Smile captions for Instagram...our featured image

Creator’s Guide to How to Write Smile Captions for Instagram to Deepen Your Audience Affinity

Ah, smile captions. 🙂 

If you’re a creator or influencer on the hunt for memorable smile captions for Instagram, you’re not alone. There are hundreds of lists of famous quotes and heartwarming platitudes out there.

But here’s the thing…that’s not the best way to go about captioning your selfie.

The problem with copy-paste smile captions is that…well, they’re not very you. Sure, they might make people smile, but you didn’t brighten their day…some old dead guy did. (No offense to Shakespeare, but it’s been awhile.) 

In this post, Instagram creators get a process that can be called upon for inspiration when an original, engagement driving captions for Instagram that will make people hit the heart and follow button:

  1. Celebrate your growth
  2. Welcome new followers
  3. Share good news
  4. Make a seasonal announcement
  5. Give fellow creators a shout out
  6. Say “Thanks!” to followers
  7. Start a challenge
  8. Announce a live event
  9. Spotlight a customer
  10. Collaborate with an influencer

Jump to a caption prompt with the links above or keep reading to learn the keys to crafting next-level Instagram captions.

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So why is writing a great smile caption important?

Your awesome selfie grabs users’ attention, but the scroll-stopping caption is what makes the difference tens, hundreds, or thousands of likes. And comments. And new followers. 

Writing authentic smile captions takes time, though, and energy. How can you come up with captions that stop the scroll every single time? Life is too short for that!

If that’s your dilemma, get ready to learn and grow. By the end of this post, you’ll never have to resort to a smile caption list again. 

So, let’s get into it. How exactly do you create memorable smile captions that stop the scroll, increase engagement, and, well…make people smile?

Two Essential Elements of an Engaging Smile Caption for Instagram

A memorable Instagram smile caption is authentic

That’s right…RIP to the hundreds of stock smile caption lists out there, but we’re different. You’re different. Or at least, you will be, once you finish reading this post.

When you caption your posts with stock feel-good quotes, one of two things will happen. 

1. Viewers will roll their eyes. They’ll say “Man, that’s cheesy.” And they’ll keep scrolling. 

2. Viewers will say, “Aw, that’s sweet!” They’ll maybe drop a like. And they’ll keep scrolling. 

The problem with short, stock smile captions for Instagram is that they don’t tell your viewers anything about you. They don’t open the door to a stronger relationship.

Sure, you might have made them smile for a second. But you didn’t give them anything to remember…anything real.

A scroll-stopping Instagram smile caption tells a story. 

In his aptly-titled book On Advertising, David Ogilvy tells us “long copy sells more than short.” 

No one’s proved him wrong yet. Even online, people continue to engage more with long copy that tells a story than with short blurbs that hardly say anything.

According to research by Fohr, the average caption length has doubled since 2016. Successful influencers make the most of their captions by using an average of 405 characters (65-70 words).

So how do you come up with a meaty, authentic caption to stop the scroll and get you on that coveted Explore page?

Let’s see how the experts do it.

10 Examples of Smile Captions for Instagram That Create Lasting Relationships

1. Lauren Tickner: Celebrate Your Growth

Lauren Tickner's smile caption.
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Lauren Tickner is a CEO, a business consultant, and a millionaire…and she got there before she even turned 23.

This post marks the 5-year anniversary since Lauren quit her job to risk becoming an entrepreneur. It gives us a glimpse into her “real life.”

What you can learn: Do you have an anniversary or landmark approaching? Write a caption that reflects on your journey.

2. Nesha Woolery: Welcome New Followers

Nesha Woolery's smile caption.
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Nesha’s using a smiling selfie as a way to celebrate her recent community growth. She’s giving 2500+ people a personal “Hello! It’s great to meet you!”

Then, she clarifies what she does for anyone who might be confused, and she directs people to her course. 

What you can learn: Have you recently reached a milestone (or will you reach one soon)? Write a caption that celebrates how far you and your followers have come. Then tell readers where to go next.

3. Kelsey Impicciche: Share Good News

Kelsey Impicciche's smile caption.
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Kelsey recently left Buzzfeed to strike out on her own as an independent YouTube gamer. She’s using her smile caption to let her followers know.

Then, she links to her YouTube video explaining why she left Buzzfeed in the first place.

What you can learn: Is your business changing for the better? Make sure to tell your fans how their support made this change possible, and include a strong call-to-action. 

4. Christina Jones: Make a Seasonal Announcement

Christina Jones's smile caption.
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Spring is coming? Have you updated your content strategy yet? The change of seasons creates a natural tie-in to Christina’s branding services, allowing her to redirect readers to the scheduling link in her bio.

What you can learn: Look ahead to upcoming events, seasonal changes, and holidays. Write a smile caption that highlights the change and plugs your product. 

5. Aya Kanai: Give Creators a Shout Out

Aya Kanai's smile caption.
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Aya Kanai is Head of Content and Creator Partnerships at Pinterest, so she knows something about coupling a striking image with a compelling caption. 

Here, Aya poses in front of her fridge. Then she says she can’t cook. (Same.) 

Aya uses this opportunity to highlight female-founded businesses that make cooking easy, even for those of us who are disasters in the kitchen. At the same time, she’s participating in the hashtag #theselect7, making her work easy for newcomers to find.

What you can learn: Talking about yourself gets old after a point. To promote engagement and build your community, give a shout out to the people who’ve helped you out!

6. Michelle Murphy: Say Thanks To Your Followers

Michelle Murphy's smile caption.
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Michelle Murphy is an intellectual property lawyer for entrepreneurs. If you think that means her Instagram feed’s nothing but legalese, you’d be wrong.

In this smile caption, Michelle looks back on her origins and thanks her followers for being the best Instagram community ever.

What you can learn: Everyone loves being part of a tight-knit community. Make sure to highlight your fans and thank them for being awesome!

7. Karen Ip: Start a Challenge

Karen Ip's smile caption.
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Karen Ip is an Instagram star, YouTuber, and fashion and makeup specialist — and she’s here to prove the exception to the rule. (Beauty is power, after all, but Karen’s using a solid strategy as well.)

Karen’s super-short smile caption is authentic, and she uses emojis to stand out. Then she challenges her followers: “comment with no likes wins.”

What you can learn: As always, the exception proves the rule. Your Instagram smile captions should be longer than this. But, if you’re hit with inspiration to post a short, fun challenge, try it out!

8. Matt Adlard: Announce a Live Event

Matt Adlard's smile caption.
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Matt Adlard is a self-taught baker who runs an online baking school, Bake It Better. 

He stops the scroll with a smile and a delicious-looking dessert. Then, he announces a free cooking lesson over on Nespresso’s instagram.

It’s a free baking lesson AND a free coffee class. What baking aficionado could say no to that?

What you can learn: Smile captions don’t have to be just about…well, smiles. If you’ve got an event coming up, use your smile to announce it.

9. Teva: Spotlight a Customer

Teva's smile caption.
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Teva is an adventure sandal brand that speaks to the wilder side of life.

Here, Teva spotlights one of their loyal customers: a ceramics artist named Monica Galan. Teva knows that Monica’s story will inspire other adventurous creatives in their audience. And when people feel like a brand “gets” them, they’re much more likely to buy.

What you can learn: Who are your most loyal customers? Why do they like your service or product? What story do they have to tell? Spotlight them in a smile caption and let your brand’s true colors shine through. 

10. Lush: Collaborate with an Influencer

Lush's smile caption for Instagram.
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Lush Cosmetics is a bath, body, skin and hair care company. They’re devoted to creating fresh, ethically-sourced, cruelty-free, vegetarian, handmade, low-waste and effective products.

With an identity like that, it’s important for them to showcase how their product makes their customers’ lives better. And what better way to do that than to collaborate with a Natural Hair Influencer?

Lush uses the hashtags #MondayMood and #CurlsCoilsTexture to get their brand in front of new eyes. And, they direct readers to their “Hair” highlight to teach them more about what Lush has to offer.

What you can learn: What does your brand do? Who do you do it for? And who would be the perfect fit to get that message across to your ideal customers?

The Ultimate Reference for Creating Smile Captions for Instagram

You’ve got your camera. You’ve got a smile on your face. Now, you just need something to say. 

Next time you’re staring down an empty description box, try one of these ten prompts to spark inspiration:

  1. Celebrate your growth. Throw a virtual party for reaching a milestone and take a moment to appreciate your past.
  2. Welcome new followers. Let new followers know you see them by writing a smile caption just for them. Everyone likes to be acknowledged. 
  3. Share good news. If an exciting change is coming, let people know!
  4. Make a seasonal announcement. Are you pumped for spring? Looking forward to summer? Caption that!
  5. Give other creators a shout out. Expand your network and engage with other brands on Instagram by shouting out to the people who’ve helped you the most. They’ll appreciate it, and so will your fans.
  6. Say thanks to your followers. Everyone says it, but it’s true…you wouldn’t be anywhere without your fans. They deserve some praise.
  7. Start a challenge. If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that no one can say no to a good challenge. For extra engagement, create a custom hashtag and engage with your followers’ posts.
  8. Announce a live event. Smile captions are a great way to announce online events, which can be hard to depict in a single photo. Reel people in with your smile, then let them know what you’re up to.
  9. Spotlight a customer. If your customers love your product, let them say so! Social proof is one of the strongest ways to build credibility, so use it whenever you can.
  10. Collaborate with an influencer. If you have the resources for it, working with an influencer is a powerful way to elevate your brand.

No matter which prompt you go with, remember the two hallmarks of successful smile captions: they must be authentic, and they must tell a story. Anything less will get lost in the scroll.

If you’d like to spotlight your followers, but you’re not sure how, what about using an Instagram partner tool?

Our Instagram messenger tool can help you scale message volume and increase engagement. If you’d like to be a part of our Instagram beta program, click here to apply.  

And remember…keep smiling! You’re never fully dressed without one.

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