When it comes to creating great Instagram content, how do you stand out in an already crowded arena and get people to sit up and take notice of your posts? You might be looking at Instagram and thinking ‘how can I compete?’ It’s a common occurrence these days to hear – that’s so Insta, or this picture is really ‘grammable’.
For business owners, coming up with those magic images on a consistent basis can be tough. Do you hire a professional photographer to take a load of photos or do you open a stock account and download all of the images? How do you ensure that you have a consistent flow of content and that you aren’t going to run out after a few weeks? Well, before you do anything, have a read of the below and see if you take any inspiration from our tips and advice for creating great Instagram content.
It’s All About the Image
As the ‘owner’ of a teenage daughter, I can tell you, from personal experience, it’s all about the Instagram photo for the younger generation! The first year that she really got into Instagram she was 13 or 14 and everything had to be staged just so for the photo that would make the cut. It’s still the same now a few years later. It’s about producing the photo that makes it onto the ‘grid’ and gets the most likes. This is a common theme for Instagram users. They are always competing for that perfect shot. There’s a lot more to it than that though – even the best images can get lost in a crowd.
You may feel that that all those ‘staged images’ and perfect photos, or those perfectly co-ordinated Instagram grids are a little bit over the top and you just want an Instagram presence. The thing is, like any social media platform, you can invest as much or as little time as you want but you do need to make sure that you are getting the right return. Spending hours on an Instagram feed that isn’t reaching your audience means you are just wasting time. Do your research first and make sure that there is an audience. Once you have established that, then work out how you are going to reach that audience.
Do Your Research
Take a look at what others are doing with their Instagram accounts. You may want to check out your competitors or others in your industry or just look at the accounts of those that appeal to you. There are all sorts of ideas to inspire and to assist when it comes to creating great Instagram content. If you want to see what posts do best then the best thing to do is a hashtag search. Let’s say for example that you sell a product like bath salts or candles. Type in “bath salts” into the search bar and see what returns. You then get a choice of
- Top – meaning top posts – those that have the most likes/engagement
- Account – accounts that have the word bath salts in the name
- Tags – hashtags
- Places – this is a place taken from maps and doesn’t always have an associated account
We recommend that you either choose either top or tags. Choose tags and then choose #bathsalts – you will then be presented with all the posts that have even tagged starting with the most popular. You can change this to recent to see the latest posts.
Have a scroll and see the kind of posts that are getting the most interaction, the ones that catch your eye and the kind of posts you think you would like to create.
Our advice – if you can’t find any posts for your type of product, this doesn’t mean you are going to clean up – instead question why there aren’t any products of this nature on the platform – is this the right platform for your business?
If you are finding lots of a similar product, this would indicate that it’s a fairly crowded market and that you are going to be competing against lots of others. Don’t let that put you off, there is room for everyone and following our advice for creating the best posts will help you stand out among all the noise.
Types of Instagram Posts to Consider
Photo of Product
Your product is your livelihood no doubt and the focus of everything you do however, posting product after product on Insta is only going to turn people off after a while and using the same background setting every single time is going to get a little…. Well, boring!
Get creative with your products. Experiment a little. Product flat lays are a popular choice. Style your background to get the best light, no shadows, no blemishes and take pictures of the product from different angles. If you can’t find the right place to take the photos, think outside the box. Go to a local beauty spot, to a pebbly beach or get your hands on some props so that you can set up your ‘stage’.
If you have lots and lots of products and sell them online, it’s worth considering professional photography to give you a set of images that are suitable for your website, social media and other forms of marketing. Otherwise, you can create some great images yourself with the camera on your phone.
Photos of Faces/People
People win. It’s true – I have lost count of the number of times a customer has sent me a job lot of all of their products as their social media content. That’s great but people don’t want to see product after product, they want to see the personality behind the brand. They want to see happy, smiley people, the people behind the business. Who is responsible for the products and services? Who are they buying from? How do you get to know the real business and not just someone selling you products. On many occasions now I have posted two pictures – one of the team, and one of the product and my money every time would be on the people picture getting the most likes.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of quotes but my timeline is full of them, they get great interaction and they resonate with people. They won’t resonate with everyone but in some circumstances this style of post works really well. If you are a therapist, a life coach, a motivational speaker, an author etc, these are often key to getting your message across. Quotes for the sake of quotes can have an adverse effect though so use them accordingly.
We recently wrote a whole article on the importance of sharing your reviews on social media. What greater recommendation of your product than feedback from someone who has bought it? It’s not just about the product though, it’s also about the user experience. How did the customer feel using your service, was delivery quick, did they feel like they got a personal service. Reviews are a great way to showcase the real day to day experiences of customers. Using Canva, you can play around with the images of the product and the text from the review to create some nice looking graphics like the examples below
We manage social media for many customers including recently, a building plastics company. Now, if you can make building products look attractive then you really are winning. Sometimes, in our job, creating great Instagram content is not always easy. Not one to shy away from a challenge though, we started to look at ways we could position the products to get greater engagement. After all, there are only so many ways that you can portray photos of guttering. One day, while looking to Canva for inspiration, I happened to type in ‘guttering’. The results were much the same… gutters, more gutters, more gutters and then a picture of a squirrel sat in an old gutter. Genius. Immediately I thought this would make a great Instagram post. I overlaid the customer logo, added text in their company font and their website. The result is below and is an example of great Instagram content that will stop the scroll.
Disclaimer: Our posts may contain affiliate links. We may earn commissions if you shop through the links on this page although we only ever recommend products that we genuinely believe will enhance your experience.
Now, I happen to have Canva Pro so I can use most of the images but this was a free license photo. What this means is that I can use it in social media posts according to Canva’s terms and licensing conditions. It’s well worth taking a look at these terms and conditions to ensure what you can do as there are lots of stipulations. I am always careful not to infringe any of their terms and conditions.
Creating Great Instagram Content
It’s not all about the photo. Remember, there are lots of things to bear in mind when creating great Instagram content. As well as having the visual element which will stop the scroll, you also want your content to be ‘searchable’ and you need to caption it and use as many tricks as possible to get your content seen.
Making Your Content Searchable
This means that people can find it when they are looking for something specific. I use a recent example. I was looking for soft furnishings for my lounge, hallway and downstairs loo. The colour theme runs throughout the downstairs so I wanted to match the light shades. Previously I had bought two beautiful shades from Etsy, from a seller I then followed on Instagram. They didn’t have what I wanted in the colour I wanted for my hallway so I started searching for drum lampshades. In order to do that I needed to search for #drumlightshades and #drumlampshade.
What this did was show me various tags and ideas. Now, it also highlighted what I should be looking for. There were 3 posts for the first hashtag and over a 1,000 for the second. Carrying out these types of searches will help you discover what people are posting about.
It’s worth sitting down for an hour and carrying out this exercise to build yourself some hashtag lists. It may be that you require a few lists for different products and services. I tend to build the lists in groups of 5-11 (recommended number of hashtags per post) and copy them into notes on my phone. Much easier to copy and paste than type them out every time I post. Hashtags are really important when creating great Instagram content to ensure that your posts are seen by more people.
Using the Right Caption
When you are scrolling Instagram, you generally see the first line or two of the caption. If you have written war and peace on your post it doesn’t matter unless that person clicks to see more. You have that initial first line to capture and engage them. Consider using emojis to make them stand out, capital letters to make it bolder or just ask a question in that first sentence that will resonate with people.
If you want to write a blog on your Instagram post that’s fine but use the first bit of space for the most important part of your message. You will lose people if you write too much unless of course, it’s a subject that they are passionate about – then you may find that they will read all of the info.
Create an Aesthetic Looking Insta Grid
You may have seen the word “grid” used when it comes to Instagram. That’s basically the view you get on your profile page of Instagram. Looks something like this when done with intent:
As you can see, this takes some organising – in the first example you have to alternate your content and stick to a colour scheme. There are lots of different layouts and styles. It’s not for everyone but those who like the aesthetic image and perhaps have a more creative tendency like a feed that’s in order. We are in two minds about how much time is wasted. Yes it looks amazing but when you are scrolling through your feed, it’s only a post or two that you see unless you happen to visit the profile feed. If you create visual products or offer creative services it’s definitely something to consider. This could be a photographer, cake designer, graphic designer for example.
Let’s explore the different grid themes:
Minimalist theme that focuses on a couple of brand colours. Give more focus to the colour theme than the layout – this way it will all look aesthetically pleasing like this from @thecheerfulchica:
Chess board/chequered grids
Just as the name suggests, this is an alternation of colours – a solid colour and then a photo which could be different every time or could stick to some contrasting colour theme. Credit @cerebralmist
Photo – quote – photo – quote
Simplify the theme – white backgrounds for photos, black background for quote for example. Stick to the same font. Canva is an excellent tool for allowing you to do this as it means you can keep same background and font, just change text and font size. This is similar to the checkerboard example above.
This is exactly as it sounds. You take one main picture or graphic and “slice it up”. Take one square and split it into 9 posts. As a whole it looks awesome, the trouble is, once you add the next post, your square goes off a bit
You can also consider a row by row theme where one row focuses on one colour or style of post and then the next is different. You can do this both horizontally or vertically. You can even look at a diagonal theme. You are going to need to ensure that you are posting the same number of posts each time though so that your rows don’t go out of kilter. If you post 3 posts each time for example and then only make 1 post on a specific day, you will lose your pattern and it will look a bit odd. If you are going to get creative with your Instagram grid, be sure to be consistent. Remember the golden rules: Stick to your brand, use the right fonts, borders, colours etc.
If you are inspired by the advice in this article and are keen to get creating great Instagram content, be sure to get in touch and let us know how you get on.