The Struggle is Real: Instagram Captioning 101

Let’s be real, Instagram captioning can be a difficult task. In this day and age, social media rules our lives and provides a whole different way of communication that didn’t exist in past generations. We feel a lot of pressure to show off our lives and to make them seem amazing, or even better than they actually are. The truth is, we are all in the same boat. Valley has some Instagram captioning tips to help you ring in the new year.

Tip #1: Don’t overthink it

If a caption isn’t coming to you, don’t panic! It happens to all of us. The most important thing to remember is to just be true to yourself. If caption doesn’t seem to be working out, take a break and get back to it later, or toss something in and don’t give it a second thought.

Tip #2: Look for inspiration

Always find ideas for inspiration on what you are posting about. Were you recently at a concert? Try using lyrics from any of the artist’s songs. Are you posting a picture from a Penn State sporting event? Why not try lyrics from the Alma Mater.

Kelsey White, a Penn State student, told Valley about her go-to method to creating the perfect Instagram caption. “I always like to relate back to common Penn State slogans, such as ‘Happy Valley’ and ‘Let’s go State,’” says White.

Tip #3: Sometimes a caption is not necessary

Don’t want to feel like “no caption” is a cop out? A simple solution is putting the location, instead. Tag Beaver Stadium for football games, or the Bryce Jordan Center for all your THON-related captions.

“I naturally want to make it serious and then I think it’s not funny enough, so my go-to is using the location without a caption,” says Callahan Miller, a Penn State student.

Tip #4: Confidence is key

Let your captions stand out, and allow the caption to be a story that can describe only your night. Make it unique to the event that you are posting about. After all, there’s only one you out there, and only you can show people just how interesting your life can be.

Struggling on captions is normal. It’s actually a good thing to want your caption game to be on-point. It’s proof that you’re letting your creative juices flow and aspiring to think outside the box, but it’s always important to remember that Instagram is meant for fun, not stress.

Valley spoke to student Kate Diveny on the stresses of finding a caption.

“I don’t struggle, only because I’m more of a fan of funny captions,” says Diveny, “I’m not about those serious captions, and I don’t need those lyrics or approval from anyone else. Instagram is more about having fun.”

If you feel Instagrammer’s block —term equivalent to “writer’s block,” only for Instagram— coming on, then turn to emoji characters! With over 1,000 emojis, there is no excuse to shy away from posting just because of captioning fails. Penn State student, Nicole Zimmerman, agrees with Valley.

“Either my caption is too basic, or I just use emojis,” says Zimmerman.

So, Penn State students and Instagrammers, don’t let the fear of captions stop you from posting. Or as Babe Ruth once said, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”