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Write Better Instagram Captions Using the S.W.I.F.T. Framework

Reading time: 5 min.

*This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you purchase this tool, but it will not cost you anything additional.

Instagram has changed A LOT over the last few years — so much so that change is one of the only constants. 

The result? It gets difficult to navigate the app and figure out the best way to appeal to and connect with your target audience. 

Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, they come back and change something, amiright?! 

Not to worry, y’all — there is still ONE thing that seems to have stayed the same for Instagram….captions!

Think about it. We have used captions since the dawn of social media, especially on Instagram. And while there have been a few small tweaks to the way we write them, the point is, they’re still there and are still needed to make a great post. 

But I know how frustrating it can be to write good captions when you’re worried about pleasing that algorithm. (*sigh*)

Have a case of caption writer’s block? Keep reading because I’m going to show you how to write better captions using one of my favorite methods ever!

My favorite caption framework

Recently, I was at my annual mastermind event and had an insightful conversation with my coach, Julie Stoian

We were walking about social media captions and best practices for making them stand out. She said something that I thought was GENIUS and I have to share it with you!

”Be sticky with your content.”

What she means is, you gotta make it memorable! You shouldn’t have to introduce yourself more than twice because even if you don’t get an ounce of conversion from the first interaction, your branding should be clear enough to be familiar during the second one. 

So, how do you write stickier captions? 

Use the S.W.I.F.T. Framework (yes, like Taylor!)

S — Use a sticky hook

Keep your most memorable line above the fold. You want to catch your audience’s attention right away, so that means the first thing they see needs to pack a punch. It needs to be unique and memorable. 

Otherwise, they won’t be reading the rest of your post, and then….what’s the point of anything else you wrote? 

Need some inspo?? Dive into your email inbox and look for catchy subject lines to bounce off of. 

*P.S. — above the fold just means that top line of text that shows before you hit the “more” button to read the full post caption!

W — What’s in it for your audience? 

Writer Ann Handley said it best: “ Readers will read what you write only if something’s in it for them.” 

That will always be true. People are reading your content for themselves — and no, that isn’t selfish. Time is money in the online space! You know you do it, too. 

Your audience is looking to feel encouraged, included, educated, or entertained, just like you. 

Tell them why they should keep reading. Are they getting a quick hack that’ll save them time? Are they getting a behind-the-scenes look at your new course? This is the “are ya in or are ya out?” moment in your copy. 

Here are a few examples!

I — Information

This is the bulk of your content. It’s the value-packed nugget that’s going to deliver on what you used to entice your audience to keep reading. Make sure it’s clear, concise, and worth reading!

F — Fast segue

This is your moment to pivot into calling people to action. It doesn’t need to be long or complex. One of my most successful segues has been just six words long, “and that brings me to you.”

T — To-Do

It’s CTA time!!

What is it that you want your audience to do? What action do you want them to take after reading your post? A DM? Checking out your blog? Getting on your waitlist at the link in your bio?

Whatever it is, make sure it’s clear and easy to get to. 

How long should your captions be? 

I get asked this a lot. “How long should my writing be? Is it too long? Too short?” 

Listen, my friend — the copy will be as long as it needs to be. 

When you write long-form style captions…it’s okay if it’s long! What’s important is that you cut the excess and keep the crucial. People read long copy, they don’t read boring copy. 

My suggestion is to write your long-form captions on a desktop where it’s easier to see, edit, and add in a little pizazz like emojis! 

And never write and publish on the fly. You’re just opening the door to typos and disconnected sentences. Write it, leave it, and come back to it the next day. 

Utilizing keywords

Showing up on the Instagram-suggested feed will improve your discoverability tremendously. 

Until fairly recently, search results were only based on hashtags, location tags, and usernames, but now? You can use keywords to search for content. 

This means that writing relevant, descriptive captions that include keywords are crucial for getting picked up in a search — kind of like Google SEO! 

Call-to-action ideas

Most of the time, you want to include a CTA in your caption. However, not every post will need one. Sometimes you want to just share a meme and that’s okay!

But when writing about you, your services, or a niche topic, make sure to include one. 

Here are a couple of my favorites:

  • Vote for your favorite
  • Reply with an emoji
  • Send a direct message
  • Comment with one word
  • Save this post
  • Ask a question — “what would you do if…”, “does this resonate with you…”

Notice how each starts with an action word? Make sure your CTAs are primarily in the active voice to, ta know, inspire action. 

Find the right tools to help you create amazing content

You may have heard me rave about Plann before, but in case you haven’t, it’s a comprehensive online tool that helps you plan your social content through a visual planner, planning tools, a hashtag manager, analytics, multi-platform scheduling, and even integration with Canva for easy scheduling!

If you want to take a deep dive into how to create content for your brand, though, you’ll want to check out Copywriting for Creatives. It’s the first and only step-by-step (and page-by-page) system to confidently clarify your stand-out message, write your site, and launch it in 30, 60, or 90 days.

In this signature program, you’ll get tutorials and website templates that help you go from dreaming and tweaking your site copy to designing a brand message that fits your brand. You can even get editing advice inside our private community! Plus, the messaging you craft in Copywriting for Creatives can be used again and again to hone in on your social media captions and overall presence. Ready to learn how to write like a pro?


Reading Time: 5 Minutes Reading time: 5 min. *This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you purchase this tool, but it will not cost you anything additional. Instagram has changed A LOT over the last few years — so much so that change is one of the only constants.  The result? It gets difficult to […]


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