What makes a great Pinterest or Instagram image? Should it be dark or light? Grainy or glossy? “Toaster” or “Inkwell”? User generated or company owned?
When visual social media first took off in 2010, your guess was as good as mine. But today, we can be a lot smarter about what works (and doesn’t) on visual social channels. Apu Gupta’s company, Curalate, scans 200,000,000 images a day. He has proof that “Instagram and Pinterest are two different animals, and they have to be treated as such. Images have to feel true to the platforms they live on.” Here’s his advice to pick the perfect photos for each.
Instagram – Celebrate the Moment
Instagram is all about celebration and driving excitement among users. So although “raw” imagery is often viewed as the ultimate goal (you know, the photos that look like you or I could have snapped them on our smartphones), it’s even more important for brands to create content that’s not only authentic but also creative and inspiring.
A great example is Michael Kors’ Instagram feed. Some photos epitomize the user-generated aesthetics that, in many ways, have come to define the platform. Anyone could have taken them, and that’s essentially the point.
But what differentiates Michael Kors’ strategy from the pack is that the brand doesn’t shy away from content with a high production value. They publish images that you or I could never take, but they nevertheless manage to feel contextually relevant and real.
GoPro is another great example of a brand that has achieved this happy medium by publishing thousands of extreme photos taken by fans celebrating their technology. Their page takes the user-generated spirit of the platform to heart, and in doing so, it encourages even more fans to share their stories around the brand.
GoPro demonstrates that Instagram doesn’t just have to be about the images the brand pushes out. A great way to use Instagram is to incorporate your fans into your website and social channels by simply asking for permission to feature photos or even to “re-gram” photos with credit given to the photographer. When great brands highlight users, fans go wild, and loyalty runs deep.
Pinterest – Tell Your Brand’s Story
Whereas on Instagram, the goal is to fuel a sense of celebration around your brand, on Pinterest, the link between social marketing and revenue is more direct. As of Q1 2014, for instance, ecommerce optimization firm Monetate found that there was a 68% increase in Pinterest conversions when compared to the same period last year.
But here’s the challenge with Pinterest: brands that only push their products to followers miss out on the true value of the platform. On Pinterest, brands have a unique opportunity to tell their stories. And those stories (your boards) need to be representative of an overall lifestyle while communicating who you are as a brand.
As mentioned, Instagram is fundamentally built for content creation where Pinterest requires brands to be adept at curating stories. How? By knowing what types of content resonate with fans and then pulling those images into carefully crafted, consumer-centric boards.
To get a sense of what works, take a look at Lilly Pulitzer’s Summer Printspiration 2014 board. The women’s designer has built a following of loyalists who love her playful prints and whimsical silhouettes. To bring her current collection of beachwear to life, the brand created a board featuring tunics, tops and branded prints but also the inspiration behind those items (think sunsets and clam bakes). In this way, fans can begin to draw connections between the products they love and the lifestyle they aspire to live.
The Bottom Line
With increasing access to insight around how users are engaging with your brand, it’s more important than ever to publish content that speaks to and creates excitement among your audience. Remember, with every social engagement, fans are giving you valuable information. Pay attention to these interactions. Learn your fans’ language and visual preferences. And then, go out and inspire your audience to become part of your story and celebrate your brand with you.
This article was written by Kate Harrison from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.