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CREATED BY
May 2017
Instagram best-practice guide to content creation
www.november.digital
CREATED BY
Table of contents
1. Overriding principles
2. Understanding the visual principles
3. Ways of using video
4. Oth...
CREATED BY
Overriding principles
1
CREATED BY
Images Speak a Language Everyone Can Understand
They tell stories that engage
us on a human level
They arouse e...
CREATED BY
| Involve an element of craft, to make your posts intriguing
and eye catching. Instagram is a platform for art ...
CREATED BY
Key principles to understand
| Avoid simply pushing your product / brand onto your
audience
| It can be part of...
What else helps make for a good Instagram post?
1 | A creative, artistic, perspective
2 | High quality images, that pack a...
CREATED BY
What can make for a bad Instagram post?
1 | Unreadable overlaid text
2 | Unviewable assets - not following a
mo...
CREATED BY
The visual principles
2
CREATED BY
Symmetry
@ lastsuspect
@ humzadeas
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographer...
CREATED BY
Symmetry
@ lastsuspect
@__darkwhite__
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photograp...
CREATED BY
@ christopher.james
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers
| Like shooti...
CREATED BY
Ways of using video
3
CREATED BY
Symmetry
@ lastsuspect@ underarmour
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographe...
CREATED BY
Symmetry
@ lastsuspect@framelapse
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers...
CREATED BY
Other formats to consider using
4
CREATED BY
Boomerang
It’s not a photo, it’s not a gif. It’s a short fun video.
Boomerang takes a burst of photos and place...
CREATED BY
| Live stories can be accessed through the ‘Stories’ camera. Once in here, simply swipe to the ‘Live’ mode
| Th...
| This format takes advantage of the view of a users
profile page.
| As shown in the examples to the right, a large image
...
CREATED BY
TO NOTE:
| Some brands have recently avoided doing the larger
image split between squares as a grid takeover, a...
CREATED BY
Approaching Instagram Stories
5
CREATED BY
| Taking inspiration from Snapchat, Instagram Stories is a feature that
allows users to post content that will ...
CREATED BY
| Stories will not appear in a users grid of content. Instead their profile
picture will have an Instagram ring...
CREATED BY
Content considerations
How brands should be using Instagram stories
| Stories is not the channel to use really ...
CREATED BY
Writing, on Instagram
6
CREATED BY
| Use copy that enhances the story the visual is telling
| Avoid longer captions. Let the visual tell the story...
CREATED BY
Using Hashtags
The Why
| Hashtags help to increase the reach of your posts, as users often
discover content by ...
CREATED BY
Tagging
| Like using hashtags - tagging other people in your content, or tagging a
location greatly increase yo...
CREATED BY
Inspirational Instagram accounts
7
CREATED BY
Symmetry
@ lastsuspect
@ adobe
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers
| ...
CREATED BY
Symmetry
@ lastsuspect
@gopro
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers
| N...
CREATED BY
Symmetry
@ lastsuspect
@financialtimes
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photogra...
CREATED BY
Symmetry
@ lastsuspect
@ thebodycoach
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photograp...
CREATED BY
Symmetry
@ lastsuspect
@abikiniaday
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographe...
CREATED BY
xxx
@ lastsuspect
Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers
| Although this...
CREATED BY
The Checklist
8
CREATED BY
Creating Instagram Content: Checklist
1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
Is the content brand ownable? Is it instantly
recognisa...
CREATED BY
9The Specifications Sheet
CREATED BY
Images
Organic
| Should be high resolution, no less than 1080 pixels x 1080 pixels
| Can be Landscape (1.91:1 r...
CREATED BY
Videos
Organic
| Videos will play on an automatic loop in the feed.
| Videos currently play with the sound off ...
If you’d like to know any more about how your brand
can use Instagram, or any other Social Media channel
please get in tou...
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Instagram Best Practice Guide for Brands

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A useful guide covering everything a brand needs to know when it comes to creating valuable content for Instagram.

Published in: Social Media
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Instagram Best Practice Guide for Brands

  1. 1. CREATED BY May 2017 Instagram best-practice guide to content creation www.november.digital
  2. 2. CREATED BY Table of contents 1. Overriding principles 2. Understanding the visual principles 3. Ways of using video 4. Other formats to consider using 5. Approaching Instagram Stories 6. Writing on Instagram 7. Inspirational Instagram accounts 8. The Checklist 9. The Specifications Sheet
  3. 3. CREATED BY Overriding principles 1
  4. 4. CREATED BY Images Speak a Language Everyone Can Understand They tell stories that engage us on a human level They arouse emotion, and spark imagination They transport us to places we’ve never been to They powerfully document moments in time They force us to question established views 1 Overriding principles
  5. 5. CREATED BY | Involve an element of craft, to make your posts intriguing and eye catching. Instagram is a platform for art lovers - be sure your content reflects this | The content you create for Instagram must be tied to your campaign goals | Colours, composition or photographic style, are ways to ensure your Instagram content is brand ownable and instantly recognisable - no matter the format used 1 Overriding principles The 3 key factors to follow for when creating content Symmetry @ lastsuspect @Gopro Begin by aligning a creative concept to your objective for the channel @Oreo @Movember Make your posts uniquely recognisable to your brand Ensure your posts are artistically well put-together
  6. 6. CREATED BY Key principles to understand | Avoid simply pushing your product / brand onto your audience | It can be part of the image, but needs to add to the story you are trying to tell | Having a clear concept helps to make your content recognisable, across a wide range of imagery | Content that shows high levels of craft, experiences strong user engagement @muradosmann   1 Overriding principles  
  7. 7. What else helps make for a good Instagram post? 1 | A creative, artistic, perspective 2 | High quality images, that pack a punch even when viewed small on mobile 3 | A clear visual story, achieved through the consistent use of elements such as colour, crop or exposure 4 | Identifiable brand colours, and using them to compliment each other when used across posts 5 | Images that are instantly recognisable as the brand’s 6 | Get more bang for your buck by using a portrait image or video 1 2 3 1 Overriding principles 4 5 6 @Harisnukem@Royspeople @jasonmpeterson @fromwhereidrone @Anderson._paak Iconic Guinness
  8. 8. CREATED BY What can make for a bad Instagram post? 1 | Unreadable overlaid text 2 | Unviewable assets - not following a mobile-first approach 3 | Dry, boring corporate images 4 | Standard stock photography 5 | Images absent of any creativity / artistic direction 6 | Images that do not speak the brand narrative 1 2 3 1 Overriding principles 4 5 6
  9. 9. CREATED BY The visual principles 2
  10. 10. CREATED BY Symmetry @ lastsuspect @ humzadeas Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | Focal points are important, as when you look at a visual your eye generally needs a ‘resting place’ - something of interest to really hold it. Without it, it’s all too easy for viewers to simply glance at a visual and then quickly move on | Obviously the more interesting the focal point, the better | This takes into account how we view images - by breaking it down into thirds (vertically & horizontally. This gives you 9 parts, revealing the central grid where the eye is drawn and so where the important parts of the image should sit | Not all images are suitable, but it is something to consider if possible | The human brain has a preference for symmetry - it is fine tuned to detect it and so we’re attracted to it. Symmetry is therefore engaging | Always look to see if an asset can be centred or cropped to make it symmetrical 2 The Visual Principles Focal point @iwwm @ lastsuspect Rule of thirds Symmetry
  11. 11. CREATED BY Symmetry @ lastsuspect @__darkwhite__ Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | Using elements of a scene to your advantage to draw focus into a single narrative | This can be done in various, and infinite ways but traditional ways are focusing on silhouettes, contrasts and graphic shapes to create a natural path for the viewers eye to follow | Shooting from unexpected angles arrests the attention of the viewer as it shows a very familiar world, from a completely unfamiliar vantage point | The devil is in the detail, and this can be true for visuals. A close up focus on a part of an image can transform the visual into an unexpected piece of art | Visuals must be high in resolution to do this 2 The Visual Principles Framing @jacobsantiago @ lastsuspect Unexpected shooting angles Detail
  12. 12. CREATED BY @ christopher.james Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | Like shooting from unexpected angles - this technique is about disarming the viewer by showing them a scene from a very familiar world, but in a completely unexplainable scenario | It creates incredible intrigue and engagement 2 The Visual Principles Out of the ordinary / Disarming @ christopher.james
  13. 13. CREATED BY Ways of using video 3
  14. 14. CREATED BY Symmetry @ lastsuspect@ underarmour Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | Videos can be up to 60 seconds in length. But videos 15 seconds long tend to perform the best | Make sure the user can understand your video when the sound is off | The thumbnail of the video is critical in attracting viewers. Make this the most important frame | Within the first 3 seconds is when you’ll either lose or keep a viewer. Get the message of the video across in this time-frame | Be aware that videos auto-play and auto-loop in users feeds. Something to consider with how your video begins and ends | A still photographic that has minor elements moving | Within Instagram it will appear as a seamless animation, which like videos auto-plays and auto-loops | Brilliant way to transform video footage into a new highly engaging format | An effect to apply to photos that isolates the different layers of a photograph, and then moves them at different speeds | Much like cinemagraphs, a Parallax video brings still images to life making them far more interesting to the viewer 3 Ways of using video Standard video @ohjimmyfilms @ wjgbcreations Cinemagraphs Parallax
  15. 15. CREATED BY Symmetry @ lastsuspect@framelapse Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | Timelapse videos are an effective way to show a series of moments over a period of time | The action is a scene is sped-up and the camera is either static or very slowly moving | Timelapses allow users to quickly digest a scene played out over a longer period of time | Scenes with lots of movement and animation lend themselves well to Timelapses | A Hyperlapse is just like a Timelapse but with a broader range of motion | The camera can be moved across considerable distances, and follow complex motion paths and camera angle changes | Instagram has a standalone app that lets you create this type of content. The app stabilises the content you capture to give it a very professional finish | This is a brand new technique which allows a still photograph to be transformed into a completely moving video on an infinite loop | It works in a way where it redistributes key pixels on a time-line to give the effect of motion 3 Ways of using video Timelapse @ benpossible @ keahideaboitiz Hyperlapse Plotagraph
  16. 16. CREATED BY Other formats to consider using 4
  17. 17. CREATED BY Boomerang It’s not a photo, it’s not a gif. It’s a short fun video. Boomerang takes a burst of photos and places them together into a high quality mini video that plays forward and backward. Layout This app lets you place together a collection of images into a single post. Avoid messy collections - make sure the photos are all similar in style. 4 Other formats
  18. 18. CREATED BY | Live stories can be accessed through the ‘Stories’ camera. Once in here, simply swipe to the ‘Live’ mode | The live broadcast will not be saved as a video. So users can only view the content when it is being broadcast live | When someone is broadcasting live, their Story icon will have a ‘Live’ badge placed over the top | Much like Facebook Live, viewers can interact with the content by leaving comments, and likes etc. | Given it is live, it is a video that cannot yet be edited. Therefore it’s worth considering the moments you are broadcasting live - it’s advisable to avoid particularly important events | Users can find Live videos (of the accounts they are following) at the top of their feed, and also in the explore section (of the accounts they are not following) Instagram live @thebodycoach 4 Other formats
  19. 19. | This format takes advantage of the view of a users profile page. | As shown in the examples to the right, a large image can be created by placing together a collection of other single images. | Given the format, it is crucial to try to ensure the individual posts (that make up the large image) can hold their own as individual visuals - with unique copy too. Remember users first see single pieces of content in their feed first - only when they click onto the profile will they see the full collection of visuals. @Anderson._paak@orhganic Other formats to consider using Photo grid takeover 4 Other formats
  20. 20. CREATED BY TO NOTE: | Some brands have recently avoided doing the larger image split between squares as a grid takeover, and gone for line takeovers (by uploading similar themed creative in three images to take up a full line) | This is because grids will break when new content is published, so they can quickly lose their effectiveness | Again, this highlights the importance of images needing to be able to standalone @veuveclicquot @nikelab @ greygoose Other formats to consider using Photo grid takeover 4 Other formats
  21. 21. CREATED BY Approaching Instagram Stories 5
  22. 22. CREATED BY | Taking inspiration from Snapchat, Instagram Stories is a feature that allows users to post content that will vanish after 24 hours of being published | The introduction of Stories, has seen brands publishing high quality content in their feed, and using Stories to publish rougher, more real in the moment content. Behind-the-scenes views, takeovers (employee or influencer) and real-time events are all popular ways brands are using the feature | Content needs to be uploaded to a Story by using a devices camera, or by accessing existing content in the device. To note, the content must have been captured in the last 24 hours | To use content that has gone past the 24 hour window of use, just simply re-download or save the content as a new file | Additional features are always being added to Stories, to enhance the content you are capturing. To date, you can add text, stickers, filters, drawings, emojis and location tags to the photos and videos you make. You can also use Boomerang, add in navigable URL links, and mention other accounts | At the moment, viewers on an Instagram story cannot like or comment on the content @NASA 5 Instagram stories
  23. 23. CREATED BY | Stories will not appear in a users grid of content. Instead their profile picture will have an Instagram ring of colour around their profile icon | Instagram Stories from users followed appear in the stories feed at the top of the page. They are ordered algorithmically | Instagram Stories from users not followed appear as circular avatars at the top of the Explore screen Stories feed Explore feedUsers feed 5 Instagram stories
  24. 24. CREATED BY Content considerations How brands should be using Instagram stories | Stories is not the channel to use really stylised post within, instead use natural real-time content. | Share behind-the-scenes content. Especially live experiences such as an event. | Avoid creating content that looks like an advert / sales pitch. | Focus on the lifestyle associated with your brand, something which can be done by capturing an experience not just the product. | Place CTA’s within your stories to further motivate viewers to act on the feeling your Story is giving them. | Allow *influencers to take over your Stories. This provides you with the opportunity to reach a new audience, and to create content that you know the target audience will be interested in. @mancity *Influencers are a great way for brands to reach a larger audience. Influencers are able to create relevant content, for the right kind of people in an authentic and engaging way - their audience already trusts them. 5 Instagram stories
  25. 25. CREATED BY Writing, on Instagram 6
  26. 26. CREATED BY | Use copy that enhances the story the visual is telling | Avoid longer captions. Let the visual tell the story, don’t allow the copy to steal its thunder | Instagram crops the copy on mobile. Be sure to include the key messages within the first three lines of text | Avoid placing text on images to help to tell the story. Trying to do this is normally a good indicator that the image being used is not strong enough to tell the desired story | You cannot place clickable links within Instagram captions. Therefore ‘link in bio’ is the accepted way for getting around this | However, you can use clickable links in paid posts by using a CTA button 6 Writing on Instagram
  27. 27. CREATED BY Using Hashtags The Why | Hashtags help to increase the reach of your posts, as users often discover content by clicking on or searching hashtags of interest | The chances of new users being exposed to your content can be greatly increased through the use of hashtags relevant to their interests | Hashtags are another good way to provide meaning to a post. For example a hashtag could reveal that the post is related to a wider campaign The How | Hashtags work best when they are relevant and targeted. Using vague generic hashtags, such as #InstaFood are largely ineffective | Identify Hashtags that you can own - both branded hashtags and campaign specific ones | Avoid overusing them within the accompanying copy to the post. Good practice is also to include additional hashtags within a comment of the post 6 Writing on Instagram
  28. 28. CREATED BY Tagging | Like using hashtags - tagging other people in your content, or tagging a location greatly increase your chances of discovery by non-followers | Tag other Instagram handles when relevant either in the caption, using “Tag People” when drafting, or after posting by tapping the image | Add locations to photos as appropriate to appear on image maps of that destination 6 Writing on Instagram
  29. 29. CREATED BY Inspirational Instagram accounts 7
  30. 30. CREATED BY Symmetry @ lastsuspect @ adobe Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | Their product is something that aides creativity | So their account is set up to inspire the potential of creativity by showing amazing creations using their software | This takes into account how we view images - by breaking it down into thirds (vertically & horizontally. This gives you 9 parts, revealing the central grid where the eye is drawn and so where the important parts of the image should sit | Not all images are suitable, but it is something to consider if possible | The luxury fashion house doesn’t rest on it’s laurels when it comes to being an innovator in the way it markets itself. | They recently commissioned a competition amongst the design community to come up with the best ‘meme’ about their newly launched watch. 7 Inspirational accounts Adobe @nikelab @ gucci Nike Lab Gucci
  31. 31. CREATED BY Symmetry @ lastsuspect @gopro Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | Naturally, the creator of an extreme-sports camera is going to have amazing content. But their platform is great at showcasing more than the product benefits - it focuses on a specific lifestyle, and a type of person which on the whole most people would aspire to be a little bit more like | LA-Based musician has an instagram which is treated as an ongoing piece of art | Each mural blends seamlessly into the last, to create an almost infinite canvas of beauty | What could be deemed as a potentially tough ask to make their business ‘look sexy’ comes easy to GE - with super slick visuals showing off the amazingly innovative projects they’re involved in 7 Inspirational accounts Go Pro @ anderson._paak @generalelectric Anderson.Paak General Electric
  32. 32. CREATED BY Symmetry @ lastsuspect @financialtimes Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | Clever uses of format (illustrations, infographics etc.) married with excellent copy which create powerful content which are consistently thought-provoking | An ice-cream brand so confident in the thickness of their product they base their whole instagram account around the ‘upside-down’ - as a link to a brand promise of ‘if it isn’t served upside down, your next one is free’ | Their paid-for ads on the platform were served upside-down and had great success | Their account is largely focussed around influencer partnerships from the world of elite sport | They have super-slick video content showing the no-frills training regimes these superstars go through behind the scenes - and obviously with Under Armour being a big aide in the training 7 Inspirational accounts Financial Times @dairyqueen @underarmour Dairy Queen Under Armour
  33. 33. CREATED BY Symmetry @ lastsuspect @ thebodycoach Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | The original and still one of the most successful fitness and food accounts | His personality turns traditional recipes into comedy which makes the content extremely ‘shareable’ | He’s obviously serious about his subject matter, but he doesn’t take himself seriously at all which resonates well on instagram | Love Magazine has embraced digital media whilst others have worried about it’s impact on traditional print form | Their instagram offers behind the scenes content from shoots with the world’s biggest models | Their truly innovative Advent calendar (where they release a themed video of one of the world’s biggest models each morning in December) has made them a massive success story on the platform | BBC-3’s popular sit-com ‘People Just Do Nothing’ is based around a Pirate Radio Station called ‘Kurupt FM’ who boast they have listeners well “into double figures” these days | Well their relentless use of Instagram to show the group never- out-of-character gives an additional element to the show - to the point where the audience actually question whether these guys are for real or not... 7 Inspirational accounts The Body Coach @ thelovemagazine @kuruptfm Love Magazine Kurupt FM (People just do nothing - BBC3)
  34. 34. CREATED BY Symmetry @ lastsuspect @abikiniaday Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | What started out as a blog reviewing bikini’s - these two girls have become insta-famous to the point of launching their own brand of swim and active wear | Their success comes from amazing imagery of their seemingly perfect lives of being on remote beaches in paradise | They’re relatable in the fact that they’re not traditional models | Here’s an example of a larger-than-life person becoming a brand in their own right | He uses Instagram as a way of giving fans a behind-the-scenes view of his extravagant but hard-working life | Although he is dead serious about his craft - he’s less so about his persona. Even the most ridiculously posed shots of him, you know that he’s ‘taking the mickey’ out of himself slightly | A strange concept if we’ve ever seen one (reviewing a suit and motorbike once a week) but... | Talk about a single-minded creative idea being executed into consistently brilliant content | Whilst being completely unlike anything else on the internet. Completely unique, ownable and therefore recognisable | A modern-day social media superhero 7 Inspirational accounts A bikini a day @thenotoriousmma @thesuitedracer Conor McGregor The Suited Racer
  35. 35. CREATED BY xxx @ lastsuspect Visit the Instagram Blog for more inspiration and tips from top photographers | Although this might be obvious to include as one of the world’s biggest brands - but they are that for a reason | Their Instagram channel is full of mini-stories. Each commissioned in feature film style production featuring some of the world’s biggest names | Like everything Chanel does it’s consistent in its quality and craft 7 Inspirational accounts @ chanelofficial Chanel
  36. 36. CREATED BY The Checklist 8
  37. 37. CREATED BY Creating Instagram Content: Checklist 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Is the content brand ownable? Is it instantly recognisable as a post that has come from your brand? Does the post follow key visual principles? Is the creative concept in the post clear? And is it tied to a campaign objective? Does the post provide value to the viewer? You’re not just shouting about yourself now are you? Does the post show high levels of craft? And is it artistically well put together? Is the accompanying post copy as short as it can be? Is the key message within the first 3 lines? Are the hashtags specific to your audiences interests? Are you using brand owned and campaign hashtags? Have you placed additional hashtags within a comment? Is this the best format for the content to be posted in? Could what was originally captured be transformed into something more engaging using the latest production techniques? Has this content been created from the learnings gained from other posts? Or is this new content being experimented with? It should be one or the other. 10Could the content you are planning to post be a story better told through Instagram stories? 11The ultimate question: Is this a post that you would like to come across in your Instagram feed? Would you engage with it? 8 The checklist
  38. 38. CREATED BY 9The Specifications Sheet
  39. 39. CREATED BY Images Organic | Should be high resolution, no less than 1080 pixels x 1080 pixels | Can be Landscape (1.91:1 ratio) or Vertical (4:5) where the width is no shorter than 1080 pixels. | Photos need to be uploaded from the mobile app. Have clear process in place for doing this, especially when working with highly crafted professionally created visuals (Dropbox is a method commonly used) Paid A carousal format can be used, with a link on the first frame to other content. Images can be used in square and landscape format. | Square: Minimum Resolution (600 x 600 pixels) Maximum Resolution (1936 x 1936 pixels) Aspect: 1:1 | Landscape: Minimum Resolution (600 x 315 pixels) Maximum Resolution (1936 x 1936 pixels) Aspect: 1.91:1 | Paid posts must adhere to platform text limitations. This includes GIF and video thumbnails | Ads and campaigns are managed using a brand Facebook Page 9 Specifications
  40. 40. CREATED BY Videos Organic | Videos will play on an automatic loop in the feed. | Videos currently play with the sound off - users need to tap the video to hear any sound. | Between 3 and 60 seconds in length. | Videos follow the same sizing principles as photos. | GIF’s aren’t supported. Use MP4’s - the auto-loop will provide a GIF-like experience. Paid | Video file size: up to 2.3 GB | Caption length: up to 300 characters | Captions should not include a URL; use a CTA button to link | Video Carousel can be used. | Can be used in the same dimensions as photos, as well as also using Vertical. | Vertical: Minimum Resolution (600 x 750 pixels) Maximum Resolution (1936 x 1936 pixels) Aspect: 4:5 | Ads and campaigns are managed using a brand Facebook Page 9 Specifications
  41. 41. If you’d like to know any more about how your brand can use Instagram, or any other Social Media channel please get in touch: talk@november.digital

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