The 7 Most Critical Elements of Instagram Visual Storytelling

How to build, engage, and convert a community using Instagram marketing.

Are you fighting a never-ending battle to achieve Instagram marketing success? 

Don’t worry - you’re not alone. In fact, as many as of 2017 there were 25M business profiles listed on Instagram, and by now that number has only increased. 

Consumer and service-based businesses are both leveraging the platform for reasons such as brand building, lead generation, product sales, and building relationships with influencers. These 25M businesses are fighting for the attention of the 200M daily users who visit Instagram business pages. 

Lots of competition right? Wrong.

The truth is, as of 2019 Instagram Business profiles receive only an average of 4.7% Engagement Rate. While some blame that on the daunting Instagram algorithm, seasoned Instagram marketers will tell you that brands that spend focused, quality time on their storytelling will see increased results. 

What is “visual storytelling”?

Social media has provided new ground for storytellers, and the king of visual storytelling is Instagram. 

Instagram is all about relevancy. Instead of visiting a company’s website, many consumers now check Instagram to get a feel for the company’s worldview. The platform shows customers in a very real way, how the brand relates to your customer’s life.

It's visual component can be a creative feat for organizations that aren’t equipped with exciting photography or data. But, when it comes to making an impression, the story behind the photo matters as much as the image. 

Organizations that aren’t inherently visual can capitalize on Instagram by focusing on the story they are uniquely able to tell.

Using Instagram as a storytelling tool is an essential for engaging new consumer and professional audiences.

Let’s jump into the 7 most critical elements of Instagram visual storytelling. 

1.   Create Your Instagram Brand

Creating a cohesive Instagram brand is one of the best ways to attract your target audience and get more followers. 

The first step to that is updating your Instagram profile. Three primary areas to focus on are your profile photo, bio and URL link. Instagram, of course, is an image-conscious social media site, so be sure your profile photo is a great one, preferably one of your company’s logo. 

Your profile bio should clearly be able to tell users what your product/service offers, what problem you solve, and what vision/lifestyle applies to your brand. Avoid making rookie mistakes such as creating a confusing profile bio that only speaks to you. Use simple words. Remember, marketing is all about making the complex simple. 

Additionally, make sure you translate your brand elements to Instagram. Stay consistent with your colors by setting a background color, primary color, secondary color, and a call to action color. Transition through different color palettes every few weeks to keep it fresh.

2.   Tell Your Story Using Insta Stories

Instagram Stories is a standalone content channel that compliments Instagram native timeline posts. 

Stories were launched in August 2016, and now more than 500 million Instagrammers use stories daily. If you’ve ever thought about experimenting with stories to boost your reach or engagement, now is the perfect time. 

Like with regular posts, if you’re using Instagram Stories for business, it’s good to post a mix of fun, lighthearted content and promotional content.

The great thing about Instagram Stories is that because they’ve created so many cool tools, you can really get as creative as you’d like. There’s also a ton of new apps popping up that make designing high-quality stories easier than ever.  


When you’re creating your Instagram Stories strategy, everything you post should come back to your brand goals. Once you know what your Instagram marketing goals are, you can better determine what types of content to post!

The same is true for promotional content on Instagram Stories. It’s easy to create promotional stories that are also fun and lighthearted. And there are a ton of creative ways to use Instagram stories for business.

That being said, when it comes to Instagram visual storytelling using Insta Stories, there are a few things you can do to get the most bang for your buck:

  1. Use Location and Hashtag Stickers to Increase Your Discoverability
  2. Add Links in Your Instagram Stories for Business
  3. Tag Other Accounts in Your Instagram Stories for Business
  4. Find & Tag Businesses in Your Sponsored Instagram Stories 
  5. Use Polls & Emoji Sliders in Your Instagram Stories for Business
  6. Ask Questions in Your Instagram Stories for Business
  7. Use the Countdown Sticker in Your Instagram Stories
  8. Share Instagram Live Videos in Your Instagram Stories for Business
  9. Include GIFs in Your Instagram Stories

3.   Work Closely With Your Existing Media Partners

In order to create meaningful conversation on Instagram, you get to engage with your existing media partners who have an active following on Instagram. This can range from employees, managers, business partners, businesses, customers/clients, and any other Instagram account owners who share the same audience.

Like any other business partnership, the partnership between brands and influencers should be carefully considered and thoughtful.

To begin, simply create a list of all Instagram accounts you’re already in contact or associated with. This list will be a reminder of who you can tag, follow, and comment/like when you create Instagram Posts and Stories. 

Make sure you engage with the right types of media partners. Here’s 3 questions to help you understand if the media partner is right for you: 

  • Does their brand align with mine in terms of values, aesthetics, and personality?
  • Is their photography and content style and caliber one that you want your products associated with?
  • Are the brands and products they have previously worked with similar to yours?

What Does a Great Parntership Look Like?

The best partnerships in terms of audience response, are when you and your media partner create the time to experiment with what works and what doesn’t. Make sure your collaboration speaks authenticity. High success rate in Instagram Visual Storytelling relates to one pimary factor: integrity.

Make sure you negotiate to have an Instagram Story included along with a post on your media partner’s feed. Not only can your media partner link directly to your product or website (if they have over 10K followers), they can also collect valuable data about Story interactions like how many actions were taken and how many people viewed the story.

4.   Instagram Influencers: Creating Value Instead Of Wasting Money & Product

The term ‘influencer’ can be hard to clearly define, as the term is quite subjective. Basically, an influencer is someone who has influence over people of a certain demographic or niche and is not limited to people with a certain number of Instagram followers. 

Therefore, an influencer could be a celebrity, media personality, sporting professional or reality TV star, or it could simply be someone with great fashion sense, a popular figure in the digital space or someone who has a knack for creating intriguing imagery. 

So with that in mind, there’s not a one size fits all approach to becoming or being an influencer. Instead, it’s a case by case scenario that weighs up an Instagrammers followers with their engagement, demographics, content quality and other metrics.

Identifying Your Ideal Influencers

Once you’ve determined what you want to gain out of the campaign, you can start the process of defining and identifying your ideal influencers. To begin, answer the following questions:

  1. Who influences your audience? 
  2. Do they create content related to your brand, industry, or products? 
  3. Will they be able to help you achieve your campaign goals?

Here are a few handy points you should consider when defining your ideal influencer:

  1. Niche. Consider their niche or their area of specialty. What topics do they normally cover? 
  2. Reach. Consider the reach of your ideal influencer based on your goal. How many people do they reach on average per post or per Story? 
  3. Voice. Have a clear idea about the kind of voice your ideal influencer should have. What type of social voice matches your brand ideally? 
  4. Engagement Rate. Even if you choose to work with a top-tier influencer, make sure they can still drive significant levels of engagement. Calculate their weekly engagement rate by dividing their total number of engagements (likes + comments received) by their total number of followers. 

After defining your ideal influencer using these points, you can start your search of influencers for your Instagram visual storytelling campaign. 

5.   Avoid Repeated Mistakes By Using Reporting

Have you looked at your Instagram numbers lately? Perhaps you keep track of your likes or have an idea of your month-to-month follower growth. But have you really explored the analytics and sifted through that data? If the answer is no, it is time to do just that!

Looking at your Instagram analytics will help you understand how your Instagram visual storytelling is functioning as part of your overall marketing strategy, and it will also allow you to improve and grow your business with this powerful, highly populated social platform.

The best way to keep track of Instagram analytics is to create and update an Instagram Analytics Sheet on a weekly basis, tracking most or all of the following Key Point Indicators:

  • Impressions (How many times your content has been seen);
  • Reach (Number of unique users have seen your content, usually a number less than Impressions);
  • Total engagements (likes + comments);
  • Story Views (How many times your stories have been viewed);
  • New followers gained;

Keeping track of your Instagram analytics will give you an ideal perspective of what’s working and what’s not. We recommend setting goals for every week, so that your analytics aren’t just “empty numbers”, but a guide to replicating success and cutting mistakes out. 

6.   Engage With The Right Users

In order to engage with the correct accounts, you must first know who they are, and what content they like to engage with. 

Here we do an easy to replicate exercise called “Only they would, but no one else would,” where “they” is your ideal audience. This allows you to siphon through generalized audiences, and locate your “lowest hanging fruit” on the platform. Here’s how you do this. Only your ideal audience would:

  • Follow these influencers …
  • Engage with a certain type of content …
  • Follow these brands …

Finding The Right Accounts

The goal is to find accounts that are followed/engaged by your ideal audience. Keep in mind that finding bigger accounts (hundreds of thousands of followers) is a piece of cake. They’re also the ones that are full of automated and bot-like engagement. 

What you want to research for is accounts with anywhere between 10k-100k followers. Those are the ones who will have a more specific focus on your audience. 

Finally, don’t forget to research hashtags. They are an important part of distributing your message when you're using Instagram visual storytelling. The right hashtags can get you in front of the right audience.

Your target audience should have interests relevant to your brand and/or industry. This also means that they would use or follow hashtags relevant to the industry.

It’s your job to make sure that you use those hashtags so that the right people can discover your content. Create a list of hashtags you want to use with each post, that are directly relevant to your audience.

7.   Create Visually Compelling Content

Instagram is a visual medium, so your posts have simply got to look great. You don’t need professional photography equipment, but your photos do need to be sharp, well-lit, well-composed, and in focus, at a minimum.

Even more important, your visual content needs to be compelling. Great photos are nice, but if they don’t tell a story, or get viewers excited, they’re not going to help you use Instagram for marketing.

Not sure what to post? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Behind-the-scenes posts: Give followers a look at your office, your storefront, or your manufacturing process.
  2. Quotes and text-based images: Play with text to create visually interesting content with no photos required.
  3. Regrams and UGC: User-generated content is by nature authentic and compelling.
  4. Instructional posts: Teaching followers how to achieve a goal is about as compelling as it gets.
  5. Videos: The maximum length of a video post on Instagram is 60 seconds, but you can go much longer with IGTV.


As Instagram continues to grow and evolve as a marketing platform, it’s more important than ever for businesses to build effective Instagram marketing strategies.

And that means having a thorough understanding of the Instagram marketing landscape and measurable insights into what works and what doesn’t.

At the end of the day, businesses of all types have so much to gain from building a presence on Instagram, whether it’s growing an engaged community, reaching new customers, or even ecommerce selling. 

It just takes a little effort!

Not sure where to begin? Begin by requesting a consultation!