The Social Observer

The Social Media Marketing Blog by SNHU Students

The Ultimate Guide for Writing a Caption on Social Media

Picture this—you’re at the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, and your best friend just snapped the perfect picture of you with the city of Dubai as your background. Now it’s time to post the picture and you need a caption. Got one?

top of Burj Khalifa

Some pictures are so amazing they don’t event need a caption. But if you’re a true social media guru, you know that a picture with no caption is a missed opportunity for hundreds of eyes to see it.

We all know the goal on social media is to attain the most engagement, likes, comments, and shares, on social media, and having the right caption will push that engagement needle forward. Follow this guide and you’ll never be without a caption again.

Started from the bottom (…now we’re here)

Generally, if you’re writing a caption for a post, the post is an image or motion graphic of some sort. So let’s start with the basics. The platforms that are best suited for image/graphic postings are Facebook and Twitter, but especially Instagram. Twitter is the only platform of the three that has a strict character count; with the others, it is still best to consider character count in your captions.


Facebook has turned into a video hub, but that doesn’t mean that if your post a picture or four they’ll go unnoticed. Currently, Facebook allows up to 477 characters, including spaces, before they activate the “See more…” or “Read more…” feature. Now 477 characters sounds like plenty of room but we know as viewers ourselves, that when it comes time for action we will just keep scrolling. So as a rule of thumb, let’s keep the captions short, sweet, and to the point.

long facebook caption example

On Instagram, you are able to post to Facebook and Twitter from the app which is quite beneficial if done correctly. We’ll touch on Instagram in a bit.


In the beginning, Twitter was a real time discussion forum that has now turned into a marketers dream. Twitter provides the opportunity for companies, bloggers, and celebrities to share and promote content, in real time to millions of followers. In posting on Twitter, it important to remember that you only have 140 characters to use and a photo takes up 24 of those characters.

twitter post

It’s perfectly normal to write separate captions for each platform, but making a habit of keeping your caption to the Twitter count is good practice.


Instagram is an image dominated platform that has taken full popularity over social media. On Instagram you can post one photo or multiple photos (a new feature) and videos up to one minute in length. Captions on Instagram are the most critical as this platform is strictly image based. In comparison to other platforms, the caption dominates the performance of the image.

ig caption

Instagram allows up to 2200 characters in a caption, but who is really reading all of that? I’m not. Like I mentioned before, the less “work” your followers feel they need to do, the more willing they will be to engage. Just like Facebook, Instagram has a “More…” feature, which is applied at under 140 characters—so sticking to the Twitter count is especially ideal here.

Side note: Another great practice for Instagram is including hashtags. This practice increases engagement so that people who normally wouldn’t see your posts, now can. It is best to include these hashtags separately as a comment, as shown below.

instagram tags

What’s Your Inspiration?

You might be thinking to yourself, why don’t I just write where I am or what I’m doing as my caption? Sometimes that’s all it takes, but don’t be afraid to get creative. When I’m writing a caption for my own Instagram or even for my job, I draw from popular quotes, play on song lyrics, or pull inspiration from trending hashtags/ posts. How many versions of “catch me outside” captions did we see this year already? My point exactly. Need more inspiration? Look at the captions of your favorite influencers or my personal favorite platform, Pinterest.

Who do you follow that posts great captions?

Where else do you get your caption inspiration from?


Category: Advanced Tactics

%d bloggers like this: