They say a picture is worth a thousand words and, being a visual channel, maybe that’s why Instagram is now limiting the amount of text visible in the captions that are seen as you scroll through your feed in the app.
Prior to last month, the popular image-sharing social channel displayed photo captions in their (up to) 2,200-character entirety. These blurbs showed up below their respectively ‘grammed visual content and could monopolize almost an entire smartphone screen, depending their wordiness. But now our feeds feature a uniform string of snapshots and short descriptions thanks to Instagram’s new “more” button that’s tacked at the end of all captions exceeding approximately 132 characters.
While Instagram’s growing culture of platform-loyal, short-form bloggers may not mind that their long posts are only fully accessible to genuinely interested readers, the character cap may impact marketers’ messaging strategies. A new limit on visible captions means brands must become exceptionally creative with how they call their fans to action.
Here are 4 ways marketers can actually maximize Instagram’s new “visible character limit”:
1. Start with a story, rather than a sale.
Connect with audiences through user-generated or organic, natural imagery. Then, engage them in an anecdote that leads them to want to read more, or invite them to read longer copy with an on-brand emoji that adds character and aligns eyes with the “more” button.
2. Energize “the-ask” to drive site traffic.
It’s no longer enough to explain the image and encourage fans to click the link in your profile. Make people eager to convert by catering to specific needs. Post photos featuring a problem you know your audience is experiencing and use your 132 characters to summarize the solution you offer to smoothly send them to the link. Make maximum use of your link by utilizing an Instagram selling tool, like Like2Buy, to implement Insta-Commerce.
3. Spice up what’s seen to elevate engagement.
The good news about captions being cut short is that the feature applies to everyone. And marketers typically have photo-editing hacks and snappy sentences handy at all times, giving them a leg-up on the other captions competing for eyes. Instead of starting your caption as an explanation of the photo, have those visible characters speak to the action you’re looking for your audience to take. While hashtags are a useful tool for increasing content visibility on Instagram, save these for the end of the caption, where they don’t take up valuable visible character space, but still aid in making your content more searchable.
4. Try out Instagram advertising.
Since they are subject to the same text rules as organic Instagram posts, Instagram ads don’t necessarily give you any workaround to the caption cap. However, they’re a great way to expand the reach of your content to new users. If you’ve crafted a caption that is working well organically, consider promoting a similar post – or the same copy with a different image. It’s important to change the imagery with each post, because you can’t exclude your current fans with the available targeting options for Instagram ads right now. This means that if you post an organic image for current followers to see in their feeds, if you decide to promote that same post, there’s a chance your current followers will likely see the post again.
Crafting copy to convey your message in a few characters can be challenging. If you need help creating posts that pop on Instagram, start by considering how your audience wants to communicate. Find out how the latest consumer trends can guide you in optimizing your social content strategy to grow a focused and effective Instagram profile.