Last week, Instagram introduced its Layout app, which allows users to create photo collages they can then upload to other platforms.
This capability isn’t unfamiliar to Instagram users. Many have been relying on third-party apps like Pic Stitch and Photo Grid for years to create photo collages, but Layout has some unique features most of the other apps haven’t yet incorporated. The photos within Layout can be manipulated to flip upside down or to mirror one another. The platform also has a “Faces” option that singles out the images with people in them to make the selection process easier. Additionally, the app includes a “Photo Booth” that starts a countdown and allows the user to take up to four selfie-style shots.
Think Layout is too consumer-directed for brands to use? Think again! Companies such as Taco Bell and Marriott are already getting tons of engagement on their Layout-produced photos. Here’s how you can, too.
1. Provide behind-the-scenes peeks.
A photo collage is the perfect way to tell a story, and make fans feel like they’re truly a part of your brand’s events. Marriott Hotels is using Layout to do just that. They recently posted photos from one of their “Bartenders in Residence” events, showing off three different images from the evening. In addition to bringing attention to Marriott’s fun bartending initiative, the images also made fans feel like they were right at the hotel – smelling the fresh ingredients and watching notable bartenders make the drinks.
H&M also has this down. Last week, the brand posted a collage of photos from a recent modeling shoot. The four images depict the model getting ready for the camera, working with the photographers, acting silly and striking a pose. Images like this give fans a special inside look at how a brand puts together the content they enjoy. It’s unlikely that a fan would get the same insider feeling if they simply saw one of these photos on its own.
2. Show off photos from contest entrants.
Want to build awareness around a cool contest you have running? Take a cue from Julep, and show off some of the awesome entries you’ve already received. Not only will it inspire others to want to get creative with your products, but it’s also a great way to give a nod to ultra-fans who took the time to enter the contest. The comments from those who were featured say it all – they are expressing their gratitude and admiration for the brand (e.g. “OMG thanks so much for the feature!! I hope I win a prize. It would mean the world.”). It’s four pieces of invaluable user-generated content in one!
3. Be artsy!
Taco Bell has already tapped into one of Layout’s particular features, and it’s paid off for them. They posted a mirrored image last week featuring Taco Bell-inspired sneakers, and it quickly became one of the top liked photos for March.
Mirroring images is a simple way to add an artistic element to a piece of content. It could work for something as lighthearted as playful kicks or a high-fashion look, like this image of Kendall Jenner for Genlux Magazine.
It also works with scenes. Although the National Geographic image below doesn’t employ Layout, the app can be used to create breathtaking shots of landscapes and city skylines similar to this one.
4. Highlight different ways to try a product or style.
Shots of individual products in separate grids likely won’t appeal to consumers. Instagram users respond well to seeing #ootd (outfit of the day) products laid out next to each other as Nordstrom, Wet Seal and TJ Maxx often do.
What will work in Layout is showing how to pull off different outfits as Vogue Magazine did several weeks ago. This is a cool way to display different uses for the same product, showing off even more value to potential customers. It can also help you convince fans that they are capable of pulling off a new trend by trying different variations of it.
5. Teach them something new.
The grid-style collages that Layout allows for are perfect for tutorials. Last week, Sephora used a four-image collage to show fans the stages of contouring a face. This was an awesome way to illustrate the various steps involved with this process, and it’s something most beauty, craft and food brands could successfully tap into.
So you see? Just about any brand can benefit from Layout’s features. It’s a great tool for tutorials, behind-the-scenes peeks or just fostering inspiration – all of which can drive tons of traffic back to your site. Your only task at that point is to make it easy for your fans to get there from Instagram.