It's the perfect moment. The perfect shot. You're smiling, the sun is shining and you look fantastic. Then you post it to Instagram with a caption that is bad enough to break the internet. It's almost as bad as taking a selfie with your lawnmower (this has happened). So how can you take your selfie, belfie or relfie to the next level of awesome? Here are seven steps to the perfect caption.
1. BE HAPPY
Happiness is infectious. Some sources say that your happiness can make your friends happy and could even positively impact the mood of your friend’s friends! Make your caption happy, let it capture the reason why your smile runs from ear to ear, and bring joy to everyone around you. It’s a sure fire way to make your pics more popular.
Do This: "Tons of sun, plenty of fun, great reason to #smile!"
2. BE INTERESTING
Let’s say that, at first glance, the reason for your shot isn’t obvious. It’s not massively clear what the background is or why you’re so entertained. This is your chance to write a caption that’s informative, interesting and persuasive. When people see your image they will instantly be drawn to the caption and, if it tells a story, they will want to know more about you and the rest of your photos. Studies have shown that people are 300% more likely to read captions than any other kind of website copy, so add a fascinating one. It counts!
Do This: "That blur is a racing llama! Who knew such a thing existed?"
3. CREATE A STORY
Carole Edrich, owner of Carole Edrich Dance Photography, recommends making the selfie into a story, even when it wasn't one when you took it!
"Messing around with friends at lunchtime becomes a surprise and your caption can reflect that - 'Look who I bumped into today and I didn't even KNOW!'," says Edrich. "If you want attention, try not to use too many words and allow people to imagine the rest."
Let your friends be intrigued. Ignite their curiosity. And if you want to show off holiday shots, Edrich recommends avoiding the plain 'This is me by the river' caption and, instead, use it as a chance to find a story.
"Ask your readers what they think of your hat or your hair!" she says. "Point out a beautiful bridge in the background and share its history - is it a famous bridge that will bring you wealth if you cross it? What are the stories that surround you? Let those become part of your captions."
4. KEEP IT SHORT
A long winded caption that doesn’t get to the point will not be a winner. Aim for a short and snappy caption that hits all the high notes and keeps your readers entertained. Captions may not be easy to write, but when you describe the mood perfectly it's worth the effort.
Don't Do This: "And so Great Aunt Mabel said that the house needed three coats of yellow paint and Uncle Miraj said that it would make it look like a giant yellow sun and I don’t know what to think because yellow is a nice colour, but on the walls of an entire house?"
5. DON'T FISH FOR COMPLIMENTS
Carrie Barclay, author of The Selfie Book recommends that you avoid writing captions that look for compliments and praise.
"Captions like 'Looking so rough today' unless you genuinely look pretty darn awful, or ' I hate my nose', will just annoy people," says Barclay. "You chose the image, you're managing the message; so if you don't like what you see, take another shot rather than try and push for compliments to boost your ego."
6. SHARE INFORMATION
Barclay also recommends sharing your special moments with others in a way that's informative and helpful.
"If you're wearing a bold shade of lipstick, some awesome sunnies or a beautiful necklace, it can be really useful to tell your audience where they're from," says Barclay. "If I spot an item, or love someone's look, I'll want to emulate it. Links are a bit of a pain on Instagram, but you can update the link in your Instagram profile and caption 'Link in bio' - that way people will know where to look."
7. HASHTAG IT
"Hashtags! Unlike other social platforms, Instagrammers don’t seem to suffer from hashtag fatigue," says Barclay. "I think this is probably because there’s a pretty picture to distract and entertain, and hashtags can lead them to more of the same - with just one click."
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, and using more than 11 will really help your engagement. Don’t know what to tag? Do your research. Start with a few simple, self explanatory ones - the obvious being #selfie - and describe what you’re showing - use tags like #sunset #summer #winter. From there, investigate those hashtags and see what people with similar images to yours are using. You’ll soon get a feel for it.
This article was commissioned via NewsCred's NewsRoom and written by freelance contributor Tamsin Oxford.