In 2015, marketers fell in love with Instagram — the place where consumers go to be visually inspired. Today, more than 80 million images are uploaded every day, resulting in billions of interactions. And with a wide global reach—75% of its 400 million active users live outside of the U.S.—it’s unsurprising that by 2017, the number of brands on Instagram is expected to nearly double.
Instagram’s Rise to Social Stardom
Instagram’s quick and mass adoption is no coincidence. And yet, with so many different social sites, mobile apps, and digital communities to choose from, you might be wondering: What makes Instagram so special?
1. Reach. Instagram boasts an audience of more than 400 million people, and many fit the demographic profile for today’s biggest brands: millennials. According to research from eMarketer, this powerful generation dominates Instagram’s user base. Given that millennials now outnumber baby boomers, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections, this is a really big deal.
2. Engagement. Instagram continues to outperform every other social site in terms of engagement. Consumers are 58X more likely to engage with branded content on Instagram compared to Facebook and 120X more likely compared to Twitter.
What this tells us is that consumers aren’t passively viewing the content they discover on Instagram. On the contrary, they are highly active – leaving comments, tagging friends, “liking” images, and with the help of third-party tools such as Curalate Like2Buy, clicking through from pictures to products and other relevant content.
3. It’s visual. Consumer behaviors are dramatically changing. The always-on shopper is discovering more content in more places, and this discovery is driven by images. Modern marketers get this, and in response they’re investing big bucks in the channels and technologies that will enable them to effectively tell their brand’s story visually.
4. Ads. In 2015, Instagram finally rolled out advertising. For marketers, this presents a lucrative opportunity to reach a broad, targeted audience of mobile shoppers who are interested not only in their content but in their products and services.
5. Inspiration. As a seasoned marketer, chances are that you’re already well aware of how inspirational Instagram is. As with any image-led marketing channel, however, quality interactions begin with quality content. Instagram’s ability to capture people, places, passions and products has changed the very types of images that resonate with consumers. The bottom line: It’s not just about products. It’s about creating compelling visual experiences.
So, how can you create killer Instagram content? To inspire your Instagram strategy in 2016, we put together 10 tips from 10 of Instagram’s top influencers. Explore them below.
1. Create a Conversation
“You should always be communicating through your image. Whether it be a subtle message of beauty or a visually compelling story of hope. It’s the story that will always make you feel the image rather than just seeing it.” – @garethpon
2. Think About Your Subject
“Take a moment to think about why you want to capture a particular image. What makes it interesting to you? Asking yourself these kinds of questions really does wonders to help improve your photography in general; it also helps define the tone, composition and emotions you want to convey through it. Nothing is more gratifying than when someone else sees your photograph and feels the same emotions you felt when you took it.” – @dante.vincent
3. Use Your Native Camera
“There are thousands of photo apps out there. But as tempting and convenient as it may be to shoot an image through them, most don’t provide as high of a resolution as your phone does.
I like to use my phone’s native camera and then import the image to an editing app. That way, I have complete control of how I crop the image. Plus, I’ll always have an original to go back to.” – @astrodub
4. Embrace Tools
“Don’t be afraid to use the tools that Instagram and other apps provide you to produce your images. The idea that only unfiltered or unedited photos are real is ludicrous and outdated. Photographers have always edited their images regardless of the medium. Digital photography is as real as photos captured on film.” – @bkstreetart
5. Straighten Up
“Use the grid lines on your phone or camera tool to line up points of interest and converging lines appropriately to the rule of thirds.” – @samhorine
6. Be Playful
“Make a story of everything you photograph. You don’t have to be technical about it – this can be simple. Whether using a good DSLR, a point-and-shoot, or being creative with your phone, start using light—and personality—to give your pictures memorable meaning, even etching out silly ideas to shoot little scenarios…
Play with your toys, your food, your cats. Talk to your toys, listen to them and give them their own personalities. Compound interest every day, and you will have the best life story clips of all freakin’ time.” – @darrylljones
7. Reinvent the Selfie
“Look for more creative ways to take self-portraits using tripods or a timer. Anyone can take a selfie stick photo, but not anyone can achieve a real piece of art with themselves in the frame. I love the GorillaPod for this type of mobile photography. It can literally wrap around anything, so you don’t need to worry about a level surface.” – @kirstenalana
8. Keep it Real
“To get real moments instead of manufactured moments, you need to be patient and wait for them to happen. I suggest finding an interesting place – just stop and wait and watch. You become a part of the landscape if you slow down and let life unfold in front of you. People forget you are there, and that is one way to get an authentic moment.” – @amivitale
9. Be Consistent
“Some of the most successful photographers have a certain sort of stylistic continuity throughout their practice. Try having a similar theme, voice or aesthetic. Find your style.” – @justinmeadmaxon
10. Convey a Message
“Believe in what you’re shooting. You will be inspired creatively, and the photos will show. When I’m out in nature, for example, I only share the photos that bring back the feelings I had when I was out in the wild.” – @kevinruss