“Shoot, I haven’t posted on Instagram for a week.”
“I should really post something.”
*Scrolls through photos.*
“Ugh, I guess this photo works.”
Been there! I remember desperately searching for a photo only to find one usable pic from college. Throwback Thursday anyone?
I’ve learned this frantic scroll or last minute iPhone shoot causes stress, and even worse, wastes so much time!
Here are my tips for proactively - versus reactively - sourcing visuals that are engaging, relevant and will look great in your feed.
1. Look to your old posts.
Before you take one more photo, do a self-audit! Which visuals on your Instagram - so far - received the most engagement (likes, comments, impressions, etc.)? Every account is different. My @empowerista community engages most with my quotes, while my @alexwehrley community engages most with photos I am in.
No need to reinvent the wheel! Do more of what is already working. AND, guess what?! You can repost old photos and videos if they haven’t been seen recently in your feed.
2. Capture what is visually interesting.
A lot of your businesses are really visually cool! If you’re a baker, graphic designer, fashion designer, hair stylist or yogi - your product or service photographs amazingly. I know it sounds simple, but a lot of you aren’t capturing your work. And your work speaks for itself!
Also, it’s not just the finished product that is visually interesting. If you’re a baker, a countertop full of flour and baking tools is super visually interesting AND gives people a fun look into your process - which people L.O.V.E!
3. Capture humans!
Most brands benefit from showcasing real people in their posts. Think about it, if you’re a coffee shop, it’s not the plain ol’ coffee your community connects with. Okay bad example… coffee is everything. But seriously, hear me out... it’s the coziness, jolt of energy, morning motivation a person gets by consuming coffee that your community really connects with. So if you want to showcase a new coffee blend, a person holding or making coffee will connect more with your community, because it personalizes the coffee. Get this, even showing a hand holding a mug, makes the photo more engaging than just a mug of coffee.
So what kind of humans could you feature? #1 Yourself! People want to know who the #empowerista behind the business is. #2 Your team! If you have employees, they are also the faces of your brand. #3 Your community! Whether it’s customers or collaborators, showcasing the people who make your business come to life is a great idea.
4. Gather visuals from your community.
Your community may already be posting about your brand on social media. Make sure you’re monitoring your mentions! Also, some people don’t tag or add a locator, so following key customers and members of your community is a good way to catch content they may be posting about your brand. This user generated content makes for great reposts.
You can also proactively capture your community interacting with your brand and/or ask them to post any photos they’re taking. For example, let’s say you own a hair salon, you could ask to take a photo of your clients’ hair once it’s finished. Or encourage them to send you a photo, if they plan on taking one.
5. Take a holistic look at your feed.
Think of your Instagram feed like a Pinterest board. It should look pretty. Whether your feed is pretty bold, pretty sweet or pretty wild. It should have a visually appealing and cohesive look. This is primarily done by picking cohesive colors, using a consistent filter and making sure photos/videos look good next to each other.
My #1 tip is to get an app like Planoly, Plann or Later, so you can view your pending post(s) next to your published posts.
6. Batch your efforts.
I know, capturing photos of your product, service, community, etc. - it feels like a lot of work. But it doesn’t have to take a ton of time, if you batch (capture in volume) this work.
Schedule a day dedicated to capturing photos and videos. Let’s say you own a yoga studio, document a day in the life. By capturing your coffee run, front desk receptionist, students coming in, teachers teaching, class in progress, locking the studio, etc. - all in one day - your efforts will be streamlined. Of course, if you’re taking photos of customers, make sure you have their permission.
Also, block off some time to sort through the visuals you already have, and email your community and ask them to send you the visuals they already have.
7. Organize your efforts.
Once you’ve captured or gathered these visuals, organize them! Start a Google Drive or DropBox folder or even iPhone album to organize these visuals. So when it’s time to grab one, you know exactly where it is.
As business owners, we emphasize the “Insta” in Instagram too much. Yes, we want our posts to be relevant to the moment, but they don’t have to literally be of the moment. The most successful Instagram accounts plan their posts, allowing them to go from Insta-panic to Insta-awesome.