For all you can try and beat the system by approaching Instagram marketing in a smart and logical manner, at the end of the day there is simply no way to succeed without being able to create and share images and videos that people want to see. So how do you go about doing that?
Taking and Editing Better Photos
We’ve already talked at length about the importance of selling the value proposition with your content – of promoting the ‘dream’ that will mobilize your troops to buy and subscribe.
So I won’t go into that in depth here, other than to say that you should consider trying to tell a story with your photos. Don’t just take a photo of a scene or an object, show it just after it has been used, show it in action, or show it in a context that raises questions. Think about the Mona Lisa.
People like it because there’s a story behind it: the smile. Try and get your audience engaging with your images through their thought processes and they will be more effective as a result. Related to this concept is trying to create more dynamic compositions.
Placing objects and subjects flat in the middle of a frame can look boring and flat. Instead, get them to look off into the distance at an angel, or use an upshot to make them look bigger and more dramatic. Think as well about creating depth: is there something of interest in the foreground, middle ground, and background? Where is the central focus point, and how does the rest of the image lead the eye there?
Are there other objects are helping to provide a sense of scale? What is in the background, and what does it tell people about the scene? All these things have an impact whether you are taking a photo of a pet dog, a computer, or an incredible vista from atop a mountain. Lighting is extremely important too.
The best lighting should ensure your subject is well lit, but also provide a little extra dynamism by creating shadows and highlights. For people, ‘Rembrandt Lighting’ means taking photos where light is coming from an angle from one side. This helps to create a more flattering profile.
Don’t shoot directly into the light, and don’t let your photos be over or under exposed. This is where it can be useful to learn just a little about the basics of photography, and the exposure triangle.
You don’t need to be an expert, but knowing your shutter speed from your aperture will help you to create dramatic bokeh effects (a wide aperture and shallow depth of field will let you focus on an item in the foreground with the background blurred out nicely), to capture things moving quickly without too much blur (using a faster shutter speed), and to avoid a picture looking too dark when you shrink the aperture for landscape photography (which means tweaking the ISO thus making the sensor more sensitive to light).
A camera’s ‘Auto Mode’ will do all this for you, but as you advance, learning these basics will help a great deal.
As will experimenting with your camera. Owning a good camera is of course a smart move. This doesn’t need to be extremely expensive, but if you can find a high quality DSLR, then that will serve you well.
That said, the quality of phone cameras has increased these days to the point that you can take some incredible photos that are perfect for Instagram. As you develop, you may wish to invest in other tools as well: such as RGB lighting sticks (which can create some amazing possibilities), a white balance card, light boxes, back drops (particularly for product shoots) etc.
Shooting Great Video
For the most part, all the same things apply when creating the best videos. Video cameras likewise have options like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. At the same time, you’ll need to keep your subject focussed in the shot as they move around, try to minimize shakes by using optical or digital stabilization, etc.
You should also consider whether you need your videos to be in 4K (which are more effort to work with and will only have a benefit for a small subset of your audience), 25-60fps etc.
Sound and lighting also help to make your content more compelling. Once more though, great video is more about the composition, the lighting, the story telling etc. Even more so than with photos, this is about what you film rather than how you film it. Editing will play a big role here though too…
Smart Use of Filters
Filters are one of the key features of Instagram that set it apart from other platforms and that helped it to grow in popularity in the first place. These are effects that can be applied to photos or videos and quickly make them appear more artistic.
The key to successfully using filters, is not to go overboard. If you tap one of the filters and then hit it again, you can then tone it down slightly by dragging to the left. This is generally advisable as it means the photo won’t look artificial, but can still benefit from a little extra style and punch.
Keep in mind that it is commonly advised that profiles should aim to create content with a consistent look and that translates to over 60% of businesses using just a single filter consistently across all photos. This not only results in a more impactful profile page when viewed as a whole, but also ensures that followers know precisely what to expect.
How to Succeed on Instagram Without Taking a Single Photo or Video
At this point, some marketers might be feeling stressed. If you are a good looking, trendy young person, who is in amazing shape and has a natural charisma, then you might consider yourself perfectly suited to creating fitness photos.
You can take your high quality camera to the gym with you, grab some shots, and be done with it. But what if you aren’t so confident in your looks or you cannot take good photos?
What if you’re not in good shape? Or if you aren’t confident with your camera? In those cases, there are still ways you can generate content for your account. Here are some examples:
Use Stock Footage
Head to a site like Envato Elements (https://elements.envato.com) and you can download stock photos, video, and music – even Photoshop Plugins and Actions. From here, you can then make the photos unique by applying an additional filter layer for example, or by adding text.
A common setup is to post images of people standing in exotic locales and then add text on top that is inspiring or thought provoking. People love motivating content on Instagram!
Share Other Photos
Another option is to repost the content of others. This way, they get a free shout-out and more exposure, and you gain access to a free and steady supply of constant content! If you grow large enough, people will fight to get on your page, using your hashtags copiously!
Photos that you have acquired can be used to create an account as long as you ask permission or check the legality. This way, your account becomes a kind of aggregator of the best stuff within a certain niche.
If you are an artist or designer, then you can share your designs on Instagram. There’s also a thriving market for comics on Instagram – one of the last few places where a web comic can be successful in fact.