How to Format Instagram Captions for Engagement

June 16, 2022

Have you ever written an incredible Instagram caption for your business only for it to fail harder than Jess Day as a shot girl? Because I have and I need you to know something important. It doesn’t matter how value-packed or witty your caption is. If it’s not formatted properly, no one will read past […]


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Have you ever written an incredible Instagram caption for your business only for it to fail harder than Jess Day as a shot girl? Because I have and I need you to know something important. It doesn’t matter how value-packed or witty your caption is. If it’s not formatted properly, no one will read past the first line. So lady, let’s chat about how to format Instagram captions that will actually convert!

Set a Goal for Your Instagram Post

For your personal account, one-liners are cute and fun. For your business page, they’re the fastest way to be forgotten in a competitive marketing environment. Before you create any piece of content for your business, ask yourself “why am I writing this?” Then, get really clear on three things:

  • What do you want this post to do for the reader?
  • What do you want it to accomplish for your business?
  • What action do they need to take to accomplish that?

Once you have these down, you can start writing with intention. Don’t know how to write Instagram captions for your business? Stay with me.

Caption Hooks

Anyone else immediately envision Captain Hook as an influencer after reading that heading? Insert “Lost Boy” by Ruth B here. In this instance, we’re not talking about a metal hand substitute. I’m referring to the first line of your Instagram caption (also known as your intro).

If poorly written, people will pass up your post and at best, like your photo. On the flip side, if you’re able to grab their attention, you’ll give the algorithm their first dopamine hit when the reader clicks “more” to see the rest of your post. So, how do we grab attention quickly?

  • Use a bold, polarizing statement.
  • Ask a question that makes them think.
  • Tease them with something like “I couldn’t believe what I just witnessed” that makes them want to know more.

The intro to your post sets the tone not only for the Instagram algorithm, but also your reader. Don’t waste it. If done correctly, they’ll stick around to receive your value and see you as a trusted authority in your niche.

Break Up the Body

^ That unintentionally sounds like the title of a True Crime episode, but we’re talking the body of your caption (aka the entire point of your post). Did you know Microsoft did a study recently that showed our attention span has decreased by 25% in just the past few years? Let’s face it… with the constant sensory input from social media and technology in general, it is hard to keep someone engaged anymore.

In fact, you have about 8 seconds, so unless you’re working with a speed reader, your captions either need to be short or highly engaging. Knowing how to format Instagram captions comes in really handy if you’re on team long-winded like me. Here are a few ways to share your value-packed posts while still getting followers to stick around…

Use Instagram Caption Formatting to Your Advantage

I love using the free tool, IG Caption Line Break (shown below), to help me create space between chunks of text in my captions. Having breaks between different points is easier to read and subconsciously looks a lot less intimidating than one giant clump of text.

Think about it… If you had opened this page and there were no headings, but instead one large paragraph, would you have stuck around? (Don’t worry, I’m not offended. I wouldn’t have either.) Instead, the multiple paragraphs and sections makes this blog post much more approachable.

And just like you’re likely scanning the headings of this post to digest it more quickly, your followers do the same with your captions. In addition to spaces between paragraphs, consider breaking up your long captions with emojis or text variances (such as bold text or all caps headings).

Screenshot of IG LineBreak Caption Generator

Move Your Caption to the Image

Moving your caption to a carousel post format is super helpful if you have a lot to say. Not only does this feel more approachable as they swipe through small points one by one, it allows the reader to interact, keeping their attention. It also allows you to easily tie photos or gifs to different parts of your caption to increase storytelling impact and personality (which helps with connection).

Another option is to put your text in a reel and cycle it through at a pace that’s readable, but quick. It’ll encourage people to hold the screen to pause so they can get all the info. (This interaction and time spent on your reel also tells the algorithm your content is worth stopping for.)

Cut the (Bad) Fluff

Yes, there’s such thing as good fluff. Good fluff would be anything that adds personality or the feeling of “I’m right there with you” to your writing. It’s what makes it interesting and unique (like my terrible attempt at a True Crime joke earlier).

Bad fluff is anything that doesn’t add value to your post. When you’re done writing, take a peek back at the goals you set before you started. Then re-read your caption and ask yourself if there’s anything that can be cut without…

  • changing the meaning of the post
  • losing pizazz or personality
  • causing confusion

If so, get rid of it. Time is one of our most precious resources and we never want to make our audience feel like we’re wasting theirs.

Give a Call to Action

You did it! (Insert celebratory confetti here.) They stuck around and read the whole caption. Now what? When you look back at your goal for this post, what did you want them to do? Grab your freebie? Inquire via your link in bio? Tell you about their first pet?

Create a CTA that invites them to go further with you, but again… don’t waste their time! Don’t just ask a question to ask a question. Make it intentional and use it to learn something about your community (market research) so you can cultivate deep relationships and create more epic content for them!

Instagram Content Ideas for Business

If you’re thinking, “okay, this all sounds great, but I have no idea what to even write about…” You’re not alone. Because so many business owners in my community were struggling to create content that converts, I created IG Caption Infusion.

It has over 100 content prompts, a caption formula that goes a bit more into detail than we did here, a sample content calendar to balance your posts in a given month, and an ideal client guide that’s like really good – not to brag! You can snag it here for less than a pair of Lululemon leggings.

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