Why Having Fresh Ideas for Instagram Matters
Instagram is one of the top social media platforms today. As of Q2 of 2018, there were at least 800 million monthly active users and over 500 million daily active users – and it’s only growing further every day!
That’s at least 500 million daily active users who could be interacting with your business!
This rapidly growing platform was originally founded in 2010, and it has experienced a lot of changes since then.
In addition to some of the “behind the scene” changes (such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg buying Instagram in 2012), the app itself has undergone plenty of changes that users have experienced firsthand.
A few of these changes include the layout of the app, the capabilities offered within posts (such as image sizes, filters, videos etc.), Instagram Stories, IGTV and more.
So, how does a small business keep up with all of the changes?
Or maybe a better question is how does a small business stand out with all of these changes?
Before we dive into the answer here, let’s talk a little more about why we’re asking the question.
With over 800 million monthly active users, you’re bound to see trends among posts. By that, we mean you’re bound to see commonalities in the type of filters people use, the hashtags they use, what they’re posting about etc. The downside to this is that trends can quickly turn into repeated patterns that bore instead of inspire.
For instance, when Instagram first launched, one of its big selling features was the fact that it came with photo filters built-in. You could take a photo, edit it and publish it all within the same app. Nowadays, who actually uses Instagram filters?
Using an Instagram filter on a photo immediately dates it (think of when you go to a website that was clearly html-coded in the 90’s and hasn’t been touched since. Same impression). What used to be an insanely popular trend, grew old quickly.
Using the same example, what that trend has evolved into is using other editing apps such as Lightroom, VSCO, Afterlight and others to edit photos to what today’s Instagram trend standards are.
But here’s the tricky part: how do you balance staying on trend with creating original content? Where’s the line of embracing all of the new capabilities and trends on Instagram and just reproducing all of the same content others are sharing with your logo slapped on it?
This is where fresh ideas for Instagram becomes a key part of your Instagram strategy. They have to be on trend enough to gain traction for your brand while still being fresh and original enough to be interesting (and not something your audience has already seen a hundred times).
Before we move further, we have to say that we know this can be tricky. That’s why we offer Instagram marketing services to take all of this off your plate.
But we have also put together the top list of fresh ideas for Instagram of 2018 to help get you started.
The More Authentic, The Better
The very first point we have is to make your Instagram has authentic as possible.
The whole point of Instagram (and social media in general) is to give a very intimate, transparent look into people’s lives (or in this case, businesses).
Specifically within the blogger & influencer community, there has been a growing conversation around authenticity and how Instagram solely portrays the good parts about people’s lives. There’s even a trending caption and hashtag called “Instagram vs. Reality”- confirming there’s a difference between the two.
The reason we bring this up is because it’s clear that people want reality. In a digital world saturated by ads, people just want to see pure, transparent posts on Instagram.
Keep this mind as you think of ideas for Instagram and create content for your business. Consumers who feel like they really know a brand well are the same consumers that feel like they can trust that brand (and purchase from it!).
Think of how important eco-friendly, gluten-free and cruelty-free stamps have become on products in the last few years for example. People want transparency! They want to know exactly how their products are made, what is in them, and how it affects them.
Whether you market a product or a service, think of how you can make your interaction with consumers as honest as possible.
The famous band Mumford & Sons just recently used their Instagram to warn fans of fake ticket sellers (see below).
This is just one example of many of how you can give your consumers a direct line of communication, transparency and trust with your Instagram.
Now, let’s get into what some of those other examples could look like.
Photo Ideas For Instagram For Businesses
A. The Story Behind Your Business
Following in the footsteps of transparency, share the story of how your company got started. The small business movement is no small movement. People love hearing about the passions of one entrepreneur that fueled the start of the company they know today.
The #smallbusiness hashtag has over 15 million uses on Instagram to prove it!
Celebrating your small business will put you on the map (as it’s one of the trending topics on Instagram), but putting your special spin and story on it to showcase what makes it your business is what will make it fresh and different!
B. Behind The Scenes
Behind the scenes (or #bts) shots are a great way to show off your product or service from a different angle.
People have seen the perfect, professional product shots tenfold. Give them something different! Show them how you make the product or how you do what you do best.
Typically when people first hear “behind the scenes” they think of a movie production or broadway show, but you can shoot behind the scenes photo is pretty much any industry.
Own a restaurant or bakery? Snap some photos or videos of you making the food from scratch. Work in an office setting? Put together a video collage of you hard at work over your desk of papers or discussing interesting points with your coworkers in a meeting.
Whatever you feel is valuable about your work, show the customer how you do it.
C. Products Or Services In Action
This photo idea is similar to the last, but we’ve included it in our list of fresh ideas for Instagram because of how effective it can be!
If you sell a tangible product, shooting videos or photos that show the product in action can be the tipping point that turns your target customer into a sale.
Let’s take a look at a screenshot from a video from Freedom Flask. The Freedom Flask is a covert flask for your booze that you can hide underneath your clothing to sneak into venues.
It reached over 3 million people and had over 1.7 million views!
Yes, we understand that part of the reason the video went viral is because of how obnoxious and funny the video is, demonstrating how to hide a flask in your pants- but it is also went viral because it shows just how effective this product can be.
When you position your post as more of a “how-to” as opposed to a salesy “buy-this,” you’d be amazed at how much more engagement (and eventually revenue) you see from it as a result.
Let’s look at another example- Tasty from Buzzfeed. These short little videos show you everything you need to know to cook an entire meal in under 1 minute.
Above is a screenshot from one of their videos. The Buzzfeed Tasty account on Instagram has over 23.5 million followers, and for good reason! They’ve capitalized on the idea that people like posts that teach them how to do things over posts that sell sell sell.
Now if you sell a service, you may be wondering how you can produce a “product in action” shot. The answer is the same way.
Whether you paint houses, perform legal work or anything in between, there’s always a way to capture the magic of you doing what you love, and that’s what people care about seeing.
If your business is an actual brick and mortar where customers come to visit you, you have an opportunity to take photos of creative signs in your workplace.
Now on paper, this idea may sound rather boring, but let us change your mind with a few examples.
Do you find these signs & photos aesthetically pleasing? Guess what, so will your customers!
Don’t forget that first and foremost, Instagram is a visual place. The whole app is based around photos, so give your customers something visually pleasing to engage with.
Plus, if your store has the perfect place for consumers to get a shot “for the ‘gram,” it will encourage customer to tag your company in their photos which is a win-win!
This same concept can also apply to your venue in general, even if you don’t have pretty signage. An aesthetically pleasing store or venue overall will still do the trick to encourage customer photos, and in turn brand awareness and revenue.
E. Employee Photos
Employee photos are one of the more underrated top ideas for Instagram!
Unlike what you’re probably envisioning, these photos don’t have to be stuffy headshots either. They can be fun, silly, interactive shots.
Whatever is going to capture the essence of your brand while simultaneously instilling trust between the consumer and your employees, that’s what you want to aim for.
Your customers like putting a face to name, and they like knowing who is making their product or delivering their service. The ultimate goal with employee photos is make the business transaction more personable, and friendly (and they’re great for engagement rates too!).
F. Your Customers
We started to touch on this earlier, but one of the bigger ideas for Instagram photos is to include your customers in your content calendar.
This could include reposting their images where they tagged your business onto your page, or it could mean taking your own photos of happy customers during their experience with your business.
Your existing customers are more than likely going to be excited to see their smiling face on your page, and new customers are going to relate very quickly customer-to-customer and gain faith in your business.
Showing the customers and customer experience first-hand is a great way to build trust with your potential customers (which eventually turns into sales!).
The last item we have on our list of photo ideas for Instagram is a big one: flatlays. A flatlay is an aerial view photo of items placed in an aesthetically pleasing order. Here are a few examples.
These are GREAT for businesses with ecommerce. For instance, let’s look at that last photo.
HelloProducts seamlessly blended in their product with the rest of the photo; the customer can immediately see this product being apart of their everyday routine. Lifestyle photos are going to outperform stale product images almost every time, and flatlay are an effective, creative way to do it!
Instagram Stories & IGTV
All of the same photo ideas for Instagram we just listed can be used for your feed of posts, but it can also be used for your Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories are similar to Snapchat in that they are a photo or video that last 24 hours on your Instagram profile unless you add them to your Highlights.
Highlights are a permanent section underneath your profile photo and bio that highlight different topics from your Instagram Stories. You choose which Stories remain highlighted and which do not. See below for an example.
Instagram TV (or IGTV) is similar in that it also remains underneath your profile photo and bio and plays videos in the vertical upright format.
Unlike Instagram Stories, which last about 15 seconds each, or Instagram post videos (which can last up to 1 minute), IGTV videos can last up to an hour.
Both Instagram Stories and IGTV often are viewed more than the actual content on your page, so utilize them! Take all of the same fresh ideas for Instagram and apply them to your stories and IGTV for extra reach within your target audience.
The last thing we’ll say about Instagram Stories is that it has a specific feature where you can repost other people’s Stories onto yours.
One of our clients was recently featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live, so when Jimmy Kimmel posted on his Instagram Story about our client, we reposted his Story onto our client’s (see below).
We understand that not every small business is going to have a famous night time TV host post about their business, but you can still repost customer Stories. It has the same effect of reposting customer posts to your feed that we talked about earlier.
Check Your Hashtag Game
This is the last tip we have for you small businesses in your search for fresh ideas for Instagram: check your hashtags regularly.
For those who haven’t used them yet (you need to start!!), hashtags are words that are made clickable but adding the # hashtag sign at the beginning of the word.
Spaces and punctuation are not included in hashtags, so don’t make the cringe-worthy mistake of trying to hashtag something like “#Marco’sPizza” because only #Marco will be hashtagged in that example. In that instance you would need to word it like #MarcosPizza to use that hashtag.
The reason hashtags are important is because they make your post searchable by that hashtag. So for instance, if someone is searching #dinnerrecipes and you have that hashtag in your post, they can find your post that way.
You are limited to 30 hashtags per post, so make them count! Make them relevant. While #love may be one of the largest hashtags ever used, it may not necessarily be applicable to your business or garner the right traffic.
Having said that, you also want to use hashtags that are trending. You could use the hashtag #thebestpizzainHollySpringsGeorgia which could be relevant, but it’s not useful if nobody is searching that hashtag.
If you’ve had your 30 hashtags pretty much figured out for a while and are looking for something new, keep your eye open for newly trending hashtags. What once was the ever popular #SundayFunday hashtag (used in photos of Sunday brunch, sunday-best outfits, mimosas etc.) has slowly started being replaced by the #SundayScaries (used in photos to express the pre-work week anxiety people get).
Overall, you want to use trending hashtags to capitalize on the extra reach and traffic you can get from them while still using hashtags that are fresh, new and creative enough to attract engagement!
Those are our top, fresh ideas for Instagram of 2018! We understand that it can be a lot to take on and navigate daily, so feel free to contact us about handling your Instagram account.