Sometimes the well is dry and the ideas are elusive, and it seems as though inspiration has abandoned you. Those times can be frustrating, especially when seconds are in short supply and you don’t have 40 minutes to spend looking for something to post to Instagram. Luckily for you, I’ve done quite a bit of research on the subject and am here to help.
From planning your approach to creating a backlog of potential images to reaching your audience, here’s a helpful list of inspiring Instagrams to light a fire under your lacklustre motivation.
What Instagram account to make
Your first step is deciding what you want your IG account to say about your business. There are so many ways to use Instagram to your benefit, especially now that you can easily add shopping directly from your feed. Need to build brand awareness? Or how about company culture? What about changing the conversation in your field? You can do all that with some well-thought-out posts and a bit of planning.
Side note: The best results will come from posting content that’s “on-brand”. If you don’t already have brand guidelines, now is the perfect time to set some rules in stone. Choosing specific colours and fonts and sticking to them will save you time, and allow for brand recognition down the line.
Different Instagram approaches for businesses
Using Instagram as a shopping experience
Click shopping on Instagram is a real boon for product companies. The simplest approach to turning your Instagram into a shop is to just go forward with some clean product photos. Keeping them well lit on a consistent background will make them pop in a timeline as well as a grid. For inspiration, why not look to the experts? Here are two great product photographers based in Ireland.
This is a great approach if your products change frequently because it allows you to maintain a quality brand image while also posting ad hoc, instead of having to consider the grand scheme of your grid every time you post. Here are some examples of it in action.
The next step up from this would be to get a little creative, which is pretty easily done on your smartphone because there are apps for EVERYTHING now. Check out this list to find the right one for you.
An alternative would be to create a large single image that features multiple products and slice it into multiples of three. This can be a wide photo that is three square images across, or a long photo that can be nine or twelve images in total. When posted in the correct order, this gives a whole and unified feel to your posts. It also works best if posting is something you struggle to do every day, because you can post your latest delivery in one go and wait for the clicking frenzy to begin. Here’s an example of something similar we created for a client in the past; they specialise in UX based web design, so we decided to highlight their work.
You could also split one product across many photos. This would work great if you are pushing a specific item and you really want to highlight it.
Building brand awareness on Instagram
Raising brand awareness requires a different approach. Posting more frequently is an absolute must, so it can be difficult to maintain a highly detailed grid design. We recommend picking two or three things that really set your brand apart and heavily targeting your content toward an audience that you know your brand will resonate with. Because you are posting more frequently, you can interject your Instagram-friendly images with branded graphics. These can contain your logo and a related quote or customer review. Here is an example of this approach by a beauty clinic we worked with. Check out @tinnockfarmtipperary too, they have a beautiful grid, that works well both as individual posts and as an overall aesthetic approach. They have a very clear colour scheme, and while they mix up the content that they post, they also have a charmingly consistent vibe to what they do.
If you are using Instagram to develop or enhance your company culture, you can be a lot looser with your style. This approach would suit B2B companies, who cannot make direct sales on the Instagram platform – which only allows for product sales, not services. Similar to building brand awareness, you can combine images with branded graphics, though the images can be less stylised and focus more on the goings-on of the business. Here are examples of one with branding and one without.
Campaigning or innovating on Instagram
Changing the conversation is a much more time-consuming goal. Whether you aim to be the centre of attention, or simply highlight where your company stands on an issue, this requires consistent posting and a lot of ad spend. BUT I’m not here to talk about that, I’m here to provide you with some inspiration for the content that people will see when they get your page! Each post should be considered and back up what you’re saying in your overall campaign. This style works best for any kind of ideology based campaign, where you’re pushing an idea or behaviour as much as a product. Take, for example, the @brushwithbamboo campaign which is working to capitalise on the conversation around plastic waste. From the number of times I was served their ad on Instagram, I can tell that they are putting their money where their mouth is.
I would argue that what really drove the success of this, and similar, campaigns is the content waiting on the profile when you click through. With an emphasis on reviews and customer satisfaction, their profile compliments their ideals by providing facts as well as opinion, making a product purchase more likely. We all want to stop global warming and save the turtles, but few of us are willing to be inconvenienced, so seeing the product in action and that it works well really drives home the sale.
Instagram for your inner creative genius
Last, but definitely not least, are the oceans of creative inspiration that can be found on Instagram. We by no means encourage you to steal or repurpose the work of the many talented creatives out there. However, we definitely advise spending some time exploring amongst the IG artists, just to see what’s possible and spark your own creative brain cells into action. Here are some examples of beautiful grids to get your juices flowing.
So, by now you know where to start your Instagram content plan! We recommend working on a roadmap that is day-specific so that you have reliable inspiration for every day of the week. You can then plan for however many weeks in advance you can find time for. This plan can contain a degree of stylistic repetition. For inspiration on this, look no further than the Engage Content Instagram account. We jump on ideas that are guaranteed to be trending everyweek, so #motivationmonday and #takeovertuesday are our regular features. There are tonnes of day-specific hashtags operating out there in the Instagram wilds, so explore and find one that works best for your brand. As we’re a wordy group of people, selling our words to other people, on Wednesday we feature a new made-up word, usually with a funny angle to encourage engagement. #Throwbackthursday is an easy one to incorporate because it lends a personal aspect to the grid, whether that’s through our own weekly outings or a deep dive into our history. It’s also a good idea to interact with other accounts on the platform – it increases engagement and gets you talking to real people. Have a favourite coffee shop? Shout them out!
So go forth, my friends, and do it for the gram!