This year Instagram captions are taking center stage on the platform.
You might have spotted influencers like Jenna Kutcher and Elise Darma sharing micro-blog style captions on their posts to give greater insight into their world or to share their knowledge.
Even brands like Everlane, Patagonia, and Ban.do are sharing their behind-the-scenes and company values in lengthy Instagram captions.
But just how much are Instagram captions growing? And what’s the optimal Instagram caption length for engagement in 2020?
We answer these questions and more in our guide to the optimal Instagram caption length for 2020:
Why Instagram Captions Matter
Photos and videos have always come first on Instagram but, oftentimes, it’s the caption that makes or breaks a post.
That’s because the “story” you tell on Instagram is just as important as the images and videos you share – it provides context, adds personality, and can even inspire your followers to take action.
Captions are a powerful tool that can be used to encourage likes, comments, and even visits to your website. And if your post gets enough engagement, it might even end up on the Explore page!
What’s more, captions are a huge opportunity to build a stronger relationship with your audience.
And while celebrities like Kylie Jenner can get away with a single moon emoji as a caption, for brands and influencers, lengthy captions that champion story-telling and authenticity are driving great results:
View this post on Instagram
Man, I’ve changed a LOT. 🤦🏼♀️ Oof. I’ve been taking an online biz course again, (lifelong learner club! 👋🏻) the same one I took just a year ago and I’m blown away by how much I’ve changed and grown in just a year. My takeaways are entirely different, exercises are challenging me in new ways and I’m realizing how GOOD change can be as we grow and evolve! With growth comes growing pains and I’ve sure experienced way too many of those over the years but I’ve learned this: when we go before we’re ready and set out to take imperfect action, we inspire others to do the same. ✨ Stop playing small, the world needs your magic, and maybe you just need a reminder that you’ve changed, too, and change isn’t always a bad thing. You’re learning, evolving and growing every day! I am not who I was and I am still becoming and it’s all OKAY. ☀️ I’ve been reminded of that lately and I thought needed to remember that too! Take a course, log in to an old one you forgot about, find a mentor, search Google, read a book. Keep on learning, k? ⛅️ The skies the limit! Ps. One thing that hasn’t changed? I still buy spontaneous shirts at @target, like this one! Photo by: @juliakathleenphoto
These kinds of long-form captions are great because they allow your audience to learn more about you, your brand, and your mission.
Of course, what you put in your caption (including how much you write) really depends on the content you’re sharing, the occasion, and your brand.
For example, if you’re sharing a simple lifestyle post, a short and snappy caption might be best.
In any case, you can’t afford to leave your captions as an afterthought!
While creating beautiful content for your feed is ultra important, if you want to get more engagement on your posts, and maybe even reach new audiences, writing good Instagram captions that drive engagement is a great strategy.
And that’s exactly why we teamed up with Elise Darma – she’s sharing all her industry and insider tips in our free caption writing workshop.
What is the Best Instagram Caption Length in 2020?
One of the biggest trends to hit Instagram in 2019 was creators and brands tapping into the power of long-form captions to engage and connect with their followers – and we only expect this trend to continue in 2020!
But just how much are Instagram captions growing?
Well, according to research by Fohr, the average caption length has more than doubled since 2016.
And by 2020, our feeds will be filled with an average caption length of 405 characters — which averages out to be 65-70 words!
Not sure what that looks like? Check out Sarah Nicole Landry from @thebirdspapaya! Her highly descriptive captions often clock in at 100 words or more:
Speaking to Later, Sarah Nicole shared that over the last year, @thebirdspapaya account has grown from 80k to 740k followers! And credits that HUGE growth to spending more time crafting long-form captions.
“I had always been posting in a ‘photo first’ way, which often led me to feel frustrated with not knowing what to say. So I reversed it. I started writing mini-blog captions in the moments I was feeling them,” Sarah Nicole explains.
Now, Sarah Nicole is more journalistic in her approach, while being able to share more vulnerable and authentic moments of her life with her followers.
“I think we are craving human connection more and more,” she notes. “When someone else feels connected to something, they want to share it! So the combination of longer-form posts, and the ability for others to share those posts on Instagram Stories, helped me grow organically.”
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For about 30 years I’ve been waiting for this. THIS, is my dream house. The @Barbie Dreamhouse®. #ad Growing up playing with @Barbie was always my favourite. I got to relive that love when I had my own children. Now, well it seemed that my kids had maybe all grown out of toys. I thought at least, until the Dreamhouse® arrived. Together we built it, set the tables, and decorated it. We reflected on how far @Barbie has come. How inclusive she is now. With different shapes, sizes, colours, and abilities. @Barbie over the years has taught me that I could be anything. But most importantly, that I could be me, and that you can be you. And well, I’m a grown woman who still loves her @Barbie. (And yes, you can come to visit, have a tour, and join us for the pool party!) PS the Barbie® Color Reveal Doll that transforms from pale pink to a surprise Barbie and the glitter BarbieTM Dreamtopia Slime Mermaid were our kids TOP PICKS!
As in-depth captions continue to grow in popularity, we’re seeing creators, influencers, and brands use the space under their posts to tell captivating, personal, and more emotive stories.
For brands in particular, this can be a really great opportunity for storytelling that goes beyond product information and builds a much stronger brand affinity with your influencer’s audience.
The good news is that longer influencer captions result in higher engagement rates, which means a greater return for brands investing in an influencer marketing strategy.
The data shows that influencers’ posts with longer captions generally had a higher engagement rate than those with a shorter caption – showing that the more you share, the better the engagement!
A higher engagement rate not only means that your content is hitting the mark with your audience, but it also helps with its overall discoverability.
The more engagement a post gets, the more likely it will appear on the Explore page or higher up in your followers’ feeds. So writing longer captions could be the trick to not only building a deeper affinity with your audience but also for generating a better ROI on your posts.
Just check out Later’s Instagram account to see our advice in action! Our captions are usually quite long, descriptive, and, above all, educational.
“Short and sweet captions have their place,” says Later’s social media strategist, Mel Brittner. “But longer captions offer more to your audience than just a pretty picture, and I think that’s the movement right now – Instagram becoming more than just cool photos and likes.”
“I have a few objectives with our Instagram posts, the first being to drive people to our blog to read the full post, which could be achieved with short, click-bait type of captions, but I’m looking for more than that,” she says.
“I want people to find real value in following us, besides just a heads up when there’s new content to click through to. I want people to save our posts and refer back later when they can action the tip. I want people to comment, and read the comments of others, and find unique insights in one another’s opinions.”
If you’re not sure what the best Instagram caption length is for your brand, start by tapping out at least 70 words for your caption and keep an eye on your engagement rates!
From analyzing influencer data with Fohr, to paying close attention to our own Instagram analytics and monitoring Instagram trends, we think the best caption length is…long!
Following Fohr’s analysis, start by aiming for a caption length around the 70 words mark — it might seem like a lot at first, but you’ll soon get into the swing of sharing and you might see an uptick in your engagement.
From here, you can decide if you want to write more or less, but what’s important is that you tell more of your story in your Instagram captions in 2020.
Of course, we aren’t saying that every caption needs to be a novel. Sometimes, a short caption is all you need – it really depends on your brand and the content you’re sharing.
For example, the direct-to-consumer outdoor brand @finisterreuk often switches between long, descriptive captions and shorter captions:
The same is true for women’s fashion brand @thisiswhistles, which likes to mix and match long-form captions with quick one-liners:
At the end of the day, what’s most important is that your audience is engaging with your content!
We recommend giving the long-form caption trend a try. If you start to see engagement improve, you know you’re onto a recipe for success. If not, at least you’ll know that short and snappy captions resonate with your audience better.
How to Improve Your Instagram Captions with Later
We’ve all been there: you’re ready to post an amazing photo to Instagram, but when it comes time to enter your caption, you’re stumped. What to write?!
So what’s a marketer to do?
One of the biggest reasons people have trouble writing Instagram captions is because they try to do it on the fly, which definitely isn’t ideal.
Instead of jumping from task to task, it’s much more efficient to write your Instagram captions in one solid writing session so you can really get in the zone!
Whether it’s first thing on Monday morning or your last task before the weekend, carve out some time and dedicate it just to writing your captions.
If you want to get organized with captions, you can plan your Instagram posts ahead of time with Later! With the calendar view and Visual Planner, you can craft and edit all of your captions in one go:
You can even add line breaks to your Instagram captions with Later, which is a great way to keep them easy to digest, even when you’ve got several points to make!
Previously, you had to add individual symbols, like stars or dashes, each on a new line of text, to create line breaks in your captions. But with Later, all you have to do is press the return key while writing your caption and you’ll have lovely, spaced out captions for your Instagram posts!
Coming up with long Instagram captions might seem hard but it’s totally worth the effort when you consider the benefits.
Whether you’re an e-commerce brand selling products or a blogger sharing content, give the long-form Instagram caption trend a try – it could be a game-changer for your Instagram engagement!
Ready to get organized and plan out your Instagram content in advance? Start scheduling with Later, the #1 Instagram marketing platform trusted by over 2 million businesses! Sign up now – it’s free!
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