Those new to Instagram or still contemplating whether it is the right social media channel for their brand may find this question a bit perplexing. After all, it’s just a place to share photos, right? Yes – and no. As Instagram’s user base grows, and more brands become adept at optimizing their content to get discovered by the right audiences, ensuring every photo posted is A+ quality becomes increasingly important. So, how do you design your photos for Instagram success?
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal notes companies such as BuzzFeed, Adobe Systems, WeWork and LinkedIn have gone so far as to redesign their office spaces to offer employees great spaces for taking social media worthy photos in the workplace. From the jacket LinkedIn had designed so people can photograph themselves blending in to the associated wall mural, to floor stickers denoting “selfie spots” at BuzzFeed, office design has grown to encompass not only features for boosting productivity, but also fostering social sharing.
While many companies will struggle to justify the expense of a social media inspired redesign – despite the power it has for showcasing company culture and supporting talent recruitment – there are several quick and easy steps businesses and nonprofits can take to enhance the appeal of their social media photography.
Fit to be square
Images that are well suited to fitting in squares are Instagram gold. Your wide-angle, panoramic shot of the skyline may make a great cover photo for your Facebook page, but sharing its totality in one alluring Instagram photo just isn’t realistic. If you’re photographing a team-building event or the CEO’s Board presentation, be mindful of what will make its way into the final social-ready image so that critical context isn’t lost in the cropping process.
Coming into focus
What is the central focus of your image? The featured speaker? The size of the audience? The application of the product? The contrast between before and after? With a clear focus in place, it’s time to think about building the story that goes along with the image. Just as you would consider the key components of the ribbon cutting photo that media would receive following the opening of your newest location, you need to consider what components are needed to help tell your photo’s story with creativity and clarity. Which brings us to…
Considering the context
How do you stage the perfect photo when the much-awaited prototype for your product redesign finally arrives at the office? How do you tease the theme for your nonprofit’s annual gala without giving away all of the surprises?
When taking photos for the specific intent of sharing on Instagram, be mindful of everything from the color background you are laying the items against to what you do and do not want cropped out of the final image. And, don’t overlook taking the time to…
Plan your props accordingly
While whitespace can help followers to focus on the core component(s) of your photos, too much whitespace can minimize a photo’s visual impact. If showing how your product can be put to use is an important piece of what you aim to communicate through your Instagram photos, consider what props should be included in the photo to help tell that story.
If you’re looking for inspiration, take a glimpse at how your favorite consumer brands are using Instagram. Seeing an athlete drinking a specific water during their workout, winter boots looking eye-catching in fresh snow, or the perfect dinner coming out of newly released piece of cookware can provide an invaluable crash course in staging the perfect photo.
While some great Instagram images can be captured without planning – think the reaction on the CEOs face when they walk into their surprise retirement party, for example – many great Instagram photos are the result of careful planning and staging, right down to the color of the napkin underneath the cupcake.
Overcome any fear of filters
Sometimes an overlay of Clarendon can make all the difference. And don’t overlook the unique retro appeal of Slumber. If the natural lighting in an image is dull, or the range of colors in the photo become distracting, consider whether using a filter to give a black and white effect can increase the photo’s impact. In other instances, filters can give the perception of increased color saturation and help to maximize the visual interest of an otherwise flat image. Before uploading your final image, test a few filters to see how you can put the finishing touches on your image to maximize its appeal and impact.
While amassing a collection of Instagram-worthy content comes more easily to some brands than others, a visually-compelling Instagram account can help businesses attract new talent, increase client retention and support lead generation. For nonprofits, Instagram can become an invaluable storytelling tool that inspires volunteerism, donor retention and supports new donor acquisition.
Whether you are launching a new Instagram channel for your brand or making refinements to increase the effectiveness of your current efforts on the platform, be mindful of planning your photo opportunities and taking advantage of existing – and creating new – environments that will allow you to put your best photos forward.