Instagram is unique among social networks because of the way it engages its users. Engagement is the way that users interact with the posts on a social media network — the more likes, shares, and comments a post has, the more engaging it is. In this guide, we’re diving into how to create content for your Instagram page that will capture the attention of your target audience.
In this post, we break posting on Instagram down into the different elements that go into each post so you can create content that your followers will love.
Setting Up Your Profile
This is an important step that can’t be forgotten! There are a few things to consider when you’re setting up your Instagram profile.
First, choose a username. The closer you can make your username to the actual name of your business, the better. This makes it easy for your customers to find you on social media.
Let’s use Hanna’s Jams as an example. If Hanna varies her username across her business’s different social media accounts, users will be confused when they search for “hanna’s jams” in Instagram, and her page doesn’t appear because her username is actually “hannasqualityjams.” In fact, they might assume that she doesn’t have an account at all!
Next, choose a profile picture. If you have a logo, this is a great place to utilize it. If you don’t, you can use a product picture or something else that can help users identify your business. Keep in mind that profile pictures are quite small, so consider the dimensions of the photo you use — highly detailed pictures aren’t great here.
Finally, fill out your bio. Tell users who your business is, what you do, and how to find you. You can’t link to your website in your posts, so this is a great place to provide users with a link to your official business page or even your Facebook. A great bio does all of these things while also adding a little personality.
It’s important to start building up the list of users you follow as soon as you get your account set up. Generally, the more users you follow, the more visibility you have, and more users are likely to follow you. Interact with the users you follow — leave comments on posts you appreciate, like their posts, and create natural relationships with other users in order to get the most out of Instagram.
Now that you have an Instagram account, it’s time to start filling your feed with some awesome posts! It’s important to be strategic when you’re deciding what to post. Instagram users aren’t necessarily on the site to browse ads, but many of them don’t have a problem with following businesses they like — especially local, small businesses — if they provide them with great content.
Your content should always have a purpose, but you can boost engagement by posting in a variety of content categories. “Instead of focusing your content solely on your products or services, include content that covers a wide range of topics that are of interest to your readers,” note the social media experts at Persist SEO, adding,”If you just write about [your business], your readers will get bored with your social media (and frankly, so will you).”
Choose different types of posts from the following categories, and vary the categories you post in regularly. Keeping a content schedule can help you keep track of what kinds of content you post and how often.
Lifestyle: This category of a post is really the bread and butter of Instagram. What are “lifestyle” posts? They’re posts that inspire your followers to envision the lifestyle they aspire to lead and picture your product helping them achieve that lifestyle. While this might sound vague, really, lifestyle posts just cater to your follower’s interests that are related to your products or business. These posts aren’t really about your brand, but they show users how your brand fits into their lives.
Product-Centric: Product-centric posts put your product on display. Use these posts as an opportunity to show off what you’ve got and feature your products being used.
Your Business: These posts focus on your business. Whether you share behind-the-scenes moments that add humanity to your brand or images of your homestead, employees, or storefront, business content should be designed to add professionalism and authority to your brand.
Hashtag Inspired: These posts utilize themed hashtags that allow your content to be grouped alongside similar content. Tags are searchable, so users can discover similar posts from different users that center around the hashtag theme.
Customer Content: Customers who love your products might share about them on social media. Re-sharing customer content allows you to show appreciation to your loyal customers and take advantage of the great content they create about your products or business. Plus, customers love to be featured on the pages of brands they like. It’s a win-win!
You can also apply this to content from other homesteaders in your niche or related businesses. “As you check out existing Instagram content with hashtags that relate to your business, you’ll likely come across some images or videos that strike you as informative, interesting, or provocative. Reach out to the person who posted them and ask permission to share their content with your own followers,” suggests Robert Moskowitz, writer for Quickbooks.
The first thing to consider when you’re creating a post for your business’s Instagram page is what picture you want to use!
While it might seem obvious, since Instagram revolves around photos, this isn’t always as straightforward as it seems. Depending on the kind of post you’re creating, you have a good idea of what you want the picture to include, but choosing the right pictures for your Instagram page is a lot less about the content of a photo, and more about how it looks. There are a few key elements of a photo that can help you decide whether or not it’s right for your Instagram.
The first thing to consider is the quality of the photo. Because Instagram is highly visual, users expect that, at the bare minimum, the photos you choose are good! What makes a good photo?
A quality camera, for one. You don’t necessarily need a DSLR camera, but an older smartphone camera probably won’t make the cut. Many businesses utilize high quality cameras to make their images stand out from normal, user-generated content. It’s a good tactic, but as long as your photos don’t stand out because they’re poor quality, you shouldn’t need to worry much. Instead of using the in-app camera on Instagram, use your normal camera function on your photo to get a better quality photo.
Next, pay mind to factors like quality of lighting, composition, the subject of the photo, focus, clarity, and color. Instagram provides a variety of filters you can apply to photos, but most users don’t utilize them anymore — that trend is over. Because of this, heavily filtered or obviously edited photos can make your posts look dated. If you want to edit your photos — which is a great idea — use an app like Afterlight instead. You’ll have more control over what elements of the picture you can edit and get a better result.
Another consideration that’s important when choosing photos is the overall feel of your entire feed — all of the pictures you post on Instagram. Generally, users are drawn to accounts that have content that looks “curated”: carefully chosen, consistent, themed, and organized.
Writing a Caption
After you’ve chosen a photo and gone through the editing process, then uploaded it into the Instagram app, you’ll be prompted to write a caption for the photo. Here’s where you tell your followers what your post is all about.
To cover the most basic requirement of your caption, make sure it’s grammatically correct and uses proper punctuation — make your English teacher proud! While shorthand and casual, “personal” styles of writing are common on social media, it’s best to keep them out of your business copywriting.
What you actually say will vary depending on the type of post you’re making. Product-centric content will obviously discuss your products! Business-related posts will talk about your business: what’s new, who works there, what your plans are. Lifestyle photos might seem a little more intimidating to write a caption for, but it’s not tough.
When it comes to technical guidelines for your captions, there are a couple things to consider:
When users browse their feeds, they’ll see a snippet of the text in your caption. Because this snippet is only the first three or four lines of the text in your caption, it’s a great idea to front-load your messages, so users have a good idea of what you’re saying and can decide if they want to tap your post to view the whole caption. If you can get a user to tap your photo and leave their feed, giving your post all of their attention, you’re one step closer to a new follower.
Next, you need to think about the hashtags you use. Hashtags are like keywords — they help users know what your post is about. Many businesses go hashtag crazy to try to make it easy for users to find their posts but resist the urge. Using too many hashtags looks spammy. Instead, choose a few hashtags that are relevant and useful, and put them at the end of your caption.
Using Stories and Going Live
Two newer features that have recently been added to Instagram are Stories and live streaming.
The Stories feature plays off of the popular app Snapchat. Stories are short video clips or photo slideshows that are available to be viewed by Instagram users for only 24 hours from the time they’re posted. Stories can be a great way to send quick messages to your followers, make announcements, share day-to-day updates about your business, and add some personality to your feed.
Make sure any stories you post are professional and follow the same basic guidelines as the ones for regular photos. Consider the time of day you post — since Stories only last 24 hours, posts that aren’t made at a good time of day can get missed. The more Stories you post, the more likely you are to show up at the top of your follower’s feeds.
The live streaming feature broadcasts video in real time, so your followers can see what you’re doing right at the moment you begin the stream. This can be a lot of fun if you want to share part of your production process or your homestead with your followers. You can also share your location at your next farmer’s market, host a Q&A, or share a new product using this feature. Think carefully before you start streaming and be strategic about how you use this feature — it is live, after all!
As with any other social media marketing strategy, your brand is your guide when you’re creating content for Instagram. Your posts help shape the way your customers and followers perceive your business, so take time to curate a feed that they’ll enjoy. You can cross-post your content from Instagram onto your Facebook and let your posts do double the work for you. Use this guide and you’ll soon have a fun, professional, effective Instagram feed that your followers will love!