Today's most successful brands know how to deliver visual content that's both informative and engaging, and when it comes to sharing that content, there are few better platforms than Instagram. As one of the world's fastest-growing social media platforms, Instagram had nearly 600 million monthly users by the end of 2017 according to AdWeek, and eMarketer projects it will have nearly 930 million by 2021.

Instagram has some unique features that make it worthwhile for any brand. Whereas Twitter is driven by conversations, on Instagram, the visuals do all the talking. In fact, visual content is the sole vehicle driving content across the platform, so the massive success of Instagram proves just how much people crave visual content today.

To build a following,  start with the basics: write a strong bio that tells your story quickly, deploy quality hashtags, and think about the visual look and feel of your whole feed in grid form, not just image by image.

But that's just the beginning. To succeed on Instagram, incorporate some of the following visual content strategies to use your Instagram profile to its maximum potential and transform your brand image.

Show The Impact of Your Product

As John White points out in his piece on how new businesses can harness this platform, "entrepreneurs can use Instagram to demonstrate the impact of a product on the real world. If you've developed a Web-connected thermostat that you think will rival Nest's ecosystem of products, for example, what better way to show it off than filling an Instagram feed with media detailing its use in-home?"

Because 80 percent of Instagram users follow a business account, it's likely that you'll be able to reach your audiences successfully--so long as the images you use are attractive and engaging. First and foremost, ensure that you use crisp, well-lit photographs. Then consider overlaying text or data visualizations to tell a larger story about your product. For products that don't lend themselves well to photos, illustration may be a better fit.

Share Your Company Culture

Instagram is all about making human connections, so it's a great place to give your company a face and show your fun side. Try sharing photos and graphics that highlight company culture, whether it's your new in-office cold brew tap or your team at a baseball game.

Also take the time to react to other users' images with thoughtful comments. It not only boosts your following--it gives your brand a voice that seems human and approachable.  

Grow Engagement With Video

Don't forget to share videos, either--in 2017, brands like TIME and People Magazine nearly doubled their video output, and engagement growth for video on Instagram is now outpacing photo engagement, NewsWhip reports.

On Instagram's relatively small display, optimized for mobile rather than desktop viewing, a motion graphic will likely deliver clearer, more engaging visuals than live action, which might be (though certainly isn't always) harder to see. Just make sure your motion graphic doesn't need audio for people to understand what it's about.

Deliver Data That Engages

If you've been sharing micronarratives and mini-infographics on Twitter, those assets are perfect to repurpose for Instagram. A single pie chart about your customer satisfaction rate or a bar graph that shows your industry's growth over time is a clean and clear way to communicate the value of your brand.

But remember, on Instagram, just any visuals won't do. Execute custom design that communicates quality; visually literate Instagram users won't expect anything less. Also consider how these micronarratives deliver a larger visual message across your feed. Your Instagram grid as a whole should have a consistent look and feel that instantly communicates your values and value proposition.

Visual Storytelling Will Keep Your Audience Tuned In

Although Instagram is a platform driven by discrete posts, it still affords brands the opportunity to tell a larger story. People who visit your profile should be able to tell who you are immediately through your use of color and the types of images and video you choose to share. When they dive in deeper, each post should be one element of a larger narrative about who you are. That's why no single post needs to be--or should be--overly branded or too much like a sales pitch.

Set a single goal that you'd like your Instagram feed to achieve over a longer period of time--for instance, if you're running a campaign to promote a new product, weave relevant posts in with more general visuals that communicate who you are as a company. Then focus on having a single, micro-goal for each post that ties into your longer-term objectives.

A post that tries to do too much can come off as self-promotional and turn people away from your channel. Storytelling happens over time, over many posts; hold onto your followers long enough, and they'll learn your brand story by heart.

Published on: May 17, 2018