Inside this lesson we will talk about why captions matter and how to write memorable captions that will convert. We’ll discuss the three main parts of your caption, why storytelling matters, and how to speak directly to your IC.
WHY DO CAPTIONS MATTER?
Captions are the only way to connect with your ideal dream client, AKA your IDC, in a post on your feed. There are three different types of captions: good captions, great captions, and memorable captions. We really want to write a memorable caption because when you do that, you shrink the gap between followers and fans, and then from fans to customers, which is what we’re trying to do.
We’re trying to share our products, services, knowledge, passion, and business, and captions are a really, really great place to do that. Now, if you haven’t already watched the photo module, go back to module three because in order to standout in the sea of photos and get your captions read, you really need to make sure you have a good photo.
We want to write memorable captions. When you’re building a caption on Instagram, there are three different parts. So as you can see, this is one of my more recent popular posts that I did and you have the headline, which the first arrow is pointing to, then we have the body, and then we have which the second arrow is pointing to. Then we have the call to action(the CTA). Now,don’t worry, I’m gonna break these down, but I really just wanted to show you this simplified kind of equation. We have a three part system: the headline, body, and CTA to make a memorable caption.
HEADLINE: THE FIRST 1 -3 LINES IN YOUR POST
The headline is the first 1-3 lines in a post. The head line is very important. The biggest mistakes I see people making when it comes to captions is that they’ll give away all of the details in the first 1-3 lines so the ideal client has no reason to read the entire post. If you tell me everything Ineed to know in the first one to two sentences, why would I read the entire thing? Your goal should always be when creating a headline, to get them to read all the way through and engage.
We want them to get to that call to action, whatever that is, right? We want to create quality engagement, which looks like commenting, sharing, saving and DMing you to talk about the posts. The more engagement you can get the better the posts will perform, the better the algorithm will act.
TREAT YOUR HEAD LINE LIKE AN EMAIL SUBJECT LINE
What gets you from pressing delete versus opening an email? The subject title line, right? If the email subject title line is juicy, then someone will open it. If your Instagram headline is juicy, then someone will read it. So we really need to be putting a lot of focus on hooking people in with our headline.
Another really important thing that I didn’t say here is when you’re scrolling through the feed, a lot of times Instagram only shows 1-3 sentences, a preview. If you have some boring ass sentence (or sentences) that’s not going to draw your ideal client in. They’re probably going to just scroll right on by.
But if you can stop the min their tracks and come up with something that’s juicy, they’re going to read it. Everybody who knows me, that follows me, knows I speak the truth. When they see stuff like that, they’re probably going to think, ‘Ooh, what? What does she have to say?’ Which clearly happened, cause that post performed really well.
BODY (THE MEAT AND POTATOES OF YOUR POST)
Next we move into the body of your caption. It’s the meat and potatoes of your posts, basically the middle part, the chunky part, the good part.
The biggest mistakes I see with the body of your post is posting selfish content that doesn’t serve your ideal dream client at all. Now, here’s the deal, we love hearing about your life. We love reading about your pets, kids, and your husband or your wife. But if it doesn’t relate in some way, shape, or form back to your brand message, back to whatever it is that you’re serving your clients with(your products or service), if it doesn’t build relationships in a way that serves them, definitely don’t post it in the feed.
Now, if you want to talk about real life stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with your products or services, your Instagram stories are going to be a really great place to talk about that because it’s only going to be there for 24 hours and then it’s going to go away.
Your feed lives there forever. We really want to make sure that we have good quality content in our feed with our captions. So when someone discovers us and they start binge reading what we have to say, they fall in love.
YOU NEED TO BE SERVING YOUR IC
I heard this term that this woman called “edutainment”. Basically what this stands for is education+ entertainment. This is going to be the key to about 99.99% of you and the content that you need right now. Some of you might have a very specific type of business, and“edutainment”might not be the best fit for you, but that’s going to be very rare. Knowing how to get them engaged and speak to them is the key.
A TIP FOR BREAKING UP TEXT IN YOUR CAPTIONS
A quick tip that works with pretty much every single type of person out there and their audience is trying not to overwhelm them with clumps of texts and break it down with spaces.
If you start or end what you’re writing with an emoji, it’s not going to be able to be spaced out enough.
How you want to do this (creating text breaks) is you want to end the sentence with no spaces. For example, if at the very top of a post it says “real relationships” with a period, then you would press enter twice, after the period, and start typing again. If you have a space after that period, or you have an emoji at the end of the sentence or the beginning of the sentence, it can mess up this spacing.
That’s just a little fun tip to make the body of your text easier to read. The body of the text is where we are really going to be able to master the art of storytelling and bring your IC through top to bottom of your caption.
ENDING YOUR POST WITH A CALL TO ACTION (CTA)
Then at the end we have your CTA, your call to action, which is always at the end of your post. The biggest mistake with this I see being made with calls to action is they are always selling something.
I really, truly believe in, and encourage, using the 80/20rule: 80% free value and 20% selling. We all know Sally in South Dakota, we’ve talked about her lots of times before, who sells, sells, sells, sells, sells, and every single post is her telling you to buy her thing that she is selling. And it’s a very generic photo with a very generic caption.
It’s not captivating. It doesn’t tell a story, and it’s not intriguing at all. We don’t want to be like Sally. I actually like to take it a step further and try to do only 5% of real selling out of my 20%. So 80% free, and then 5% of hard selling, which is selling my products and services directly in my captions, and 15% selling my freebies in my caption.
If you go on my Instagram right now, 80% of what I talk about is completely free advice, completely free “edutainment”, completely free storytelling to make someone feel good and educate them as best as I can. I’ve found that if you focus your “selling” on collecting emails instead and then selling in the regular inbox, you’ll see a spike in your sales.
THIS IS WHY YOU NEED A DOMAIN AND AN EMAIL LIST.
A fun fact about Instagram and all social media is you don’t own it. You don’t own your Instagram. You don’t own your social media. The only thing that you own is your website and your email list. If it’s a domain that you bought and purchased yourself, not a free domain that a company you may or may not work forgave you. A domain is something you went and bought.
Now your email list. I’m going to recommend every single one of you reading this go and setup an email list. You can Google this or you could pay someone to do this. Have an email list and freebies, freemiums, or lead magnets to “sell” and get people on our email list, and then write captivating content and sell to them in the inbox of their actual email service provider. That’s the magic that has helped my business grow. I’m constantly “selling”free stuff.
I “sell” you this free thing and you gave me your email in exchange for coming to my masterclass or whatever I’m offering. Then I provided you with a lot of value, and then I up sold you into Secret Hashtags Club.
We have to create that for your business, regardless of what your product or services. We’re gonna utilize our Instagram and our photos and our captions to “sell” our freemium stuff so that we can get you into the inbox and really build a relationship with our IC. Then we get them to buy our products and services there. That’s my entire strategy. If you focus on collecting emails and then selling in the regular inbox, you’re going to see a spike in your sales.
My best performing posts are value posts where I encourage and“sell” people on to my email list. I never usually ask for money on Instagram unless it’s in my stories and I’m pushing something, usually I’m always asking for emails. Then I sell in the inbox. Email marketing is alive and well, and if you are not utilizing this in your business and you really want to step it up, reach out to me and let’s do some one-on-one coaching because I will help you get that stuff setup because it is so important to your brand, and growth, and you can use Instagram to grow the crap out of that.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF CTA’S
In a call to action, you want to tell them exactly what you want them to do. Since we’re not going to be constantly selling to them, we’re going to find new, fun, and exciting ways to sell them our freemiums or whatever it is that we’re selling.
Types of CTA’s that you can use:
- Share this photo in your story and tag me.
- Save this photo for later when… you’re struggling,need ideas, etc.
- Send this photo to a friend who…is struggling, needs a laugh, could use some encouragement, etc.
- Comment below and tell me… (make it easy, tell them exactly what to tell you)
- Follow me on…Facebook, Twitter, join my group, etc.
- Get my free _____ in my bio
There are so many different CTA’s. You can do research on these. Pay attention to CTAs you see that you think are really good. I like to have a folder on my Instagram and when I see a really fun CTA, I’ll save it so I can be inspired by it for my own content later.
Basically all the CTA does is get them to take some sort of action, even if that’s a double tap, a comment, watching your stories or something else on your photo. We want to make it easy and release any resistance to what they’re doing. So they actually go and do that call to action. We want them to take that call to action.
What is storytelling? A lot of people ask, “what is storytelling? How do I tell a story? I don’t even know what that is, Sarah”. To break it down to the most basic of basics, storytelling is the art of making a connection, and that is your job. That’s why you’re on social media.
If you didn’t need to make connections, then you wouldn’t have a business. People like to make connections even if they don’t have a business. But when you have a business, it’s your literal job, networking and building connections. The cool thing is, since you know who your ideal dream client is more than anyone else, storytelling should be really easy for you to do. Especially when you’re speaking to them, it should be easy for you to connect with them because you know what draws them in.
You know how to connect. When you think about your ideal client and really break it down. You know this better than anyone else.
HOW TO TELL A BETTER STORY
We want to create the know, like, and trust factor with your ideal dream client. This is the foundation of a good brand. Any good brand, whether it’s a personal brand or a product-based brand. If they don’t know you, if they don’t like you and if they don’t trust you, you better bet your little sweet ass they are not going to buy anything from you. So we want them to purchase from us and have them be satisfied, happy customers.
We don’t just want to sell to anyone. We want to sell to somebody who loves it. They love it so much. They talk about it. They thank us for it. They tell their friends about it. They sell for us. Nothing feels better than selling something that you know someone’s actually going to love and then they actually love it. That comes from the know, like, and trust factor.
So how can we tell a better story on our Instagram, in our captions so that they get to know us, like us, and trust us?
When it comes to a personal brand don’t be afraid to show the ugly and the flawed side of your business. It makes your content so relatable, especially if that’s your true message. Let’s say you’re a personal brand and you’re a mom, and part of your brand is being real about being a mom and showing the mess and showing the uncomfortableness and the frustration. If you share that stuff and your ideal client is a mom, she relates to that. When you just constantly make you, your feed, and your life look so perfect and as if you never have any struggles, you’re not relatable. You want to ask, how can I make my content relatable as a personal brand?
TELLING A STORY AS A PRODUCT-BASED BUSINESS
On the flip side, if you’re a product based business and you’re not necessarily a personal brand, how can you show the behind the scenes and share what is behind the brand? What inspired you to create your product and why is it so important to you? Your story matters so much and one of my top tips when it comes to product based businesses is for you to constantly build that genuine, authentic connection. Even if you don’t have someone who’s the face of the brand, right?
Really get to know what your brand is, what your brand message is, and what your brand values are. We’ll talk a little more about that. But when you know those things, and you know who your ideal clients are, you can build a connection and tell a story. It’s kind of cool because as a personal brand we’re going to be focusing on our story and as a product based brand, especially if you’ve sold a lot of your products, you can tell stories of other people using your products and how it changed their life. Now you can definitely do that in a personal brand too, but I find it to be really important in a product based brand.
TIPS FOR SPEAKING TO YOUR IC
Here are some tips for speaking to your ideal dream client.
1. Stop writing selfish content. I talked about this a little earlier,but we want to create for them, not for you. How can you serve them? As a general rule of thumb for myself is if this doesn’t serve them, I’m not going to post it in my feed. If it’s just for entertainment and it’s just for telling my story and it has no form of inspiration or education or anything like that, or being vulnerable, I post it on my story instead.
2. Next tell your story over and over and over again. And then tell your story some more. Don’t stop telling it. Guaranteed, you don’t tell your story enough. I know for a fact, I don’t tell my story enough. People will come into my new audience and don’t know where I started. Some of you reading this right now probably don’t know that when I started this business.
You need to tell your story and tell people and show people where you’ve come from, where you as a person evolved, and where your brand has evolved. If you’re a product-based business, how can you tell your story some more and continue to tell it? Because as you add stuff to your feed, people aren’t going to scroll down. They’re not going to see what you wrote 50 posts in. That is a benefit though, because you can continue to repurpose and retell your story over and over again.
3. Stop using words and phrases that address multiple people like “y’all” and “hey everyone”. When you use wide range phrases like that, it depersonalizes your message. We want to use words such as “you” instead and speak to them directly. Basically, we want to pretend as if they’re sitting across from you at the coffee shop or you’re having a conversation with them and they’re on the other end of the phone. That’show we want to talk. We don’t want to address a room of people. We want to address them, your ideal dream client.
4. Get into BFF mode. I ask myself, how would I talk to my best friend? How would I speak to her? Because a lot of times it’s going to make you more human and more relatable.
Here’s a pro tip that I would really like you to make note of. If you struggle with typing out content, one of my best tips is to do voice memos or voice records. Sometimes when you think about content and you record it all out and then turn it into texts later, it can sound more natural and normal. I sometimes struggle with writing out content. So I’ll speak instead. If that’s you, that might be beneficial for you to try.
DECIDING HOW TO TALK
One of the other biggest mistakes I see in the online space is being heavily influenced on the way you speak from others and also trying to be something that you’re not. The best way to avoid this is to stop following people in your niche and in your industry. Limit the amount that you consume in your industry. Here’s the deal, if you’re an Instagram coach and you only listened to everything I say, when you go to teach, it almost sounds as if you’re stealing my content, even though that might not be your prerogative and what you’re trying to do.
But when you’re constantly consuming other people’s content and you teach the same thing, it can get really messy. I personally don’t really like to follow anybody in my niche except for if I have a really good friend or someone that I absolutely love and adore. But I really limit the amount that I consume from them.
Also trying to be something that you’re not. For example, I have typos on all my sales pages. I have typos in emails. I get people sending me messages all the time saying “hey, I noticed this typo,” but it doesn’t bother me because that just shows that I’m being a real person. I don’t care about typos, that just doesn’t irk me. It doesn’t bother me and I’m not that kind of a person. I’m not going to go and hire a proofreader to read all my shit because they really don’t care. Cause I know that the message is going to get through. But that might not be you. So you need to just understand who you are and embrace it.
You need to really understand who you are, who you are with your people, what you want your brand to represent, and be as authentic to that as you possibly can.
TALKING AS A PERSONAL BRAND VS PRODUCT-BASED
For a personal brand, be yourself and be authentic. How would you talk to your friends off camera offline? Being that person is really important.
Now for a product-based brand. I want you to understand your values, your brand, voice, your brand messaging, and do not stray from that ever. Be consistent as heck. If you are a more proper brand that is family friendly, you should probably stick to that. But if you’re like a vulgar, fun, and an edgy kind of brand, stick to that. People will appreciate that. And you’re not meant to be for everyone, and your content is meant to speak to the people you’re meant for.
ATTRACTING YOUR IC
How do we attract your ideal dream client? Using captions is not only important to attract your ideal client, but it’s equally as important to detract all the wrong clients.
We want to infuse your personality or your brand message into every single piece of content that you write. When you infuse your content with your personality and your brand message, people who aren’t a good fit won’t reach out, which is a good thing.
When I cuss and when I have Fbombs on my sales page, people who are uncomfortable with that will generally go with somebody else who teaches what I teaching a way that’s a more PG version because that makes them more comfortable and that’s okay. That makes me happy because the last thing I want to do is someone asking me for a refund, because I said a bad word. So I have to make it very clear who I am throughout all of my brand. That starts with your captions and goes into your sales page and it goes through all of your stuff.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. This is something that should go without saying, but basically if you promise them things and highlight results that you can help them achieve, it will help bring your dreamy clients, but you don’t want to highlight stuff or promise stuff that you cannot bring. I like to just share the crap out of my story. For me, if I can achieve this for myself, my true core beliefs that all of you can achieve this for yourself too.
I have created massive success on Instagram. I’ve made hundreds and thousands of dollars off Instagram. I know for a fact that if I can do that for myself, so can you, so I highlight that because that’s my deep belief. I don’t promise stuff that I’ve never achieved myself. That really does attract your ideal client. Highlighting the results from your products and services that you know that you can help them with.
Be blunt about who you want to work with and say it. On my Hashtags Guide sales page I very blatantly spelled out who Secret Hashtags Club is for and who it is not for. Don’t be afraid to do that. Tell your ideal dream client that they are your ideal dream client. I say things like this is for someone who’s willing to put in the work. This is not for somebody who thinks that slapping a few hashtags on a photo is going to get them famous. This is for somebody who wants to build a long term business and a brand. I lay it out very clearly because again, that helps with everything. You want to do the same thing in your captions like this,“I am for XYZ. I am not for XYZ. My products and services are for XYZ. This freebie is for XYZ. This is not for XYZ”. Don’t be afraid to say those kinds of things.
CONTENT + CAPTION DO’S AND DON’TS
- Be yourself +Embrace every part of your story/brand message
- Show up messy and scared
- Be consistent AF
- Emulate others + consume too much content so that you accidentally infuse it into your own
- Hold yourself back and wait for perfection
- Do not ghost your audience. Your sales depend on your connection. Also don’t make stuff up or reach out of your niche. Repeating yourself is good!
CONTENT IDEAS THAT CAN BE TURNED INTO A STORY
Here’s some ideas of different things to get your juices flowing. I’m never gonna tell you what to write on what day. I don’t believe in having a schedule where Monday we educate, on Tuesday we motivate. No,no,no,no,no,no,no,no. It’s more about your upcoming products and services. If you’re a coach or a service provider, what are some launches that are in your future or evergreen content that you’re promoting and how can you relate your free content to up sell into that? If you’re a product based business, same thing, but based on your product. We want to look into the 30, 60 or 90 day future and write our content based on what’s up and coming.
We don’t just want to write about anything. We need to niche down. We need to know our in depth ideal client, inside and out. What are their pain points in the homework, we have a bunch of journal prompts this week that are exactly how to get your juices flowing on what your ideal client needs.
Some things that you can do is educate and really position yourself as the expert. Share inspirational content, which means sharing your story and creating a connection. Vulnerable content, which is similar to inspirational, but because you’re creating a connection, you’re sharing something real or raw about you and your brand or your story. Inspiration lifts them up and vulnerability makes you more relatable.
Collect data from your audience and share what they ask about. People are constantly commenting on your stuff or DMing you, you can do some research into that. What are people Google searching or Pinterest searching based on what you teach and talk about?
Or you can just have fun with it. Have fun with a purpose and show your personality. Be goofy and fun and just build that relationship. Whether you’re a personal brand or a product based brand, you can build personality either way. And in a product based business sharing about the people behind the brand really can help build a connection.
STAND IN YOUR EXPERT STATUS
Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. @garyvee says something very cool that I love, he says,“I’m not going to make shit up to entertain you.” One time someone asked him,“why do you always talk about the same thing?” And he said, “I’m not going to make shit up to entertain you. I know what works and I’m going to continue to shove that down your throat until you do it.”
Now, I don’t necessarily think I’m going to shove things down your throat, but you do you if that’s what you want to do. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’snot my style, but I am going to continue to talk about it over and over and over again and tell you over and over and over again why hashtags matter, why Instagram matters, why you need to be a storyteller, why you need to be consistent, why you need to know the crap out of your ideal client. You notice I’ve talked about ideal clients on every single module so far. Because it’s not shit that I’m making up. It’s real shit that matters for you to have real success on Instagram.
Do not be afraid to repeat yourself, the more you repeat yourself, the easier it is to write content. Because you just reiterate what you just said and slap a new photo on it. You’re good to go.
Stick with your brand messaging but also share tidbits that make your brand personable. We want to talk about our brand, but we also want to add flavor and personality, flavor, and pazazz. How can we add that into there? Make it interesting.
Don’t be afraid to dip into some of your paid content because it helps make your customers happier and more successful. Basically, the idea of this is when you’re constantly talking about the stuff that you talk about in your paid content, what happens is when someone has heard you say stuff a million times in your free content, then they come into your paid content and it’s the same stuff, but even deeper, they’re more likely psychologically going to take action because it’s not the first time they heard you say it.
If you already have stuff that you sell, how can you break that down to basic stuff? Ina way that you’re not giving away the paid stuff for free, but also so that the first time that they hear it, isn’t once they bought your program, we really want to educate the crap out of them. Every single one of you knows, knew before you came into this masterclass, if you went to my hashtag masterclass, you knew a lot about hashtags coming into it, which made you act on it because you learned so much. If you didn’t go to that masterclass, you might not act on it as quickly because you weren’t presented with that facts as to why hashtags were that important. So don’t be afraid to dip into some of your paid content.
A COUPLE OF THINGS TO REMEMBER
- Use your voice and be you.
- Honesty is always the best policy
- Perfection doesn’t exist.
- Showing up messy.
- Consistency is the most important thing that matters to your audience and building a relationship. You need to show up regularly.
We have to be better about posting. We cannot just post once a week and ghost and not engage and not show up for long periods of time, and I know I’ve been guilty of that in the past, but I guarantee you that if you show up at least three or four times a week and share valuable content, your sales will reflect that.
Now, we don’t need to be annoying. We don’t need to post a million times a day unless you’re feeling really super inspired and you want to post a million times a day. But I definitely recommend a minimum of three to four times per week.