— October 3, 2017
One of the most important aspects of Instagram that brands need to get right is the visual one. It is and always will be a visual platform with images and video ruling the roost as regards to the engagement.
The only problem is, some brands find it difficult to pull together images or posts that they feel will drive that engagement. It is tricky to find a good image to support some products and even some brands. However, with a little perseverance, and perhaps a real look at what your audience wants, you should find that Instagram can be your brand’s friend.
First of all, you are going to have to be disciplined. Social media is a wild and crazy place and part of Instagram is embracing that. But it is all too easy to get caught up in the whirl of social, and try to jump on the latest trend in the hope to make your product more ‘Instagramable’. Trends have their place on Instagram, but they have to be managed carefully.
So take away the faceless corporate feel that is all too easy to fall back on. Instagram is about appearing human. This is why you don’t see a lot of cold and bland imagery. The whole platform is about appearing warm and engaging for customers. Take a more personal tone with any posts you offer, and you should find that the audience will quickly start to engage and follow your thematic lead.
Filters and photos
Okay, Instagram is all about images. But the images themselves have to be amazing. We know that phones and other devices now have cameras on them with quality that is way above what there used to be (even on real cameras) but nothing really beats a proper camera with high-quality images coming from it.
And while we are on that, reduce or eradicate the use of Instagram’s filters. Filters can be overused, and what that brings to the table is an artificial look or image. This is not good if you are striving for trust and authenticity. The best thing is to avoid filters, but if you can’t then just keep them to a minimum. The real world and its hues are important on the platform.
With physical products, it is often best to let the product itself do the marketing. If we were to take a look at perhaps one of the best physical product brands on Instagram, it may help to illustrate this.
Now there is no filter being applied in this post here. Granted, it is a very appealing image, and one that has obviously been taken professionally. But it is enough to make a perfect post. And if you look at it closely enough, you will see that it is not perfect, there is some blur in there. It is just a photo of a product that is loved by its creators. That is why it works.
That love, alongside a truly high-quality image, wins through and engages audiences. Take a look through Adidas’ Instagram feed and, putting the huge brand aside for one moment, you will be hard-pressed to find an image that isn’t ‘Instagrammable’.
A recent post by ASOS confirms all of this. There is a ‘natural filter’ if you will (as in the shadow) but the rest of this image is all about the shoes. They look great and they’ve been framed in a natural, quality photo.
Five photo tips that make for great Instagram appeal
Some of the best brands on Instagram use natural light to bring out the best in their products. It simply allows for a better result. Use artificial light if you feel you have to, but it means you will have to work a lot harder to get across the image you need.
Take the time when shooting a photo of a product to find the colours and lines. This means accentuating the parts of the product that make for more appealing visuals. This often means that the product is only partially shot, because the best colour on the product is only in one area of it.
Always look at angles carefully. Your product will have a ‘best angle’ from which to take a picture of it. This means taking a number of shots from different angles to see which one has the most immediate appeal.
Use white space. The best Instagram feeds have plenty of white space in them. This does two things. Firstly, it makes it easy on the eyes. Secondly, it allows your product to stand out. Take this Starbucks post as inspiration. It’s uncluttered and focuses the eyes on the product with lots of white space. The result? Over 250k likes.
If you’re a black and white kind of brand with monochrome images being the norm, then don’t deviate into colour every now and then. Stick with the colours (or lack of) that your audience is used to. Doing otherwise only makes the feed harder to enjoy.
What’s your story?
Okay, images are important, but so is the brand behind that image. Whatever your ‘slant’ or message is, it needs to be there in all of your Instagram work. Consistent work on the branding message means that your audience comes to know what to expect.
So if we were to look at perhaps one of the best brands for pursuing a consistent brand ‘story’, we should take a good view of Nike. As one of the biggest brand players on Instagram, it has not wavered from the central message behind the brand, one of determination and courage.
Recent success at Wimbledon (and pretty much his entire career) makes Roger Federer perhaps the ultimate influencer for sports brands. And Nike has him. The way they use him is a different matter. Mindful of the fact that he embodies the spirit behind Nike, they use his participation in social media marketing as an asset.
Here is a post that shows how Nike use their story as a marketing move. Every note of the video is reinforcing the idea behind Nike.
The upshot here is pretty simple. With your product on Instagram, shoot for quality over quantity, keep images simple with white space, and above all, work out the message you are trying to pass onto an audience. This should make it easier for you to get images together.
And then, test. Every product has a place on Instagram, but unless you do what works, you’re just wasting time. And while every product has a place on Instagram, you will still find that your humble little product works best with certain conditions in place. Yes, these conditions may be all about the image, but you won’t know until you have looked at the data you develop.