It’s common knowledge that a massive amount of digital content is being created daily on social networks. How much is massive? Every second there are 2,100 new posts on Instagram bringing an average of 180 million uploads each day. This rate of content creation spells nothing but opportunity for businesses.

Not only is it now a necessity for brands to become active on Instagram, but they must have a clear strategy in place to take advantage of the continuing popularity of the most powerful social media network.

Why Instagram is important for brands

Instagram is capturing the most sought after audience on the planet – millennials who are 18-24-years-old and earn $50,000 to $74,000. This demographic uses Instagram as their favorite social media platform over those of the same age earning $25,000 – $49,000 annually.

Instagram users aren’t just browsing through the endless content; they’re using it to discover new products and brands. In fact, 47 percent of Instagram users rank the platform in their top 10 channels used for product discovery. Additionally, 45.6 percent of Instagram users are more likely to remember a brand marketing themselves on the social network over television commercials and other traditional media.

In fact, my company has conducted in-house based research and our clients have found that 21.8 percent of their customers discovered a product on Instagram and purchased it within the last six months. The numbers don’t lie; brands must have a presence on Instagram in order to reach their core audience, increase awareness, and build loyalty.

Instagram’s about to get real

Instagram is a community that thrives on inspiring content.  The platform currently has 50 times the engagement rate over Facebook with Instagram users being the most invested and engaged in content across all social media channels. Instagram has more than 300 million monthly active users who spend an average of 257 minutes a month on the platform.

What’s driven this success is the company’s commitment to the user experience and putting great visual content front and center. It’s allowed Instagram to grow and reach a global audience and this is only the beginning.

Last year, Instagram ran 150 paid campaigns with big brands. This year, they have a revenue target of $1 billion backed by an army of Facebook reps. Facebook and Instagram are serious about visuals – and so it should be for your business.

You do have a problem, but you just don’t know it

You created the account and are going to sit back and watch followers roll in? Wrong. Just showing up on Instagram won’t do you any good. You need to create inspiring content or suffer the consequences of having no impact, being deemed mediocre, and even develop negative brand perception.

Here are some tips and examples for creating winning content:

Create beautiful Images

Smirnoff uses beautiful imagery to show how easy it is to create delicious drinks. Each image is a work of art – something you’d hang on your wall.

Beautiful images are a must for visual platforms.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.21.36

Instagram especially loves beautiful original content and anything less may garner a few unfollows.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.23.08

A quick test is to ask yourself if you would hang the image on your wall. If not, it isn’t good enough.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.24.14

Create a Unique Point of View (POV)

Mercedes Benz is a great example as they zero in on showcasing unique angles and elements illustrating how their vehicles match the lifestyles of their target customers.

Tell your story from a unique perspective.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.25.16

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.25.55

Illustrate an angle that’s enticing and new to your users.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.27.14

Establish Visual Identity

Samsung images come from a wide array of sources, but each align to the visual identity they’ve created.

Calibrate your brand against mood and tone.  A simple but powerful way to do this is by creating a mood board that visually illustrates the style you wish to pursue.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.28.05

Mood boards quickly communicate the desired look and feel for your brand.  Make sure your mood boards aligns to your brand and communicates the same thing. One easy way to do this is to score your brand against some common attributes, and then compare this to your scored mood board.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.28.58

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 09.29.40

Instagram represents the future of social

Studies show that 90 percent of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. We can process over 36,000 visual messages per hour and the human eye can process an image in a mere 13 milliseconds. We love images because it evokes emotions and feelings.

Great images tell stories, express raw emotion, and say things without explicitly saying them. That’s why content with relevant images get 94 percent more views than content without. We create stronger emotional connections with what we can see rather than what we read.

The future of social is visual – it’s already here and is gaining popularity faster than you think. Meerkat, Periscope, Snapchat, and Vine are examples of major players completely focused on putting the visual experience front and center fostering all communication through photos and videos.

Visuals tell better stories and are the most engaging medium. These next generation social platforms will continue to eliminate text heavy mediums for visual communication. The time to establish yourself and your brand as a visual content champion is now and the most popular social network on the planet is waiting.


Image credit: Shutterstock