Copywriting is an art, and copywriters are artists in their own right. It takes a lot of creativity to develop engaging content, owing to the saturation of content on various online and offline platforms.
If you are a copywriter, you probably have experienced that awful moment when no matter how much effort you put into it, you cannot come up with a catchy opener for your content.
Now here’s the deal, captions are super important in content writing, especially in the online space. Captions are basically the titles of an image or a video. It can be a few words or can also be more descriptive with a few sentences.
Engaging social media captions or blog titles convince the audience to click on your content and consume it instead of simply scrolling past it. However, it can be hard to get them right.
An engaging title or caption gives you a quick and tempting glimpse into what the article/blog will be about and can immediately capture the reader’s intrigue with its phrasing. So if you are finding it hard to nail down the correct way of writing engaging captions, let’s explore how you can come up with better captions for your work.
The Importance of Clarity in Your Storytelling
Every article, blog, video, picture, prose, or poetry you put out there tells your audience a story. The traditional understanding of storytelling as a 300-page novel or a short story has become obsolete. Today, different mediums are being used to tell stories, and these stories are equally capable of moving people.
So before you start your piece, here are a couple of questions to ask yourself:
- What story am I trying to tell through my piece?
- How do I want to make my audience feel through my work?
- What emotion is my piece going to elicit from my audience?
- Will my work push my audience to think? If yes, which direction do I want to push them in?
- What is the larger message that I want to leave them with?
It is imperative as a copywriter to have complete clarity about these questions before you start writing. If you are unsure what your piece is trying to achieve, then that confusion and lack of clarity will reflect in your work.
Checklist For A Good Caption
Here’s the deal, your captions need to contain some key factors in order to make maximum impact. Here’s a simple formula that you can apply to your caption writing to adjudge their quality:
- Does it tease the reader? (It should, a good caption should be mysterious and tempt the reader to find out more)
- Does it introduce the key focus of your content? (A caption should be accurate and the right fit for your content. An article about ice creams should have a caption related to ice creams)
- Is it easy to read? (Readability is key for a good caption. So even if you are writing a long caption, ensure that it’s broken down into shorter sentences and is easy to read)
Writing Engaging Captions – The Cardinal Rules
“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” – Elmore Leonard.
A few things have been tried and tested in the copywriting industry, and they work like a charm every time. So here are some industry-standard dos and don’ts that you should be keeping in mind to enhance the impact of your copy, especially when writing captions.
Keep it short and crisp for improved readability
When it comes to captions, they are an introduction and not the whole picture itself. If you try to cram in too much information into your caption, it’ll turn off your audience, and they will simply scroll past it. Short and catchy captions drive engagement and capture the reader’s attention. Try using comprehensive adjectives, or maybe an effective metaphor, to get your point across. Here are a few examples of how to shorten your sentences:
- It is really very cold in Antarctica – It is freezing in Antarctica
- I would eat these dumplings up really fast – I would devour these dumplings
- This purchase will encourage your values of spending responsibly – This purchase will
encourage your thriftiness
The coconut tree was tall.
The fruit fell on Sam’s head.
The ambulance responded to his friend’s call for help.
As a reader, by the time you reach that third sentence, you are already confused, disoriented, and looking to scroll past that caption.
The key to an engaging long caption, the ones that are often used for social media posts to tell a story, is connectivity and good structure. The argument you are making needs to be cohesive, and each sentence should be a segue to the next. So, for example, the above piece will make much more sense when written the following way:
The coconut tree was tall, and it was a particularly windy day.
Sam was on his way home, and while crossing the tree, a coconut fruit fell on his head.
Sam’s friend spotted the event and quickly called an ambulance for help.
The ambulance responded to the distress call.
Facts over fiction
The human brain is wired in a way that it immediately trusts statistics and numbers more than words. In a world where misinformation is practically everywhere, scientific facts are attractive to a reader. So use numbers, statistics, or proven facts in your caption, wherever possible. Following are a few examples of such captions:
- 85% Of Doctors Believe That XYZ Causes Hairfall In Adult Women
- Experts Have Concluded That 3 out of 10 Dogs Suffer From This Syndrome
Few Tips To Help You Improve Your Captions
Now that you have a better idea about how to approach caption writing, here are a few tips to help you improve your captions:
1. Use active voice: For example, Nike’s brand catchphrase ‘Just Do It’ is in active voice, which in passive voice would have been, ‘Let it be done by you’. One is clearly more impactful than the other.
2. Use conversational language: Communication is always more effective with simpler language. Your reader should feel that the caption is directly speaking to them.
3. Edit, edit and edit some more: Short, crisp, and snazzy is what you should be aiming for. Break down long sentences, use interesting words, metaphors and even alliterations sounds great. For example, ‘Recharge, Rejuvenate and Radiate With This XYZ Cream’. It has a click to it, doesn’t it?
Those were some handy tips and tricks that should help you on your journey of becoming a more effective copywriter. The world of content writing is constantly evolving, but lessons about human psychology have guided marketing for decades now. Fall back on tried and tested patterns, and you shall see the results soon.