Instagram is a social network focused on visuals. While great visuals may be the mainstay of the network, many also use the captions to draw the users attention to their posts and convey their desired message. Recently, Instagram made some quiet changes to the captions, which will certainly impact marketers. Here’s what they changed and what you need to know to make the most of the updated captions.
Instagram Updates Captions
Instagram recently updated to hide long captions and instead display just the first three lines. You can see an example of the new shortened captions in the screenshot on the right.
Many had used the previously used long captions to fill up a lot of space in the viewers timeline, in hopes of grabbing their attention. While doing so may have offered added opportunity to get noticed, it often meant a poor user experience for viewers, who had to scroll far further to get through all of the text, just to get to what they really wanted to see. Some brands certainly got unfollowed when their tirades of text filled the feed with uninteresting banter purely placed to fill screen space.
All this isn’t to say that many don’t have great insight to share within their captions. Lots of shares benefit from the added information of longer captions. One example to the left, shows that long-form text can provide plenty of added insight to an Instagram update. The change was implemented not to punish those looking to share more information, but to prevent timelines from becoming filled with text, rather than the images Instagram focuses on.
With the new shortened captions, a ‘more’ link is automatically shown after the first three lines, allowing users to click to expand and show the full caption. This allows engaged users to still read everything the poster wants to share, but prevents the overzealous from filling the timeline with uninteresting gab. Your long text isn’t exiled, just saved for those that are truly interested in what you have to share.
This update may mean less people see your essays, but those that really cared about them in the first place will still be able to view what you have to share. And the change will mean that those who want to see what you’re sharing will have to scroll through less filler from the other guys in order to see your updates and others.
Working With The New Caption Limitations
As with all social media updates, marketers will find ways to work with these changes.
One workaround is to keep captions limited to 3 lines. Then add your additional commentary to the post as the first comment. You can see in the example to the right, an additional five lines of text can be shown before the […] link to read more shows. Keep in mind that adding these additional comments will impact your analytics and skew your engagement metrics. Be sure to compensate by removing one comment from each post in your reporting.
Rather than trying to find a workaround, the best way to engage people even with the new caption limitations is simply to post stuff that really grabs their interest. If you’re sharing things they really want to see and learn more about, it should be no problem to get people clicking the ‘more’ link to continue reading.
Make the most of your first 3 lines. Craft copy that grabs the readers attention, just as you’d do on any other social network. Capture the reader’s curiosity right away and make them unable to resist clicking to continue reading.
Hopefully, Instagram will add the ‘more’ link-click as part of their engagement metrics in the future, as Twitter and others do now with Detail Expands. This will allow us to see how effective our images and captions are at engaging users to continue reading.
Make The Most Of Instagram Captions
Updates to Instagram don’t mean doom for marketers. Though some may see a slight drop in engagement from these changes to Instagram captions, those that are still truly engaged with what your brand is sharing should still be grabbed by your great images and strong starts to your captions.
Focus on sharing the most interesting imagery possible and be sure your captions start with attention-grabbing copy. If you focus on quality content, the new Instagram update shouldn’t impact you at all. Start snapping stunning photos.