In this module, I'm going to share everything you need to know when it comes to creating content for Instagram. Remember, this is your 24/7 elevator pitch. Your Instagram account is working around the clock to convince view is that what you have is valuable. By the end of this module, you'll have an Instagram price checklist to make sure you're considering every factor every time. So let's get started. There are seven key elements to any Instagram post: the image, the filter, the caption, the location, the people or products that you want to tag, the hashtags that you want to include, and the time that you want to post.
First, your image is the most important element of your Instagram post. 93% of consumers consider an image before making a purchasing decision. Also, customers form their first impression within a mere 50 milliseconds. So definitely take the time to choose a captivating photo. Your first option for photography is using the Instagram app to take your photo. I prefer to plan ahead and use a high-quality digital SLR if possible.
Smartphone cameras also work well, though I highly recommend that you use a professional camera and upload the images to your phone. In the resources section below, you can learn more about DIY product photography and how to set up your home studio for less than $5. Now a few key elements of a successful Instagram image are simplicity, lines, and contrast. Keep your images simple with no overly complex settings or depth.
Remember, people are generally looking at your pictures on a small screen, so the simpler the image, the easier for the viewer to comprehend. Strong lines that help guide the viewer's attention. And to that end, contrast also helps bring the attention to very specific points in the image. Let's get back to our scenario. You have your photo and your phone, it's time to make a few edits and choose a filter. We're into the second key element of your Instagram post.
Instagram gives you the flexibility to shoot different dimensions. Everything from a square to 16 by 9, which is the same dimensions as the film in the theater. This gives you a lot of flexibility. So now's the time to adjust and make sure the image is properly displayed. Once you hit Next, you'll come to the filter and edit page. Start with the filters as they do 95% of the work for you. Every filter is designed to enhance the photo in one way or another.
I won't get into which filters you should and shouldn't use since every brand and every Instagram account will be slightly different. Quite honestly, I'm not a huge fan of filters. If you really want to use a filter though, I can tell you a few of the most popular Instagram filters. Clarendon is the most used filter on Instagram with Juno and Gingham both following closely. Ultimately these filters work well, but your posts might be looking similar to others.
If you do want to make your images pop, my recommendation is to use an app like VSCO or Adobe Lightroom presets. In the resources section, I share more about these options. You'll have to take some time to decide on your brand's art direction. When it comes to Instagram, try and be as consistent as possible when it comes to your filter use. My last piece of advice when it comes to the filter would be to avoid what I call heavy-handed filters.
Tristar, Earlybird, and a few others heavily alter the image. And while these might be great for one-off images on your personal account, they can be difficult to work with when you're trying to represent a true color or product or get brand consistency. Something most Instagram users don't know is you can change the intensity of your filter. Once you've selected a filter tap on it again and a sliding scale will appear. You can turn the intensity of the filter down so that the alteration is much more subtle.
Once you've selected your filter, there are a few minor changes that you might want to make. Let's jump over to the Edit tab. There are lots of adjustments that you can make, and I won't go through every single one. But I do want to highlight a couple of these as they're fantastic tools to use. Unless your image is stylized in a certain fashion, keep your horizons horizontal. Use the adjust option to straighten out your image. Structure is a great tool to highlight textures and details like leaves or grass.
If you've got a texture in the image, pull the structure to the right and see it pop. You can also get this effect to some extent, using lux, which is the tone editing tool at the top of the center of your screen. Use saturation sparingly and don't pull it all the way to the right or else your colors will look fake. If you find your colors don't pop in the original photo pull saturation to the right just a bit and you'll see a big change.
And lastly, if your image is a bit darker, most people have a tendency to turn up the brightness. I'd avoid this since it usually turns everything up. Even if you're trying to get part of the image a bit brighter, whites get whiter, yellows and light blues turned to white. It's what photographers call an image that gets blown out. We want to avoid that. Instead, use shadows and pull it to the right. You'll say that only the dark areas of your images become brighter.
All right, we're moving on to the third key element of your post, crafting that perfect caption. You might have thought that you're through the tough part, but writing that caption is critical to your post success. This is why you need to tell the story of your post. You need to give your image some context. Start with the five W's. First, what is it what is the view we're looking at? I'll use an example, let's say a glass of lemon water on a deck.
Next, who's in the image? Is there someone important in the image? Is the image owned by someone else? You'll need to incorporate the owner's name or account. You can say something like via at drop bottle or using the camera emoji with the user name beside it. These are widely accepted practices. Next, you'll want to state when the image is taking place. What's the season?
Is it sunrise sunset? This helps bring the viewer to a specific place in their mind. And, of course, where are we? Use the location tagging feature but don't hesitate to repeat it in the caption if it helps with the story you're telling. And lastly, why are we posting the glass of lemon water? Why does it matter? And why should you spend the next few seconds writing on? What's so important about the lemon water?
After all of this I might write a caption that reads something like this; "Starting off a hot Australian summer day with a cold glass lemon water, not only does it keep me hydrated, it's a great source of vitamin C which reduces the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C has also been shown to improve skin quality. Bonus points." I'll also likely add a few emojis, which is a fun way to break up the text but can also convey emotion to the viewer.
When I talk about vitamin C, I might add a flexing arm to show strength. And when I talk about improving skin quality, I'll have a smiling face in there too. When you read the caption alongside the image, you immediately understand where I am, what I'm doing, and why I'm doing it. These are all critical elements for a viewer to feel an authentic experience. It all takes place in a matter of seconds. But your planning and effort goes a long way to making it successful.
Use the location tag to further convey that authentic experience. If you're in a town, city, or region tag it with the location feature. If your image captures a distinctly unique place like a yoga studio, you're visiting or a restaurant you're eating at tag the specific business itself. After you caption and location try using a few hashtags to start drumming up engagement. Instagram lets users follow hashtags the same way that you can follow uses.
That means anyone who follows hashtag morning routine will see my lemon water post. Now you may be wondering how many hashtags can I use? And where do you post them? On the image or in the comments? There's a debate on this. You can use up to 30 hashtags. I tend to shift three or four maximum in the caption and then share more in the comments. Why?
Because it looks better aesthetically and there's no evidence that you'll be penalized by the Instagram algorithm. I tend to vary them based on the type of content I'm posting instead of just copying and pasting 30 hashtags every single time. In the resource section below I'll share with you some awesome hacks to use keyboard shortcuts via hashtags, and I'll share with you something called the magic space that will help your captions be spaced out.
If you've tried this before without the space, you'll understand the frustration. Every industry has different hashtags, so take some time to do some research. A great tool you can use is called tag blender. Also, I recommend having a blend of the popular hashtags like hashtag IG daily or hashtag health, and some of the nation ones specific to your post. Next, we'll do some tagging.
If there's someone in your photo that contributes to the narrative, the image tag them. If not, don't worry about it. Remember, we don't want to drive people away from the experience on your post. If you have a big celebrity that you're posting, it can help to tag them since it adds to your brand strength. More likely though you might have a friend or colleague in there don't tag them unless you have to.
Instagram can be a rabbit hole, and you don't want to lead your followers away from your brand, A new exciting part of Instagram is your ability to tag your products. Thanks to integration between Shopify and Instagram, you can now easily add a link directly into your product so that followers can buy a product directly from the app. If I was showcasing my product beside my lemon water image, I can easily tag the product so that users can purchase it right there in the moment.
There are a few steps to setting up your integration between Shopify and Instagram, but it only takes a few minutes. I highly encourage you to set this up as soon as you can. Before this you had to tell-- be able to click the link in your bio, which was rarely effective, now the products right there for them to buy. Again, check out instructions below to install your Instagram sales channel. I'll also talk in-depth about shoppable post a bit later on. And finally, the last thing you need to think about when you're posting on Instagram is when you post.
This back to has lessened in importance since Instagram removed its chronological newsfeeds so your image can get presented to a follower at any time. Scroll through your own Instagram feed, and you'll see images that were posted anywhere from seven minutes ago to seven days ago. That said the majority of your views will still be seen within the first hours after you post. For the lemon water example, I want to pass at the same time I'm saying I'm posting.
If you're building a brand that exists somewhere else, think about what the time is there. And if you're a real pro think about what the weather is too. Don't post a beautiful sunny day in Melbourne when there's a thunderstorm. Your local followers will save right through it. One post today is great no need to overwhelm your followers. Instagram's algorithm also make sure the image is seen by your followers, regardless of when they use Instagram.
If you post in the morning, you can bet your followers looking at Instagram in the evening will see it too. So we're coming to the end of this lesson, and now you know the seven critical elements of your Instagram post: the image, the filters, the caption, the location, hashtags, tagging, and timing. Below the video, you'll see a checklist of everything you should consider when preparing to post.
Next up we're going to talk about content curation how to think about your Instagram feed holistically.