We all know the importance of using Instagram to share engaging, quality content for our business or brand. But sometimes it can be a barrier to come up with creative ideas for the styling and captions themselves. I've been there. I want to help you tackle those barriers by providing some content and caption prompts. It’’ll give you a little bit of guidance not only for what to post, but also why you’re posting it.
Before we begin, take a minute and think about what it is you’re trying to do with your Instagram account, and how your photographs can help you achieve that.
Maybe you’re a photographer, and you want to use your Instagram account to attract new clients, and also to find other local creatives to collaborate with. Or you might be a clothing designer, and your intention with Instagram is to attract new customers to your online store to purchase the new collection, to find new boutiques to sell your line in, and to get more enquiries about custom designs.
And maybe your intention is simply to connect with and inspire your followers, and you’re not necessarily using it to sell a product or service, in which case I'd say the general principle still applies, as it's just as important to have a sense of that driving purpose.
The goal is to start posting with intention, to connect with your followers and to create engaging posts that will ultimately help you grow your brand or business. You can keep these five prompts in your social media toolkit, ready to pull out when you’re stuck for content.
Idea #1: Introduce Yourself
This is all about wanting to showcase who you are and the fact that there’s a real person behind your brand. It’s likely that a lot of your followers may not know who exactly you are, and there’s a certain power in connecting with your followers by showing your pretty face and sharing a bit of your personality.
I'm going to urge you to share a photo of yourself for this one (and no, it doesn’t have to be a selfie). If you’re really not comfortable with that, share some of your work that really represents your brand. Pay attention to how the image ties into our brand, focusing on the colours, style, feelings it evokes, etc.
Give people a bit of backstory about who you are, what you do, and how your brand came to be. We often forget that a lot of our followers are jumping in part way through our journey, and they might not know these details. This is your chance to say ‘hi’ and create a personal connection. And in the same way that we’re paying attention to the visual details in the image itself, I want you to pay attention to your voice in the caption here and really let the personality of your brand shine through.
Idea #2: A Peek at Your Workspace
This one is all about giving people access into your world and showing them where the magic happens. Think of your community as VIP members of your club, and focus on providing them with that little something extra that’s usually kept behind closed doors, whether that’s a glimpse at the beautiful chaos of your studio space, or a top secret project you’re currently working on.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be the full shot of your workspace. Share a detail of the inspiration board that’s on your wall, the coffee shop you usually find yourself working at, or try using this as a “it’s not always perfectly styled” glimpse and show them a little bit of behind the scenes mess.
This is a good opportunity to explain how your product or offering comes to be. What is that process like? What is the first thing you always do before diving in? What part of the process do you love the most, or where do you most often find yourself getting stuck? Share the quirky details and paint a picture for your followers.
Idea #3: Ask the Audience
Show an in progress project or highlight something you’re struggling with and ask your community for their opinion or feedback on some part of it.
Do they think this would look better with _____ or _____ as an accent colour? Does anyone have any ideas on how to overcome the challenge of _____? What do they think of this or that new idea?
This is another opportunity to showcase the behind the scenes aspect of your brand and give your followers VIP access and a taste of how your final product comes to be by showing them a peek at the work in progress and unfinished project.
By asking your followers for their input, you’re once again building that personal connection with them. Asking for their input works in two ways: First, by showcasing the “real” side of your brand and the fact that it’s not always picture perfect. That you deal with challenges as well. You’re opening yourself up to be a little more vulnerable. And second, by proving to them that they’re part of your community and that their opinion matters, that you value what they have to say. Plus, how cool is it for them to see that once you release that final product, they played a small part in the final outcome?
Idea #4: Share Your Inspiration
If you’re anything like me, inspiration plays a key role in your creative business and you’re always on the hunt for it in unexpected places. Take a moment to share a current source of inspiration with your followers and note how it inspires what you do, or a specific project you’re currently working on.
You really have free reign here, as inspiration can come in any form. Is there somewhere you visited recently, near or far, that sparked creativity? Maybe there’s an old sign in your neighbourhood that inspired a new logo design, or a favourite vintage dress you have that served as inspiration for a colour palette.
Another way to approach this would be to post for #followfriday and highlight another Instagram account you find inspiring. Just make sure you give them credit — Instagram etiquette 101!
Dig deeper into what you find inspiring about the image and why, and share the story of how you found this particular source. Maybe there’s somewhere you always turn to for inspiration, or perhaps you stumbled across it completely by accident.
Idea #5: Tools of the Trade
Get creative with how you showcase the tools and supplies you use to run your business, whether that’s a selection of jewellery supplies, a camera and your laptop, or a paintbrush and some watercolours. Again, I urge you to think outside of the box, and if the secret weapon that you just can't start the day without is a cup of coffee, share that!
Focus on the styling here, and showcasing your tools in a way that really represents your brand aesthetic. Are you graphic and bright? Try laying everything out on a coloured background in one of your brand colours. If you’ve never tried a flat lay before, this is the perfect opportunity! And feel free to think a little bit outside of what you might use on a daily basis, and gather props that will accent the key tools as well. That could look like a swatch book for a graphic designer, or a fresh flower or two for a wedding planner.
Try picking out a specific tool and explaining why it’s so important to what you do. Remember that not all of your followers will know how exactly you do what you do, or what makes your work so unique, so this is the perfect time to educate them. Or maybe you’re saving up for a new tool that will change the way you work, so you could also talk about that, and how in the meantime, you’ve been staying scrappy by doing it this way instead.
Remember — your caption doesn’t always have to directly relate what you’re showing in the photo, instead we’re focused on telling a story and connecting with our community.