Unlike its cousins – Facebook, Twitter, and the like – Instagram was built around visual content. This is the social media platform where your images, photos, video, and other visuals are meant to shine.
But, that doesn’t mean that your words don’t matter, too. In fact, the right words can (and will) make a major impact on your Instagram success: They provide context, they stoke interest, they seek out new eyes. Great captions can make or break your post engagement.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should: Instagram may have a 2,200-character limit, but your posts should fall short (very short) of that!
Don’t worry – you’re not the only one to struggle with your Instagram captions. It’s the age-old question: Famous quote or music lyric?
Okay, okay we’re kidding. Sort of. Because we’ve all copped out, a time or two (or ten), by posting our fabulous photos paired with a tired quote. Or, worse – an emoji. Because what we wanted to say was too long, or too complicated, or too _____.
So, when it comes to Instagram, how long is too long? How many words or characters can you get away with, before the Instagram community lays the smackdown? (Or, worse, ignores your posts completely!)
First Things First: What is the Instagram Character Limit?
If we’re talking sheer numbers and absolute capacity, the Instagram character limit is 2,200 characters.
But, the story doesn’t stop there. Of course, it doesn’t!
Beyond Limits: What is the Ideal Length for Instagram Posts?
Right now, you may be thinking, “Okay, 2,200 characters! That’s a lot of room to play. Maybe I can write my insta-novel and fit it all into just one caption!”
Stop right there, budding novelist. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. (Also, you can’t. A novel is ~450,000 characters.)
Let’s put this into layman’s terms: If the average word contains 4.5 characters, then 2,200 characters equates to about 400 words – or, approximately one full page in Microsoft Word, single spaced. Or, for an even better reference, this blog post is about 10,800 characters.
Think about trying to fit more than a third of this blog post into one Instagram photo caption. Oh, the horror.
And thus, we circle back to the beginning: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. No Instagram caption should ever reach 2,200 characters. In fact, your captions shouldn’t even rub elbows with 2,200 characters.
Consider this: Instagram captions truncate at 125 characters. In other words, if you want your entire caption to display, it should be no more than 125 characters. That’s a far cry from the if-we’re-getting-technical-about-it 2,200 character limit.
So, what’s the ideal length for Instagram captions? Well, it depends. But, marketers generally agree: your target is about 138-150 characters. Some marketers recommend sticking to 125 characters or less to avoid having your caption truncated.
No matter what, always be sure to put the most important information (including your call-to-action) first. That way, if your caption is truncated to 125 characters and users don’t click “See more” to read the rest, they won’t miss out on the most important details.
Workarounds for When You Need a 2,200+ Character Instagram Caption
If you really need to (or want to) post a super-long caption, there are ways to get around the 2,200 character limit. One option is to post up to 2,200 characters as the caption, and then add the rest as a comment on your post. To do this, you’ll want to be sure that you direct your followers to the comments to read the rest as part of that initial 2,200 characters.
Another workaround is to write a blog post that you can direct followers to. However, while you can include a URL in an Instagram caption, you can’t include an active hyperlink (a clickable link) unless you pay for a sponsored post, in which case you’re allowed a linked call-to-action at the end of your post. That leaves you with two options: include a URL if you anticipate that users will use the old copy-and-paste method to visit your link and learn more, or direct followers to click on the link in your Instagram bio to read more.
The copy-and-paste method will be particularly challenging for mobile users, which is how most users access Instagram given that it’s a mobile-first experience, although that tide is beginning to turn with more features being added for Instagram desktop users. This is especially true if your URL is lengthy, so if you’re banking on this approach, use a link shortener like Bit.ly to make the URL easier to copy and paste.
As if that isn’t restrictive enough, you can only have one link in your Instagram bio, so you need to make it count. One popular workaround here is to use an Instagram bio link tool that directs users to a landing page where you can store multiple links. The other option is to change your bio link frequently, but then you risk sending users to an unrelated bio link if they happen to be viewing an older post and you’ve since replaced your bio link with something related to a more recent post.
What’s the Instagram Hashtag Limit?
In addition to the character limit for Instagram captions, you can also add up to 30 hashtags to each post. That includes hashtags you use in your caption as well as hashtags you use in the comments. Like the 2,200 Instagram character limit for captions, the recommended number of hashtags to maximize engagement is much lower. Sprout Social suggests using 5 to 10 hashtags, while they say most brands use between 2 and 5 hashtags. However, some brands also find success using a larger number of hashtags, even 15 or more.
The truth is that finding your brand’s ideal number of hashtags will require some experimentation. Try using a limited number of hashtags in some posts and a larger number in others. Then, monitor your Instagram analytics to find out how the number of hashtags affects your post engagement.
And, by the way, while there’s not necessarily a limit to the number of characters a hashtag can have, stick to hashtags up to 24 characters long as a general rule of thumb.
One thing you do want to avoid, though, is getting shadow-banned, which means your posts don’t show up for hashtag searches even though you’ve used those hashtags in your posts. This can happen when you overuse the same hashtags across multiple posts, so avoid going overboard and sticking to the most relevant hashtags for your posts.
What’s the Instagram Character Limit for Bios?
Just when you thought you had the character limits down, there’s yet another Instagram character limit to consider: your Instagram bio character limit, which is 150 characters. (You’re also limited to 30 characters for your Instagram username, but chances are, you’ve figured that out already when creating your Instagram account.)
Your Instagram bio can include basic information about you or your brand, such as your name, location, and a general description of your brand or business. You can (and should) also include an Instagram bio link to more information, as mentioned above. We offer some tips and tricks for creating an effective Instagram bio in this post.
What’s the Instagram Username Character Limit?
Your Instagram profile name character limit is 30 characters. That means if you have a longer name, you won’t be able to use your full name for your Instagram username. That’s okay, though, because you can use some of the characters in your bio to display your full name (if that’s something you want to do, of course). Whatever you do choose for your Instagram username should be easy to remember and relevant to the types of content you share.
What’s the Character Limit for Instagram Ads Captions?
If you’re running an Instagram Ads campaign, you need to be mindful of character limits for Instagram Ads captions, as well. The character limit for Instagram Ads captions is 2,200 characters – the same limit that applies to regular Instagram post captions.
As with regular posts, however, you don’t necessarily want to use all 2,200 characters in your Instagram Ads captions. In fact, Facebook (which owns Instagram) recommends that you use just 125 characters for Instagram Ads captions. That way, the captions in your Instagram Ads won’t be truncated – and they’ll display in full even on smaller mobile device screens.
Tip: Use an Instagram Character Counter
Not sure just how long 125 characters is? Fortunately, there are several ways to get character counts for your post captions, username ideas, ad captions, and bio.
Use the LEN Function in Excel or Google Sheets
The LEN function in Excel is an easy way to get character counts for your Instagram posts. It’s especially useful if you’re already using Excel or Google Sheets to plan out your posts or Instagram Ads in advance. The LEN function counts letters, numbers, and characters, as well as spaces.
To use it, enter the following in the formula bar:
If you’re looking for the character count in cell B10, for instance, replace cell with B10 in the formula.
Then, press Enter on your keyboard.
You can apply the formula to multiple cells at the same time, as well. To do so, enter the formula in the first cell and then drag the square in the lower right-hand corner of the cell down or to the right to apply it to all the cells with content that you want character counts for. This will copy the formula across all the cells selected.
Find Character Counts Using Word or Google Docs
If you’re not using a spreadsheet, you can count characters in a selection of text in Word or Google Docs just as easily (if not more so).
In Google Docs, simply highlight the text you want to know the character count for and click “Tools” in the top menu bar, then click “Word Count” from the drop-down menu. A popup will appear that shows the word count, the character count with spaces, and the character count without spaces for the highlighted text. Alternatively, you can use a keyboard shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+C).
In Microsoft Word, the process is similar. Highlight the text that you want to find the character count for and click “Review” in the top menu bar. Then, select the “Word Count” icon from the menu and a popup will appear that shows the word count, character count without spaces, and character count with spaces for the selected text.
Use an Online Character Counter
If you’re not using a spreadsheet or a document, you can use an online character counter to find the character count for your Instagram bio and captions, such as WordCount.net. Simply copy and paste your bio, username, or caption into the box and it will automatically count the number of characters, words, and lines in your text.
How to make the most of your instagram character counts
Screenshot via Instagram by @g.watsonimages
Let’s pull back for a moment and discuss the most important element of a successful Instagram post: engagement.
Long gone is Instagram’s chronological feed – show ‘em as they are published – and all hail the Instagram algorithm, which is based primarily on engagement: Which posts get the most likes, comments, shares, views, saves, DMs, and any other form of interaction?
In Instagram’s own words [to users], “The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.” At the heart of it all, lies the user experience.
We’ve already covered Instagram best practices but, with this – and by this, we mean Instagram users’ experiences with your posts – here are a few tips to help squeeze the most juice from your ~138- to 150-character Instagram captions:
Tip 1: Tell a Story
If engagement is the goal, then the most important step in reaching that goal is storytelling.
In every post you make, be sure to write a caption that sets the scene, involves the audience, stokes interest, and then invites interaction (ex. with a question). And, here’s a tip within a tip: Once you’ve done your storytelling, read back over what you’ve written and edit for brevity. Keep it concise and make it snappy!
Tip 2: Invite Action (aka Your CTA)
Whether you’re firing off questions or requesting feedback, linking your bio or asking for shares, every Instagram post should request some sort of action. This is known as your call-to-action, or CTA, and it’s an integral ingredient to your posts.
After all, you don’t ‘gram for the mere fun of it; you’re here for a reason, whether it’s better branding or sales. Don’t forget that reason.
Tip 3: #Hashtag the Heck Out of It (Within Reason)
Don’t overdo it but yes, you’re going to want more than a handful of hashtags to finish off most of your Instagram posts. So, yes, save some characters for a few great hashtags – for all those #powerful #hashtags that #sparkengagement. Because on Instagram, as on no other platform, hashtags are a true component of your storytelling.
Remember, overusing the same hashtags across multiple posts and including irrelevant hashtags can result in shadow-banning, so be sure to use the most relevant hashtags – and use them strategically. You can include branded hashtags, industry-specific hashtags, relevant hashtags related to current trends, holiday-related hashtags, and even general hashtags (think: #love, #inspiration, #happy, etc.) can all play a role in your Instagram hashtag strategy.
Tip 4: Make Your Images Count
Okay, so you’ve crafted the perfect caption. It’s concise, it’s witty, it’s questioning, and it’s primed for deployment.
Don’t mess it up, now! Your perfect captions should be accompanied by perfect images: Not just ideal composition and deep interest, but also the right image dimensions for Instagram. It’s a match made in heaven.
Want an Effortless Way to Get More Instagram Followers?
Now you know how long (or rather, short) your Instagram captions should be. Now, as you craft your meaty-yet-concise captions, don’t forget to promote your posts! The ShareThis Instagram follow button is a perfect tool to boost Instagram engagement, and it’s also mobile optimized, lightweight, and easy to configure and install. Check it out!