A recent article from Quartz, quoting Instagram staffers speaking at a conference, confirms what we’ve known for quite a while now… pretty pics just won’t cut it on Instagram anymore. The climb to become recognizable or gain a following is much, much steeper now that Instagram has 700 million active users.
We’ve written about the need to move beyond stylized lifestyle content before. The core of the issue here is engagement. Basically, pretty photos don’t spark conversations… they rarely change opinions, ask hard questions or tap an emotional chord. That’s what you need now to gain steam on any social platform.
In the Quartz article, the author points out that “conventional wisdom used to be that Instagram was where you posted your nice images for posterity, while Snapchat was where you could be more raw.” But the success of Instagram stories has turned that theory on its ear.
Followers want to get a glimpse into your real life… you may be able to manage that entirely through Instagram story content and keep your feed expertly curated. But the fact is that everyone came to expect those pretty flatlays with marble countertop backdrops… so they’re just not interesting or unique anymore. Now you need to find your niche and work hard to make sure that people are engaging with your content-- not just looking at it and smiling pleasantly to themselves. You need those mofos to get tapping with likes or comments.
Here are a few tips
- Pay attention to what types of content gets the highest engagement rates… then post more of that. I know this is super elementary, but sometimes it just comes down to listening to what your audience wants.
- Show yourself. Even if your feed has been highly curated up to this point, find ways to work your personality or personal perspective into the content. This could mean making a resolution to get in front of the camera more often-- like our friend @chocolateforbasil did-- or it could just mean showing more behind the scenes or unfinished pieces.
- Add CTAs to your captions. CTA= call to action. Basically, invite your followers to take an action on each post. This could be asking them a question, asking them for recommendations, telling them to tag a friend who might like the image, or share their opinion on something deeper. I can’t hurt to ask… and it just might help your engagement rates.
- Pause before you share that pic of your avocado toast. Think about how you might be able to frame it differently-- perhaps you’re taking a bite of it. Or maybe you show the toast being made instead of snapping that tired shot of it paired with a matcha latte.
If you need more tips on honing your niche, check out How to Build a Social Following for Your Art or You’re Not Shadowbanned. You Just Have an Obsolete Instagram Strategy.
Creative Community Director at Snapfluence.
There is often a pen stuck in my hair.