Marketing Social Media

How To Write Great Instagram Copy: A Guide For Your Small Business

Instagram is a diverse social platform you should use to promote a new small business and perfecting your Instagram copy is important
Written by MicroStartups

Social copy is one of the most important skills every startup owner needs to master. And Instagram copy, in particular, is a tricky art to perfect. 

Despite what you might think, Instagram isn’t all about quality images. Well, it sort of is — but some innovative social copy can elevate your posts to a whole new level. 

In this article, we will guide you through the art of Instagram copy by looking at these following topics: 

  • Caption length
  • Professional tips
  • Using emojis
  • Implementing a call to action
  • Adding hashtags

Read on as we dive headfirst into the picture-perfect world of Instagram — and discover how the use of copy on Instagram can boost your content marketing efforts.

Writing for Instagram: how long should my caption be? 

If you’re going to take anything away from my article I hope it’s this… 

When writing Instagram copy, remember to be punchy — and preferably land your knockout blow in the first 124 characters.

See what I did there? 

Not only do you need to be engaging, but you must also be efficient and choose your words wisely. Social media, on the whole, is a fast-paced world — but the scrolling interest of an Instagram user rivals even the fleeting, acerbic nature of Twitter. 

Take a minute to reflect on the last Instagram post you looked at. Chances are, the post you have in mind isn’t the one your eyes last gazed upon, but simply the one that stands out most in recent memory. 

Why? Because the best Instagram copy doesn’t overindulge on the fat. 

Like a master chef, a skilled writer knows precisely what to include and what to cut, leaving only an exquisite fillet behind — a metaphor which coincidentally fits perfectly with the #foodstagram hashtag (more on this later). 

Unlike a tweeter, Instagram users have a lot of room to play with (roughly 2,200 characters in fact). Nevertheless, you must remain disciplined because your copy is truncated at 125 characters; hence the 124 or below rule. 

When it comes to promoting your business on Instagram, stick to the mantra less is more. This is important for two reasons: 

  1. Nobody has the time to be reading long-form social copy on Instagram. Aim to avoid meandering sentences and just say your piece. 
  1. Cultivating an air of mystery will entice readers. Avoid giving away too much and provide just enough information to intrigue. Imagine sharing your latest blog post and covering all the key points in your social copy — what need would users have to click on the link in your bio? 

What should I write in my Instagram copy? 

Writing social copy for Instagram is a challenge — and you’ll have to learn the ropes quickly to effectively promote your new business. 

Here are a few tips we’ve learnt along the way:

Know your audience

Whatever strategy you choose, there is no greater truth in marketing than knowing your audience. And Insta copy is certainly no exception to the rule. 

Knowing your audience and who you are speaking to is half the battle. The best Instagram copy always starts by acknowledging the very roots of your business: the customers. 

Consider building a customer persona for your prospective audience, or go one better and imagine what their Instagram accounts might look like. 

Start by asking general questions: how old are they — and where do they live? Then dive into the nuances to get a read on your audience as individuals. Perhaps they’re young at heart and believe age is nothing but a number. Or maybe they live nomadically and enjoy the thrill of adventure more than home life. 

This line of thought constructs a vivid picture you can use to lay the foundations of your social copy. And remember, Instagram is no exception. 

Perfect your post by writing several drafts

Have you ever thought of a witty comeback or gut-wrenching punchline an hour too late? We’ve experienced this feeling countless times after publishing our Instagram social copy. 

The urge to go back and make changes can be tough. And although it is doable, ideally, you don’t want to return to a post after it’s gone live. 

The trick is to plan your posts and practice your Instagram copy drafts. Take your time and write out drafts before you post. Industry leaders like Hubspot routinely reference the need for content marketing to simultaneously attract, engage, and delight your audience, which is some ask from just a few words — but it is possible.

Over time, we’ve learned to not rush the process and allow ourselves to mull over a couple of drafts — or even get a consensus amongst colleagues and friends. 

Using relevant emojis 

Language matters. Over time, the way we communicate and create understanding fluctuates with present culture. 

One thing that seemingly has no meaning at one time suddenly clicks as language evolves. No example of this is more clear than the relatively modern combination of social media and emoji speak. 

Emojis often convey meaning online more efficiently than any written word. Perhaps you find it hard to deliver a sarcastic tone over text? No worries — a simple ‘😏’ will do. Want to express mirth? Add a ‘🤣’ for good measure.

As for Instagram, using emojis within your copy is a great way to add some personality to your post — to get your followers excited about a flash sale (⚡ 🎁), celebrate reaching a business goal (🔥💯), or giving a shout out to loyal customers (🙌 🙏).  

We’ve even seen big brands like Liverpool FC avoid the written word entirely, promoting their recent Cyber Monday deals with a simple two starry-eyed faces.  

Liverpool FC using emojis on Instagram to promote Cyber Monday sale.

Image: Instagram

There are lots of ways to incorporate emojis into your Instagram copy. 

You could even add them in the middle of sentences in place of words, such as: 

When writing Instagram copy, remember to be punchy — and preferably land your knockout 🥊 in the first 124 characters.

Just remember to make it obvious if you’re going to do this — no one enjoys having to decipher a cryptic caption.

Add a call to action

Got a sale you want to promote, or a new blog post you’re particularly proud of? Add a call to action (CTA) and let your audience know what you want them to do with your post. 

CTAs are what give your Instagram copy purpose. They are the best way to increase shareability and tell your audience about the next steps you want them to take. 

Here are some possible CTA’s you can use in your next Instagram post: 

  • Ask a question: listen to people’s answers and use your finding to inform your strategy going forward
  • Direct people to a link in your bio: clickable URLs are only allowed in your user bio, so direct users there to read your latest blog post
  • Invite people to participate in a contest: have something to give away? Contests are great for user engagement, but people need to know about them first to enter.

Take a look at the CTA we have added to our example: 

When writing Instagram copy, remember to be punchy — and preferably land your knockout 🥊 in the first 124 characters.

Are you a new business owner looking to make a splash on social media? Click the link in our bio and discover how to master the art of Instagram social copy. 

Do I need to use hashtags? 

Twitter doesn’t have a patent on hashtags — and if you’re wondering whether you should make the most of them on Instagram, the answer is a resounding yes.

It’s important to know the right hashtags to use, and when to use them. Otherwise, you could be doing more harm than good for your social media marketing efforts. Ultimately, though, the risk is worth taking because if you use hashtags correctly in your Instagram copy, more people will be seeing your brand appear on their feed. 

Hashtags expand your Instagram audience by categorising your content and amplifying its reach, meaning your posts are visible to more people in the right places. 

For example, people opt to follow certain hashtags like #foodstagram: 

Hashtags like #foodstagram are a great way to target your posts to millions of interested users.

Image: Instagram

#foodstagram is an amalgamation of millions of accounts (and even more posts), sharing in their love of all things tasty. But the community aspect of Instagram doesn’t begin or end with an array of well-presented food. From entrepreneurial life to trending memes, there’s infinite scope for hashtags on Instagram. And you can use these tags to target your posts so long as there’s an audience engaging in the content. 

As a general rule of thumb, limit yourself to using four relevant hashtags per post.

With that said, it’s time to add some relevant hashtags to our Instagram copy:

When writing Instagram copy, remember to be punchy — and preferably land your knockout 🥊 in the first 124 characters.

Are you a new business owner looking to make a splash on social media? Click the link in our bio and discover how to master the art of Instagram social copy. 

#startup #Instagram #socialcopy #lessons

Take advantage of user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is a neat life-hack that could save your business a lot of time and effort, while also helping your social accounts flourish. 

Instagram users love to crowdsource and share other people’s content, so you can use this to your advantage by reposting what others have said about your business on your story or your grid (although it’s probably best to stick to the positive stuff).

Not only is this free organic promotion, but you also create a culture of customer engagement around your brand. And to really capitalise on the moment, you could ask happy customers to promote your product/service on their own Instagram account. 

As an aspiring Instagram content marketer, making the most out of user-generated content makes your job a whole lot easier. Just keep your ears to the ground and keep tabs on all of your social media accounts. And remember to share, share, share! 

Instagram has grown far beyond filtered photography and cringeworthy videos. Now with over 1 billion active users, your Insta account is a turbo-charged marketing juggernaut.

To hit the right notes and capitalise on this opportunity, you can’t ignore the merits of adding compelling copy to your posts. Writing social copy for Instagram is a challenge, but one you have to master — just take note of these top tips and start your journey to perfecting your Instagram copy.

About the author


A team of writers and marketers, MicroStartups was founded to inspire the entrepreneurial and business community to give back. We believe in business growth through giving and supporting the local community.

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