Caption This!

Written on 04/27/2018
Kelly Saunderson

This spring around the Issues Ink offices (Issues Ink is the European Seed publisher) we are having an image captioning contest among us ‘Inkers.’ The current champ is from a surprising source. The ‘bean counter,’ our Controller, is consistently offering fantastic zingers; proving that with the right approach, anyone can contribute to content development. So, what’s the ‘right’ approach for captions you ask?

Captions should add new information, adding to the story. Don’t just duplicate what the audience is seeing in the image. (In fact, avoid “Above” or “Pictured Here” as that is unnecessary). Aim to intrigue or entertain the audience, while adding context.

When writing captions use conversational language – within reason. A caption that you may think is obviously joking, the audience may not interpret the same way. Sarcasm, for example, is a tricky one that is often a victim of misinterpretation.

Here are some other tips for creating good captions:

1. Place the most important words at the beginning of the caption.

2. Edit and rewrite! Practice makes perfect.

3. Use hashtags wisely when captioning social media images.

4. Pose a question.

5. Encourage engagement with a call to action.

When writing captions on behalf of your business, remember to write in the brand’s voice. This doesn’t mean being ‘stuffy.’ Captions are actually one of the best ways to show off a brand’s personality.

Identify your brand’s voice by outlining the qualities and values that represent the brand. What descriptive words convey those qualities and values? Try to either incorporate those into the caption or write with those descriptors in mind. Consistency is key when developing your brand’s voice. Utilize any existing phrases, taglines, or descriptors found in other marketing materials.

Image captioning is as much an art as it is a science. Experiment and have fun with it!