This post first appeared on Locowise.com.
Instagram is an ‘image first’ platform. This means it works with images and not much else. Of course, you can put the ‘else’ into your feed, but unless you’re respecting the platform’s clear focus on imagery, you’re going to lose out in the long run.
The good news about Instagram is that it has morphed into a great place for brands to tell stories. Businesses can simply put together a collection of images and text and tell a brand story to the audience. Storytelling (a marketing approach as old as the hills) leaps into the modern world, with crisp, vivid images that help to tell a story the audience wants and a story that resonates with the message too. So who’s doing it?
We will start with these guys, because they happen to be great at telling stories that touch the reader’s hearts in an inspiring way. They do a lot of good work overseas, helping people who simply don’t have regular access to clean, safe water.
However, they’re capable of pulling off some amazing photography, along with clear ‘story’ behind the picture. Their work is compelling and engaging, and sometimes even moving. And it all works because the charity is able to identify its own story, and then tell it primarily through imagery.
This brand has managed to bring style and storytelling together quite effectively on Instagram. The imagery they use seems, at first, like so much cliched content about ‘behind the scenes’ stuff. However, it soon becomes apparent that the brand is trying to tell a bit of a story. The people who work at the company have stories to tell, the idea and message of teamwork are consistently displayed through the content.
It’s effective. While Apolis may not have huge million-dollar budgets, it has people at the heart of what it does. This is shown very well, through storytelling content that allows people to understand the context behind the company.
Another example of ‘behind the scenes’ stuff that truly tells a story comes from this brand. Their brand message is all about fun and fitness, and their content often shows what is happening behind the scenes at the company.
This post, for example, shows how the idea of fun being part of fitness can lead to, well, fun behind the scenes. It’s a perfect example of a story about a brand being told with just a simple image and the right approach. It’s evidence of a brand knowing that its audience wants to know more about their story.
This brand made a name for itself as a travel guide specialist. This has meant that the brand is essentially known as a creator of memories. And memories make for some great stores.
Go to their Instagram feed and you’ll find storytelling all over the place. Imagery from places people visit and tons of history combine to create a travel fan’s paradise. But here we have something a little different.
The brand created a photo collection centered around a traveler going to Scotland. Look how they’ve arranged the objects carefully, all of them connecting audiences to a place they might not have even been to. This, plus the romantic description below, shows a brand that knows the stories it can tell.
This brand makes yogurt. The problem it had is converting people to using yogurt in a variety of ways, rather than a breakfast item, for example. In other words, it had to tell a story that would reframe what people thought of yogurt and to give their own yogurt a stylish kick.
So they told a story using Instagram. They used some user-generated content alongside their own fresh content. All of the content featured in the reboot allowed Chobani to show yogurt being used in interesting and exciting ways with food. What’s more, the whole thing felt like a story being told. Where yogurt was the star.
These guys know how to tell a story, and they’re kind of similar to other brands like Lonely Planet in that they offer memories to customers, and the stories that come out of them can last for decades.
They’ve also become very adept at creating captions that tell mini-stories. And this is perhaps best exemplified by a well known Instagram post of theirs. Here, we have two Influencers go on a bit of a road trip with Airbnb, and having a wonderful time with it. However, the caption really works, it sets the scene and tells a story. Stick in an amazingly vibrant photo, and you have expert storytellers doing what they do best.
Why it works
Instagram has a great reputation centered around its ability to provide evocative imagery. With these brands and their storytelling, each and everyone has chosen content that either tells a little story about brand history, people, or just a simple story told around the special service they give to customers (such as Airbnb).
People go to social media for storytelling. It can inspire them. It can make them feel better, warmer. And when it is aligned with the brand message, like it is in these examples, it works perfectly.