Related Categories
Related Courses
Free Resources

4 Steps To Writing an Engaging Instagram Caption

Are you hitting publish on your Instagram posts, waiting patiently for the likes and comments to roll in, and they don’t come? You’re still waiting, waiting a little longer…

Getting engagement on Instagram isn’t what it was back in 2010–we can’t expect to hit publish and reach thousands of people the way we used to. Instagram in 2020 requires a bit more strategy, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. 😉

We’re marketers, so that means we’re not just going to whip up a creative caption for our audience–we’re going to make sure we’re backing it with some strategy. We’re going to use the worksheets that help us talk to our customers where they are in their experience with the pain point our product solves and write a clear call to action asking them to do something after reading our post.

Here’s what we’re going to use to craft an engaging Instagram caption:

And we’re going to break it up into 4 steps:

  1. What pain point and/or challenge does your customer avatar have?
  2. What transformation do they get when they remove that pain point or solve the challenge?
  3. What’s something you can say that makes them like you more?
  4. What’s your call to action?

Alright, grab your coffee and your blue light blocking glasses—it’s time to go into writer’s mode.

Step One: Pain Point/Challenge

If you’re thinking, “Isn’t this how a sales page starts?” then we know your coffee cup is already empty and your eye is on the prize. You’re right: sales pages start with the pain point/challenge an offer is going to solve.

We call this the Before State. It’s the state somebody’s in BEFORE they buy your product. If your Instagram post was an infomercial, this is the part where they start to very dramatically talk about the problem the product solves. 😂

Here’s what the Before and After State Grid looks like:

Since you’re not creating one Instagram post and walking away (content consistency is key), you’re going to be highlighting multiple pain points and challenges your customer avatar faces throughout your content (a.k.a multiple before and after states). Each Instagram caption should highlight one pain point or one challenge.

Just like with a sales page, we want to start with a Before State that captures our audience’s attention. It’s the hook that makes them think, “wait, I need to read more.” For example, Sunny Lenarduzzi’s audience of business owners trying to scale online wants an engaged social media audience (just like you ☺️).

To interest them, she starts her post with their pain point: wanting a more engaged audience on social media. She turns this pain point into her opening line, “The #1 SECRET to a HIGHLY engaged audience on social media 👇🏻”.

Her audience (and anybody else who bumps into this post on Instagram) is going to know right away if this post is for them. This is the start of the secret to engaging Instagram captions: making sure it’s written with a specific person in mind.

She keeps her audience hooked by bringing them further into their Before State with her second paragraph.

“I’ve taught a LOT of social media tactics over the years. And tactics are great. I can teach you SEO and hashtag strategies for days…but without this SECRET ingredient, you could use all of the tactics in the world and still not see any growth.”

Now that she’s painted the picture of the Before State, it’s time to give her audience the After State that comes with engaging with this post.

What pain point and/or challenge does your customer avatar have?

Here’s what the pain points and challenges are of our customer avatar to give you an idea of what you’re aiming for:

Step Two: The Transformation

Now that you know where your audience is starting, it’s time to guide them towards the direction you want them to go. We call this the After State—it’s the place they get to once they’ve had the transformation they’re looking for. You’re going to show them how well you know what their goals are by speaking directly to this transformation.

In Sunny’s case, it’s time to lead her viewers toward the transformation of who they’ll become if they had an engaged social media audience.

“If people aren’t bought into your story, your journey, your experience… they don’t care. Period. Social media is built on a system of leaders and followers. So, you have to see yourself as a leader in order for people to want to follow you. I prefer to say that you need to see yourself as a HERO. How?”

“Swipe ➡️➡️ to see the 6 questions that will help you identify the root of what YOU should be sharing and talking about on social media. And tomorrow on YouTube, I’m going to show you exactly how to create an endless stream of content ideas that positions YOU as the hero that everyone wants to follow.”

What transformation do they get when they remove that pain point or solve the challenge?

Here’s an example of the Before and After State Grid for one of our customer avatars: marketing executives:

Step Three: Getting Viewers to Like You More

Since people following you on social media already have shown their like for you by hitting that follow button, we want to remind them of it through your Instagram caption. People engage with Instagram posts that make them feel understood and like they can relate—so here’s the part where we’re going to tap into the relatability of your post.

If you don’t know how to relate to your audience, this is where the Customer Avatar Worksheet comes in. This worksheet will teach you who your audience is, from their goals down to the podcasts they listen to. It’ll give you tons of information on how to relate to them on a deeper level.

Going back to Sunny’s post, she relates to her audience of business owners and their challenge of not knowing what they need to do to get Instagram engagement. She relates to them by talking about something they’re used to seeing in their seemingly never-ending quest for more engagement: tactics.

“See, tactics get you what I call ‘drive by followers’ – they see you in their feed, you give them something they want, and then they forget about you. This is DANGEROUS. Take it from someone who has been purging these ‘drive by followers’ lately, but also seeing A MASSIVE increase in views and engagement. If people only follow you because of tactics but aren’t engaged in YOU, it messes with the algorithm. How? Because the algorithm sees you have all of these followers but terrible engagement on your content and that tells the algorithm your content must suck and therefore they stop showing it to people. ⁣⁣


Getting to the root of YOU and showing up in a way that only you can, because your experience and your story is unlike anyone else on that planet, THAT is what gets you a life long, die hard audience and skyrockets your engagement.”

This extra ounce of getting-viewers-to-like-you makes her post that much more relatable and increases the chances of someone saying, “This isn’t just another tactic. She GETS me, so I bet this is going to actually work.”

At DigitalMarketer, we use the Customer Avatar Worksheet to figure out what the real goals and values are behind our avatar’s desires. For example, here’s an example of what those look like for one of our customer avatars:

What’s something you can say that makes them like you more?

Which leads us perfectly into our call to action…

Step Four: Call to Action

Just like a sales page, your call to action is extremely important. If you don’t ask your audience to take action after your post, they’re not going to know you want them to engage with it! Yup, you’re hearing us right—every Instagram post that you’re looking for engagement on requires you to ASK for that engagement.

Check out how Sunny asked her audience to comment on her post,

“So, I’m curious, what kind of lightbulbs did these questions spark? 💡👇🏻

Let me know in the comments! And I’ll see you on YouTube to show you how to create content that no one else can compete with tomorrow 💪🏻 ”

Almost 300 comments later, and Sunny’s nailed her CTA.

On top of that, she’s also provided so much value that her audience took an extra step in engaging with her Instagram post–they saved it so they could come back to it later.

That’s how you craft an engaging Instagram caption that hits it out of the park. ⚾️

Remember, all you need to craft your own engaging Instagram captions is to answer these 4 questions:

  1. What pain point and/or challenge does your customer avatar have?
  2. What transformation do they get when they remove that pain point or solve the challenge?
  3. What’s something you can say that makes them like you more?
  4. What’s your call to action?

Make sure to bookmark this article so you can come back to it when you sit down to write your next Instagram captions. 🤓

Mark de Grasse

Mark de Grasse

Mark de Grasse is the President and General Manager of DigitalMarketer and has worked with thousands of business owners to create brands, companies, and marketing campaigns.

Subscribe to the DM Insider Newsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter that delivers the most actionable, tactical, and timely marketing tips you actually need in 7 minutes or less. Get an edge over the competition, for free.