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

@selectbakery

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

@dawntearooms

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

@writtencommunications

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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About Luana Spinetti

Luana Spinetti is a freelance blogger and copywriter based in Italy. When she's not writing, she will be drawing artwork and making websites. Web Marketing and SEO are in her basket for work-enhancement and for fun (but it still earned her a gig as a SEO consultant in 2012). Find her at LuanaSpinetti.com or at her Twitter account @luanatf.

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