Instagram’s Not-So-Secret Magical Ingredient

Instagram has become my favorite form of social media over the years, hands down. Ever since I joined early in the application’s lifetime, I have posted and witnessed my friends post thousands of different snapshots of their lives. They became tiny colorful squares on my feed, showing each person’s unique point of view of their surroundings.

What I’ve enjoyed from the beginning is looking for scenes and angles that would allow me to take a picture from a new point of view, at least one that’s new to me, and share it with the rest of the world. The filters and adjustments were fun to use in the beginning, but as I got more into it, I aimed to keep the photos as realistic as possible and turned away from ornate filters. Now I have two applications on my phone that I use to prepare my photos for Instagram, one to adjust colors and contrast, and one to adjust size or placement of the image within the square space.

The image is not all, though. Recently I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal about how the caption of photos is just as important, if not more important, than the image itself. I was instantly intrigued by the choice of topic for the article, because reading it made me realize how I’ve been gravitating towards different images and Instagram users lately. I’ve always enjoyed following great photographers of the “Instagram community” who share amazing photos of New York City or their travels around the world. What differentiates them from the rest, I came to realize, is that most of them also make an effort to complete these fantastic shots with engaging captions – whether that be a random thought, quote, or lyrics of a familiar song. Some even go to the extent of sharing short stories with their followers, some of which may have nothing to do with the image above them.

As the Wall Street Journal put it, “the right caption helps a picture rise above the digital clutter and gain likes, and, most of all, it adds an unexpected layer of meaning.” I must agree. I too have been drawn to images with thoughtful captions more than to those without meaningful words below them, or even worse, a cloud of hashtags suggesting desperate scrambling for new followers. Moreover, I must admit that I have put an image aside before to post later if I didn’t feel that I could come up with an appropriate caption for it.

Some brands are already doing great with amplifying their Instagram posts by adding inspirational quotes or simple statements that don’t necessarily have to do with the image. Although short captions dominate on this social media platform, a research conducted by Simply Measured suggests that there is “no significant correlation between text length and engagement rate,” a point also mentioned in Adweek’s list of 14 Instagram Data Findings That Every Marketer Needs to Know. Options are endless and they won’t set you back! Is this truly the way to stand out from the crowd of the picture-sharing community? Hard to say, but I think there is a strong element of storytelling here that has huge potential and is already explored by many users and brands.





A personal favorite – we all know the abundance of sunset photos on Instagram, but this one managed to stand out with the quote, giving the image a deeper meaning and a new interpretation.

Please do share your take on this topic. Do you give your captions on Instagram any special thought?


One thought on “Instagram’s Not-So-Secret Magical Ingredient

  1. Vassilis Kouvas says:

    Hey Anett, such a nice point on this post – I definitely agree with you that caption plays a significant role on the engagement the picture has, although Instagram was the first pictures-based social media network (in contrast to Facebook & Twitter). I also noticed the same thing for myself, that I don’t give much attention to photos that do not have a caption and as a result these photos rarely make me to “like” them!

    Liked by 1 person

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