Becoming successful on Instagram is a skill. It's not just about the algorithms, knowing your audience and posting at the right times of day (although these are important), it's also about developing a consistent strategy that pulls on the heartstrings of what truly matters to your audience.
Here's a few things to bear in mind:
1. The emotion in the image
When you look at the image, what's your first feeling? (not thought). Does the image make you feel happy, does it make you laugh, do you feel inspired, do you feel excited?
Our reaction to images are primarily emotional and largely unconscious, so it's worth collating a series of images before you pick one. For example, if you want to show an excited face, collect a few examples and go with the one that evokes the most feeling in you.
2. The emotion in the caption
There are a few clever ways of using the caption to engage. Don't forget, your audience will only be seeing the first eight words or so before they have to click to read more, so if you haven't hooked them in. I've seen two techniques work well:
- The minimalist caption. This could be something like 'This is why I love my cat.' Something simple, possibly funny or sarcastic, or inspirational works well for a short caption. It can even be replaced by emojis. Quotes work well here too, for example 'my grandad told me to "never give up on your dreams"'
- The storytelling caption. This is where the user tells a story about the image. 'I remember this day so well. Me and dad had just hiked 4 miles in the pouring rain, and had just stopped to pour a flask of coffee...'. By sharing emotionally in such a detailed way, you're giving more emotional emphasis to the picture. The user now sees it as you see it, as you have contextualised it in a heartfelt way.
Hashtags are not just about organic SEO. Try being creative with your hashtags too, and using emotion. You can even use humorous hashtags. For example, if you're selling birthday cakes, you might want to use #birthdaycake #birthday and #celebrationcake, but you might also use #allthecandles #birthdaygirl #itsmybirthday #gettingold . You can use up to 30 hashtags, but 7-15 is a more appropriate number.
4. The uniqueness of the image
How many images do you see a day? Hundreds? Thousands, perhaps, in the course of a week? It's not enough to choose an emotive stock image from Pexels or Unsplash if everyone else is using the same image. It just won't have the same effect. On Instagram, the more different and 'out there' your image is, the better. Of course, the quality matters. Use an app like VSCOcam if you haven't got a good quality camera. The image needs to be aesthetically pleasing, but somewhat unusual, as if offering a different perspective on something. If it's different then people are more likely to not only like it but tag a friend in the comments.
5. Translate brand emotions
Brand emotions are how your brand presents itself online. What is it's personality? Is it cheeky, optimistic, warm-hearted, inspirational or sarcastic? Make a list of your four core emotions and keep them in mind when searching for imagery or writing captions.
Give them the feels - create an Instagram feed that pulls your audience towards you.
(The picture in this article got 13,461 likes. I had seen it on Pinterest and saved it because I liked the feel of it).
Want more advice on how to get the most out of Instagram? Get in touch for how I can help with your strategy.