© 2018 Later. All rights reserved

The ABCs of Instagram Marketing

C is for Content


We’re closing our 3-part TTYL mini-series with ‘C for Content’. Nikki and Rachel chat through everything there is to know about creating engaging content for your Instagram feed and writing captions that convert into more follows! 

TTYL is available to download on iTunes and Stitcher.


RACHEL MCDERMOTT: Hey guys, I’m Rachel from Later’s Customer Happiness team.

NIKKI CANNING: And I’m Nikki from the Marketing team! 

Welcome to the third episode of Later’s TTYL — A podcast offering social marketing insights in digestible bites. You’ve tuned into the final part of our 3-part mini-series on the ABCs of Instagram marketing. 

In episode one, we chatted all about how to identify your audience and followed up with branding your business on Instagram in episode 2

RMIf you’ve not listened to the first two episodes, we’d recommend going back and starting with them before jumping into Episode 3 — this mini-series is all about the building blocks to your Instagram marketing strategy and we don’t want you to miss out on anything! But if you’ve been following along with each episode, let’s dive right into the next topic in our ABCs: Content.

NCThis is probably my favorite part of building an Instagram strategy for your brand, and I can’t stress enough just how important the words you put on your Instagram page are. 

This might be a little controversial, but I think your Instagram captions are JUST AS important as the images or videos you post to your feed. 

The ABCs of Instagram Marketing

C is for Content

NCI would say as well, that if you’re using any kind of image repost, or using an image that you found on another profile, - this is sometimes called User Generated Content or UGC for short - you 100% need to mention them. We have a whole blog post dedicated to helping you Legally Repost User-Generated Content on Instagram, so please do check that out before you do.

RMBasically, always ask permission and anytime that you’re posting an image with another person or brand, add their handle into your caption as well, instead of just tagging them in the photo. Then your followers can discover their profiles too!

NCAnd sharing other user’s branding hashtags or creating your own is another great way to build community on Instagram.

RMThat’s right. A branded hashtag is a great way to start a conversation with your followers and increase the reach of your content.

NCBranded hashtags are a way for your “fans” to share with their followers how they’re already engaging with your brand, and for you to inspire user-generated content (UGC). It can mean major growth for your followers and help with overall engagement on Instagram. 
Hashtags, in general, are another really important element to your caption, and we could dedicate a whole other mini-series to just hashtags I think!

RMYes! For sure — hashtags are basically your golden ticket to improving your engagement. A post with at least one Instagram hashtag, averages 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag! So, you want to make sure that you’re including at least one in your caption copy!

NCBut having the RIGHT hashtags for your audience is also so important — we have a whole 
Instagram Hashtag Strategy Guide on the Later Training page on our site! It’s completely free and you can use it to cherry pick and create a hashtag strategy for your business that really gets your posts in front of the right audiences.

RM: So I think that’s covered the basics of writing a good caption. Making sure your post captions are in line with your brand voice, are engaging and have a good call-to-action, and remembering that your captions are just as important as the visual aspect of your feed.

NCSo before you sit down to write your captions, ask yourself: Are you adding value to your audience, Are you adding value to your post, and are you adding value to your brand? Answer all three and you’re on the right track to creating killer captions!

RM: I think one of the biggest reasons people have trouble writing Instagram captions is because they try to do it on the fly, which definitely isn’t ideal.

NCFor sure, you need to set aside time to crafting those captions! A much better way to do it is to schedule your Instagram posts in advance and then taking the time to write (and rewrite!) your captions when you’re in a creative mood.

RM: And just in case you didn’t know, Later allows you to 
plan, schedule and draft your posts in advance and auto-publish them to your feed. So if you want to write a week's worth of content for Instagram on Monday, and then not look at Instagram for another week, you could! 

NCThat would never happen, I spend so much time on Instagram! But I’d also add that you need to pay attention to where your audience is based to make sure you’re posting to the right time zone. 

Remember in Episode 1 when we talked about finding your target audience? This is where it comes into play — if you know where in the world your target audience is based, and their behaviors — like for example, they work a 9-5 job, or are busy moms - you’ll be able to target them with your post. 

NCLove them. Polls and questions stickers are great for feeling out your followers’ vibe. You can ask them about how your pricing, your future company direction, what products or services they’d like to see and sooooo much more. It’s just a way to keep focusing on your target audience’s needs, wants and interests! 

RMTotally, For example, Imagine for a minute Nikki, that you’ve started a new t-shirt printing business. 

NCI really love graphic tees. 

RM: You’ve got the graphics, you have your Instagram set up and you’re starting to grow your following — then it’s time to launch. How much do you charge for your products? Say you have no idea.

NCRight, I could ask for example “would you be willing to pay $10 for a t-shirt” and put it on my Instagram story as a poll sticker.

RMExactly — if the majority of people respond or vote yes — awesome! You can just go ahead and DM them a link to what they’re interested in when the time comes.

NCPlus, if it’s a majority “no” vote on the poll, I can always pop a question sticker in to ask them how much they would be willing to pay. That’s so awesome.

RMAnd soooo easy too. Let’s talk a bit more about one of Instagram’s newest launches — IGTV. It offers up the chance to share even more content — especially the behind-the-scenes type footage, but I’m not sure how everyone is feeling about it.

RMI agree, it’s a HUGE opportunity to show off your brand, connect with your audience and there are some amazing brands and business who have jumped on board the IGTV train, and are getting a lot of traction on the content they produce there. 

RMBut let’s get back onto content! Let’s talk about Instagram Stories, as that’s a really different type of content to your captions! 

NCYes, I love Instagram Stories! And I have to say Instagram Stories is where I feel I really ‘get to know’ a brand. 

RMThey’re awesome right? A whopping 400 million people tap through stories every single day. That makes Instagram Stories a super easy, and effective way to introduce your brand to a new, or wider audience - and share that behind-the-scenes stuff you might not usually share on your posts or captions.

NCBecause of the ‘limited’ nature of a story, people are super engaged and interested in its content because they know it won’t be around after 24 hours.

RMExactly — it brings FOMO or fear of missing out to a whole new level. In my experience, regularly sharing content on Instagram Stories – this can be anything from behind-the-scenes footage to exclusive previews or just little tidbits of your usual feed content so people know you have a new post – it opens up lots of new opportunities to grow your account.

NCAnd it kind of strengthens your relationship with your followers too! Plus, the awesome little stickers available on Stories now make it so easy to widen your reach by using mention and location stickers, as well as hashtags!

RMAnother great way to make the most out of your story content, is by using it as a call-to-action. One of the easiest ways to guide viewers off the Instagram app and onto your website is by using the swipe up feature.

NCOh yeah! If you haven’t used this before, any Instagram Business account over 10k followers can link out to an external website in their Instagram Stories, you just need to add the link right before you publish your story post.

RMSo, The next great feature is something I totally nerd-out over! The access stories gives you to information from your target audience.

NCAre you talking about Instagram’s poll and question stickers? I absolutely LOVE those.

RMYeah, I am haha

RM: Special shout out to The Lily News who maintains a perfectly consistent aesthetic to match their Instagram feed and stories in their series called Unfiltered. In each video, YouTubers share intimate details their followers “have never heard before” and their videos are edited in black and white, with pops of blue and purple colors throughout. It’s really quite addictive to watch. 

NCAlso Lucy Williams from Fashion Me Now goes to show that you don’t need any kind of studio to create great content for IGTV. She just props up her phone up against something and starts chatting to her followers - and she has over 80k views on her channel!

Alright, so we’ve covered post captions, Instagram Stories, and IGTV - do you wanna talk about Instagram Live?

RMYeeeeees, what a great way to create content on the fly!

NCSo, obviously going live can seem a little daunting at first - it’s not something you can pre-record and upload later, like you can with stories, but that’s kind of the best part, right?

RMYeah, absolutely! The best part about using Instagram Live is that it feels super authentic and just ‘in the moment’. Plus, worst case scenario is, you delete it after you stop your live stream or it disappears 24 hours later.

NCIt also gives you an awesome way to communicate with your audience in real-time. You can do a questionnaire on there and your followers can write in with what they have questions about there and then. It’s a great way to connect.

RMRight? People love being part of something happening right now, so you can either go live spontaneously and create a sense of surprise or urgency for your followers to tune in and join the party, 

Or you can let your followers know ahead of time when you’ll be going live so they can plan to join you. You might even have a topic in mind for your Live session, so can ask your followers to get their questions ready for you!

NCThat’s a great tip! Create a little bit of a buzz around your live session! 

RMFor sure! It’s a two-way street — your images must be spot on for your audience, and your content really needs to resonate with them if you want to build on your engagement levels. 

In fact. the new Instagram algorithm tends to favor posts that get a lot of engagement. When a post receives a ton of likes, comments, and shares, this signals to Instagram that it’s a high-quality piece of content that other users might want to see too.

So the algorithm will bump the post up on peoples’ feeds. And if it gets enough engagement, it might even end up on the Explore Page!

NCExactly! So writing good Instagram captions with effective calls-to-action, and writing content that really speaks to your target audience, is one of the best ways to inspire your followers to comment on your posts, which will help drive even more engagement on your account.  

Plus it’s all about information sharing, the more you share with your followers, the stronger the relationship you’ll build with them. 

RMSo let’s start by digging into your posts’ captions! 

NCStripping it down, I think a good Instagram caption is one that provides context, adds personality, and inspires your followers to take action. But the first thing you should consider is the personality and tone of voice of your copy. 

RMYep, what we discussed in episode 2, about finding your unique branding, definitely needs to translate across all your Instagram captions and content too. Ultimately, what it comes down to is consistency: your Instagram captions should sound and feel like the rest of your social marketing channels.

NCSo if we take the Later feed for example, we have this gorgeous collection of bright, colorful, inspiring images in our feed. And when you look at your caption copy - a shout out to our social media manager Mel who writes them! - you can clearly see our tone is warm, friendly, welcoming and fun too! 

RMI think emojis are another awesome tool to consider when writing captions and bios...

NCYeah for sure, If you can work emojis into your brand tone — like Later has — I would do it. You can insert multiple emojis at the beginning of your captions to catch the eye of your followers with a bit of color, so they want to click to read more, or you can replace whole words with an emoji.

Even if you just add an emoji at the end of your Instagram caption, it’ll make your caption more inviting to your followers — and why not? Everyone loves a good emoji!

RMThe lightning bolt is my favorite. ⚡️

NCOoh mine is the three little stars, I think it’s meant to be ‘sparkles’. ✨

RMBut back to captions, now how long should a caption be?

NCHow long is a piece of string? There is no right or wrong answer to this, different caption lengths work for different brands and sometimes a combination of long and short captions work best. All I can say is, experiment and carefully watch how your audience reacts!

RMYeah we’re seeing captions come in all shapes and sizes on Instagram these days, from short and sweet to longer, in-depth stories, since Instagram captions can be as long as 2,200 characters! Generally, the golden rule is: if you're on brand and your audience finds it engaging, you’re doing great!

NCYep, I would say as well though that It’s better to front-load your captions with important details because, after 3-4 lines of text, Instagram captions are truncated or shortened. You might see the ellipsis or the dot dot dot appear as your caption is cut off. 

So don’t leave your most important sentence or the key message 'til the VERY end of your caption if it’s going to be a long one. 

NCWell, I think that about wraps up the content side of things for your Instagram marketing strategy. 

The important thing to remember is that your Instagram feed’s content needs some love too — don’t leave it to the last minute and whip up a caption on the fly. Always think about who your audience is, what you want to share with them and how you can better serve them on your Instagram page.

RMYep and I’d add, try everything once! Go live on Instagram Stories, create an IGTV channel, make long and short-form captions for your post! You might be surprised by what kind of content resonates best with your audience!

NCIt’s been a blast sharing the ABCs of Instagram Marketing with you guys, and we hope this set of three minisodes has been super helpful in covering the basics when it comes to your Instagram Audience, Brand and Content!

RMUntil next time!


This episode of TTYL was hosted by Rachel McDermott and Nikki Canning — thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the show, please give us a review wherever you get your podcasts from. Later’s TTYL is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify right now.

TTYL Podcast is a podcast by Later, the #1 marketing platform to visually plan & schedule Instagram posts. This episode of the podcast was hosted by Rachel McDermott and Nikki Canning. Sound engineering by Andrew Linn. Artwork, design, and graphics by Chin Tan. 

RMAnd since Instagram users today are exposed to more content than ever, making the first part of your Instagram caption super engaging and on-brand is a sure-fire way to boost the amount of time people spend viewing your post — which could also be a factor that the Instagram algorithm takes into consideration!

NCAh that Instagram algorithm, it’s so smart! Next up, let’s talk about your call-to-actions. The simple act of including a call-to-action in your Instagram caption and inviting your audience to comment or engage can go a very long way it when it comes to driving more engagement on your posts.

RMOf course, you don’t have to include a call-to-action in every Instagram caption. But a good CTA is a great way to inspire your followers to engage with your business both inside and outside of Instagram.

NCFor example, you could ask your followers to take action by clicking the link your bio, signing up to a newsletter, answering a question, tagging a friend, using your branded hashtag, anything that encourages a follower or reader to take action from your Instagram feed. 

RMMost brands or businesses will have a goal for their Instagram page to act as an introduction for new customers to discover their brand, but ultimately Instagram should act as a launch pad to go to the online store to purchase, or reading more on the business website, or visiting a blog. Whatever it is, you want to direct your followers or readers to do that with a CTA. 

NCNow we mentioned ‘tagging a friend’ could be a call-to-action, but let’s focus on adding Mentions to your Instagram captions for a second.

RMAbsolutely! Mentioning the handles of other Instagram users is an easy way to give back to your Instagram community and share in the Insta-love! Even more importantly you’re respecting their Brand and giving it the attention it deserves, which, in turn, reflects well on your own brand. I think Mentions are a great way to connect with other Instagram users, and to promote one another to your own audiences.

← Listen to Episode Two

Don't Forget to Subscribe!

You’ll never miss an episode of TTYL if you hit subscribe on iTunes!

Subscribe Now!