4 Ways to Keep Visual Content Fresh on Instagram

In today’s mobile-first world, consumers are confronted with a surplus of content across multiple platforms and devices on a daily basis. As a result, attention spans are short and expectations are only getting higher. Consumers want content that is both relevant and useful, and they want it delivered in a way that’s digestible and un-intrusive. With 65% of people identifying as visual learners, imagery plays a more critical role in delivering these types of experiences than ever before.

In previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of having the right creative across channels. Today, we’re digging deeper into Instagram. It’s no surprise that the visually-driven channel is a major player for brands looking to connect with consumers, especially those from younger generations. But, with 600 million users (300 million of which are active daily) and over 70% of brands using the platform, how can you cut through the noise to tell a visual story that is both engaging and valuable?

More on that below…

  1. Maintain a cohesive visual voice.

Leverage existing brand guidelines to build out a visual identity for your social channels. By ensuring images have a similar aesthetic, your content will be better received, especially in bulk (think of users scrolling through your grid from their mobile devices, absorbing dozens of images in seconds). Your images shouldn’t appear identical, but rather they should complement each other to tell a seamless visual story. There is a fine line, of course, between consistent and boring. Keep this in mind when building out your visual identity, and don’t be afraid to test different tactics to determine what resonates best with your audience.

So, who’s doing this well? Chipotle maintains a warm and vibrant palette on Instagram, utilizing rich wood tones, as well as shades of grey to make ingredients like guacamole and salsa pop. NYC based community workspace, We Work, features a more subtle aesthetic, which combines cool shades of grey and blue with natural earth tones. And, they’re not alone in their affinity for consistency: 60% of top brands on Instagram actually use the same filter for their posts.

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2. Ensure your visual subject matter reflects the diversity of your content mix.

While most agree that posting about a healthy mix of topics is vital to any Instagram strategy, the way that the content is packaged is equally as important. Keeping this in mind, consider not only your color palette but, also, the types of images you’re featuring and how they work together to form your visual voice.

Health and wellness blogger Lee From America, for example, utilizes a combination of aerial shots of food, selfies, photos of the places she visits, and snaps with her friends to tell her story. In doing so, her grid is dynamic, playful, and, ultimately, engaging.

Tally up your last 12 Instagram posts to identify which image styles you’re using most frequently. This is a quick and easy method of determining if your content mix favors a particular type of image. Next, build a list of 5-6 image styles, and try to ensure your visual content mix hits each style evenly.

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3. Be playful in the way you feature products.

For retailers, finding a balance between product-driven and lifestyle-focused content is critical. The latter, unsurprisingly, speaks to the lifestyle you envision your consumers leading, and may not feature a product at all. The former is a more traditional visual asset that highlights a specific product or feature. Both are important to a healthy content mix.

When calling out products, consider moving beyond the traditional museum style post (object against white background). Instead, test the use of color and texture to make merchandise stand out. Incorporate user generated content to show how customers bring your products to life in the real world. Also, explore post types beyond static images, such as GIFs and loop videos.

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4. Test and segment.

Monitor your content to determine top performing visual assets. While factors such as messaging, posting time, and hashtags will impact results, over time, you will still begin to identify winning post types and styles. Remember to monitor direct competitors as well as channel champions outside of your competitive space to identify new and successful tactics.

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