8 Ways to Create Attention-Grabbing Images on Instagram

Need to catch attention with images on Instagram? You’re in the right place. In this post, we walk you through 8 ways to use attention-grabbing Instagram Images for your brand – including case studies and examples you can use for inspiration right now!

BY DENISE LANGENEGGER | PUBLISHED 20 MAY, 2020

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Instagram has so many daily active users nowadays that it’s probably easier to count who isn’t on the platform yet.

From average folks looking to be social and connect with other people, to brands trying to market their businesses online — everyone on the platform is constantly on their A-game, sharing their visual best images on Instagram, in order to get liked, shared, and followed.

If you’re one of the very few just starting out on the visual medium, or maybe someone who’s had an account for a while and is now looking to get more noticed — you’re in luck! We’ve compiled a quick and easy guide to help you create – and curate images – on Instagram.

Let’s jump in and look at 7 ways to create Attention-Grabbing Instagram Images:

How to Use Images on Instagram to Grab Attention

Whether you’re creating your own images on Instagram or curating user-generated content, this post will help to give your visuals a boost.

1. Start with the Basics

First of all, for whatever reason you’re on Instagram, it’s important to know and list down your objectives. Why? Well, this allows you to plan what kind of content to publish.

Pinning down your objectives also lets you pin down which metrics to follow and use to determine whether your campaign is a success.

Are you looking to get more followers? Skew your content to invite people to follow your page. Do you have a specific post or product you want people to know about? Play up your captions and hashtag-game to get more people to see your post and hit ‘like’.

Part of knowing your objectives is determining your target market, too. Now it may sound tempting to keep casting a wide net in an attempt to get more views, but this is actually counterproductive! The trick to getting genuine interest is to nail down a sweet spot in your audience.

Vans know how to tap into Nostalgia, and by sharing an image like this from someone in their community, they are doing just that. They know their fans grew up loving Vans… and Lego, so why not combine them?

Figure out what age group they are, what their Instagram behaviors are — basically, try to know exactly who they are. Once you’ve figured this out, channel your energies towards marketing and speaking to them.

Trying to get the attention of a few people genuinely interested in you, versus pandering to a huge crowd who may not be as invested, takes less effort and yields better results. This tip is especially pertinent to brands and businesses: remember, the invested few are those who are most likely to share your posts to their friends and make a purchase.

2. Know Your Audience (and Engage with them)

After figuring out your objectives and target market, it’s time to pin down your social media branding!

Study your brand and see how it can translate to images on Instagram. If your brand were a person, how would he or she speak? Is he or she funny or witty or irreverent? Or is he or she more about quietly sharing inspirational thought pieces? And of course, is your brand a he or a she?

This all sounds a bit funny, but turning your brand into a person allows you to plan your content and craft your captions with precision. This also gives you an ownable tone and language, one that hopefully stands out from every other brand on the platform.

Glossier knows their audience on Instagram!

Glossier is an example of a brand that has a cult-like devoted following on Instagram. They have a clear idea of who their customer is. They know their superfans and they ask their fans to engage with them.

They also make the most of hashtags to stay on brand and reach their ideal follower. This also lets them take advantage of user-generated content. Featuring content from their fans is a great way to share authentic content that their audience can relate to and engage with.

Here’s an example of a fun image featuring a Glossier fan and customer:

Customers using Glossier products also feature heaving as UGC on their Instagram account:

Hot Tip: Make sure you get permission before sharing user-generated content. And don’t forget to tag them in your post as well.

3. Create your Brand Template

Because Instagram is all about visuals, your branding should stand out in every image you share. What are your brand’s tone and colors? Is your brand dark, grainy, and gritty, or does it veer towards bright lights and pastel hues?

Once you’ve got this figured out, try and create a visual template that can become the guide for all of your content and images on Instagram. You can edit your images using Instagram’s in-app filters and settings or download your own photo-editing app.

One app worth checking out is Instasize, a creative toolkit with a number of modern filters, border tools, and font options for you to choose from. (Instasize is available for download on iOS and Google Playstore.)

Get creative with filters, borders and fonts with Instasize

Once you’ve downloaded your app of choice, play around with the tools and filters to create an ownable look that’s true to your brand. Save or remember your set-up and use it as a template to run your future posts through.

4. Sell a Lifestyle

Instagram is all about visuals, but remember that it’s also a social media platform. This means people browse through feeds to be social and connect, and the last thing they’re expecting is to be advertised to.

Telling a story is a great way to do this. Pair an engaging image with an engaging story or caption and you have the attention of your audience, like this image from Nike:

If you want your visuals to be successful on the platform, your posts have to be visually arresting without trying too hard to market your brand — or else people are just going to scroll past them.

So try to keep the sales talk on the down-lo. Aside from promoting your products, try to sell your brand and the lifestyle that it fits into. Use your content to engage your audience, while giving them insight into what your brand is all about.

5. Curate Your Grid

Coming up with amazing content goes beyond thinking about your individual posts. You’ve got to pay attention to the overall look of your page, too.

One way you can make your content grid more stunning is to try adding borders to your posts. Borders can add some space or breathing room between the images on your page. And depending on which borders you use, they can even unify the look and feel of your content.

Yuka studio on Instagram uses simple white borders to stand out from the regular feed.
Borders work like filters to lift your images.

What’s great about adding borders is that it’s as easy as slapping on a filter on your images. Simply download a photo-editing app of your choice — or if you’ve already downloaded it, try the border packs available on Instasize. Play around with a few and see which ones fit your brand’s visual identity.

6. Play Around with Carousel Posts

A carousel post is basically an album or a slideshow where you can share as many as ten photos all in one post. What’s great about this format is that you’re no longer limited to having to post several times, or worse, cram everything you want to share all in one image.

So if you’ve got a ton of information you want to post about, try breaking it down into several images on Instagram … in a Carousel. Scroll to see how AirBnB handled their Covid-19 announcement, using a carousel post:

You can even use an infographic maker to create informative yet visually arresting carousel posts to appeal to both the artist and data whiz.

If you’re planning on highlighting a new product, you can also share a carousel post that allows people to swipe right to see all its details up close. Just like Lego does with this post about one of their builds:

Got before and pictures you wanna share and show off? Carousel posts are perfect for this purpose as well. You can also use them to show tutorials or step-by-step processes.

7. Get Creative with Your Stories

If there’s any place on Instagram where you can truly flex your creativity, it’s through your Stories.

Unlike the posts you share on your page, the 24-hour lifespan of your Stories allows you to be a little more candid. It also has several features that allow you to be even more engaging: you can add stickers to ask your audience questions or invite them to vote between options.

It also comes with its own text tool, which comes in various fonts and editing options. You can choose from an array of colors — and if those aren’t enough, you can press on a swatch and swipe through a spectrum to find a hue that suits your need.

Use the text tool in Instagram Stories

Another trick you can try is tapping on the eyedropper icon, which then allows you to change the color of your text depending on where you place your cursor.

Use the eye dropper tool to match images.

You can use this to complement the color of your text with your image of choice, or if you’re trying to hide a bunch of hashtags, perfectly match it.

8. Create Cover Photos for Your Highlights

So as mentioned above, Instagram Stories last 24 hours — until, at least, you decide to add them to your Highlights.

Story Highlights go below your bio on your Instagram page, and in essence, become part of your content. And because of this, it’s always best practice to make sure that the cover photos of your Highlights are cohesive with the look of your entire page. A great way to address this is to create and add your own cover photos.

Need a quick and easy cover photo? Simply choose an image that best represents the category of your Highlights. Run it through the same filters you use for the rest of your content, then add your cover. National Geographic uses images to represent the each category or highlight series:

Got a bit more time to spare? You can use a photo-editing app to design a photo with some icons and labels.

Later uses fun icons as their Instagram Story Highlight Images

Once you’ve got your cover photos ready, add them to your Highlights by tapping on the preview. Tap on More ( ⠇) on the lower right of your screen then choose “Edit Highlight.” Tap on “Edit Cover” then upload your cover of choice.

Wrapping It Up

When it comes to getting creative with your visuals or images on Instagram, you honestly need just two things: inspiration and practice. So aside from reading up on the best tips and tricks to try, you could also keep browsing through your feed or visiting various accounts.

See what your competitors are up to — and learn from what they’re doing right and what they can possibly improve on.

You could also check out the accounts of other creative content creators like artists and photographers. See if there’s anything about the composition and layout of their posts that you like and could possibly even use.

After scrolling through all the inspiration you can find, try things out for your own content. See what works for your brand, and keep building up from there.

Over to You

What works for your brand for engagement and images on Instagram? What tips from this post will you use to boost your engagement and results? Let us know in the comments below!

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Denise Langenegger is part of the team at Instasize – a content creating tool kit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile.

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