A stage for everything from snapshots of lunch to family photos, Instagram is built for storytelling. A 2014 Forrester study found that the top brands’ Instagram posts generated 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. With millions of users worldwide and a seemingly endless share of content,it’s no wonder why brands are getting on board.

 Sure, making an account is easy. But how do you decide what kind of content will leave an impression? We’ve gathered four types of images to inspire your own brand account.

  1. The Product Photo

Whether you’re selling mascara, pizza, or headphones, the best (and easiest) way to inform consumers about a product is through an image. The logic? Show, not tell. Benefit Cosmetics does a fantastic job with product photos on their Instagram. Simple yet artfully composed, their products are often styled against a backdrop of interesting textures and colors—coffee beans, a yellow wall, daisies.

Most importantly, the brand’s product photos exude a sense of authenticity by emulating the way a consumer may take a photo of their own favorite product. While the shots are styled, they leave out the glossy finish of professionally edited, ad-like photographs, allowing the consumer to imagine an everyday context for the product’s usage. Benefit’s one million plus followers on Instagram serve as  testament to the success of authentically framed images.

Benefit Cosmetics



  1. The Team Photo

The team photo gives a more personal look into a brand. Putting a face (or faces) to the company makes it easier for consumers to find a connection. People like knowing where their products come from and who creates them! A plus? It offers a way for companies to recognize their own contributors and it works as a great recruitment strategy. Modcloth’s Instagram feed is full of photos highlighting office life, including shots of pets, birthdays, and most of all, the employees.


  1. The Behind-the-Scenes Photo

Everyone loves a sneak preview. The behind-the-scenes shot is specifically designed to make consumers feel like insiders while keeping them guessing for what’s coming up. Vanity Fair does a great job at giving its readers a preview of the features that will be included in its upcoming issues. Here, the reader gets a peek at how the editorials are created and shot backstage. Compared to other images on Vanity Fair’s feed—which rack up around 2k to 5k likes each—the behind-the-scenes photos accumulate around 8k to 17k likes!

Vanity Fair

  1. The Consumer Photo

Social media is all about engagement. What’s a better way to get fans involved than by featuring them? User-generated content is valuable for business and practically unlimited in number. This is an opportunity for brands to show their love for their fans while also sharing the most powerful stories related to their brand. Today’s consumers want to showcase the products they’re using and they want to be recognized by brands! Just take a look at these next brand examples.

Carnival Cruise Lines and REI’s Instagram feeds source many of their spectacular photos from consumers. By re-posting (with permission) user-generated content and tagging and thanking the users, both brands are able to engage with consumers on an individual level and build brand loyalty in the long run.



With more than 200 million active users on Instagram, 1.3 billion users on Facebook, 70 million on Pinterest, and 255 million on Twitter, social media is the pathway to today’s consumers. Considering the trillions of content produced by the social media machine, it’s becoming increasingly crucial for brands to share content that is memorable and engaging if they are to stand out amidst the sea of content. While everyone may understand that images are a better way to get noticed, it’s even more important to be able to discern which types of images significantly drive engagement. Storytelling is a challenging task; but with the right visual means, people will listen.

About The Author

Grace is a proud Cal Bear who is not ashamed to admit she eats pizza at least twice a week.

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