In the middle of a family gathering, my cousin approached me. “You’re creative. I need a good caption for this picture” she said as she flashed me her phone. It was a picture of her and her husband with their newborn.

“Oh,” I replied, “you’ll have to give me a second. Let me think.”

If only there were a definite way to create the perfect caption every time. A formula, perhaps, would be helpful. Instagram is more than showcasing fun pictures, or, in the case of business Instagrams, cool products. It’s about creating the essence of your brand. Pictures need a caption to accompany them.

So how do you pair a picture with a caption to get engagement? Let’s take a look at what often works.

  • Short and Sweet. When it comes to marketing on Instagram, your picture should be the focus of your post, not your caption. “This” is a perfectly acceptable caption for a picture. Ideally, captions should be shorter than a tweet. Keep this in mind when using Instagram to market to millennials. Remember, your picture should speak for itself. Your caption should ad to it, but it is not the focus. There are exceptions to this rule, but it’s a good one to keep in mind for the majority of your posts.
  • #Dont #Hashtag #Every #Single #Word. Annoying, right? Hashtags are a way for people to find, follow, and contribute to a conversation. Hashtags for special events or topics that are unique to your brand are ideal. Don’t overdo it at the end either. If you must use several hashtags, do it in the form of a comment under the post so it’s not competing with your photo or caption.
  • Spell check. Grammar check. Do both. Nothing says unprofessional quite like spelling and/or grammar errors. If you do happen to make one, be sure to edit the post so it doesn’t stay up long. Although this sounds like a given, I had to mention it because it is so important.

While there is no tried and true formula that works every time for super engagement on Instagram captions, hopefully this guide is a help to your business. Oh, and I was able to come up with a pretty catchy caption for my cousin’s picture too. “We made a Christmas wish and you came true” just in case you were curious.