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The Secret Ingredients to Grow a Healthy Brand

  • Writer's pictureNicole Powell

The 3 Core Elements of the Perfect Instagram Caption

Updated: May 29, 2023

Many consider Instagram as the most visual social media platform with its feed of images and videos. These days, users overlook a crucial component of Instagram posts that can lead to loyal followers and engagement, the caption!

Words evoke emotion.

Words tell a story.

And the right words sell.

The right captions can help drive traffic to your campaign, offer, or website and increase engagement.

Of course, more goes into creating captions, but you need to start here to level up your caption copywriting skills!

The three core elements of a converting caption are The Hook, The Body, and CTA.

The Hook

The hook is what is going to drive your audience to click "Read More" and engage. The first 125 characters will make people:

  • Want to click “ Read More”

  • Like your post solely on the image, but not engage much further

  • Skip your post altogether

The goal here is to not give away the entire premise of your caption in the first line or 125 words; otherwise, why would your audience want to click read more? Instead, try these three tips if you're struggling with hooks in your content.

1.) Make it a cliffhanger

Traditionally, cliffhangers are at the end of a TV show or story, right? The point of a cliffhanger is to get you to either a.) be really upset that you have to wait months before figuring out what happened or b.) be so excited for when the show comes back that you put it in your Outlook calendar.

(I'm not speaking from experience of course #Gameofthrones.)

Since social media, Instagram in particular, is a totally different animal, we want to put the cliffhanger line as your hook urging the audience to click "Read More" to find out how you got to that ending.

For example, take a look at my hook from a caption below from the Halcon Marketing Instagram.

Example Hook: I feel like I've lived 5 different lives.

This is a hook, because it leaves the audience wondering what I mean by this statement and they want to learn more about the story that has left me feeling like I've lived 5 different lives. It drives viewers to click "Read More" because they need more context and they know the rest of the caption will give them the full story.

2.) Ask a question that you know your readers ask themselves.

At this point, you should know your audience and ideal clients and customers like they are your best friends. You know what they may be struggling with or pain points in their lives. A great hook asks them a question that they may have asked themselves in the past or never thought of but pertains to their experiences.

Example Hook: Do you have a problem with letting go?⁠

3.) Grab their attention with valuable information.

Do you have a great blog with awesome tips? Do you have a sale that is out of this world? Start with this as your hook or headline and then explain your offer in the caption. Show your audience you have the info or products they need.

Example Hook: Do hashtags have you down? In this week's blog, we share the TRUTH about hashtags and cut through the confusion...

The Body

Now that you've grabbed your audience's attention, let's keep them reading! The body of your caption should NOT be a brain dump. You don't want your audience to be excited to read your caption after the hook and then you let them down with jumbled thoughts or a quick 2 sentences that don't expand upon your hook.

Our goal here is to tell a story. Evoke your inner Nicholas Sparks! Here are a few ways to connect with your audience through your caption writing.

1.) Empathize and future pace

We never want to talk AT our audience. Again, we want to connect through storytelling. One way to do so is to empathize with our audience by sharing a story and then future pace, so your audience can see themselves in their ideal happy ending along with you.

Use the body of your caption to expand upon a pain point and how it is affecting your audience and provide ways you found a solution or they can find a tangible solution themselves for their pain points. Remember, you should not be talking at them on your soapbox, making them feel like you have all the answers and they don't. Instead, it is important to relate to their experiences.

My example below is a caption I wrote for HALCON. I am sharing a story about my own experience and hoping the audience can relate and also see themselves as me now... with a solid team and less stress. I mean who doesn't want that?!


Do you have a problem with letting go?⁠

Trust me. I do too.⁠

We love our businesses. They are our livelihoods, our babies and we're protective of them.⁠

So what do we do?⁠

➡️ We wear more hats than we should. ⁠

➡️ We overwork ourselves.⁠

➡️ We believe we're the only ones who can do it right. ⁠

➡️ We don't ask for help.⁠

One of the things I had to learn when I started Halcon is to trust and delegate. ⁠

I knew I had a solid team, and yet I wasn't acting like I did. ⁠

We tend to think, "no one cares about my business as much as I do" but I've learned this couldn't be farther from the truth."

If you select the right people, treat them well and gain their trust and alignment with your vision and mission, you can delegate with ease and allow someone else to "babysit" your "baby" for a while.⁠

The business didn't go under when I went on maternity leave last year. It continued to thrive.⁠

Why? ⁠

Because of the Halcon team.

2.) Expand upon your valuable hook by adding even more value in the body.

You may have used a great hook that displays information your audience wants and needs. Now, use the body to give them snippets of additional valuable information pertaining to the topic at hand. If you're trying to promote a blog, don't include your entire blog in the caption. Instead, give them valuable snippets from your blog content that would make them want to visit your website to read the entire thing.


𝗠𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱 for Small Business Owners...⁠

I recently had a discovery call with a business owner, and I realized how much confusion there is on branding vs. marketing. It's essential to know the difference between the two, especially if you plan on tackling branding/marketing your business on your own.⁠

Branding is the all-important task of transforming your business into a brand. This step includes creating external-facing assets like a logo, color palette, fonts, etc., that represent your business. Most folks forget that branding is not just your logo but also includes DEFINING WHO you are as a brand and as a company. Some questions you answer during this phase are: Who is your target consumer? What are your values? What are your brand identity and message?⁠

Think of marketing as executing a series of tactics to reach clients and customers and build relationships, so they purchase your products or services. This includes email marketing, SEO, print collateral, social media, etc.⁠

Essentially, you can't have one without the other. It's crucial to complete the branding before the marketing; otherwise, how will you know what to say or present to your customer, right?⁠

These concepts can get confusing, so feel free to DM us if you have any questions!

The Call-to-Action (CTA)

Your audience has read your entire caption, and they're loving it! Now, it's time to keep the conversation going by including a call-to-action copy (a.k.a. CTA) in your caption.

Throughout your caption, you should be asking key questions meant to increase engagement. If you're feeling daring, you can even include 2 CTAs at appropriate spots in your content.

You can have a CTA in the middle of the body of your caption and then another one at the end. The main point here is you're always giving your audience the opportunity to relate with you and engage.

Here are two types of CTAs you can utilize in your copy.

  1. Primary CTA: Helps boost your engagement

    1. "Can you relate? If so, tell me about it in the comments!"

    2. "Give me a 👍 if you feel me!"

    3. "Follow [insert your account here] for more tips and tricks." (This is a good one if someone finds your account via Explore)

    4. "Tag a biz bestie who would love this info or giveaway."

  2. Secondary CTA: Prompts your audience to take action

    1. "Read the whole blog for tips 7-10 by clicking the link in our bio."

    2. "Check out our stories where I go in depth about [Insert topic]."


𝕀𝕟 𝕔𝕒𝕤𝕖 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕞𝕚𝕤𝕤𝕖𝕕 𝕚𝕥...⁠

In our first BIG KAHUNA newsletter, we shared 𝟱 𝗦𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗪𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗨𝗽𝗱𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗪𝗲𝗯𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗲. Your website is the face of your business online, kind of like your digital storefront. It’s often the main way that potential customers and partners get to know you BEFORE making a purchase decision. ⁠

Although we all know how important our website is, keeping it up to date can often take a back burner compared to all of the other tasks on your to-do list. ⁠


This is why our digital strategist, Renae, created an insightful blog post AND FREE 𝒅𝒐𝒘𝒏𝒍𝒐𝒂𝒅𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝒄𝒉𝒆𝒄𝒌𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒕 to help you keep your website so fresh and so clean, clean. #Outkast

Get your copy by checking out our #linkinbio and clicking on The Halcon Marketing Lab Blog.⁠ 💻


I’m like our Chief Furry Officer today. I worked way more than I should have, BUT #realtalk... I admit I maybe overdid it, but I enjoyed the work.⁠

As business owners, you try your hardest to set boundaries daily, but sometimes you just got to work to make things happen. You gotta hustle to grow. You got to put in the OT if you want to see change. Planners are great and all, but sometimes you got to go past the lines (or dots), work “outside the planner box” and do what needs to be done and make adjustments to get what you want. #amiright

Who’s with me? 🙋🏻‍♀️


There you have it! The three core elements of an Instagram caption. The fact that you're here and reading this means you understand how important it is to connect with your audience through pictures and words. Words will enable you to share your story effectively and display your value, so caption strategy should never be left on the back burner if you want to grow your audience and make authentic connections.

I have tons of people asking me for advice regarding captions and copywriting. For this reason, I created a FREE 5-Day Challenge all about social media caption writing.

It's called The Wholehearted Brand™: Caption-Writing 5-day Challenge. It's part of my The Wholehearted Brand library of programs and courses I am rolling out in the next year under my passion project, Nicole Powell Brand. The goals of this FREE live and interactive challenge is to give you the opportunity to learn the strategies to writing compelling social media captions in LESS time and generate MORE engagement while being authentically YOU.

We're going to talk about more than just the three elements of your captions I outlined above. We're going to dive even deeper as I show you a technique I use to create several captions from one "story."

If you want to join the free week-long challenge, click here. It starts June 7, 2021!

With Gratitude,

P.S. Don't forget to join my awesome Facebook Group, The Wholehearted Brand Community with Nicole Powell. It's a supportive group of empath, intuitive, sensitive, introverted, and ambivert entrepreneurs struggling with marketing and branding and looking for a community of like-minded individuals to share stories and just vent! I know you'll love it.


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Nicole Powell

Meet Nicole Powell, an expert whose journey spans from Manila to the Midwest, helping businesses transform into profitable and brag-worthy brands with research, creativity and neuroscience. With a determination to uplift fellow entrepreneurs, Nicole draws from her experience and mentorships with industry leaders for the past 15+ years. Her mission is clear: pay it forward, sharing the knowledge and skills she's acquired to empower others.

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