Instagram is, without question, one of the most impactful social media platforms. Its audience of 800 million monthly active users is only growing year to year and the Facebook-owned company doesn’t show signs of stopping its innovation of the Stories feature in an attempt to eliminate Snapchat completely. According to Hootsuite, there are 25 million business profiles on Instagram and 80% of Instagram users follow at least one of those business profiles. These are mind-boggling stats. I saw these stats for the first time a few months ago and thought, “I hope I’m making the most of our business’s Instagram account to stand out as quality, ‘scroll-stopping’ content in the cluttered timelines of our followers.” To which my answer to myself after inspecting our Instagram page was, “Nope, not really.” I’ll share the top 3 ways I’ve made the most of our Instagram profile since making that realization in hopes it can stir some creative juices in your head as well.

1. Behind-the-scenes on Stories

People love behind-the-scenes content. I have preached this in other blogs and I will continue to preach it. I work for a baseball team, and behind-the-scenes content is all the rage. Sports aren’t just in-between the lines anymore. People like seeing preparation, pre-game routines (whether it be players or staff), and post-game reactions. I know that little to nobody reading this also works for a baseball team, but in whatever space you work, think about how you can show preparation and let people in on the “human side” of your subject rather than just what they see from a stage, pulpit, or whatever it may be. If you’re producing content for a church, show sound check for the band. Show behind-the-scenes on the creation of the slideshows for songs at service. Show the making of those sweet stage setups that seem to fit in with the sermon’s content so well. I am the least artistic person I know, but it would be awesome to open my Instagram Story and be like, “Wow, I didn’t know that’s how they made that background.” It humanizes it, puts a face behind it, and creates a connection with your audience that wasn’t there before.

2. Post high-quality, if not professional photos

This is the one that hit me like a ton of bricks when I was looking at our Instagram page a few months ago. We had a bunch of photos that I took with my iPhone and not many professional photos. I knew my photo with a couple tweaks in the “Edit” option of Instagram wasn’t as visually appealing as a professional photo, but that didn’t matter to me as much as me posting it in the moment just because I was thinking about it at the time. Our team is fortunate enough to have two professional photographers who share time at the ballpark and then email us photos after games. We don’t have a photographer at every game, but they are at over half and take photos of players, fans, entertainment, ballpark amenities, and really anything we ask.

Photo credit: The Columbia Fireflies

The difference in engagement between my photos and the professional photos is remarkable. When people are scrolling, they are used to seeing photos from friends that are not professional photos, so the ones that are, are certainly “scroll-stoppers.” Of course, not all of our photos are going to be professionally taken as the photographers can’t be everywhere at once, but the majority are.

3. User-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is a buzz phrase in social media. But what does it mean? I like to think of it as a visual example of word of mouth marketing. Webopedia says User-generated content is “the term used to describe any form of content such as video, blogs, discussion form posts, digital images, audio files, and other forms of media that was created by consumers or end-users of an online system or service and is publically available to others consumers and end-users.” In the specific case of Instagram, an example of UGC would be someone who takes a photo of themselves using your product/service and posting it, usually tagging you. According to Shopify in a 2016 article, 84% of people will take action based on the opinion of others. This is so valuable that businesses pay for it. This is called “Influencer marketing.” I could go on for days about the importance of influencer marketing, but for brevity’s sake, people trust people when it comes to recommendations. Taking that user-generated content and reposting it on your Instagram with credits to the original poster will do wonders for your followers’ trust.

Photo credit: Shopify

There is no strict strategy to posting Instagram content. Every organization is different and should therefore have a unique strategy. These three strategies are what I’ve learned help our followers become more engaged with us on Instagram, and I hope it provides you with some ideas that you can implement in your strategy.

Kyle Martin

Kyle is the New Media Engagement and Promotions Manager for the Columbia Fireflies, a Minor League Baseball team affiliated with the New York Mets. Follow him on Twitter @Kyl3Martin.