds to her posts which makes it feel more organic.

Post Type

A caption is largely dependent on the accompanying post type. Therefore, consider the type of post you’re creating on Instagram. Some post types include

  • Feed Posts
  • Story Posts
  • Carousel Posts
  • Video Posts
  • IGTV Posts
  • Reels

For example, if you are creating a Carousel post creating a compelling caption that walks the user through the story is essential. In contrast, if you are creating a video caption you may want to compose a caption that entices the viewer the view the full IGTV series or click through from a feed video to your full IGTV video.

Expected Outcome

When creating Instagram captions the expected outcome should always be a primary consideration. This will direct the type of elements that should be included in your caption. For example, when @LaterMedia shares info about a blog post or mini-training session they create captions that spark the reader’s attention. The expected outcome is for the reader to visit the platform’s blog. However, the caption doesn’t simply read, “Go read our article”. In this case, the caption acts like a social excerpt. Sharing what the blog post is about and more importantly how the reader will benefit from actually leaving Instagram to consume content.


When writing Instagram captions it’s important to keep the words relatable. Remember who you’re speaking to and write like an actual person will be reading your posts. A caption is not a technical guide or a peer-reviewed paper. It’s a social share and we should never depart too far from its essence. For example, @GalapagosConservency may have cause to use fancy scientific terms, species markers, and more. However, they manage to keep their post captions informative and digestible to the general public. No matter how complex your topic may be, there’s always an approach that makes it accessible to the everyday person.


Action is different from the popular ‘call to action’ concept. The call to action is simply a the sentence that tells a reader what to do next or where to go next. However, ACTION embodies the context or “Why” a reader will move beyond a post. This doesn’t have to be complicated it simply has to make sense, provide clarity, and provide just enough incentive for someone to move in that direction. For example, @Fashionnova posted about an extended sale. The caption for that post is simple but precise and the context of the entire posts directs the user to perform an action.


The tell is similar to a call to action expect its less fluffy. If you have no idea about marketing copy you simply have to tell users to perform a specific action. You want the action to be valuable. Meaning the action should enhance a measurable KPI. For example, on a scale of value you can rank actions according to your goals. In most cases, in order of least to most valuable, you can tell people to do the following.

  • Visit your website
  • Follow you
  • Turn on notifications
  • Leave a comment
  • Tag a friend in the comments
  • Save your post
  • Like your post

We’re a little in love with @ShaneBarkers methodology which is to give value and then provide options for people to support the content.


Finally, remember to keep your captions exciting both visually and with the written word. Even the dullest topics can afford to ad some spice into their caption copy. The key here is to understand your niche, you must be linguistically literate and understand what topics are entertaining to your crowd. For example @GachaEmika speaks the language of Gacha fans.

Final Thoughts on Writing Engaging Instagram Captions

If you’re struggling to write Instagram captions that engage your audience follow the OPERATE formula above. It’s simple but precise and helps you create content that actually ads value to your brand. Stop posting for the sake of posting content and start posting content that ads value to your brand.

P.S. If we missed anything feel free to share your favorite examples or thoughts in the comments below.

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