Social Media

How to write captions people actually read

In this video, I’m breaking down why we need to stop hating on the algorithm and what we can do to start getting people to read our captions that will increase our engagement AND organic reach.


If your engagement on Instagram right now is terrible. If your organic reach is dropping and you suspect that no one is actually reading any of your captions, then you need to watch this entire video right to the end because tip number five is something you’re probably not expecting. Well, hello and welcome back. Thank you for being here, I’m Kat in case we’ve never met. I’m excited about this topic because at the moment I feel like everybody is going on and on about the algorithm and how Instagram is out to get them, how it’s not the same as it used to be, how it’s making it impossible to connect with anyone. Should I even bother? Blah blah blah. And yeah, sure. While Instagram is constantly changing and it is definitely more difficult to get your posts, your content in front of people than it was before, I’m here to tell you that the algorithm is not out to get you.

It is not the actual problem… Which means the problem is probably you. Bear with me. So what I want, I’m trying to explain is that Instagram obviously is getting to be very, very crowded. Just like what happened with Facebook. Like it used to be easy to get organic reach everywhere and it was the same on Instagram. Like it was a very friendly algorithm. They showed everything to everyone. But the thing is most people are following a lot of other people. And if Instagram was to just show everything in, you know, in the right order to have everyone you follow to that person, well their feed would just be completely overwhelming. So then trying to do you a favour by showing you the stuff that you like the most. Okay. And it works in reverse. So if you’re putting content out there, the insta– the algorithm, the Instagram algorithm is constantly trying to like gauge how your followers feel about the content before it decides how many people to show it to, whether to keep showing it or where to kind of like cut it off, et cetera.

So the key here obviously is that we need to make sure that our content is amazing because the better the content, the more people are going to jump on board and interact and like it and comment and share. And all of that — and that’s what Instagram wants. Like they want you creating content that keeps people on the platform. Makes sense, right? So if that’s the case, we need to actually step up our game because what used to work on Instagram, which was pretty much like pretty photos and like a really like random quote caption that went with it is not this, it’s not working like that anymore. And also it’s very much dependent on your audience. Like so where I feel like no matter what you used to do, like people would be like, Oh yay. And they’d be liking and you’re like, “Oh my ego, this is so good”.

But at the moment it really depends on your audience and what they actually want to see. Because if they are liking certain posts on other people’s accounts that are in a certain kind of category and not posting stuff in that category, they’re maybe less likely to see it because Instagram knows about our interest. They know who else we follow, they see where we’re commenting and they’re trying to share like stuff that sounds like stuff. You know what I’m trying to say here. So I really wanted to give you some practical tips on how to actually create better captions so that well, better posts in general so that you start increasing that engagement, increasing that organic reach, and starting to feel like you’re actually building some traction on the platform. Because please do not give up on Instagram. It is still, in my opinion, the best social media platform to be honest.

So five tips for you. Number one with your captions is that you actually, you need to start with a hook because keep in mind and okay, firstly, what’s a hook? So hook is something that gets, it hooks people’s interest. They’re like, Oh, what’s that? And then they want to know more. So it’s the same as like when you see an email with a really intriguing subject line, that’s enough of a hook to like get you to open it. So it’s the same with Instagram, because the thing is, as you’re scrolling, you don’t see the whole caption. Like, I don’t know that you’ve written this incredible thing. All they see is like two lines and some dot. Dot. Dots. So unless those first two lines are like something amazing, chances are because I’m in like a scrolling stupor as we all do. I’m just going to be like, yeah, yeah, yeah.

I might double tap. In fact there’s a good chance I’ll double tap if there’s a pretty photo, but I’m not going to invest any time in reading it. So I want you to start thinking about the two first two sentences of your posts and how you can make them interesting, engaging, captivating, intriguing. Number two, this sounds so obvious that I feel stupid even saying it, but you actually need to write something of value. The fact is if you just kind of keep putting out content that people, they’ll read and they’ll be like, I’ve got nothing from this. Like it was negative, it was neutral, it was confusing. It made no sense. Like they’re eventually going to go, well I’m not going to click on that because I know like she might share pretty photos, but what the hell? Like why would I even read that?

So you need to start offering some sort of value. And when I say value generally there’s three ways you can do this. You can either educate your audience, you can entertain your audience or you can inspire your audience. That’s a lot of options like no matter what kind of account you have, whether it’s personal or professional, like if that covers just about everything, but the key is putting your audience first. Like if you really want to increase your engagement and your reach, you have to create content for them, for your followers. It can’t be about you. I’m sorry. I know that’s a bit of an adjustment and if you want your account to be all about you, that’s fine, but don’t expect it to grow because it’s just, it’s probably not going to happen. Number three is I want you to start trying to think about whether you can have an image that actually makes sense with your message.

I know, again that sounds a bit obvious, but I think if you are doing something interesting with your hook and then you can also have an image that kind of even subliminally taps into the beginning of your message or what you’re going to be saying, it’s going to help. Because keep in mind that Instagram isn’t just a photo sharing platform like people used to think it was a photo sharing platform. It’s actually a storytelling platform and generally with stories we like to have words and images so they sh the two should be going together. The little things like I have a nice like sort of stocky image library of myself. I know that sounds so egotistical, but I had professional photo shoots done and I can draw on these photos, but I look at the different expressions I have in the photos and I’m like, okay, at least at the very least, even if it’s just a photo of me, can I choose a photo that really just like sits the mood, sets the tone for this photo or you might want to custom do something.

So like use Easil.com Or Canva.com and design a couple of graphics with a word or a quote or something that ties in with what you’re saying and just try those because sometimes it’s just that disconnect. Like people like cool, nice photo, but I can’t what she talking about and our brains don’t like confusion. Like we don’t like having to work too hard to figure things out. So we tend to just like blow things out if they don’t make sense to us immediately. Number four, and this is one that I think a lot of people miss, you need to format the crap out of your posts. So on social media, especially on Instagram, people read like top to bottom, like we don’t like going through lines and lines and lines. Those big paragraphs are so overwhelming. Like think about it, it’s really hard to read.

It’s a very small font. So you need to break everything up. So for me, like I usually have a rule where I pretty much don’t like to say more than two sentences in a paragraph. And then although like a single line and a single line and I’ve got spaces all between them and it makes such a difference because people can read, you have to make it easy for them. And if you’re wondering about like is it easy or not, like start looking at other people’s posts, the ones that you struggle to read versus the ones that you consume really easily. Like what are they doing? The occasional emoji is going to break it up to breaking it up with like just a word or two words. Like try and think about your sentences and having some like some variation there. So not like paragraph, paragraph, program, but it could be like one line paragraph, a word, three words.

Like think of it sort of like a work of art and see how you can format it. And if you’re wondering about formatting, there is a trick on Instagram that you may not know about and it’s that if you don’t put a space after the punctuation. So like after a full stop, an exclamation Mark or a question Mark, you can’t actually hit enter twice and it will remember the spacing so you don’t even have to write your caption somewhere else if you don’t want to just don’t put a punctuation and then a space, simple, simple half of you there. Tip number five and I promised you that this is one that you probably didn’t expect. It’s that that you need to actually figure out whether the best times to post. I honestly, I’m embarrassed to say this but until recently thought that I was like, you know what, it doesn’t matter cause if my post is good like they’re going to Instagram, we’ll push it out in front of everyone.

Oh no contraire. Unfortunately they do still really like you to post at the times your audience is most active and if you put a post out where a lot of your people are online and they all interact with it really quickly, that sends amazing signals to the algorithm that that was a good post. Then they will keep pushing it out and hopefully people will be seeing it for the next couple of days. So you need to either have a business account or a creator account, I believe, or use a third party app like later so that you can actually look at the peak posting times like the peak times when your audience is online. And trust me, I started experimenting with this just over the last month and I’ve already noticed a difference. So don’t just like post because you feel like it in that moment. Sure create the post, but then save it for the best time of day that people are going to be online and it’s gonna make a huge difference.

I have a bonus sixth tip for you and that is that I am running a free storytelling challenge, basically a social storytelling challenge to help you up level your own social posting ability and it’s happening on the second of Feb. It’s five days totally free. I’m going to teach you my five step framework to create really engaging stories that do increase your engagement, increase your organic reach, but then also start turning your audience into proper super fans. So like this isn’t just about getting them to read but making them feel something and take action. I’d love to have you there. All the links are below so you can just sign up, takes like 10 seconds, if that. I’ll send you the workbook. You get a welcome email. It’s all happening over in a Facebook group, like live videos, prizes to be won. All of that. I won’t go on any longer. Just go sign up ’cause I really want to see you there! If you have any questions just leave me a comment and I’m happy to answer them. But I hope you found these Instagram tips, caption, writing tips, helpful. Give the video a thumbs up if you liked it. Make sure you are subscribed so you don’t miss out on any other tips like these in the future and maybe tell a friend about my channel… I would really appreciate that! Okay, I’m going to go – see you soon. Bye!


Kat is a copywriter, brand & messaging strategist personal branding coach and the founder of The Personal Branding Project whose mission is to help you go from best-kept secret to in-demand brand.


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