This post was originally published on November 2nd 2017, and was last updated on December 15th 2017.
Are You Struggling to Figure Out What to Post on Instagram?
You stare at your phone screen, just hoping that a gorgeous photo or an impactful graphic will magically appear there.
You know it’s time for you to post to your brand’s Instagram account.
There’s only one major problem: You have absolutely no clue what to share.
When it comes to marketing on Instagram, you’ve already done all of the groundwork (or, if you haven’t, be sure to check out our complete guide to marketing on Instagram!).
You’ve identified and researched your target audience. You’ve scoped out what your competitors are doing on their own feeds.
But, that doesn’t change the fact that you’re totally stumped now.
You feel like you’ve already used your best ideas, you’re tapped out of inspiration, and now you’re worried your creative block will keep you from sticking with that Instagram publishing schedule you had mapped out as part of your overall strategy.
First things first, take a deep breath.
Knowing exactly what to post on your brand’s Instagram account can be challenging for everybody—yes, even those accounts that you admire.
Fortunately, there’s a process you can go through to reignite your inspiration and come up with all sorts of new post ideas. Are you ready to get started?
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1. Understand Your Niche
You knew we were going to start with more research, didn’t you? It’s the foundation to any solid marketing strategy.
That means that your first step is understanding your niche.
If you’ve already done the research into your target audience, this step should be easy.
Ultimately, it involves asking yourself one important question: What sort of content makes sense with your audience and your brand?
Think about it this way: Wouldn’t it seem strange if Oreo suddenly started posting healthy living tips or fitness tutorials on their own Instagram page?
That doesn’t fit their messaging, and it’s definitely not the type of content that their followers would expect to see.
While it’s fine (and sometimes even fun!) to surprise your audience with something unexpected every once in awhile, you still want to make sure that each and every Instagram post you create fits with the voice and reputation you’re aiming to create for your brand.
As you’re going through this process, it’s also helpful to take a look at your analytics.
If you’ve already been actively posting to your Instagram page, this can help you to figure out what sort of content has been resonating particularly well with your followers.
For example, perhaps your #MondayMotivation quote images have been seeing awesome engagement, while your more product-related posts have fallen flat.
That’s helpful information to know as you figure out what type of content you should post more of, as well as any potential tweaks you should make moving forward to increase the effectiveness of your other posts.
2. Identify Your Key Themes
Now that you’ve thought through the things that absolutely wouldn’t make sense with your brand, it’s time to turn your attention to the things that actually do fit.
We know—this process can seem completely overwhelming.
So, it’s best to break it into smaller pieces to help you make some progress without feeling totally intimidated.
Here’s how to start: Identify the key themes that fit within your brand.
What does this mean? Let’s take a look at an example for some clarity.
Imagine that your Instagram page exists to market your brand new email plugin.
Your email plugin is aimed at working professionals who want to better manage their inboxes and, as a result, get more done in their workdays.
Now, ask yourself: With that mission in mind, what different themes would fit under that umbrella?
Here are a few that we can think of right off the bat:
- Product Updates: New features, fixes, and improvements.
- General Productivity Tips: Advice to help users better manage their time and get more done
- Email Advice: Anything from etiquette to simple tips—such as writing better subject lines.
When thinking about these key themes, an easy way to make this simpler is to think about them as categories for your blog.
What major groupings would you like your various blog posts to fall under?
Your own brand might have many key themes, or you might have only a few.
The important things is to get those jotted down before moving onto the next step.
3. Break Key Themes Into Smaller Topics
Now that you have those major themes identified, it’s time to break that out into smaller topics.
When thinking about this, an effective strategy is to create a web—where you can create branches off of that larger theme.
No topic is too minuscule here.
When you need to maintain a consistent Instagram posting schedule, you’ll want to have plenty of content ideas—which means the more you can generate here, the better off you’ll be.
Let’s take a look at look at one of the key themes from above to add some clarity.
Here are some different topics that could branch off the major theme of “general productivity tips”:
See how breaking that larger topic down into smaller pieces gets those creative juices flowing?
Do that for your brand’s own key themes to begin to uncover some relevant subject matter that you could post about on your own account.
4. Generate Image Ideas
That above exercise is helpful.
But, at the end of the day, those are still only concepts.
Although you have all sorts of new topics that you can explore, that doesn’t help address the issue of the actual image.
After all, you can’t very well snap a photo of “time management methods.”
You need some sort of graphic or photo to post to illustrate that concept, and that leaves you wondering what should those images actually depict? What are you supposed to take a photo of?
Again, this involves more breaking down and even more brainstorming.
Now that you have your key themes broken into smaller topics, you can take each of those topics and come up with potential image ideas for each of them.
Let’s take the sub-topic of “to-do list strategies”, for example.
Potential photos and images you could create for your brand’s Instagram account that fit within that category could include:
See how many different image ideas you can generate just under that one sub-topic?
If you do that for each of the topics under the different key themes you identified, you’re sure to have a seemingly endless well of content ideas.
The best part? When you have those various image options identified, you can schedule a day when you can create or capture a bunch of different photos all at one time—think of it as a stock photoshoot of sorts.
5. Use Existing Content
While going through the above steps means you won’t be short on inspiration for potential images, there’s no denying that it can still be a lot of work to create all of that content yourself.
This is why using existing content can be a great asset to you.
Perhaps you want to start a branded hashtag campaign so that you can make use of user-generated content—or, put simply, the photos that your followers post and then tag.
Additionally, there’s no shortage of quotes, funny memes, gifs, and other materials that you can post to your own account—plenty of popular brands do that same thing.
You’ll just want to make sure to provide proper credit and attribution within the caption of your image (you can keep things extra simple by using the camera emoji like Pabst Blue Ribbon did below!) to avoid any potential hot water.
Need Some More Inspiration For What to Post on Instagram?
Following this process will help you build a large bank of potential content you could post on your brand’s own Instagram page. But, even so, this barely scratches the surface.
If you’re ever stuck on what to post, you can pull inspiration from numerous other outlets and events, including:
- Viral campaigns like #ThrowbackThursday or #MotivationalMonday
- Different holidays (including lesser-known holidays like National Best Friend Day or National Coffee Day, for instance)
- Behind-the-scenes peaks at what’s happening with your brand
- Inspirational quotes or impressive statistics
If you want even more inspiration to get your creative juices flowing, check out this enlightening list from HubSpot with tons of ideas and examples you can pull from for your own brand.
You might feel like you’re fresh out of creativity. But, rest assured, after you work your way through the above steps, you’ll realized that there are plenty of different things you could post to Instagram.
With so many options, your challenge will no longer be figuring out what to post—it’ll be deciding exactly what you want to post next.
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