Remember when Instagram first became a thing?
Roughly 8 years ago on October 6th, Instagram was born. Fresh on the scene as the new kid on the block, Instagram hit app stores with only one feature. Remember? The only type of Instagram content we were capable of sharing was sharing photos. Fast forward to 2018, Instagram has grown, better yet, evolved, into what it is today. An app with 1 billion+ users, that now has an arsenal of features for all of us to use. It’s an incredible platform, whether for personal or business use, it comes with a wide array of capabilities allowing us to shine doing what we love.
Let’s face it.
The problem most seem to have is understanding that content, in all of its glory and different forms, serves a purpose. It also has a time, place, and style. Realistically speaking, content is an ever changing thing, and it can either be your best friend, or your worst enemy. Especially when it comes to marketing.
photos are incredible and can definitely tell a story or convey a message, but they have one function. To capture one moment in time, that is meant to resonate with people and create emotion. What people fail to realize is that, photos provide different value and insights to your audience than video can. Video allows for your personality to shine through and has a greater likelihood of making your audience feel something. Why? Because, your audiences are being given more than just one moment in time to latch onto and remember. They are being given food for thought that they can later digest and formulate an opinion, emotion, or an idea around.
Time to break things down.
Types of Instagram content and when/where they should be used:
Sharing photos is what Instagram was built around, so obviously this is going to be one of the main types of content we want to have at the forefront. When utilizing photos to build your brand there are two things you need to remember.
Quality over quantity.
Everyone seems to think that because there are so many Instagrammers posting new content every minute of every day, that everyone is fighting for the spotlight. On the contrary. There’s room for everyone to build, grow, and make money. In addition, audiences tend to respond better to higher quality photos than to photos taken from low-grade phone cameras. Moral of the story. If it’s at all possible to stay away from spotty, pixelated photos, then do so. The quality of your photos will inevitably say a lot about you. Your content speaks towards your overall brand, and how serious you are about what you are doing.
What if all I have is my phone?
Well, some phone cameras are actually pretty good so you might be in the clear. However, if you need high quality photos taken and can’t get any with your phone, there are three options I’d recommend.
The first option is to ask around and see if anyone you know has a DSLR camera that they would be willing to lend you.
The second option would be to go to your local camera shop and see if they do camera rentals. Sometimes you can get away with spending $50 for the day and getting a ton of different photos taken for your page.
Lastly, you can hop onto Facebook. This is my favorite one because if you go onto Facebook and search “(Your city) Photography group,” you will often find hundreds of photographers looking to collaborate. There you can often get in touch with photographers willing to do TFP shoots (Time in exchange for photos), so there’s no actual cost to either party aside from time.
Make sure your photos align with your page.
The best way to determine whether or not you should post something is by referring to your bio. Ask yourself “why did I create my page in the first place?“
Doing this will help determine and whether or not the content you are about to post is going to help with sharing your story. This portion seems like common sense, but honestly, it is often forgotten or overlooked.
The best example that comes to mind for me is… When I came across an Instagram account that was supposed to be dedicated to dogs. Well, I go to the page, checkout some of their content and what do you know? Scrolling through, I came across some photos of cats throughout their feed? Like wait… what is happening?! Isn’t this account supposed to be about dogs? I thought so, but nope.
Let’s say your goal is to be a professional model or personal trainer. Your content has been doing well, you’ve been consistent, but then you get this insatiable urge. The selfie demon within is itching to get out. You pull out your phone and take a photo of yourself with a snapchat filter, that makes you look like a cat, dog, bunny or whatever… Something ridiculous, and then you switch apps and post it on Instagram, on your feed no less! Well the good news is, you can recover from this. The bad news, you hurt your brand and what you are aiming to provide people.
So what happens in scenarios like those ones?
People tend to get turned off by the fact that they went to an account anticipating or expecting certain content, and were let down. Since the account deviated from what they were all about, the potential follower, customer, or supporter skips over you and moves onto the next. Things actually move that quickly. Better yet, imagine you’re building an audience, and all of a sudden you decide to throw in content that has nothing to do with your account or subject matter. Well, here’s the thing. Over time, your audience will begin expecting or anticipating the type of content you will be releasing. That’s why they began following you in the first place. They liked what you were doing and wanted to see more of that. By throwing in what may seem like ‘random’ content, you will be alienating your existing audience.
When / Where:
Here’s how to avoid the scenario above. Photos are meant to be placed everywhere on Instagram, but certain types of photos should not make the cut for being placed in your feed. When it comes to your Instagram feed, keeping everything aligned is what your goal should be. Stick to a structure, and theme. Write down 2-3 subjects that you intend on filling your feed with and make sure the photos that do not fall within those categories do not get posted. Where should photos that have nothing to do with your feed go? I’d recommend posting those photos to your stories and highlights if you’re really keen on sharing it with your audience.
You can also ask yourself:
- Do I consider this a high-quality photo?
- Does this have anything to do with what my page is about?
Carousels / Slides:
Carousel or slides are great ways of showcasing multiple photos. Sharing your adventure that day, past works, or accumulated photos from an event you went to are perfect fits for this type of content. When it comes to posting carousels / slides, apply the same quality control questions we went over in the previous section.
When / Where:
The only place you can post carousel / slide photos is in your feed, so we’ll focus in on the ‘when’ to post them.
The prime opportunity to use carousel / slide posts is when you have a collection of photos that revolve around the same subject matter. Think about what photos can be grouped together and go from there. Examples would include:
- Art you’ve done
- Workout exercises for a given day
- Content from other platforms
- Older posts you’d like to repost
- Meals or meal prep
- Showcasing parts of an event
- Behind the scenes
Videos are amazing pieces of content to incorporate into your personal or business marketing strategy. When it comes to Instagram you are given 30 seconds to resonate with your audience, so it is important to remain direct and on-point with what is being shared. One of the biggest reasons posting video content is worth the effort is due to the fact that videos can go viral. Whether you’re trying to generate likes, get users to click through to your website or make some kind of purchase, video is always going to be your best bet.
When / Where:
Videos can be placed everywhere on Instagram. However, referring back to what we went over regarding photos, videos should be placed under the quality control microscope too. If the video you are posting has nothing to do with your page content, then it shouldn’t make the cut to ending up on your feed. The videos you’d like to share but do not make the cut can be placed in your stories and/or highlights.
Instagram stories are temporary 10-second picture or video clips that you can share with your audience. The content shared within a story does not have to be a part of your feed, and can be used to showcase behind the scenes of what you are up to. Using Instagram stories can prove to be invaluable if used correctly, as it can drive huge engagement to your account.
When / Where:
Use Instagram stories as often as possible. Let’s say you just posted a photo or video to your feed. You should consider whether or not to take that seem piece of content and upload it to your stories including a ‘call-to-action‘ (Ex: Read caption! Very helpful, or motivational). Similarly, content that hasn’t made the cut for being placed on your Instagram feed can also be placed in your stories. This can act as a behind the scenes, an exclusive view of product releases and products in actions, or even a countdown to a new coaching video. Anything works here, so long as everything from feed to story flows and ties together.
The name of this feature says it all. The purpose of this feature is to highlight specific aspects you would like to show your audience and have remain as reviewable content.
When / Where:
Highlights will be placed below your bio and can be segmented into categories to keep things nice and organized for your audience. The best time to use this would be to showcase testimonials, features, shoutouts, workout exercises for specific muscle groups, meals, and the list can go on.
IGTV is a cool little feature they added not too long ago that allows you to post videos of any length. It’s almost like your personal YouTube channel, but instead of being on YouTube, it’s on Instagram. This type of content is perfect for putting out 5 – 30 minute videos that gives your audience a more in-depth look at what you have to offer.
When / Where:
This one is pretty straight forward because of the fact that there is only one place on Instagram this content can be released. The question of how often to post on IGTV is up in the air, and is really up to you. I would personally recommend posting once or twice a week. In doing so, you would be providing greater value to your audience, allowing them to connect with you. This will, over time, equate to building trust and relationships with your audience, which will eventually turn into them wanting to support your goals, journey and business.
Captions are often overlooked as people tend to put in minimal effort. Instagrammers tend to place one or two sentences of how they’re feeling or what they think and believe that will be enough. Not going to lie, every now and again I am guilty of this. There are two reason I know for certain Instagrammers tend to do this.
The first being that they don’t believe they need to put emphasis in the caption and that the photo speaks for itself. The second being that they are tight on time and forgot to create a caption to go with the photo they just released.
Whichever the case, doing either of those is actually not adding any value to your account and overall goal(s). I say this because, no connection or exchange in value is being given to your audience. You have to understand that your audience wants to connect with you. They want to know you, be you, and understand you. But the only way to connect with them on that level is by providing them with content that matters.
When / Where:
Captions are supposed to be added as you’re uploading your content to Instagram. However, I have seen many people do it after they have finished sharing their content. It is recommended that you complete your caption as you are uploading your photo, not after.
Because Instagram may register the caption you uploaded after the post was made as a ‘comment’. In other words, your caption may not appear underneath your photo if you choose to post it as a comment.
Instagram allows us to utilize up to 30 hashtags to be discovered within certain subject matters. For example, Instagrammers looking for food posts might type #foodie into the search bar. By searching food #foodie we can see what sorts of food posts have been made recently. Similarly, this goes for any hashtag you choose to place with your photo.
When / Where:
When it comes to hashtags, you tend to see them everywhere. Photos, videos, stories, highlights. It’s a hashtag kind of world I guess. With that said, hashtags should be used on every post, if not every other post made to your feed. This will help others in finding the content you are sharing and will significantly help grow your page. To cap things off, hashtags should be placed as your first comment, rather than in your caption. The reason for this is because it makes your caption look clean, organized, and less like spam.
I know, I know… Kev, that was a TON of information. How do I begin implementing all of this right away?
Well, stay tuned for the next article to be released! I’ll share with you how we stay on top of all of our content.
Until next time!
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