Visual content is never a one-size-fits-all strategy, especially when it comes to platforms like Instagram. Planning will be different for each brand because audiences have varying interests. This means that, if you want to reach the right users, you need to stay true to your brand's voice and style.

On Instagram, using the correct visuals for your brand is the absolute best way to evoke the responses you’re looking for. But don’t just take our word for it ....

Let’s dive into the world of Instagram with Shawn Ogulu:

What images evoke an emotion that encourages people to engage?

In a content-saturated world, it is more difficult than ever to get people's attention. I’d say there isn't a specific type of image that encourages people to engage. Rather, the image needs to tell a compelling story, be of a high quality, be technically good and be visually appealing. This combination is likely to keep people more engaged.

What emotion do you think works best for storytelling on Instagram? For instance, does telling a happy story with a positive image create more engagement?

It all depends on the general theme of the account — there's an audience out there for just about any theme. For instance, the theme of my personal account is travel, so I stay within that scope for the most part.

There aren’t strict rules but there is definitely room to experiment; however, suddenly doing a 180 with the type of content you post generally doesn't go down well — especially when curating a gallery and telling a story that people have committed to following.

What is your approach when it comes to choosing images that will perform well on Instagram?

Whenever I go out to shoot, I take hundreds of photos. Then, when I sit down to review them, I generally look out for all the normal technical stuff like focus, composition and exposure. The brand I am working with, their key messaging and objective is also front of mind when I’m shooting for a campaign.

But, this is art, so there really are no hard and fast rules. And sometimes, an image jumps out at me. Even though it's not perfect (technically speaking), [it] may be conveying the emotion I felt when I clicked the shutter — so I choose that one. That emotion and memory stay with me forever.

What are the risks involved for brands who post low-quality images on Instagram?

I think a key term to watch out for in SEO is ‘bounce rate’. If a content creator promotes a brand and a user clicks through but they see low-quality images, then they don't have a reason to stay.

Remember, a hotel isn’t just competing with other hotels for a user's attention anymore; they're also competing with everyone who goes on vacation and takes a cool photo at the place they stayed at. That becomes a more compelling ‘ad’ than those traditional photos you find on some brand’s social media pages or websites.

Do you think it is important to make use of humour in Instagram captions?

Humour is definitely a tool that can humanise a brand. With that said, humour can be subjective so there's also a chance that it'll backfire if not done well. Getting people and communities to laugh together is a really strong quality, but it doesn’t work for every single brand, so look at it on a case by case basis.

What advice do you have for brands and influencers who want to master the art of storytelling?

The art of storytelling is something that is fluid, poetic and beautiful. And there is always a compelling story to tell. I don’t believe it’s about mastery.

Mastering something implies that you have nothing left to learn and that isn’t the case with visual storytelling. I learn something new every time I start a new project — be it with a brand or a personal undertaking.

My advice to content creators would be to keep upskilling yourself and follow creators who are in the same genre as you. For brands, [be sure to] work with content creators whose work speaks to your brand [image] and your audience.

Also, look for creators who are open to going the extra mile for your campaign. There's always something worth learning.

What are some of your favourite brands to follow on Instagram? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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Want to learn more about how to ace your Insta strategy? Then be sure to read Three ways to up your Instagram game.