As of April this year, Instagram had more than 700 million monthly active users, and an enormous 80% of those 700 million users followed at least one brand. Even more impressively, perhaps, is the fact that 60% of users say they’ve discovered a new brand or product through Instagram and 30% have purchased a product they first discovered on Instagram.
The point here is clear: If you’re not on Instagram, you’re losing business to the competition.
Knowing what types of content performs well on Instagram has become even more important since the newsfeed algorithm rolled out last year. This algorithm automatically prioritizes content that it believes users will find most relevant to them. How does it determine this? There are a number of different factors, but the factor that’s weighed most heavily is engagement.
When you get right down to it, there are two things to consider when creating your Instagram posts: the type of content and the actual visual aesthetics. In this post, we’re going to take a look at both considerations and show you 11 types of Instagram posts that will help you get the results you’re looking for.
Types of Content That Perform Well on Instagram
First, we want to take a look at the actual content types that are most likely to get you results on Instagram. This is the most significant part of the equation when you’re building your follower count and telling your brand’s story, because this part focuses on what you’re showing users (as opposed to how you’re showing it to them).
1. Posts Featuring Influencers
Instagram posts that feature industry-relevant influencers perform well for several reasons. Users love seeing big-names endorsing your brand, even if you’re the one to share the post.
If the influencer shares your post, it can also help send some big traffic your way. Either way, content that’s centered on influencers can do wonders for your Instagram engagement.
2. Behind-the-Scenes Content
Behind-the-scenes content gives followers that exclusive, inside look that makes them feel like they really know you. This gives you a chance to showcase your brand’s personality and actively contribute to your brand story. In many cases, this content puts a human face to your business, which is a huge plus as many consumers want that real, authentic connection.
If you’re a small business or a local business, make sure you’re sharing plenty of behind the scenes content. People love to support local businesses and want to feel like they’re really part of it—this “exclusive glimpse” will get a ton of engagement as a result.
3. Images That Show You Engaging With The Community
This is another type of Instagram post that can benefit all businesses, but is particularly powerful for small, local businesses: people love to see businesses giving back.
Being a part of your community will make them more loyal to you and taking time to showcase your good deeds and community involvement will have a big impact on your brand.
4. User-Generated Content Centered Posts
Your followers will never be more concerned about your business than they are about how your business can improve their lives, so customer-centered posts typically do astonishingly well on Instagram. In particular, posts that focus on user-generated content (UGC) will get you some of the highest engagement you’l see on the platform.
User-generated content can take several forms, including asking for UGC (like the example above) or sharing UGC that users have already created. When possible, ask users to create content using your branded hashtag so you can find, curate, and share it later.
5. Timely Content
Timely content is always big on Instagram. This is partially thanks to hashtags. On the Fourth of July, for example, people just have to search for #bbqandfireworks to see what’s going on, instead of hoping something interesting pops up in their feeds.
Share pictures of timely content and make sure you attach relevant hashtags that you know your target audience will be looking for. Not only will this get great engagement, it can help you build your follower count quickly, too.
6. Actionable Advice and Tutorials
I think it’s almost impossible to make a list of high-performing social media content without including actionable how-to content.
Whether you’ve got a video showing users how to make a drink with your products or a series of images showing users where to find a new feature on your software, this content is valuable because it’s actionable.
Visual Qualities That Perform Well on Instagram
Since Instagram is all visual content, the visual qualities of your posts matter even more on Instagram than they do on most other platforms (aside from Pinterest). Though it’s exceptionally easy for businesses to forget about the actual aesthetics outside of “that looks good,” we now know that there are certain visual qualities that will increase user engagement.
7. Lighter, Bluish-Tinted Images
Instagram users are attracted to bright, light images; skip out on the darker ones, or manually lighten them up before posting. These images will instantly stand out more, which will always work in your favor.
Images with bluish tints also perform better than those with reddish tints. Note: this is the exact opposite on Pinterest, so remember to adjust content and your strategies accordingly.
Images with blueish tints and those that were lighter were both found to have 24% more likes than their reddish/darker counterparts.
8. Low Saturation
Instagram posts with lower or average saturation perform better than those with higher saturation. We’ve all seen the posts where the saturation is turned way up high, either through filters or manual editing. They end up taking on a fake, extreme and almost overwhelming look.
The above image from Apogee Photo is a great visual example of what low to high contrast looks like:
9. Those with a Single Dominant Color
Unlike Pinterest, where images with two dominant colors prevail, Instagram users gravitate most towards images that have a single dominant color. It keeps the image looking pure, pristine, and clean.
Otherwise, the post will look a little disorganized like the example above from Macy’s. To avoid this, remember that you can use video or multiple images if you want to showcase multiple products in a single post.
10. Images with More Texture
This is one of the best types of Instagram posts to use if you want to jump out at users in their feeds: images with texture.
Texture in images will immediately draw the focal point in, and they’re interesting to look at. This is true no matter what your product is, but it’s particularly irresistible with food.
11. Images with Lots of Background
Images with plenty of background perform better than those that are ultra-closeups. It allows for a feeling of whitespace, which makes the picture feel more organized and allows for the focal point to be easier to view quickly.
These images are more aesthetically pleasing to viewers, so it’s not much of a surprise that pictures with more background get 29% more likes than closeup images.
Instagram skyrocketed to a major player in social media marketing very quickly, and all businesses and brands should be caught up on how to use it. Instagram users decidedly respond best to posts that contain certain types of content and certain visual qualities, and combining the two will help you increase engagement and followers, while simultaneously building better relationships with your customers.
What do you think? Do you use any of these types of Instagram posts for your business? Have you paid attention to the visual components of the images? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!
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