Come on, you can admit it. You’re guilty of some mid-day online shopping when getting back from your lunch break. It’s ok to raise your hand — we’ve all been there. When you are online shopping, you notice how all the product photos are on a clean white background (more often than not). Just look at the general shop page and it’s most likely a view of just the products. That my friend is a traditional product photo.
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A traditional product photo where the product is photographed solely on a solid white (usually) background is the go-to shot because it puts the focus directly on the product. As an online customer, you’re not able to view the product in a store (at least not at the moment), so you need to look at that product up and down and inside and out to make sure it’s the one you want to purchase. Because let’s face it, nobody, neither the customer nor the business, wants to deal with a return.
While traditional product photographs are ideal for online shopping, they are not so ideal when it comes to sharing on Instagram. When it comes to Instagram, you want to wow your audience — whether it’s your direct customer or a wholesale partner or collaborator. Your Instagram account will help to determine if the customer wants to buy from you or if the partner/collaborator wants to work with you.
So, what kind of photos should you be posting on Instagram? Well, I’ve got 5 other alternatives for you.
1 | LIFESTYLE IMAGES
Lifestyle images are probably the most well-known form of photos for retailers. Why? Because nothing sells better than seeing the product you want in action before getting it into your own hands. Lifestyle images include a model, but don’t freak out — you don’t have to run off and hire a professional. You can ask your family or friends to pose for you with your products or become your own model if you are able to take your own pictures.
Thinking of stepping up your lifestyle image game? You may be ready to collab with a blogger or brand rep. To start off, find 1-3 bloggers whose style works well with your brand and approach them about sending them product(s) that they can share on their Instagram. Of course, make sure you’ll be able to use those photos on your social media and website too!
2 | FLATLAYS
In my opinion, this is the second most popular form of photos for retailers. Flatlays have become extremely popular lately. In fact, one of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow is all about flatlays. The trickiest part for most is figuring out what item should be the focus and what other items should complement the main item. My philosophy is less is more. Yes, there are some beautiful flatlay photos with products filling up the whole space, but your ideal customer is going to get confused as to what they should be focusing on. Make it simple for them. Choose your focal item and 1-3 complimentary items.
Have a new arrival shirt you’re dying to share? Make that your focal item and then choose a necklace and a pair of shoes to go with it. Bam! You’ve got yourself a flatlay image to share.
3 | LIFESTYLE PRODUCT IMAGES
I made this term up to because I wasn’t sure what to call this kind of picture, so let me describe what I mean. When you’re working on your flatlay images, take additional images at different angles. You don’t want to become the next flatlay Instagram account do you? No, you want to show off your products at all angles. While I’m photographing my flatlay images, I’m all taking several images at different angles to get really interesting detailed photos of the products I want to show off.
• Try zooming in to get the detail of the product.
• Take a different shot from the left and then from the right.
• Alter the product and retake the photo if it doesn’t look quite right the first time.
If you want to see an example, head over to my Instagram account to see what I’m talking about.
4 | COLLAGES
Collages are a great way to share how your customers can pair your products with other products. One of the best ways to use collages is to collaborate with others. Say you mostly selling clothing and a business friend sells mostly accessories, you can both pair up your pieces into a collage and share them on both of your Instagram accounts. Then, her followers see your shop and your followers see her shop.
Another great way to use collages are to show off the current season’s trends or how a customer can use your products to mimic the look of a celebrity. The options for collages are endless!
5 | VIDEO
Now this isn’t a photo per se, but video is quickly becoming one of the best marketing tools around. Why? Because it humanizes the brand a bit more than the traditional photo. Let’s be honest — Instagram has more stylized photos than not these days, but with video, especially if you are just taking an impromptu video on your phone to post on social media, shows that you’re human just like your customer. Video content can include behind the scenes of a photoshoot or just a day in the office, style advice or reviews. Eva Chen is rocking the mini beauty reviews on her Instagram account. I always look forward
Video content can include behind the scenes of a photoshoot or just a day in the office, style advice or reviews. Eva Chen is rocking the mini beauty reviews on her Instagram account. I always look forward to them!
What kind of content are you going to start using on your Instagram account?
Looking for more ways to boost your Instagram? Are you getting followed and then unfollowed in what feels like seconds later? It can be frustrating I know. That’s why I created my FREE Instagram Survival Guide. Snag my free guide and start rocking your Instagram again.
Melissa dominates social media strategist for e-commerce and brick and mortar retailers. While finishing her degree in graphic design, she discovered her true passion was applying design techniques to social media. She loves coming up with the perfect Instagram caption and now consults with small businesses to help them gain traction on their social media accounts and ultimately their businesses.