On social media, it is the people and the brands who tell the most interesting stories that build the massive audiences. Instagram calls itself a visual inspiration platform and the best way to inspire others is through the power of visual storytelling.
On Instagram, the best brand storytelling involves telling snackable, micro-stories that tie into the brand’s values, mission, and purpose. Whether you are using Instagram for a personal account or a business account, you want to develop a strong brand presence that represents what you are passionate about in life.
Good, consistent visual storytelling is what cuts through all the mediocre content posted online today. If you want to grab people’s attention and build an online audience that is excited to hear from you, you need to use proven methods and get creative with how you share your ideas and tell your story.
Want to learn how to use video storytelling to engage your audience on Instagram and social media? Download my free video storytelling toolkit.
Visual Storytelling on Instagram:
Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell. – Seth Godin
Learn from the pros and use these proven methods they use to share your own stories in a more compelling way on Instagram.
Here are some brilliant examples of brands that are harnessing the power of visual storytelling on Instagram:
1. Interesting History
A compelling story from history can really grab people’s attention. In this brilliant example, you have the story of a historical rivalry between iconic Italian brands Lamborghini and Ferrari that I’m sure very few fans of these sports car powerhouses are aware of.
If you haven’t already heard the story of Enzo Ferrari and Ferruccio Lamborghini, listen up because this is a good one. Perhaps you’ve known that Lamborghjni and Ferrari have been rivals for years, but did you know how it all began? It started back in the late 50s. Ferruccio Lamborghini, a man with a passion for mechanics, saw a need for agricultural supplies and decided to repurpose military machines into tractors. His business took off and he joined the life of the wealthy. Because of his passion for cars, he gifted himself a top-notch, luxury Ferrari. However, Lamborghini wasn’t too pleased with his Ferrari because he felt it was too noisy and rough. Lamborghini took his feedback directly to Ferrari, who at the time was at the top of the super car food chain. Ferrari was displeased with Lamborghini’s feedback to say the least. That is when Lamborghini decided to take matters into his own hands and design his very own super car. Needless to say, these two have been rivals ever since. What I want you all to take away from this story is Lamborghini’s attitude. He was insulted and instead of whining or complaining, he decided to make a move. He combined his passion with action and created an empire. He started as a car fanatic and finished as a legend in the industry. He didn’t let anything hold him back from his dreams. Don’t let anything hold you back either ? ?Double tap for this awe-inspiring story? Repost via @agentsteven
2. User-Generated Content
Get your audience to do some of the heavy lifting for you by creating a user-generated hashtag for your brand tribe. Then you can post the content of your biggest fans directly on your Instagram account. Hershel Supply regularly posts the best photo from their customer’s travels, with their Hershel backpacks of course, under their #WellTravelled hashtag.
Retreat to the village oasis of #Cadaqués. Photo: @mauimakaphotography #WellTravelled #LawsonBackpack #HerschelSupply A photo posted by Herschel Supply Co (@herschelsupply) on
3. Helping People
When people donate to social organizations, they want to know that their donations are not being wasted by administration costs. Charity Water does an excellent job of offering complete transparency and telling the story of the communities who are benefiting from cleaner water. Show how you are taking action to make the world a better place and what you do to give back to society.
4. Team Leadership
Great brands have amazing leadership behind them. Apolis (a-pöl-is), which means Global Citizen, is a socially motivated lifestyle brand that empowers communities worldwide. Here they are sharing the story of their weekly team meetings where their leadership team is setting up their action plan for the week.
Every Tuesday a small group of the #Apolis team gathers for an hour to align on goals for the week and literally talk openly about praise and improvements. We believe we have the most capable and inspiring team on the planet? and invite you to learn a little bit about everyone by following the link in our profile. Also, follow us on SnapChat (“apolisglobal”) as Apolis co-founder @sheaparton shows you a few behind-the-scenes clips from today’s office meeting at @CommonGalley & our office next door, located in the Arts District of #DTLA. A photo posted by Apolis (@apolis) on
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5. Happy Employees
There’s a global war for talent today and the best brands are showing off the fresh faces on their team and all the fun they are having at work. Showcasing yourself at work or your company’s employees in action is great for putting a human face on your brand, which makes what you share on Instagram more interesting to your followers.
6. Behind The Scenes
Fitplan is a fitness brand that delivers the workout programs of top athletes and they share some great behind the scenes shots of their team during video shoots. This fun team shot taken from the filming of fitness superstar Michelle Lewin‘s workout program is a good example of visual storytelling.
7. Rewarding True Fans
AirBNB does a great job of rewarding their SuperHosts who drive so much of their business. Celebrate your true fans who are your biggest brand advocates by telling their stories. This is a great way to reward the influencers who actively spread your message.
We gave the keys to a @TeslaMotors to two of our Superhosts. What followed was the best road trip ever. Up and down the coast of California, from the redwoods of Big Sur to the Hollywood Hills, and finally to this treehouse with 360 degree views of Los Angeles. A playground for adults, if you will. Click the link in our bio to read more about this California Tesla adventure. Photo cred: @eatyourkimchi A photo posted by Airbnb (@airbnb) on
In the week leading up to the start of the 2015-16 ski season at Lake Louise in the majestic Canadian Rockies, Travel Alberta shared this epic shot to get people excited and to spread the word about the early opening of their ski resort.
9. Capturing Real-Time Trends
Take advantage of trending hashtags on Instagram and send your story into the stratosphere. Add your commentary on real-time trends and large events as they are happening and you can join the conversations that people are having about them on Instagram.
A photo posted by thefatjewish (@thefatjewish) on
10. Photo Collections
Photo collections allow you to give strong visual representations of your brand values and purpose. They are sexy and they tend to really grab people attention when they are scrolling through their Instagram stream. Get creative and brainstorm some photo collections that you can share with your audience.
This week’s #mylpguide was taken by @kellycalvillo who will soon be heading to #Scotland! With big skies, lonely landscapes, spectacular wildlife, superb seafood and hospitable, down-to-earth people, Scotland has many treasures. Any particular hidden gems @kellycalvillo should seek out while there? — Every Thursday we regram a #mylpguide shot! Tag yours for a potential feature! #travel
A photo posted by Lonely Planet (@lonelyplanet) on
11. Your Products In Action
A powerful way to tell your brand story is through photos of people using your products or services in the real world. Showcase the experience people have when they use your products and how it makes them feel. Even better, show off how you make your products and the creative process you use to design them.
12. Occasional Selfies
While I’m personally not a big fan of selfies, I think every Instagram account should include the occasional personal or group selfie to add a raw, personal touch. Learn the ropes from the selfie mastery of self-obsessed celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner.
13. Inspiring Quotes
Instagram calls itself a visual inspiration platform and few things offer more immediate inspiration than a well-chosen inspirational quote. Get creative by brainstorming the historical and contemporary figures who inspire you and choose a quote that aligns with your brand values. Arvin Lal, the CEO of Shredz is the master of not only inspirational quotes but long captions that speak directly to his follower’s aspirations.
Double Tap if you’re still grinding to reach your goals! 24 hours. 1,440 minutes. 86,400 seconds. We all have the same number of seconds, minutes, and hours in a day. The difference is what we choose to do with them. When my feet hit the floor this morning, the clock started ticking for me and I wasn’t going to waste a second doing something that’s not valuable to my end goal. . I have Zero time for Gossip. Zero time for negativity. Zero time for Television. Zero time for Doubt. Zero time for BS. . Today I woke up hungry. Sorry, let me rephrase that: today I woke up starving for more. You should be working yourself hard enough toward your life goal that you have trouble keeping up with your own ambition. You should be going so hard that each day’s accomplishments become the food that fuels your existence. . Right now, this very second, you have the choice to change the direction of your life. I don’t care if you are broke, if you dropped out of school, or if you’ve made mistakes in the past. None of that matters. We’ve all made mistakes and I’m here to tell you that you have what it takes to make your dreams a reality and leave behind the legacy you were meant to.
A photo posted by Arvin (@arvinsworld) on
14. Video Storytelling
I’m a huge fan of using video to speak directly to your audience. Tell a quick micro-story about an experience that has shaped you or your brand’s values. This is a great way to build a more engaged audience that wants to learn about you and what you represent (learn more in my free mini-course on video storytelling). This is a great example from Sophia Silva, who shares her knowledge of positive psychology on Instagram.
If you’re ever dealing with a toxic person remember that you have a super power! That super power is your mental freedom. No one can control your thoughts but you. Next time you’re feeling down remember that only you have the power to make yourself feel better. #pospsy #positivepsychology #whattheflow #mentality
15. Throwback Thursday
Thursday is the day when Instagram users share their favorite stories from the past. Use the hashtag #TBT to add your story to the conversation. Share something funny like yourself in a ridiculous costume and tag all your friends.
Want to become better at visual storytelling on social media? Download my Personal Branding Guide.