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Does Instagram Storytelling Work? – An Interview with Natalie Hillar

Natalie Hillar

Natalie Hillar, Founder and Director of IMC Marketing

Is Instagram a simple brandable photo album or can you tell stories that attract and leave a sign in visitors?

Looks like the latter is not only an option but the way to go to turn Instagram into an efficient platform for branding and marketing.

In this post, I feature an interview with Natalie Hillar, Founder and Director of IMC Marketing, who agreed to explain to me how Instagram storytelling works and why it can work charms for your brand.

Why Storytelling on Instagram?

“The power of Instagram is the visual representation it allows you and your brand or business. This format lends itself best to products or services with visual appeal – think florists, restaurateurs, and fashion designers.”

“However, regardless of the kind of business you run, it does have a visual identity. The same thing goes for individuals looking to generate a following using their own personal brand. There is always a visual element to your brand.”

“Instagram is a fantastic platform to tell the story of your business or brand journey, as well as nurture and find new customers.”

“Also, don’t forget to write a winning caption to accompany your picture. It’s your chance to explain the image, capture a mood or request engagement with your audience.”

Making It Work: Strategies and Techniques

I asked Natalie Hillar what strategies and techniques she recommends to get the best out of storytelling on Instagram. She gave me three pointers:

1. Instagram-size Quality Images

“Unless you are a well-known celebrity, the key is to focus on your audience and adding value for them in their lives. Focus on providing quality images, and make sure they are cropped to fit into Instagram’s dimensions.”

2. Experiment with Posts

“Users will have their own preferences, so it’s best to experiment to get an idea of the types of posts that achieve the most engagement for your business or brand. Popular examples are selfies, images of people and places, quotes and videos. Don’t panic if your follower numbers decrease. Take some time to analyse the best posts, and try to replicate their style or feel.”

3. Quality Over Quantity

“There is a multitude of advice out there about how often to post on Instagram. Quality trumps quantity every time. If you’ve got nothing visual about your business journey to share and haven’t posted in a few days – try a quote that resonates with current affairs or the current mood – i.e. Friday afternoon.”

Do Hashtags and Instagram Stories Have a Role in Successful Storytelling?

Well, it looks like they do!

Hashtags are How You Get Found

“Hashtags are how new people find you. They are your keywords, or your index – depending on the generation you’re from! A maximum of 11 hashtags per post is recommended, and try not to use too many super popular hashtags so you can be found. Think #entreprenuersinsydney rather than #entrepreneur, #smallbusinessstories rather than #smallbusiness.” This helps you to get Instagram followers to your account, business or personal account.

“It is common for potential followers to use hashtags in searches, so think about how you’re most likely to be found. Think #accountantsinbrisbane or #northmelbourneflorist.”

Stories to the (Follower’s) Rescue

“It’s about telling a story that will answer the questions, or solve the problems your new clients or potential audience want to know. Do you provide hair and makeup for weddings in Adelaide? #weddingmakeupadelaide or do you have an event space in Perth? #perthevents, #eventspacesperth or even #perthbusinessevents are good hashtags.”

Can You Share a Storytelling Case study or Success Story?

“There are many businesses doing a great job with their Instagram pages.”

“Check out this bakery in Toronto, Canada. It’s a neighbourhood bakery, with a specialty and they have a fantastic page.”

Select Bakery on Instagram


Dawn Tea Rooms is a small business, and celebrates its customers and business journey – with a small following, but excellent engagement due to great pictures and videos of food recipes.”

Dawn Tea Rooms on Instagram


Written Communications – a home-based professional writing and wedding planning business has grown a fantastic following by sticking to black and white branding and following other posts.”

Written Communications on Instagram


Key Takeaways from the Interview with Natalie

  • Instagram is a great platform to tell stories about your brand’s history, product features and giveaways, the company founder or life at the company – all these things help create a connection with customers and fans, new and old. It works better if your products or services already have visual appeal, but Instagram storytelling can benefit any kind of business with a visual identity
  • Captions are key – not only for hashtag visibility but also to let the writing win viewers’ hearts and make a long-lasting impression (that might lead to conversions, too?)
  • Posts must be of good quality – you don’t need a Reflex but you definitely do well focused images. Take inspiration from popular posts and storytelling examples
  • No need to post often, but let the quality of your storytelling images be consistently high
  • Instagram Stories connected to events can be a good way to answer followers’ questions and solve problems

On to you: have you tried Instagram storytelling to help boost engagement and visibility? How did it work for you?

Let us know in the comments!

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Are Prospective Buyers Just Lazy? 6 Ways They’re Not and How To Deal With Cart Abandonment

Abandoned cart

Your clients sometimes don’t seem to know whether they want your product or not.

Your conversion analytics program tells you a big number of users clicked on your landing page and then the ‘Buy Now’ button, BUT the number of completed purchases is way inferior to that.

You wonder why your customers are lazy when it comes to buying, and you wonder if you’ve been doing something wrong all along.

Sometimes it’s a wrong approach, sure, but there might be other customer factors to take into account.

Why do customers abandon items in the cart? (6 ways they’re NOT being lazy)

According to statistics by Statista, 28% of customers abandon their cart because they decided they didn’t need the product or service anymore, 27% wanted to do more research first, and 19% found it cheaper elsewhere. Among the other reasons on the chart, you will find curiosity and waiting for a sale.

There can be many reasons behind cart abandonment, but your customers aren’t doing it because they’re lazy or they don’t care about what you offer.

They might actually have other good reasons to not buy now. Here is a list:

  1. They don’t have enough money (to buy without discount or to cover shipping costs)
  2. They have to postpone buying for other reasons (e.g. emergency asking for extra budget)
  3. They have second thoughts (e.g. they might be considering a competitor’s product with a lower price)
  4. The price was not clear from your sales page and it was higher than they expected

Some other times they might have reasons that are not as ‘justified’, but they still call for your action:

  1. They forget items in the cart
  2. They get distracted by something else

How to deal with cart abandonment?

Let’s see what to do case by case and why it matters that you make your best effort to help these customers solve their problems.

1. Customers with financial issues or waiting for a sale still want your product

They do, no doubt about that. They just can’t afford it right now.

You’ll see Amazon users do that often — add items to their cart, calculate shipping costs and then either leave items in the cart or add them to the “Save for later” section, so they can wait for the right opportunity to click the ‘buy’ button, which may happen a day later or even a few months later.

Whether you send these customers an email reminder or not, they will still return to place a purchase as soon as they can afford it.

As stated in key findings from a Business Insider report, cart abandonment “should be seen as part of the increasingly complex series of steps a consumer might take before finally making a purchase and a strong indicator of consumer interest in a product or a brand”.

Also, read Reason #2 on this post at ConversionXXL. You might be surprised.

2. Help customers with second thoughts make an informed decision

When it comes to customers who are considering a more affordable competitor or they are simply questioning their need for your product, you can help them make an informed decision on the basis of product or service value.

You might add a product or service user guide to your follow-up emails, add more content and offer help desk to respond to every prospective customer’s question.

An example:

Hey (User Name)!

We’ve noticed you left [item name, code, title, etc.] in your cart for # days now. Can we help?

Our help desk service is available 24/7  to respond to your questions about our products prior to making a purchase.

You can also find more information, a user guide and video tutorials for our product on our blog.

Thank You,

Rave Wonderland & Forever Sharp Steering Wheels

This is also a good idea to reach out to customers who didn’t expect a higher price at checkout (because of shipping costs, coupon code not available for their country/region, etc.) and try to convert them into buyers anyway.

3. Combat trust issues with proof of trust

“Create trust early on in the buying cycle.” That is what Doyan Wilfred of said in an interview.

How are you building trust to your products, services and brand?

Proof of trust starts with your website, product descriptions and testimonials, but if you can add case studies, video tutorials and visual (images, videos) and audio testimonials to the mix, you will up your chances to build trust right after the first click.

“Word of mouth works like magic,” says Doyan, “You can add customer testimonials and celebrity and/or expert endorsements.” says Olivia Summers

4. Minimize elements of distraction and improve UX

“I guess you should concern more about your conversion optimization,” says Irina Weber of SE Ranking. “You can do A/B testing and figure out how to reduce the cart abandonment rate. For example, you can remove some mentions of registering or top navigation that can be very distracting while checking out.”

Display of similar products and other offers at checkout can also be distracting, especially when you are displaying your partners’ offers and not just your own. Checkout process should be streamlined and free of clutter, because all your user needs to do that moment is one thing only: make a purchase.

You can still display other offers at “add to cart” stage and after the buying process is complete (e.g. “Thanks for purchasing [item name]! Did you know we have related products in our store? Check out these popular items: [...]“).

Also, keep UX in good shape, because, as David Leonhardt of THGM Writers says, “anything that makes a cart slow or makes us go through multiple screens or fill out lots of information will increase abandonment”.

5. Use email reminders and surveys

Writer and content marketers Christopher Jan Benitez suggests you get in touch with customers to really find out what’s going on:

You can never know the exact reason until you asked them personally. This can be done by sending an email to them using a sales platform that specialized in e-commerce customer conversion and retention. In the email, remind them of the cart they abandoned and link to their cart to bring them back to your sales cycle. Also include a possible survey about your ecommerce site to understand the problems that your customers are encountering with your site and how you can fix them.

Doyan Wilfred also recommends you “implement a follow up plan. For example Amazon emails their customers when there are items in their cart.” This works when customers simply forgot to make a purchase or had to rush away from their computer.

What if you are a blogger selling products from your blog?

“If you are a blogger, its easy,” says Doyan Wilfred, “[as] all you have to do is create the feeling in your customers that they know you. Hint: reveal a little of yourself. For example, Neil Patel has a section on his about page dedicated to it.”

Also, she recommends you “add a ‘Featured On’ section mentioning all the websites that you guest post on or contribute to.” This can be seen on sites such as Original Shave Club and Ortho Mattress as they always try and showcase where they have PR.


Overall, it’s better to keep a positive attitude when it comes to cart abandonment. To quote key findings from the previously mentioned Business Insider report, an

abandoned shopping cart does not automatically translate to a “lost sale,” because three-fourths of shoppers who have abandoned shopping carts say they plan to return to the retailer’s website or store to make a purchase.

Other resources on cart abandonment issues

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