Did you know Instagram (IG) has the highest engagement rate of any social platform? In fact, users engage with brands on Instagram 10 times more than they do on Facebook, making it a potential gold mine for brands looking to expand their social presence and grow their businesses. Used the right way, Instagram can take your business to the next level, too. Here's how to create an Instagram account that will stand out, showcase your talents, and help you develop the connections and customer loyalty that are essential to thriving in today's environment.
The golden rule of Instagram is: You must use quality photos and videos. People flock to Instagram for its aesthetic appeal and use of stellar visuals to tell a story. In fact, you can't even share a post if it doesn't include an image or video. But not all photos are created equal. Sharing grainy, low-res pictures will make you seem out of touch and could even cause people to unfollow you. The key to gaining IG followers and keeping their attention is through high-quality visuals Every. Single. Time.
What distinguishes a great Instagram post from a bad one? At a basic level, every effective IG post delights the eyes, creates intrigue, and engages the viewer. In other words, each post needs a high-quality image or video, should address an exciting or interesting topic, and should be presented with a thoughtful caption so your audience knows how to engage with the content. If you're stumped on what to say in your caption, put it into a question format. Questions are a great way to spur conversation and interest. Here's an example:
Notice that the above caption not only invites the reader to comment, but it also includes a mention of the kitchen’s designer, as well as hashtags, all of which expand the post’s reach and visibility. Mentioning industry partners is also a great way to support their business and strengthen your relationship.
Creating beautiful photos and videos with thoughtful, compelling captions is important, but they’re not enough on their own. Truly successful Instagram accounts tell a story. They weave together a central theme with every post to create a narrative that sets that brand or person apart.
Ask yourself: What story do you want to tell? What do you have to offer that no one else does? Remember that, as a service person, you’re not selling a product. You’re selling yourself. People rely on you to be the expert in your field and, more importantly, in your community. Leverage your social media influence to illustrate the value you bring to customers and businesses in your local market.
Let’s say you’re a real estate agent who specializes in selling brownstones in Brooklyn. In addition to posting brownstone listings, you can educate your followers about all things brownstone with a weekly fun fact. This could include tidbits on the history of the brownstone, a short story about the 19th-century family who built one of the properties you’re listing (write an article and link to a blog post in your bio!), or things you need to know about brownstone care and maintenance.
Perhaps brownstones aren’t your thing, but you have 20 years of experience selling homes in a specific neighborhood, and as a result, have gleaned a wealth of in-depth neighborhood knowledge. Use that to your benefit by coming up with a creative way to showcase that expertise. For instance, you could create a “Best Kept Secrets” series in which you travel to local shops in your market and post photos and videos of yourself trying their offerings. Highlight the owners, where they’re located, and what to try or buy there, to give prospective buyers a real-life look at their future ’hood!
There are so many different ways to showcase your personality and services on Instagram! Try a few different approaches until you discover what works, then run with it!
How to Create a Winning Look on Instagram
You don’t need a professional camera to make your posts pop. With your smartphone and a few helpful tricks, you can ensure your images are professional and attention-grabbing.
Use natural light. Never use the flash. And try to keep the source of light (ideally, the sun) behind you when snapping a photo.
Avoid using zoom. If you need a closer shot, move closer to the subject.
Follow the rule of thirds. Keep the subject slightly off-center to create balance.
Use editing tools. While you can use Instagram filters in a pinch, try apps like VSCO or Snapseed to take your photos and videos to the next level.
Create a consistent look and feel. As tempting as it may be to try all the different filters, your posts will perform better if you choose a specific aesthetic (warm tones vs. cool tones, signature angles) and stick with it.
Get creative. Try apps like Boomerang to create short looping videos, or use Instagram’s Layout app to create collages. The options for creativity are endless!
Source:  Forrester Research