With over 800 million people using Instagram every month, it’s become a must-have platform for businesses to market products and reach engaged audiences…
In this ever-changing age of social media, we’re getting bored more easily, and want to digest information as quickly as possible. And so, the social media manager’s job gets harder with every new update and trend.
That’s why we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to producing epic Instagram content for your business or clients, and importantly, how it can help growth and drive sales!
1. Let’s Talk Strategy 📈
Before we get to the exciting bit about making visually awesome Instagram content, first, we need to talk about the purpose of it.
Everyone likes a well-crafted post, but what is the objective behind it? If your marketing team spend hours a week creating Instagram content that gets loads of likes but drives no conversions, it might not be worth their time and resources.
When beginning the daunting task of writing an Instagram content marketing strategy, think about what the ideal business outcomes would be from the photos, videos, Stories and ads you’re planning to post. Often people come up with cool ideas for Instagram content, but struggle to apply a reason for them. They become attached to the idea and end up going ahead with it, hoping their audience find it as cool as they do (sound familiar?).
So the way I like to think about this process is by starting with why rather than what.
Let’s take an independent bakery as an example:
Why are they using Instagram for their business?
- To reach more potential customers
- Grow brand awareness
- Sell more bread and cakes
Therefore, what content should they posting?
- Photos/Stories/videos of their baking process to share a behind the scenes insight into the business
- Photos of impressive final products
- Photos/Stories of daily offers
- User-generated content from customers
Going through this quick process will ensure you’re putting business objectives at the heart of the Instagram content you’re posting. For more info and tips on the strategy side of Instagram marketing, check out our guide:
2. Let’s get vis-u-al 🎨
Once you feel organised, you can move on to the good stuff. Not only is consistency important with how often you’re posting, but also with what you’re posting. Business Instagram accounts are acting more and more like websites rather than just a place to post photos — so how can you keep people on your page? Start with finding your style and become recognisable!
In order to create a great Instagram theme, you have to think about what your images look like all together on your profile, rather than as single posts. Here are some great examples of different Instagram themes…
Consistent Colour Palette
A great way to create an attractive Instagram theme is to use a consistent colour palette throughout your feed! This might be through only choosing certain types of photos, or editing them using the same filter.
Hotel comparison giant Trivago is great at this:
The purple tones in their photos make their entire feed look cohesive and aesthetically pleasing, naturally encouraging new visitors to stay on their profile for longer.
Or you could think of your feed as a visual gallery, with each image linking to the one beside/above/below it. When a new user visits your page, you want them to be impressed with the overall aesthetic in order to keep them scrolling and exploring individual posts. You may have great captions on all your photos, but if nobody is clicking that far, they won’t help convert new users (remember your objectives!).
There are many different ways you could use a grid pattern. Adidas Originals uses each strip of 3 to focus on a particular product with a contrasting design, giving the feel of viewing different billboards as you scroll…
We do something similar on our own account at Hopper HQ, working in horizontal lines of the same colour palette, and vertical lines for the type of post…
Or you could follow Zara‘s suit and consistently use white borders for all Instagram content. These borders might be uniform in size and shape, or alternate depending on the content. There’s loads of photo editing apps that can add borders for you, notably Afterlight and Whitagram. This technique breaks the feed up and gives the impression of a catalogue, which is perfect for a clothing brand’s profile!
A checkerboard theme is another effective way to separate images and catch attention. The alternate tiles could be of different products, or taken from another viewpoint, like Shu Uemura does on their profile. This grid style also works nicely with text posts, such as quotes or facts, to break up the photos and videos.
Another option is splitting your image into 3, 6 or 9 parts and posting them in order to make the full image appear on your whole profile. This looks visually impressive (so long as all the parts are high resolution), however, due to Instagram’s home feed no longer being chronological, the different parts of the photo will appear as people are scrolling and might not make sense on their own.
I’d avoid doing your whole profile this way as a result, but it works nicely to make an announcement or unveil a new product, like Harmur did in the example below. If you’re going to do tiled posts like this, in your caption make sure to point people in the direction of your profile to see the whole image — this can be a great way of getting people to click through to your account!
Pulling off a themed Instagram account like the ones above requires consistency and organisation, which is why creating your brand guidelines in advance is really beneficial! The extra effort it may require will be worth the wow-factor that someone will get when they find your business’ page.
💡 TOP TIP 💡
Use a grid planner like the one on Hopper HQ to see what your scheduled posts will look like on your Instagram feed once they’re published! This way you can play around in advance to get the perfect grid theme and feed aesthetic!
3. Instagram Content 📸
“But what should we actually be posting?!” I hear you cry.
This will be a key discussion in your strategy sessions, and also be dependent on your theme (if you have one, which we recommend you do). There’s many different angles to approach Instagram content from depending on your business, and it helps to consider things like:
- Tone — how humorous is your brand on Instagram?
- Influencer — do you work with influencers who’ll be creating content for you?
- Illustrations and graphics — or just photography?
- Stock images — or only original content?
If you’re shooting your own content, make sure you invest in a good quality camera! It doesn’t even have to break the bank, with plenty of high quality affordable cameras available.
Instagram Content for B2C Businesses
If your product or service is photographable, then that’s an obvious place to start.
All B2C businesses should have some form of Instagram content displaying what they’re selling. However, many companies go above and beyond their product to create a brand lifestyle on their Instagram account.
Here are few ideas and examples of Instagram content to B2C businesses — and you don’t have to be restricted to one kind, but mix and match as fits your brand and theme:
Straight Product Shots:
The original kind of Instagram content for brands! Sometimes simplicity is good. Whether you’re launching a new product, or keeping your best seller at the forefront of your audience’s minds, posting clean cut product shots are great on Instagram.
You can also great creative with composition and photography here. Make the most of flat lay shots, or photograph the product in various exciting settings. You’ll know what fits your brand best!
Check out David Kind eyewear for perfecting the clean and simple product shoot:
If your objectives of Instagram marketing are to increase brand awareness and customer loyalty, this could be a great strategy to steer your Instagram content.
In order to successfully sell your product, you first need to sell the business and what it stands for. Many B2C businesses use Instagram to promote their ethos and wider global issues they care about or are involved in. Whether it’s climate change, mental health or gender equality, be vocal about your company ethos in your Instagram content.
Sloppy Tunas sell swimwear from 100% recycled material, and their Instagram is not just full of photos of swimming shorts, but the story behind why they make them:
Depending on your audience demographic, custom memes are a brilliant form of Instagram content for your business. Whether they’re funny or motivational, memes encourage engagement (‘tag a friend’) and are low-cost and quick to produce.
Not all Instagram themes lend themselves to text posts mixed with photography, which is something to bear in mind when considering this type of Instagram content. Take a look at Pretty Little Thing who are doing it well:
The reason influencer marketing works so well is because we don’t feel like ‘the brand’ is selling to us, but somebody approachable (who has a lovely feed to scroll through). Taking that trend on board, many businesses post Instagram content that makes their profile look more like a lifestyle blog than a shop window.
Using stock images, you can post images that your audience will relate to and enjoy without focusing on selling anything. This creates an affiliation and sense of loyalty with your brand which will increase sales in the long run.
See how candle makers Homesick do this with an image that will likely resonate with their audience (furnishings, home decor, pets) but does not feature their product or a sell in the caption:
Instagram Content for B2B Businesses
While Instagram naturally gears itself to the consumer market, that doesn’t mean B2B companies can’t gain a lot of value from the platform…
Many B2B businesses use Instagram to share useful information in the form of text and graphic posts. Whether it’s tips and tricks of the industry, relevant statistics or infographics, this is a staple Instagram content idea for SaaS businesses.
Check out how B2B content curators Quuu use carousel posts to share ideas and spark conversation with their audience:
Another key driver of Instagram content for B2B businesses is recruitment. Documenting company lifestyle with behind-the-scenes insights and presenting a fun and human side to your business can be great for brand awareness and attracting potential new employees.
Evernote share office shots and company events on their profile, using the hashtag #LifeAtEvernote to show the people behind their brand:
Another good Instagram content strategy for B2B businesses is to shine a light on their customers by promoting or sharing their work. This nurtures the relationship with the existing client while portraying a good image to prospective ones.
At Hopper HQ we highlight businesses killing it on Instagram, and often feature our customers to build community and show our support:
No matter your business or industry, the key thing with deciding what Instagram content to post is to think about your target audience first and what matters to them . Don’t just guess, go and find out by speaking to customers so you can cater your Instagram content effectively.
For more Instagram content ideas, check out: Instagram Post Ideas: The Killer Content That Works
Plan your social media posts.
Visually plan your posts. Drag and drop everywhere.
4. User Generated Content 📱
Your customers can be your best marketers. Photos other people have posted on Instagram of your product, establishment or service make really valuable content. Keep an eye on your mentions and tags for any great snaps that would fit with your feed. Remember to ask permission to repost another user’s image — this could be through a friendly comment, a direct message, or a link to T&Cs which big companies like Airbnb have begun using.
(Starbucks go the extra mile by messaging AND commenting)
Another great way to generate and find customer Instagram content is by creating a brand hashtag, such as River Island’s #ImWearingRI. You can include this in your bio with a call to action for followers to ‘tag to be featured’ to easily keep track of UGC. However, this works best once you already have a bit of momentum. If you’re just getting started with your brand Instagram, it’s a great thing to have in place, but don’t expect a lot of results straight away!
You can also find user-generated content libraries online, such as Scop.io, which help you find high-quality images that are relevant to your audience!
Plan your social media posts.
Visually plan your posts. Drag and drop everywhere.
5. Influencer Marketing 🤳
If you have a decent budget allocated to your Instagram content, you could also use influencer marketing. Instagram influencers are people with a highly engaged group of followers, who take notice of what they use and recommend. For example, if you follow a travel blogger for their great photos and funny captions, and they post about the best airplane pillow ever, you’re more inclined to remember the brand because you like and trust them. It’s good logic, but more and more influencers are finding it dishonest to authentically recommend a product they’re being paid to post about. You may have seen the following hashtags on product posts: ‘#ad’, ‘#spon’, ‘#paid’ and so on, which let followers know it has been funded by a brand. An update last year also allowed influencers to tag their posts as ‘Paid Partnerships’ with brands.
Despite this, influencer marketing is still very effective. The space has grown rapidly in the past couple of years, and as a result, these kinds of campaigns can cost a fair bit. If you have a smaller budget, it would be worth looking for micro influencers to promote your brand. These are people with less followers (1,000 – 10,000) but who have really good engagement on their posts.
Engagement = likes and comments ÷ number of followers
This percentage could be far higher on a smaller account than somebody with 100,000 followers, and it will cost a lot less! Reach out to them directly, or go through an influencer agency.
For all you need to know about instagram influencers, check out:
6. Instagram Stories 📚
As I said at the beginning, we want to absorb Instagram content in the quickest, most visual way possible, so it’s no wonder the addictive thumb tapping of Instagram Stories has taken over so much of our time on the app.
400 million people use Stories every day. It is therefore a great place to market your business in a fun and approachable way. Unfortunately, the ‘swipe up to see link’ feature is restricted to business accounts with 10,000 followers or more, so if you fall below that you’ll have to think of more creative way to get people to convert.
Due to the temporary nature of Stories (24 hours), it’s possible to be more flexible with what you publish. It could be an outlet for more personal snaps and videos of your business, or a great place to offer daily deals and competitions. Instagram has made it even easier to do this by adding a text-only Story option, so you can share information quickly and easily without having to worry about a background image or video to post with it.
If you post a great Story that you never want to disappear, it can be added as a ‘Highlight’ on your profile. This is a really useful feature to save the best of your Stories, and gives new visitors more to explore on your profile:
Want some Story inspiration? Check out:
Parting Words 👋
Take your time thinking about how you can apply the points in this blog to your own Instagram content, and do some research! Find a competitor that’s excelling at digital marketing and assess the kind of Instagram content they post. Also see how they engage with people online, and importantly, what their audience is asking for, as they will be the same people you’re hoping to reach.
Happy posting! 😍
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Free for Hopper HQ customers • Updated January 2021