Visual content is being prioritized all across the major social media platforms, and its importance on Instagram (which is almost entirely a purely visual platform) is obvious.
While we used to use visual content to stand out on social media, visual content is now everywhere, and the question becomes how do we make our visual content stand out from the rest?
Fortunately, there are certain types of images that typically perform well on Instagram, all of which are easy to adapt for your business and your target audience. (Spoiler alert: Selfies don’t make this list. Just in case you were wondering.)
In this post, we’re going to take a look at 7 specific types of Instagram images that bring in a lot of engagement and how you can replicate them.
1. UGC Images
User-generated content, or UGC, is the biggest thing in marketing right now. It’s authentic, and it connects and resonates with users, working as social proof and showing visitors that other users are raving about your brand. It’s no surprise that UGC images get a ton of attention and engagement on Instagram.
UGC images also come with the added benefit of being created by someone else, saving you time and potentially money. Always look for public posts and ask the user if you can share their content on your profile. When you do, tag them and show your appreciation.
For more information on how to inspire, find, and use UGC, you can check out this post.
2. Behind the Scenes Images
Behind the scenes images, particularly pictures that are taken of or by employees, are almost as powerful as UGC images when it comes to driving results. Users and customers love to get that inside look into your business, including images that show how your products or services or made and images that show happy workers. If your employees post images about your business on Instagram, share them.
It’s important that behind the scenes images feel “real” and not staged; the people in them shouldn’t look awkwardly posed, and it’s not necessary to feature insanely-high-quality and heavily-edited images for this type of image; authenticity is key here.
3. DIY Images
We all know that DIY and educational how-to content is dominating in Pinterest, but this content has a tendency to perform well on Instagram, too. A large percentage of users love seeing new ways to use a product, especially when it looks easy, fun, and accessible. I’m about 99% sure that if Starbucks posted a DIY image or video showing how to make one of their drinks, for example, Instagram would implode from all of the engagement.
Even if you can only post a picture of video that features a portion of the DIY project (like the final result or the tools that you need), this single picture and its description can be used to prompt users to see all the step-by-step instructions on your site, effectively driving traffic off-platform.
4. Images with the Ideal Visual Composition
There are certain images that are just more visually and aesthetically pleasing than others. We can’t always put our finger on why we like an image so much, but case studies and a ton of research can.
- Images that have a background are favored over those with no background or an extremely limited background
- Images that have more visual texture perform better than those that are perceived to be more smooth
- Images with a single dominant color will have higher engagement than those with multiple dominant colors
- Bluish images are preferred over reddish images, and light images are favored over dark images.
High-quality pictures of your products, in general, will perform better than images that look like they were hastily taken on an old iPhone and are a little blurry, out of focus, and off-centered.
5. Influencer Images
Social media influencers can carry a great deal of weight when it comes to social media marketing, and that holds true on Instagram, too. Sharing an image featuring an influencer in your niche (with their permission) can drive engagement and peak user interest.
Influencers for your niche don’t need to be famous or have celebrity status (though it certainly wouldn’t hurt). If you can connect with leading authorities within your industry, they can make incredible influencers; think Jon Loomer and Joel Comm, both of whom are celebrities in the online marketing community.
Influencers will ideally be important in your industry and have a significant number of followers that they can send to you if you tag them, and/or they share the image.
6. Motivational Images
An uplifting, motivational post can resonate with your audience. Nike is the king of brands that share motivational images on Instagram, and they have a ton of followers and engagement to back their strategy up. There are even entire Instagram accounts that are devoted to only posting motivational quotes.
Motivational quotes can be shared on a blank background or can be featured as text overlay on a picture that has something to do with your product or brand. The latter is preferable when possible; if users decide to share it, that makes it traceable and leads back to you while still showing off your product. My favorite text overlay app is Quick.
Motivational images can go beyond quotes, and can also feature content where someone has risen above, with a brief description elaborating on their success. Think underdogs and people that have overcome the odds, or a success story from a charity your brand was involved with.
Stories resonate most with users of all types, and adding emotional appeal to the mix can make for a powerful Instagram image.
7. Contests and Giveaways
It makes sense that images on Instagram that advertise contests and giveaways can get a ton of engagement; who doesn’t love winning things?
Instagram contests are an excellent way to drive more engagement and even get more followers and off-platform leads (this is made easier with social contest software like Wishpond or Shortstack, both of which I recommend).
Posting an image of the prize you’re raffling off, with text layover announcing a contest, is an effective way to grab moting it early with the reminder for users to keep an eye on your account for more info, as shown in the example above.
With Instagram’s new algorithm affecting how the platform prioritizes content and dictates what content users see first, it’s now crucial for brands to create strong visual content.
These 7 types of images all perform well on Instagram, and can be easily adapted to fit the specific needs of your brand and its campaigns.
What do you think? Which types of Instagram images have performed well for you? What do you like to see as a user? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!