How to Write Captions like @Essence 

If you follow @Essence on Instagram then you already know how deeply resonating and compelling their captions are for their audience. If you do not follow them, then I recommend that you start today – if for nothing else than for great content inspiration.

The reason Essence’s captions resonate so deeply is because they are tailored to their audience. It champions #BlackExcellence and celebrates our favorite Black Celebrities in a way we wish we could – or that we actually do when we talk to our besties about how incredible Ciara or Kelly Rowland may have looked on the ‘gram that day. Just look at this post from November 3, 2021, featuring a 15-second story repost of Brandy, where she looked incredibly stunning!

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Clearly, this post is not for everyone. Some people may wonder why the tone seems counter-intuitive since it is giving “how dare you” along with “yes ma’am, you better!” all at the same time. Some people may not even know or like Brandy. However, for those who do, this caption hits (or slaps, depending on your background). And the top liked comment completely concurs (or in other words, is “with the ****s, as #BlackTwitter might say) –

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In a world that has finally begun to embrace authentic expression for all, thanks to Twitter and the likes, how do we #heal from “politically correct” speech that is only surface-level? 

As a corporate entrepreneur, I’ve written for both sides. I’ve written peaceful, respectful, safe captions for clients that were written with the intention of not offending anyone. I’ve also written for burgeoning brands and influencers that are niching down to hook their people, nay, their tribe.

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As you can see, it’s not easy to transition from corporate speak to cultural speak, but it is possible. Here are a few things that worked well for me as I began composing compelling, deeply resonating captions for a client.

Immerse Yourself in Inspiration

Sometimes in order to learn a new skill, you just have to watch and listen a while. When you are writing copy, it helps to have sources of inspiration to pull from. This can be a list of accounts and pages that write copy in a compelling way. You can also start a document listing out common words, phrases, and expressions that your target audience frequently uses. You could even try off-platform research where you seek out other virtual places and spaces that your audience uses to communicate with one another, such as YouTube or Reddit.

Tap into your Emotions

When I was tasked with writing deeper captions for one of our clients, I had to really sit down and empathize with my audience’s pain points. In my case, this was easier to do, because it was a Natural Hair Care product and I have natural hair, though I was not wearing it out. Which is to say, I wore protective styles. Although I could imagine the pain points of the audience, it truly helped me to experience the pain point. This helped me to relate to our client’s audience and to start thinking of how I could connect with them via shared moments, stories, and vernacular. 

Celebrate the Culture of Your Audience

When people feel seen and heard, they rise up in appreciation and support. If you want more engagement, more bang for your buck on social media, then you will have to celebrate the various cultures that your brand champions. When I worked in property management, we could not say “Merry Christmas” to our residents and prospects, because if that was not their cultural background, then that could be assumptive, or even worse, offensive. Rather, we could safely and peacefully use “Happy Holidays.” It’s the same intention, but this verbiage is all-inclusive. 

If you know your demographic well, and you know who is converting and driving sales or engagement, then speak directly to those people. Are they multicultural or do they celebrate Christmas? Are they looking for you to speak to them like the expert or like a guide? The more you get to know them, the better you will be at speaking directly to them and guiding them to the right solution at the right time for their pain points and problems.

Practice Makes Perfect!

Here’s the real tea (or rather, here’s the real truth of the matter): You can look at all of the tips and formulas in the world, but the best way to become proficient at anything is through practice! 

Practice writing for your audience, either in real-time or in a private Google document. The more you practice, the better you’ll become and the quicker you’ll be able to relate and resonate with your audience. 

Now, if you do not have time to practice, you can always consider outsourcing your Social Media Management to our team at The Kool Source. We can also provide strategy or consultations if you prefer to learn how to be more proficient. Either way, we trust that you will do right by your brand and we hope that this article helps you to more effectively communicate with your audience.

Kema Hodge
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