Anecdotal evidence indicates that Instagram, as a social media referrer, isn’t the best source for pushing traffic to your website (but there’s always the coveted “swipe up” feature to consider for users with followings over 10k!) However, regardless of the traffic it sends, there are legitimate marketing reasons why Instagram should feature in your digital campaign.
And the number one reason is a word you’re going to hear from me a lot: COMMUNITY.
As always any marketing effort should reflect what your customers are asking of you. If your ideal customer exists on Instagram, you should too, whether you see an immediate ROI or not. People are more likely to choose to work with someone they feel like they have an emotional connection with. If they can see a brand being creative, visual, friendly and relatable on Instagram, they’re more like to have that emotional connection and perhaps seek to employ that brands services.
For some businesses, the purpose of Instagram is immediately obvious. As it is a very visual platform (like Pinterest), any business that has an aesthetically pleasing product already has a basis for their content. I’m talking about restaurants, cafes, designers, clothing stores, decorators, artists and so-on. But what about businesses that have identified a need to be on Instagram, but don’t have a visually appealing product or are even selling a service instead of a product?
This was a challenge I actually identified for myself, as a service provider. I knew my audience and my potential clients were on Instagram - I target small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, so Instagram is an ideal platform. But I offer a service, not a pretty little product and (although this is a personal choice) I really do like a cohesive “themed” Instagram.
So what to post? At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what you post, as long as it’s:
- Aesthetically appealing
- Aligns with your ‘voice’ and values
Letter boards are an aesthetically pleasing way to convey a message, especially when coupled with something cozy or homely. People don’t necessarily always read captions, so it’s actually a really clever way to grab their attention while they’re scrolling and encourage them to engage with your content. And better yet, they can be used over and over without becoming tired in your feed, as long as they’re spaced out. With Love from Ding does this well - to be fair, she’s an interior designer, but the way she uses her letter board is easily replicated for any non-visual business. It’s friendly, it’s cute and relatable and it injects just enough personality without being pandering. Include cute quotes, sassy comments or even just the name of your new blog post you’re trying to promote! Ask for ideas for upcoming blog posts or podcasts, ask a question you’re curious to know about your followers (maybe you want to know what services to offer next!), or make an eye catching announcement. Cafes and restaurants can promote today’s special menu items, and a shop can introduce a new line they’ve stocked or an upcoming flash sale. When coupled with consistent colours and textures (plants, wood, tiles, benchtops, bedding), your letter board will become a staple in creating a cohesive and structured Instagram feed.
A Peek at My Day
This is a great one no matter what your business is. A little behind the scenes photo can humanise a business and help cultivate an air of relatability. For work-from-home sole traders and freelancers, this may be a photo of your desk, with some artfully placed stationery and a cup of coffee or perhaps your lunchtime walk to the park. You can even have it as a “I’ve logged off for the night” post with a glass of wine or a bowl of ice cream on the couch. For more bricks and mortar businesses, show your team out for lunch at the local cafe or in the back stockroom looking through a new shipment (which, incidentally is also a good “sneak peek” at products coming soon). Perhaps you’ve got a themed event going on for Father’s Day or your staff are helping to raise money for charity?
I personally have a love / hate relationship with flatlays but their popularity is undeniable. They’re visually appealing, they make it easy to deliver a message, and they provide a relatively simple way to maintain a thematically consistent feed (and I am a sucker for a good Instagram theme). The issue I have with flatlays is the “same-same-but-different” vibe they have. If you’re going to introduce a flatlay into your feed, consider some ways to make them a little different and a little more reflective of your unique brand. Throw in some props that may be unexpected (I’ve used toy dinosaurs before, as well as playing cards and Scrabble tiles), or try a different background to the traditional white or marble. Unexpected purples as done by Nanna Woo is an eye catching and unique take on a flatlay! OK sure, this is a product shot and we’re talking about services! So, include a phone or tablet in it with your website on the screen, or even just a notebook with some notes on it, and again, the ever popular cup of coffee - but make it “you”.
I’m not talking about saving a motivational quote from Pinterest and posting it on your Instagram - in fact I have to strongly object to this practice! It is perfectly simple enough to make attractive and unique graphics that are consistent with your brand by using free websites such as Canva and Adobe Spark. You don’t have to be a graphic designer or have access to Adobe Illustrator to make this work for your brand. Search for a quote that is consistent with your brand persona - motivational, fitness based, something about food or even just something a bit silly - and design an image using your preferred fonts and colours. You can even quote yourself. Have you written something helpful or profound in your blog lately? Put it in a graphic as a way to promote that blog. Do you have a bite-sized tip for your followers on a subject you’re an authority on? Or maybe you just want to start a conversation; ask your followers a question about something that interests them or what they want to see from you next. As with the letter boards, feed scrollers don’t necessarily read captions, so having text in your image can quickly grab their attention. You can even encourage your followers to tag a friend as well to expand your reach and continue the conversation. Wellness blogger and Mindset coach Han from Wellness n Wander is a master of the thematically consistent quote image on Instagram.
Once you get started with Instagram, you'd be surprised by how quickly the ideas start to come through for new posts. But if you are struggling for content ideas, start using Instagram as a personal mood and inspiration board. As I've done above, draw inspiration from posts that you consider visually appealing and twist it to make it work for your business brand. Pinterest is also a great place for visual inspiration!
Let me know what you think, or if you have any other ideas for non-visual businesses, in the comments below!
Cheers, Laura x
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