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Social media copywriting is a science. What works one year—or month, or even week—may not work the next. Trends and interests shift all the time, making it difficult to predict what might capture the attention of your audience without a lot of trial and error. It takes a lot of A/B testing and work to find the right mix. 

This is especially true for Instagram, primarily a visual storytelling space. Figuring out how to capture people’s attention with copy here can be tricky.  To spare us all from some of that headache, below are a few strategies that have been proven to work for optimized Instagram posts! 

We’re In The World of Millennials

31% of all Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 24, and 32% are between the ages of 25 and 34. Millennials make up the majority of Instagram audience.

Social media expert Barry Feldman makes an awesome point on how to reach this generation of almost two billion people: “Don’t sell to them. Rather, make them feel like a part of a community.” Millennials value being addressed as equals—not talked down to or “sold” on an idea. Engage them as peers so you’re more likely to keep their attention.

Strategize What You Say First

Instagram captions truncate at 125 characters, so say the important, compelling stuff right up front.

This is what people will definitely see when they look at the pictures or videos you post.

It should be engaging enough – or short enough – to where people either:

  1. Are so captivated that they want to click the three dots to read more or
  2. Get the entire story within those 125 characters

When people are scrolling on the phone, this beginning copy really determines how much more they want to read. It can be super short and sweet (like the whole post is 125 characters or less), or it can be an entryway that leads into a longer story that draws people in.


Hashtags are a great way to drive new followers to your posts. By piggybacking on a trend or an often-searched term, you capture all kinds of eyes that you may have otherwise missed.

But don’t go crazy. While it might be tempting to throw that little symbol in front of every word, overusing the hashtag looks spammy and can actually turn people away.

And … the proof is in the pudding. Hubspot found that using 7 hashtags per Instagram post generates the most engagement.

Image via Hubspot.

Warm Up to Your Audience With Emojis

Emojis constantly grow in popularity (and get updated), especially with the up-and-coming Generation Z demographic. A recent study from Edinburgh University found that “emoticon use increases perceived warmth,” and “affects student evaluation and task behavior positively.”

In other words, emojis make you look friendlier and more approachable.

But just like with the hashtags, though, don’t go crazy and use too many. We don’t want to look spammy.

The Missing Link

Now … the elephant in the room, what’s the best way to include links in your copy for Instagram? Whether we like it or not, Instagram still doesn’t allow links to be posted in captions.

And chances are, you’re no stranger to the phrase “see link in bio,” which is one of the only ways a poster on Instagram has of redirecting traffic to a website – excluding the swipe up feature.  

But engaging an Instagram audience without being able to drive them to your landing page or sales funnel means you’re interacting with them in a more genuine and organic fashion, and this is exactly the kind of thing that the major demographic of the platform finds appealing (remember millennials). 

So keep that in mind, but there IS a workaround.

It’s called Linktree. This is an Instagram app everyone should use as it allows you to include multiple links on your Instagram bio so you never have to worry about including weird looking URLs in your copy. 

It’s one link in the bio, but when someone click it, it pops up a page that then has many buttons on it.

You get to decide what those buttons say and where those buttons go.

That allows you to promote, essentially, multiple things at once – like a new blog article every week, your podcast, etc.

(More on Linkree in another post soon!)

Quick Recap

  1. Remember who your target audience is and who actually sees your Instagram content, and cater your copy to them.
  2. Make the first 125 characters the most impactful.
  3. Use 7 hashtags.
  4. Include emojis to make yourself more relatable.
  5. Don’t write out long URLs in your copy – use Linktree instead.

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Shaina Weisinger


Shaina Weisinger is the founder and CEO of Repurpose House, which turns your content into unlimited videos and images. Shaina is on a mission to show content creators the untapped potential and repurposing power of the content they already have. Shaina loves to laugh loudly, be obnoxiously competitive on the volleyball court, treat her dogs as her kin, and recover from tripping on or running into almost everything within a five-foot radius.