What images are the best to post on Instagram??
Constantly creating images that are eye catching to your community on Instagram is freaking exhausting at the best of times. So how can we consistently post images that make our super fans stop the thumb scroll and pay attention for a split second??
Think about this:
Images that speak to what you believe in, what you stand for, and what you DO are always going to be the best ones to choose or create.
If an image doesn’t connect your audience to you in some form or another - it may see some “likes” action, but ultimately, it will be forgotten about.
For example: If your IG community consists of hundreds of women age 30-50ish who love homesteading and gardening and then you suddenly post an image of a busy city street...chances are they may not connect to that image.
But what if you chose that shot because you were travelling in the city and wanted to give a little update? Based on your audience, you might want to post something a little more community-focused like a farmer’s market or a park in the city (or maybe a backyard chicken coop in the middle of down town! Vancouver has those!🐔😂)
I’m not saying this is a rule that always needs to be followed (there are always ways to connect threads thru storytelling!), but my main point is about consistency and focus for your images!
When you create or curate images, keep in mind what your Instagram followers love seeing from you the most. (And what they DONT want to see!). You want your images to be able to stand alone in a crowd - yet fit in with the rest of your feed. They need to make sense while helping to tell your story of what you do in order to be well received and engaging. Seems simple, right?? :| #notevenclose
When I get stuck, I like to take a second to reflect on what works and what doesn’t.
Any guesses as to what kind of images rise to the top of the highest engagement list??
Here is a screen shot of my top posts - notice a trend? Apparently, people like to see ME!
Take a second right now and open your Instagram Insights - scroll to where it says posts and view the last year of Impressions…. What images end up on top for you? I’ll take a wild guess and say it’s photos of you, too. Was I wrong??
The fact is, humans want to connect with humans - not palm trees or coffee mugs. I don’t think you need to post a photo of you every single day, but a good rule of thumb is that your gorgeous face ends up in one of the 9 most recent posts at any given time.
So, now you might be saying - “You have the ability to take professional photos for yourself ANY time YOU WANT! - but what about me, the one who isn’t a professional photographer? I’m not going to post a selfie every day!”
YES! what about you? Does that mean your Instagram is going to look half-rate because YOU don’t believe you have good photos?? No way.
Here are 3 (totally free!) ways to find great images that speak volumes to your Instagram community.
1) ok, not so outside the box ... take your own photos! Use your smart phone.. but instead of using the Instagram app camera and posting your image as soon as you’ve taken it - use the iPhone/android camera app and get creative with your composition. AKA - move your body to create a pleasing image in your frame (see my Instagram highlights “Tutorials” for a super easy step by step tutorial on shooting your own images via your smartphone!).
Once you have your shot(s) - open up a free editing apps like @vsco , or @acolorstory and import your images. Play around with the editing to something you think looks good to you. This is a practice. Choose an edit or filter you like and stick with it for a while! Editing your basic shots will elevate your ho-hum iPhone images at least 10x!
I could go on for days about editing, and maybe I will soon if there are lots of you with questions - but for now, play around! Import old photos and see how they look with a fresh edit. Sometimes all you need is a little brightening of whites, or a slight fade of the shadows for a more muted look.
*Bonus Tip* I've been following @preview.app for a while and they have such a cool tool for planning your feed AND adding edits to your photos so they all are cohesive. Because I do my own edits via a professional program, I don't use the app often but I've seen amazing things by others who do use it!
2) Use other accounts’ images with credit & permission. This is a little tricky sometimes because of the business of Influencer marketing on Instagram. It also depends on your intention of your post. If you make ZERO mention of the original poster and claim the image as your own - you’ll be in trouble.
As long as you are:
- Asking if you can use their image! Always DM the owner before taking a screen shot and saving their image.
- Giving the correct person credit for their image! There are always exceptions to every rule, but for most people - a clear tag and recognition is usually welcome. Especially when someone else connects to their image and shares it with their community. For them, It means further reach and possibly gaining new like minded followers too.
- Again - I can’t stress this enough - always ask first!!
(Another good way to build up a bank of images you love on Instagram is to save them as you scroll through by clicking the little flag in the bottom right corner of the image. I have 100’s of images saved, mostly hair colour inspo! lol.)
3) Use a website like Unsplash to find unique images that speak to you and your community. I love Unsplash because they literally give you the credit info as soon as you download an image (FOR FREE I MIGHT ADD!) It’s so simple to copy and paste that info right into your phone, or scheduling program if you use one. My best tip for using Unsplash is to look for images that you could’ve taken possibly yourself first, so that the images you post that you DO take yourself don’t look totally out of place next to the pro image.
Visual Styling + Organizing Your Images:
I’d like to get into this a bit more on a different blog post, but just quickly:
Once you have a nice bank of images going, download a scheduling app to your phone so that you can play around with the visual styling aspect. I use Planoly, but apps like Later or Buffer are great too. Or maybe give the two in one apps a go like @acolorstory or @previewapp like I mentioned above!
If your Instagram grid/bio looks intentional and well planned (but not perfect!!), it will attract more people to pay attention to who you are and what you are all about. They will view you as someone with more knowledge in your niche and look forward to seeing more posts from you.
We are all visual people who appreciate thought and care. When an IG feed is laid out in a pleasing way, it will ultimately help turn those chronic scrollers into raving fans. Humanize your account as much as you can and you will see what I mean.
Experiment, experiment, experiment - but stay consistent. Try out a certain editing or image style for a while before you ditch it completely. And take tons of photos throughout your day!!
Any questions about this? Feel free to comment below or send me a DM on instagram. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas around what images work best for your Instagram!
PS! If you’re having fun with these blogs but are interested in getting more training - feel free to join the growing list of lovely solopreneurs looking for Instagram guidance! It'll be a small yet super impactful online course that I go into detail about here. Sign in and i'll keep you posted on the launch!
Images from the lovely Leah Goard's Business Brand Photography Session. Check out more images and how she used them on her website here: leahgoard.com