Without a doubt, social media has become one of the most effective ways to market your business in 2023. Despite all the hate for the changing algorithm, Instagram, in particular, is still one of the most popular platforms for businesses to advertise their products and services through eye-catching images and creative captions. However, coming up with a great caption can be daunting, especially for small business owners unfamiliar with copywriting formulas for Instagram captions (and who don’t have unlimited time to obsess over each caption).
In this blog post, I will share with you four easy copywriting formulas that you can use to create effective Instagram captions – WHEN you are trying to sell something. You don’t need to use these formulas every time, but if you find your content is not selling the way you want it to, I strongly encourage you to give these a try!
Looking for a tool that can help you write Instagram captions faster AND more effectively? I use and recommend Jasper. That’s an affiliate link – if you love it past the free trial, I may receive a commission for the referral. But to be honest? I would be referring it anyway! I use it every single day in my own business.
Now – let’s jump into it!
4 Copywriting Formulas for Instagram Captions
#1 PAS: Problem – Agitate – Solution
This is the most common one but that doesn’t mean it’s the ONLY one. Ideally, you want to shake it up in your content or your audience will get bored. This copywriting formula is all about identifying a problem that your audience may be facing, agitating that problem to create an emotional response, and then offering a solution to the problem.
For example, if you are selling a skincare product, you could start with a question that highlights the problem, such as “Are you tired of dealing with dry, flaky skin?” Then agitate the problem by describing how bad skin can affect your life (and ideally – you could bring in your own experience too). Finally, offer your solution by introducing your product and its benefits.
Here’s an example of what the PAS framework looks like in Jasper:
Want another example? Here’s an example of a caption I could write as a Pinterest manager:
Are you tired of showing up on Instagram every single day to get results?
Whether you are making bank off the ‘gram or are wondering when these GRWM videos are going to finally start paying off, here’s one thing I know to be true: you need to constantly be creating to see ANY kind of success on Instagram.
And that kind of sucks.
Listen, I know there is so much noise out there telling you that you can easily build a 7 figure business solely on Instagram but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a much better way.
Enter: Pinterest. The social media platform that cares about you even when you aren’t posting in real time. Because of the search-driven nature of the platform, you can see results from your content on Pinterest for months – and YEARS – after your post first goes live.
Is that work-life balance I hear? Calling your name?
If you want to get on Pinterest, send me a DM and let’s talk about how YOU can stop stressing over Instagram algorithm updates and enjoy a little more passive funnel action instead!
#2: AIDA: Attention – Interest – Desire – Action
This formula is a classic and has been used in advertising for decades. The idea is to grab the audience’s attention, generate interest, create a desire for your product or service, and then call them to action. You’ll often see the “attention” part referred to as a “hook” when discussing creating Instagram Reels, for example. You need to “hook them” in the first 2 seconds = start my capturing their ATTENTION (and then convert them using the rest of the AIDA copywriting formulas for Instagram captions).
You can watch me loosely follow this formula in this reel here (in the words I say – not the caption).
Here’s how it breaks down:
- Attention: Here’s how I know you are using AI tools
- Interest: Here are two words that make your content seem unnatural
- Desire: I know you want to use AI tools like Jasper to write better content faster
- Action: Follow me for more content marketing tips
So even though I told you that these copywriting formulas for Instagram captions are designed more for “selling” style CTA’s – that doesn’t mean the only CTA has to ask for the sale!
Jasper LITERALLY has a template for this, which makes it SUPER easy to pump out content made to sell fast.
#3: Before – After – Bridge
You’ve been told before that you need to sell the transformation, right?
Another effective copywriting formula for Instagram captions is “Before, After, Bridge”. This formula starts by painting a picture of the problem or challenge that your audience may be facing (the “before” stage), then describes how your product or service can help solve the problem (the “after” stage), and finally bridges the gap between the before and after by explaining how your product or service works.
Yup – you guessed it – Jasper has a template for that. Here’s what it looks like.
Here’s an example of a caption I could write using this formula for my “website in a weekend” service:
Please tell me I’m not the only one who has obsessed over their website design and let the words become an afterthought.
Hear me out: as creative and visual business owners, we often love to spend hours obsessing over our brand colors, fonts, and the next branding photoshoot. We love to compare stunning website template after sunning website template.
Maybe that’s you right now?
When I finally started to take website copywriting seriously (and hello – make a career out of it), I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on all of these years.
Like: did you know it’s actually possible to make money on autopilot? And have customers reach out that are SO ready to book that you don’t feel like you have to do any “selling”?
If your website words are feeling a little generic, I can help. I’m offering a new “website in a weekend” service where I take the shiny new template you bought and customize it with words that SELL.
#4: PPPP: Picture – Promise – Prove – Push
Last but not least, one of my favorite copywriting formulas for Instagram captions is PPPP (picture, promise, prove, push). If you loved creative writing class, this might be your favorite of copywriting formulas for Instagram captions. Start by painting a picture of either the PAIN of where your client is now, or what their future could be (ie. what they are PINING for). Then, share how your product or service will help make that a reality for them (the promise).
That’s where most Instagram captions stop – but for me, it’s the third P where things start to get good. Back up your promise by PROVING yourself. This could be sharing testimonials from clients, or if you are newer in business, consider backing up your data with stats!
Finally, you need to “push” them into action with a CTA (whether that be clicking the link in your bio for more information or adding that favorite product to their cart).
Using Copywriting Formulas for Instagram Captions
Too much of anything is not a good thing. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think you should ALWAYS use copywriting formulas for Instagram captions. Personally, I’m over being flooded with CTA’s unless the offer is really, really good. That being said – you ARE a business and these copywriting formulas for Instagram captions are some of my favorites when marketing for my clients to make sure they actually get PAID.
Want to be one of my favorite clients? Reach out here. I specialize in Pinterest marketing, blogging, and website copywriting but will add on Instagram marketing ONLY For clients that are using other services as well (I love omnipresence in marketing). Learn more about my core marketing services here.