Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, and since then, membership on the site has soared. It now has 400 million active users, with an average of 80 million photos posted every day.

The level of engagement between brands and Instagram users has also exploded. According to Forrester Research, the rate of interaction with brands on Instagram is 400% higher than on Facebook and Twitter. That’s why it’s such a vital tool for customer acquisition.

But how can you leverage Instagram in the most creative, dynamic way without getting lost in this huge crowd?

Instagram was born out of imagery, pure and simple. It’s quick-hitting, it’s emotional, and at its best, it can tell stories that create loyal customers with one resonant image in mere seconds.

Marketers and advertisers wishing to win users over are tailoring their campaigns to succeed on Instagram. Marketing messages and product descriptions are not the currency here; to pique the interest of a seasoned Instagrammer, your company needs to think visually. You need to sell a lifestyle, rather than a product, and show your viewer how their unique aspirations, values, and tastes are embodied by your brand.

Turn your brand into striking images

In the visual world of Instagram, memorable images are everything. You can leverage Instagram’s ‘see now, buy now’ audience by posting inspiring and captivating images and entertaining videos. Your content should stand out like a Jackson Pollock in a row of stuffy, old portraits.

Convey your message through visual media and reinforce it with creative copy. Studies show that an image displayed through Instagram yields more engagement and is judged to be more distinctive and imaginative than the same image displayed on other platforms. And don’t forget that every great creative has limited shelf life; keeping it new and exciting is critical in the real-time world of Instagram so that ad fatigue doesn’t set in.

One company winning the Instagram game is Frooti. It’s the biggest brand of fruit drink in India, and it has become known for posting bold, eye-catching graphics on Instagram. Each image showcases the brand in a clever, witty way: a Frooti bottle in the shadow of a mango tree, for example, or a giant Frooti bottle being constructed by tiny figurines. 

Tell a great, unfolding story

Storytelling is the key to Instagram success. If you curate your photos and videos so that they gradually reveal a compelling narrative, your audience is more likely to stay engaged with your brand. Some 75% of Instagram users will take action if a post inspires them, according to the social network.

Carousel ads are one of the most powerful ways to align your brand with a lifestyle. They allow you to create a story with multiple images, like a mini slideshow, to give users a journey through the lifestyle of your brand and entice them to engage. Followers will respond positively to photos or videos of people using your products in the real world. You can also build anticipation around upcoming sales by sharing what’s going on behind the scenes.

When Acceleration Partners worked with a women’s fashion brand, we used both static and carousel ads to craft unique story lines for defined user groups. Each image was carefully conceived to mirror the perceived values of the targeted users. The result was a highly engaged audience, which was reflected in the relevance scores and the scalable cost per action.

Show the right story to the right person

For performance marketers, captivating an Instagram audience with brilliant creative and a storyline is one thing, but telling the right story is quite another. Not every narrative will affect all users in the same way. The art of connecting to your audience through Instagram involves refining your story for a particular, defined audience segment.

Defining and reaching people with some level of intent is essential for driving conversions.  One way to do this is through Website Custom Audiences, a tool that allows you to tailor stories to users who previously engaged with your site. You can also create ‘lookalike audiences’, or people who share traits – such as location, age, gender, and interests – with your customers, so your ads reach even more users who are likely to be interested in your business. You can then use Instagram’s analytics to view who clicks on your ads and who downloads an app or makes a purchase after engaging with your ad. 

Get to know your unique Instagram audience and tell your viewers a story. Make it bold, captivating, and, most important, make it relatable. Connecting your audience’s values and aspirations with your brand will make it an Instagram sensation.