The visual nature of Instagram makes it a highly useful tool to reach and engage your customers. A well-executed Instagram strategy can help put a human face to your brand or company, making it easier for customers to connect with you. We like to deal with people, after all—not businesses.
It’s recommended that you post to Instagram at least once per day in order to maximize engagement, but as is often the case when it comes to anything creative, sometimes you just run out of inspiration. That’s where we come in—we’ve put together a comprehensive list of ideas that will help you keep your Instagram account interesting and engaging for your customers.
See which ones you’ve got covered already and which ones you can add to the mix!
1) Behind-the-scenes shots and reposts from your employees
Social media is arguably the most personal method of marketing; developing a tone of voice that fits your company is as important as the content you post. Your social media should build connections with your customers—the better they feel they know you, the more loyalty they feel to your business.
Posting shots from behind the scenes or reposting from your employees’ Instagram feeds provides your followers a glimpse of life on the other side. For instance, I posted this picture to the Canopy Instagram last year as I was waiting for a webinar to begin. The other picture is from our Studio 20 Instagram, showing a photo I took with my phone during a commercial shoot around Christmas.
3) Relevant quotes
You may have noticed that quotes are how I promote all my blog posts on the Canopy Instagram. It became part of my process almost by accident—I looked for an applicable quote to go with my blog post one time and decided it was the perfect way to publicize the blog on Instagram (left). I also use them to highlight special holidays, like the one on the right from Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (always an important one for Montgomery).
Two things to remember about quote posts: 1) Make sure the quote is relevant to your followers and your brand, and 2) it’s best to use the same font(s) consistently. I found two that I liked very early on and stuck with them, which makes your overall brand image more cohesive.
That being said, quote posts are very easy to do, especially if you know Photoshop. Even if you don’t, there are tons of free tools to play with.
4) Compelling statistics
Similar to quote posts but more informative! Occasionally when I find a particularly powerful statistic in my blog post research, I’ll include it in my Instagram image. According to this article from the Nielsen Norman Group, “Eye-tracking studies show internet readers pay close attention to information-carrying images. In fact, when the images are relevant, readers spend more time looking at the images than they do reading text on the page.”
Here’s one example from a blog post on geolocation a few months ago, and another from the Council on Substance Abuse-NCADD from their underage drinking-awareness campaign.
6) Show your sense of humor
Sometimes it’s nice just to make someone laugh. The occasional funny-just-for-the-sake-of-being-funny post helps keep your audience happy and makes your brand more memorable—and they might even like it enough to share it.
7) Content promotion
Producing written content can be time-consuming and not a little bit strenuous, but the truth is no one is going to read a giant block of text, no matter how helpful it is. The visuals are what draw readers in. Posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts.
Use your Instagram account to promote that content you worked so hard to create!
8) Product promotion
Kind of a no-brainer, right? Instagram is the perfect platform for showing off products, as long as you don’t go overboard. The 80/20 rule is generally the best way to go here: 80% of your posts should be valuable to your audience in some way, and 20% can be promotional.
If you turn your Instagram feed into a visual inventory, your customers might start wondering what’s the point of following you anymore? Your website is better equipped for that; save Instagram for special deals or new products you want to promote.
Video marketing just keeps growing, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Instagram now supports recording and uploading videos up to 60 seconds long. In fact, these short videos are a perfect way to execute that product promotion we talked about in the last item: 4x as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it.
Like these snippets from Prevail and the Montgomery Zoo—what makes you want an iced latte more? Or to see the otters? Being told or being shown?
Incorporating video into your social media strategy is a good idea regardless of platform—it sees the highest engagement rates on Facebook compared to any other type of content. Businesses that use video grow revenue 49% faster year-over-year than those who don’t.
Just remember, Instagram videos begin playing silently on mobile by default, so make sure they’re easily understood without sound or give the viewer a reason to turn the volume on.
10) Hyperlapse videos
Have you ever scrolled by a video where someone is cooking or baking something and they’re showing you the process through sped-up video? The free Hyperlapse app by Instagram is one way to pull off this awesome effect. You can record up to 45 minutes of video in one take, then accelerate it to meet Instagram’s 60 second time limit
Often used for humorous effect, GIFs are a great way to convey an idea or a feeling in a compact, effective way. It’s nice to show your brand’s fun side every once in a while! Or you can use a simple animation to give a visual promotion a little extra pop.
12) Contests and giveaways
Instagram’s visual format is a great way to promote a contest or giveaway. An eye-catching graphic followed up the details in your caption, and you’re on your way. There’s no built-in method for capturing leads in Instagram, so add a trackable link in your bio for the duration of the contest and point your followers there from the caption.
13) Ask your followers to tag a friend
When you see a post on social media that clicks with you or reminds you of another person, you want to share it. Instagram has made it easy to do that by @mentioning a user in your reply to the post. Encouraging followers to tag friends this way helps you both increase engagement and broaden your reach.
Mosaics aren’t widely used, but they create an amazing effect when executed well. For example, this is the account page for gO. Media, run by Ryan at Studio 20:
You can see here how all the pieces fit together, but if you were looking at them individually, you might wonder about the unusual cropping. It’s a pretty clever way to get someone who scrolls across one of your photos in their feed to click through to your account page.
I also enjoy this feed from a Paris-based company, which isn’t exactly a mosaic—but the pictures flow together so beautifully that it’s just fun to look at from time to time. If you keep scrolling, that turquoise transitions into aqua and eventually into pink. Plus, the individual images I see in my feed are gorgeous all by themselves.
Whew! That was a lot to cover, but hopefully you got a few new ideas to incorporate into your Instagram strategy. What do you think? Is there anything you do that I haven’t listed? What content works best for you overall? Let me know in the comments!
Catherine has a degree in English literature and a passion for all things marketing. As Digital Specialist, her focus is on web design, search engine optimization, social media, online presence management, and project coordination.