picture of instagram logos on a pink background with the words: The Long and Short of Instagram Captions

The Long and Short of Instagram Captions

I read a lot about marketing because, like most of us, I am trying to figure out the best way to get myself out there. Get noticed. And seen. Even when being seen feels uncomfortable and scary.

I used to hoard any article I could find, any class I could take (that was free or cheap), or any posts on social media that could possibly help me find the right groove in marketing. I thought if I could just get it right, then people would start supporting my work.

Now I read a lot about marketing because I want to stay on top of what the “experts” say are the “best practices.” Though I like to know what the “best practices” are, I rarely follow them.

The Article

A perfect example is when I read an article recently about how to repurpose content. I almost always read these because I am a huge proponent of reusing content I’ve already created. I love it and believe we could be doing more of it. “We” are writers and other creatives.

I’ve found that we are often hesitant to reuse content because we feel the need to be fresh and new all the time.

I do not agree.

Let me say that again: I DO NOT agree.

We are allowed to and, based on what I know about algorithms and attention spans (mine included), encouraged to share our creations as many times as we want.

When I was reading the article about repurposing content, the author said something to the effect of, “Don’t waste time writing a long caption on Instagram because nobody is there to read the captions. They only want to see the picture.”

Um. No.

The Survey

I read a lot of long captions and I was pretty sure many others did, too. So, I put together a very scientific survey (i.e. posted a poll on Instagram) and asked people about their caption-reading habits.

100% of the respondents said they read the captions because they either read everything or the graphic captured their attention.

Not a single person responded: I don’t really read the captions.

When I asked if they read captions on reels, it was a bit more mixed. Some would read the captions if the reel captured their attention, but a lot said they don’t read captions on reels at all.

And this tracked with my Instagram caption reading habits as well. I often get pulled into a good caption on a picture or a graphic, but rarely read captions on reels, especially if I discovered the reel because one of the stories I viewed shared it. I don’t like trying to read the caption on the revolving door of reels.

The Lessons

Granted, many of the people I interact with on IG are readers and writers, so perhaps my poll results were skewed because of that. Maybe the average person on IG doesn’t read captions.

But this reinforces my belief that the “experts” aren’t experts in you or your business. Perhaps I can concede that they are experts in general, data-driven knowledge, but not in what I do or who I am.

I don’t make social media decisions based on numbers. I make decisions based on what I want and know about what the people in my circles want. That’s it.

I’m sure the “experts” would say that is why I am not reaching more people or that’s the reason why more people don’t engage with my posts, but I don’t want to “market” to an audience, I want to expand alongside my people.

Photo credit: Canva

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