A guide to Instagram captions 2022
Instagram captions tend to create a lot of debates online. Are they important or not? Should they be long or short? What even is their purpose? Why even bother, when people can read everything on my Infographic? (But can they?).
I wrote this guide to Instagram captions, where you will learn everything you need to know. You will find all the information and start writing captions that both Instagram and your audience will love.
Instagram captions 2022 limits
Let’s start with limits. Your Instagram captions are not limitless, so this is definitely one of the main things you should be aware of. There are a few of them. Firstly, your caption can be 2,200 characters. That includes all the text, all the emojis and all the hashtags in your caption. Moreover, captions are truncated at 125 characters. That means that people will see only the first 125 characters of your caption, so make those count. Use a strong hook there. Make it interesting and relevant.
Secondly, you can use up to 30 hashtags in your captions. You are not allowed to use more, but you can use less. If you want to learn more about hashtags, I wrote a post called Hashtags explained.
Finally, you can tag up to 20 people in your caption. This does not include tagging people in your photo.
How long should captions on Instagram be in 2022?
Let me tell you a bit about Instagram SEO (Search engine optimization). Basically, Instagram is becoming a search engine for content. That means that your content should be optimized for that search engine. Using keywords is something you should definitely think about when writing captions. Now, even if your audience doesn’t really read captions, Instagram does. I recently did a poll on my Instagram where I asked my followers if they read captions. 30% said they don’t read them at all. Does that mean that I am going to stop writing them? Absolutely not! Because I know that Instagram does appreciate them, and more people who WILL be interested in what I have to say will find me.
Keywords on Instagram
I know, this is another step that takes time. But it doesn’t really have to take too much of it. All you have to do is do 1 keyword research a month. Write down all the keywords you want to focus on. However, it’s very important to keep in mind that the keywords shouldn’t be something you would search for. They should be what your audience would search for. Now, once you have your keywords, create content around them and disperse them around your captions.
Content of your Instagram captions
Make sure that have a hook, an explanation and a CTA in your Instagram captions. A hook is that first sentence, those first 125 characters visible upon scrolling through Instagram feed. This hook should spark interest, be relatable or be controversial. That will make your audience want to read more, or spend time watching/swiping/reading through your content. The hook should be followed by an explanation. Using keywords, try to explain what your post is about. Tell your viewers and Instagram what your content is about. Make it interesting, valuable or relatable.
Finally, the CTA (Call-to-action) is where you will invite your viewers to take action. Depending on what you want them to do, you will tell them to like, share, follow, comment, DM or click the link in the bio. It can be anything really, but don’t add multiple CTAs. That will confuse your viewers, and they will end up not doing anything at all.
More is more
The more you say, the better Instagram will understand what the post is about. Now, I am not telling you to throw words around and write the same thing 10 times in different ways. Write what you have to say. No more, no less. However, if you decide to only use an emoji for your Instagram caption, Instagram will have no idea what your post is actually about. So, give it something. Explain whatever it is that you want to say, as concisely or as broadly as you want. Keep in mind, though: Longer captions tend to have more engagement. Why? Well, people are more likely to have a comment on a story they read in your caption than to an emoji. Tell them a story and ask for their opinion or their experience. Just remember to use a strong CTA.
Links in your captions
This is a huge no-no! Unless your URL is something like abc.com, trust me (!) no one will go and retype a 20-character link you wrote in your caption. I can guarantee you that. Especially if you decide to add a link to your blog post, with hyphens, dots and numbers in it. Just don’t do it. Add a link to your bio and have a CTA that will tell your audience where the link is and what it’ll do for them.
Conclusion on Instagram captions length
Short conclusion: the longer, the better (but relevant).
The longer version, though is to write what you want to say. Tell your audience everything you want to say in however many words you need. Just make sure it’s not over 2,200 characters (haha!). My personal strategy is using between 1,000 and 2,000 characters (including hashtags).
What should your Instagram caption be?
Now that you know all the basics, what should you actually say in your caption? Firstly, the caption should be relatable. Tell a story your audience can relate to. Share a pain point or a problem your client has and your solution to that problem. Something people will read and think “Huh, this person understands me.” Secondly, show your personality. When you write your captions, think about whether these are the words you would use if you spoke at a conference. Is this your tone in general? Do you talk to your friends like this? Would your friends know this was your text if they read it? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re doing a great job. In case your answer is no, just tune your voice so it matches you better. It’s you, and you know you the best.
Value is another thing your Instagram captions should provide. Before you post, just think about this: if I was my own audience, would this be valuable to me? Would I learn something from this piece of content? Value doesn’t necessarily have to mean education. People find value in different things. Maybe it’s motivational, inspiring or entertaining. Whatever you were aiming for with this particular piece of content, think about whether you have achieved it.
How different should my caption be from my graphic?
Okay, let me clarify this one. I am not saying post a graphic of one thing and then talk about something entirely different in your caption. What I mean is should you add more to your caption? The answer is absolutely yes, if that is something you want to do. For example, if you provide a list of some kind in your graphic, you can tell your audience that they can find more items in the caption. Maybe you give 5 tips for something in your graphic. Save the most useful one for the caption, and tell your audience that the best one is down there.
But beware! It shouldn’t really go the other way. Don’t mention less in your captions. Writing something like “New post on the blog. Link in bio” is probably one of the worst mistakes you can make. Don’t make your audience HAVE TO seek information elsewhere. Why? Because they won’t! They will not click the link in your bio. AND WORSE, they will not re-type the link you wrote in your captions. Use the keywords. If you don’t feel like writing everything from your graphic in your caption, you don’t have to. I know there can be quite a lot to talk about. However, do highlight your main points there.
Use storytelling in your Instagram captions
Your Instagram captions should tell a story. It doesn’t have to be a fictional story. It can be a story about your life, your business or your experience. The story doesn’t have to have characters (other than yourself). The important thing is that it is interesting. Storytelling is how you achieve that. You don’t have to be overly creative or the best writer. All you have to do is tell your audience what happened, how it happened, and, most importantly, WHY it happened.
It is always a good idea to use power words. These can be words like easy, learn, free, hacks, start, stop, tips, mind-blowing, and so many others. These will trigger something in your readers’ brains and they will want to continue reading. I like to call these FOMO-inducing words. By FOMO-inducing, I mean those words make your reader start fearing of missing out on something really cool and they will want to take part in it.
How much text is too much?
Well, I wouldn’t say that there can be too much text in 2,200 characters, but it sure can feel like that sometimes. Am I right? So, how to avoid that? Use emojis to break up the text. You might want to check out my post about Branded emojis. Use the ones that you would normally use, or the ones that represent your brand. If you have a list, try adding an emoji before each item. You can use them within the paragraphs or at the end. It doesn’t really matter, as long as your text is cohesive and coherent.
I would also suggest breaking up the text after every point you make. So, just leave some blank space between your paragraphs of one to three sentences.
Hashtags in the caption or comments?
I have to say, I am all for hashtags in the caption. Not only do I personally believe it is the best practice for reach, but I also believe they help with text length. If you use hashtags in your caption, they will eat up some of those 2,200 characters available, so your text will definitely not be too long.
Let’s recap: Instagram captions 2022
- 2,200 characters, truncated at 125 characters
- Up to 30 hashtags
- Up to 20 tags
- Important for Instagram SEO
- Use keywords your audience would search for
- Magic formula: Hook + explanation + CTA
- Don’t use links in your captions
- Add more value than in your graphics
- Use storytelling
- Use emojis to break up the text
- Add hashtags to your captions (not comments)
I hope this guide to Instagram captions was helpful. It was written to help you write your own captions, with no help from social media managers, copywriters or other people you could hire to do that for you. If you are a small business owner, paying for things like writing captions can be completely unviable. You may not be able to even afford services like that. That is why I want you to know that you can do a lot of content marketing yourself. It is absolutely possible if you have the time and the motivation to learn about it. If you’re not entirely sure where to start, scroll through the rest of my blog, or take a look at my Instagram, and find even more tips, tricks and content ideas.
If you do lack content ideas for your business (product-based or service-based), take a look at my Content Blueprint Bank membership. This is where I give you monthly content ideas, as well as 5 reels audios every week, along with many other resources. If you’re not ready to sign up just yet, grab some of my freebies available to my email subscribers.