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Instagram Basics: What Makes A Great Post?

Published on September 4, 2017
Marketing | Content Marketing |

For the next part of the series of posts dedicated to helping you improve your social posting, we’ll be taking a look at a platform with 700 million monthly active users – Instagram.

As Instagram is an image-based social platform, this time around you’ll be able to find tips on creating the best eye-catching image posts, as well as how to create engaging and interesting captions.

Images

1) Plan ahead, decide what you want your feed to be about

As with any social media platform, you need your posts to reflect your brand identity.

Before you post anything, you need to ask yourself:

What are you about?

What aesthetic are you going for?

What content do you want to share with your followers?

It’s a good idea to take a look at your competitors, and other similar brands to your own before you start building your own presence on Instagram.

Take a look at the types of content they share and when they post, then think about how that ties in with your own brand identity and how you could use such techniques to your advantage.

2) Use your eyes before the lens

If you’re planning to include photos you take in your Instagram feed, then it’s important to remember not to rush to take that snap.

Rather than taking hundreds of shots then sifting through to find the best one, pause for a moment and look at what’s before you.

Your eyes can frame the picture and find the best angles for the perfect picture.

3) Have a clear point of interest

Before you post, ask yourself this: is there a clear point of interest in this image? Some text, or a certain aspect of the picture you want to highlight?

You need to draw the viewer’s eye and guide them to look at what you want them to see.

Good photos have one or two points of interest, great photos have multiple points without feeling cluttered.

That’s another aim – don’t clutter your photo and make it ‘noisy’. If there’s nothing that stands out which will attract attention, your viewers will lose interest.

4) Use the grid feature

When it comes to taking a good picture, the Instagram grid feature is a valuable ally.

By mapping the image with a grid of nine squares, you can see how well it balances, and where the focal points of the image are.

5) Utilise outside apps

Don’t be afraid of using apps outside Instagram, such as CortexCam for handheld, or Slow Shutter Cam which requires stable support like a tripod.

Outside apps can help you shoot better images in low-light with less ‘noise’, as well as offering other effects such as light trails, which can really help your images stand out in your followers’ feeds.

6) Breathing room

Not every part of the image you post has to be occupied.

White space in images is associated with ‘chic’, ‘modern’, ‘minimalist’, and all those other lovely adjectives.

Viewers appreciate a well-spaced, uncluttered Instagram image, in the same way they will appreciate a website which doesn’t bombard them with images and text on all sides.

Use white space, or negative space, to make the content of your images stand out.

7) Consistency is key

If you use Instagram on a regular basis, you’ll know that viewing one image at a time on your feed is how it usually goes – but then you visit the profile of someone you follow, where you can see all their posts at once.

Some profiles use this to their advantage, posting individual images which, when viewed all at once, create a larger image.

Take a look at what you post. Is there a recurring theme, or colour scheme?

Do some images stand out simply because they look nothing like the rest? This can be jarring for the viewer. Make sure to keep your feed consistent, so the way your images are composed becomes synonymous with your brand identity.

Captions

1) The best captions encourage people to engage

Whichever social media platform you’re using, the caption should invite people to engage. The same, of course, is true of Instagram.

Short titles, and key phrases associated with the image you’re sharing, provide the viewer with something they can remember easily.

Asking questions in the caption will encourage viewers to comment, which in turn can spark conversations between users and raise brand awareness.

2) Write drafts

You don’t have to caption an image with the first thing you think of. Of course, you can edit captions on an Instagram post, but it’s simply easier to post exactly what you want to say and then let the post do its thing.

Don’t rush the process of captioning. You could write a few ideas down and choose the best one, consult with others, or even ask them to answer a poll on the best option.

In general, take your time to come up with the perfect caption.

3) Put the important stuff first

Instagram captions have a character limit of 2200 characters, which admittedly sounds like a lot – but you should note that the caption will be cut off after 3-4 lines of text.

Yes, the user can simply click to ‘see more’, but if you put the important stuff at the beginning of your caption, they won’t have to.

You don’t have to keep your captions short – sometimes this just isn’t feasible – but make sure to put crucial content, hashtags, or calls-to-action at the beginning, and leave the rest for those willing to seek it out.

4) Call To Action

Speaking of a call to action, there are several different ones you can use in an Instagram caption.

You can ask a question, or request your followers share related stories in the comments. These can be great for developing interest or sparking debate.

As clickable links in captions are currently not possible, you should try and direct users to the link in your Instagram bio, if you have one.

Instagram contests are also a great idea to spread the word about your brand. Feature a specific hashtag in your caption, and encourage your followers to post their own images using the hashtag.

5) Be careful with hashtags

If you make your posts public, anyone who searches for a relevant hashtag will find your post. In this way, hashtags are a fantastic way to connect users who are interested in your brand and similar topics.

However, use them sparingly. Posts where every other word of the caption is hashtag, or which end with a stream of tagged words which (if you’re honest) aren’t especially relevant, look unwieldy and oversaturated. Put simply, it looks like spam.

We would advise you place your hashtags in the comment section.

6) Emojis

Emojis can add personality to your captions, making it seem like there is actually a person operating your Instagram and portray that you know how to have some fun with them and be creative.

There are different ways they can be used – in place of words, at the beginning of a caption to catch the user’s eye, or at the end as a sort of ‘punchline’.

Try experimenting, and see what gets you the best results.

7) Check your spelling

As previously mentioned, it is possible to edit a caption after it’s been posted.

However, if you make an error, there’s no telling how long it will be before you catch it yourself, or before your viewers notice and decide to let you know.

Always take the time to check your spelling, grammar, and phrasing, before you post. In order for your caption to engage your followers, it needs to make sense!

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