Businesses (especially service-based ones) don’t have it easy when it comes to creating great content for Instagram
Instagram is quickly overtaking Facebook and Twitter as the hot social platform for marketers to use, with over active monthly users and a strong base of celebrities, major brands, and key influencers.
For businesses in highly visual verticals like fashion, real estate, or food, it can be relatively simple to come up with stunning images.
But most businesses need help generating content that fuels engagement. Now that Instagram has an enhanced algorithm like parent company Facebook, it’s absolutely necessary to engage users (if you still hope to organically show up in their feeds.)
A new allows users to discover new accounts to follow more easily right in the app. The new addition of business accounts (instead of personal accounts used by businesses) is giving marketers all sorts of exciting new tools, like analytic insights and both ads and profiles that display CTAs.
That all sounds great! But what do you post to grow your audience?
Without further ado, here are 11 top-performing post ideas for businesses on Instagram.
Contextualized Product Pictures
Although these seem fairly obvious, successfully marketing your products on Instagram is easier said than done. Not only do you need high-quality photography, you need to ensure that your images do well on Instagram. This means using compelling, attractive, and on-brand filters and getting more creative than placing product against a blank background.
Instead, consider showing the product in use or allowing for user-submitted images like Adidas, Zara, or REI (just make sure you have the right standards, terms & conditions, and agreements in place).
You can also surround your product with other items (say, place sunglasses next to a magazine and ice tea). These sorts of photographs fit in well in Instagram and show your brand’s unique style.
Industry-Relevant Books and Publications
Print media is hardly dead, and you can show that your company is aware of that with stacks of relevant books, magazines, or newspapers. For instance, design and art books for a creative agency, or cookbooks for a restaurant or bakery. Not only can you use the books to craft an artful image, you may inspire your users to add to their own reading list —and they’ll remember you when they search for these exact books.
The key here is to keep everything inspirational and aspirational. No manuals, please!
Take a screenshot or actual picture (in the case of newspaper or magazine articles) and post it, linking to the full text if you can. Make sure you get the name of the publication in the shot for credibility and so your followers can pick up a hard copy if they are so inclined.
You can also tag the name of the publication in the description for your post, being sure to include your brand’s top hashtag. The publication (or the publications’ followers) might repost your image.
You are proud of your team, and your Instagram followers and potential clients should know that. Use pictures from company events such as workshops, parties (if that’s appropriate), and conferences that your staff attends.
Don’t worry about posting all the best shots right after the event. As long as they’re not seasonal, you can spread them out. A picture of a smiling employee is relevant year round.
For images that are tied to a specific time, you can do throwback posts when the anniversary of a holiday or conference rolls around. If a yearly conference is coming up, post a pic from last year saying that your team is looking forward to attending again.
Whether these are pictures of events, advertisements, client properties, a satisfied customer smiling, or other ways of showing off your work, Instagram is a great way to show what you have to offer.
In addition, you can also use Instagram posts to congratulate clients on winning awards, hitting milestones, and any other reasons they (and therefore you) have to celebrate. Just make sure you get permission from your clients and customers before posting!
Think of these as the cool cousin of case studies.
A photo posted by Rachel Alexandria (@rachelralexandria) on
Post screenshots, graphs, or other images pulled from branded case studies, infographics, white papers, and similar documents (and be sure to include a link to where your audience can find the full versions of the piece).
Things like postcards, newsletters, coupons, posters, stickers, event invitations, menus, catalogs, and other print material can all make clever Instagram shots. And don’t neglect to post-print or traditional advertising in situ—let that billboard, vehicle wrap, or other signage do double duty on social media.
Of course, don’t go overboard with this one. Branded collateral is good every ten posts or so, but probably not more often than that.
The best way to make use of this idea is to make it natural. If you get new business cards, fan a few of them out on your desktop next to a latte and write, “Look what arrived this morning!”.
User Submitted Images
Pics provided by users offer the ultimate social proof, as someone liked your company so much that they took a picture and tagged you on Instagram. Start by gathering pics that use your company hashtag, and share or re-post the best ones.
Next, ask your customers for help. Give them a prompt or question to reply to via Instagram, consider offering sweepstakes or a prize for the best or most popular user-submitted image, and otherwise encourage your customers to hashtag your brand on Instagram in order to collect user-generated content. Obviously, make sure these pics are appropriate for your brand and something you want to be associated with, and always tag the source.
Pictures Inspired by Stock Photography
While posting stock photos might seem temptingly simple, especially if your brand isn’t particularly visual-focused, it can come off as boring at best and spammy at worst.
After all, users can almost always tell if an image is stock, and using standardized photography really goes against the whole philosophy of Instagram. The platform was created for users taking pics on their phones.
So instead, look through stock photos for ideas, then recreate them with your team.
Everyone’s hands on the conference table? Is everyone goofing off in front of a whiteboard? Whatever it is, do it yourself.
While of course you want to avoid posting images that are entirely off-brand, sometimes posting images that aren’t immediately relevant can humanize your brand. For example, pictures of your pets, a fabulous cake for an employee birthday or team event, or even the view from your office can all be worthwhile.
Just don’t do it too often—think of it as a special treat to be posted a few times a month.
If you can drum up everyday life ideas that are brand relevant, that’s Instagram gold.
Throwbacks or Repeats
Great images should be seen by everyone, and given the relatively short attention span of your users and the constant updates on Instagram, chances are that you’ll have to post an image more than once for it to be seen. And besides, if you’ve invested time and effort into your Insta-content you’ll want to make sure it pays off!
On that note, you can and should bring back older images and call them a “throwback” or blast from the past, especially if they are something that promotes nostalgia or happy memories for your audience.
Concepts “Stolen” from Other Users and Brands
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and there are a fair number of brands that are using Instagram very effectively. Take a look at what they are doing and see how you can adapt it and make it your own. Why reinvent the wheel if they’ve already taken the time and made the effort to see what works.
Take a look at what your target audience is doing on Instagram. What kind of content does your dream client or customer post on Instagram? What does she like?
Recreate those concepts with your own brand voice to deliver content tailored to your user and the platform at large.
Creative, unique, and humanized content is the way to go when it comes to Instagram.
MavSocial let’s you pre-schedule your Instagram content from one central social media platform. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Pro to get started. Next, download the iOS Mav2Go app for Instagram publishing and start posting!