More than two-thirds of all Americans are active on social media, and Instagram is one of the platforms where 18- to 29-year-old users are especially active. Each day, the app’s 500-plus million active users post more than 95 million photos and videos, and “like” an average of 4.2 billion posts. Engagement isn’t equal among these posts, though. Some disappear into the vortex of churning content while others slip through and attract intense attention and engagement.
Entrepreneurs and small-business owners keen to capitalize on this market can engage with this audience but need to be careful when doing so, according to the findings of a new study published recently in Visual Communication Quarterly.
Many Instagram users view this platform as an oasis free from politics, controversy and the stresses of everyday life. As such, care should be taken so your content isn’t perceived as overly commercial or gimmick-y. Younger Instagram users prefer content that’s artsy, authentic and that makes them feel happy.
As such, use these five tips to elevate your Instagram content and boost its engagement:
- Don’t hit your users over the head with stats or information. Instead, focus on the social or entertainment aspects of your product or service. Doing so will allow you to create an emotional experience that your audience can enjoy and will want to share with others. As business owners, it’s sometimes difficult to ignore stats and figures, but when it comes to marketing, focus less on numbers and more on the experience you’re trying to deliver.
- Craft the post’s caption in a way that’s empowering or encourages solidarity. Writing a descriptive caption is informative, but doesn’t give people the desire to publicly support the accompanying post with their “like.” Go out on a limb and make a statement that your target audience can get behind.
- Simplify and diversify your compositions. Use fewer people or objects so that the post is engaging and easy to visually digest. Everyone with a smartphone is used to taking and seeing photos created from the same, arms-length vantage point. Using extremely tight detail shots that highlight the subject’s texture in a new or surprising way can be one way to simplify a busy composition and create interest, especially on mobile devices with smaller screens. The same goes for portraits. Tight face shots that highlight eyes are often more effective than full-length body shots with lots of small details.
- Highlight human connections. Rather than featuring your product in a sterile environment by itself, integrate humans into the composition so that people can see your product in action and can envision themselves using or benefiting from it. People engage with people, and if you can get a local celebrity or other popular Instagram influencer in your area to pose with your product, that’s even better.
- Avoid watermarks and other signs of formal, corporate structure. Millennials tend to root for the small guy or gal and enjoy content that’s visceral, authentic and unpretentious. Your content is unique and you want it to be shared. Cluttering it up with watermarks comes off as too formal, unnecessary and distracting to your users.
By thinking about and applying these principles, you can create Instagram content that is more thoughtful, engaging and attractive to your audience so you can differentiate your brand and stand out in the chaotic media landscape.