In our digital age, capturing the moment on camera has almost become more important than living it. And whilst we’re big advocates for living and breathing those incredible moments, we see no reason that you can’t sneak a selfie in there too!
But it’s not all about capturing your amazing moments and sharing them with your followers when you have a business to run. There are a few other things you should consider when creating the perfect image to showcase your products or sell your brand.
Images can transport you across time and to far off places. They can evoke visceral reactions, spark memories and kindle the fires of the imagination.
But how do you make your photos appeal to your audience so that they engage valuably with your content?
Create an engaging story
Instagram is a visual platform and clever companies know that great images are essential to selling their brand. But they need to be varied and valuable to the customer.
You may think that beautiful images of your products are enough to sell them. If only it was that simple! Unfortunately, aesthetic appeal of your products isn’t all you need to get your brand noticed on Instagram.
To get noticed, you need engagement. As we explained in our article on the latest algorithm of 2018, engagement gets your posts shown to more people and allows you to hit that coveted spot at the top of your followers’ news feeds. The more you entertain your followers, the more they connect emotionally with your brand, the more you’ll see your sales increase. This means giving them a story.
Give your followers something to follow! Something that engages them. Let your images, not only tell the story of who you and your team are, but also your journey and the journey of your brand. Invite them to be a part of your story by producing captivating images that illustrate it and, in return, you reap the rewards of their engagement.
Choose the right image
You may be tempted to use arbitrary images, similar to those that are currently trending – and you would be onto something. But there are other elements to consider, such as your theme, the relevance to your niche and the things you most identify with as a brand.
Choose a theme
If you stick to a streamlined theme when it comes to colour and style, it will ensure you have a clear visual identity. This not only makes you easy to pick out from the crowd, but it will help your audience connect with who you are and what you do.
Choosing your theme depends heavily on what you’re trying to sell. This is another case in which you need to know your audience. What will they engage with the most? What do they want to see? Research is key.
What are others posting?
Take a look at what your competitors are sharing and what gets the most engagement. This is effective research into what your target audience is engaging with.
We certainly aren’t suggesting copying them exactly, you need to create your own identity, but it can be good for inspiration. Just spamming people with photos of your products isn’t enough, and they will get bored.
Who is your brand?
Get personal. Use images from your office, your warehouse or your production line or even your travels. Show people using your products. Let your followers behind the scenes and tell them about your story and your journey, in images.
Share content that is relevant to your brand in more ways than just showcasing your latest product. What does your brand stand for?
Are your products made from recycled materials? Share the latest story on the global recycling movement.
Does your pet shop get involved with animal rescue fund-raising? Share something from your local animal shelter.
Showcase your expert knowledge in your niche and give your audience something valuable to take away with them. Build their confidence in your knowledge of your area and they’re more likely to trust your products or services.
Letting your customers in on you and your brand can build effective relationships, increase your customers’ confidence in you and also show how much you value your team.
Use the right tools
The best way to get a top-quality image is, of course, to have a top-quality camera set up. However, we understand that that sort of equipment may not be highest up on your list of things included in your yearly budget, especially if you’re selling a service rather than an aesthetically pleasing product.
Don’t worry though, most smartphones have excellent quality cameras these days that will work fine in most instances. Don’t underestimate the selfie stick!
Another useful tool can be an action camera, there are some cheaper versions around than the GoPro and they often link up with editing software so that you can record and edit all of your adventures!
Prepare your image – the practical stuff
- Natural light – As tempting as it is to use all the filters available and edit your image to “perfection”, the experts at Postcron art studio suggest using natural light as much as you can.
- Don’t be afraid of effects though – Conversely, some subtle effects from a good quality editing suite can really enhance your images. There is, of course, Photoshop, but if you’re in the early stages of building your bran and don’t want to pay out for name brand editing suite, there are plenty of other free ones, online and downloadable, that can also do a great job. Just be aware of over-doing it.
- A clear central image – The human brain likes a focus. Too much happening in one photo can be visually unappealing. Try for a bold central image to draw the attention to the story you’re trying to tell.
- Resolution – Fuzzy or pixelated images are instantly off-putting. If you want to look professional and be appealing (and you do!) images need to be clear and sharp. The latest recommendation for posted images is 1,080 x 1,080 pixels. Try not to post anything smaller – it will just appear to be a poor quality image. However, you do have some wiggle room to post bigger, Instagram will automatically downsize it for you.
- Portrait over landscape – The ability to post landscape and portrait photography has been around since 2015. But had you noticed that a landscape photo takes only half of the space that you could occupy with a portrait photo?
Be bold, be seen.
The optimum pixel size for landscape and portrait photos are 1,080 x 566 pixels (landscape) and 1,080 x 1,350 pixels (portrait) – see the difference?
Free editing tools
There are a number of free editing tools that you can find online. Here’s a few of them:
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
If you’ve ever used Photoshop, you’ll find the interface extremely similar and it’s the closest free program in quality to the expensive premium software. It takes a bit of learning, but once you’ve mastered it, it has loads of excellent, in-depth features to give you professional photo effects.
If you’re really serious about editing your own professional photographs, this is a good one to invest some time in.
This may be a good one to find your feet with. Although nowhere near as basic as it’s namesake, the basic Microsoft Paint program, it does have a much less complicated interface than GIMP. But paint.net still has loads of great features to get your pictures, well, picture-perfect! It’s also a good option if your PC is a little under-powered.
Sometimes, less is more, especially if you’re not that tech-savvy.
Photo Pos Pro
This is another program that takes some of its inspiration from Photoshop. The good thing about this one, is that it has a choice of interfaces, one for the beginner and one for the more experienced photo editor. Its arranged neatly and logically, but there is one drawback. You can only save photos at a resolution of 1,024 x 2,014 pixels. Since Instagram’s ideal picture size is 1,080 x 1,080, to keep up with advanced, high-resolution displays on monitors and mobile phones, you may end up with a lesser quality image to post.
The main aim
The general rule of thumb is that your images should be focussed on providing your followers with valuable content. The other 10% should be promotional content. Of course, this is a rough guide – you need to find what exactly works best for your brand.
Remember, the whole point of social media is to be social. Your images should promote engagement first, sales second.
Still finding content a minefield?
If you’re struggling to reach your audience in a meaningful and authentic way with your content, let Growth Factor help. Our experienced team of copywriters, graphic designers and marketers can work together to produce hand-curated content that is not only specific to your niche, but also your brand.