Is Instagram Replacing The Blog? How To Use Long-Form Insta Content To Boost Your Brand
How to Use Long Captions for Instagram
While we all know and love Instagram as an image-first platform, lately long-form Instagram captions have been rising to the top of our feeds.
This emerging Instagram post trend combines stunning imagery with thoughtful captions that can run up to 300 words long (if that sounds like a lot of work for your thumbs, try posting from a computer instead).
In an industry that was told that the written word is dead, and that photo stories and videos are the next big thing we should all be catering to, it might come as a surprise that these lengthy posts are proving to be engaging.
Used in conjunction with snappy visual updates, long-form posts are providing increasingly deep connections and affinity with users.
It’s not just single-image posts either.
Instagram galleries give brands the ability to showcase a series of pictures that relate to a long-form caption, providing visual stimulation for users to flick through while they invest time reading a single post.
So, is this the death of the brand blog?
Should that ‘about’ section of your website actually be hosted on Instagram for businesses instead of buried in your web page’s navigation bar?
Here’s everything you need to know about long-form Instagram posts, and how to use them to build your brand.
What Does The Death of The Blog Mean For Brands?
Blog and news spaces on brand websites have existed for over two decades, providing an effective way for brands to update their customers about the latest products and services.
However, as fewer people are consuming content on desktop-based platforms (thank you, smartphones!), and as visiting websites directly is becoming replaced with app-hosted content, such as Facebook instant articles, blogs themselves are becoming a time-sap that don’t benefit brands as much as they previously did.
This is where Instagram long-form posts come in.
As users spend more time in apps such as Instagram, and less time checking out individual websites, it’s becoming increasingly more popular to deliver them all of the information that they could possibly want in one space.
Want to talk about the inspiration behind your fashion brand’s latest collection, or tell your fans about your restaurant’s latest renovation, complete with new menu and opening hours?
Extended Instagram captions let you do just that, reaching a committed fanbase via an app that they check up to 20 times a day.
If you’re still seeing hits on your company’s blog, and you’re on the hunt for a time-saving method of getting more value out of content, it’s best to post long-form posts on Instagram first, and then embed them into a blog page on your site—which is incredibly easy!
Regular blog updates, such as a weekly wrap that embeds the two or three most important Instagram posts from your feed into the blog or news area of your website, are a great way to encourage your digital fans to develop the habit of checking your blog once a week, or once a month—whichever is more appropriate for the volume of content that you are creating.
Just remember to include a short introduction on your post, which highlights that the content has come from Instagram (so that committed Insta-fans don’t get frustrated re-reading content they have already seen), and remind people to follow your Instagram page for the latest on a day-to-day basis.
Creating Content For Long-Form Instagram Posts
So, you’ve never written a long-form Instagram post for your business, and while you have a lot to say, you’re not exactly sure how to say it, or how much detail is too much detail.
Here are some tips on creating meaningful posts:
Tell a legitimate story
Long-format posts work best when they have a narrative arc. This means that the post should:
- Start off by announcing news, setting a scene, or posing a question.
- Explain the benefit for the consumer of the news you’re sharing, have a climax to the scene you have set, or answer the question that you have posed.
- Conclude the post with a call to action. Tell the reader where to get the new product you have just announced, or have a single, easy-to-understand suggestion, such as recomending that they share the news with friends.
Every long-form post you write should stick to this three-point guide to keep the post engaging, no matter how long it is.
The only exception to this should be listicle or ‘how-to’ posts, which include a numbered list of steps—these posts have a slightly different step-by-step purpose, which propels the content along.
Tap into emotions
Remember; you’re writing a post that’s going to be seen by Instagram users right after seeing a photo announcing their friend’s engagement, and just before they check out a pic of their next dream holiday destination… Whatever you write, it must be engaging and inspire users to feel something!
As well as using beautiful imagery, make sure that the language you are using is inspiring, relatable, and fits with your overall brand tone.
Once you have drafted a post, re-read it and add in any emotive language that will beef up the caption’s impact.
Talk about the bigger picture, behind the picture!
Sometimes, you don’t have a lot of news to announce on Instagram for your business.
Or maybe you’re just generally lacking a bit of inspiration about what to say in an extended post.
Firstly, not all posts have to be long-form posts. Feel free to mix it up, especially if you’re having a slow week.
But if you haven’t posted a long read in a while, a great technique for finding new content angles is to think about the bigger picture.
What’s going on behind the image that you are hoping to use? Why do you feel that it resonates with your brand?
Was there a particularly interesting technique you used to get the perfect shot, or is one of the styling props a hand-me-down that has a wow-factor back-story?
Try drafting a series of posts using this technique that aren’t time specific, so you always have a few in your Schedugram drafts area, ready for publishing at a moment’s notice.
Using Long-Form Gallery Posts As A Mini-Magazine
Multiple image gallery Instagram posts, which allow users to swipe through a series of images while reading caption content, are a fantastic way to support your long-form posts with more visual stimulation.
Think of these posts you would a magazine article that has a multiple-panel photo story accompanying it.
Will a five-image post actually make the writing more engaging, and allow you to support the writing more? If so, go for it!
Numbering the images within a gallery post can be incredibly useful too, whether you do this in the caption copy, eg. “This new range is full of bright colours (image 2), and is super-versatile for on-the-go mums (see image 3 for ideas!), or on the images themselves.
Listicle or how-to long-read captions should definitely be supported by a gallery that showcases each point, or each step in the process. Remember to remind users to swipe through the gallery as they go!
So, Who’s Doing It Well?
Media brand National Geographic
National Geographic’s long-read Instagram posts combine breath-taking photography with in-depth captions that give the full story behind each image.
These stories often tackle eco issues, touch on how other communities around the world live, and highlight causes that need support, giving fans all the details about how they can contribute to conservation issues.
National Geographic’s imagery is of an incredibly high standard, leading fans to want to know the story behind each image.
A combination of facts about conservation, combined with emotive language and clearly articulated next-steps to find out more make posts like the one below effective at building the brand.
@natgeo photo by @stevewinterphoto Here is a female tired from hunting while swimming in the river, now she rests on the riverbank at sunset. Nature is perfection. It gives us the air we breathe and the water we all need for our life. My @natgeo jaguar story come out this week – the December issue of National Geographic Magazine! and LOOK for our @NatGeowild Big Cat Week show which premiers on Dec 10th @ 9PM, filmed with @bertiegregory in Dec. 2017. Jaguars are the 3rd largest of the big cats. Found from US / Mexico border to northern Argentina. Jaguars have rebounded in this area where 95% of the land is privately owned. In the past many ranchers would kill the cats when they ate their cattle. Today in this area tourism brings in much more money to the local economy than cattle ranching. So the jaguar population is increasing. But revenge killings of jaguars happen close to this area and all throughout the jaguars range. Also poaching for skins, bones and teeth is growing for the first time since the 1970’s to feed the demand for Asian Traditional Medicine and luxury items from endangered species. “When the buying stops, the killing can too.” @wildaid My first story with big cats was the 1st @natgeo Jaguar story 20 years ago! It has changed my life working with the magical and magnificent cats of the world. Animals have emotions just like we have. Forests provide us with up to 50% of the oxygen we breathe – oceans the rest. They give us 75% of the fresh water. If we can save the forest of the Amazon and other areas in Central and South America for the JAGUAR and Puma. The forests of Central Africa for the leopard, lion, elephants etc. And the forests of South Asia for the Tigers and Leopards. If you save the top predator in any ecosystem you save everything that lives with them. So if – We Save Big Cats we can help Save Ourselves. Please visit CauseAnUproar.org to find out other ways to become involved to save big cats! #follow me @stevewinterphoto to see more images from my work with @natgeo and Thanks!! @stevewinterphoto @natgeo @nglive #nglive @natgeochannel @natgeowild @thephotosociety @natgeocreative @africanparksnetwork @pantheracats
Accommodation and experience booking service Airbnb
Airbnb not only showcase stunning locations around the world visually, their long-read posts also often include inspirational lifestyle copy to encourage people to visit different cities, and often contain two or more languages in the one caption.
This broadens the reach and relevance of a single post into different local and international markets, while inspiring travellers to book with the service—an easy win that shows how culturally savvy the brand is!
閉上眼，深呼吸，讓四周的空靈寂靜把你擁入懷裡。此時此地身在這重慶的森林，你決定偷閒一下，過過清幽慵懶的生活。泡個茶，伸個懶腰，今天的行程就是要好好享受生活。 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Normally you sit down to make a cup of tea so you can get started on the day’s plans. Surrounded by the lush green hills of Chongqing, you might decide that sitting and sipping and looking *are* the day's plans. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Photo: @stefa_5nie
Pour une vue imprenable sur la Tour Eiffel, faites-vous un café et ouvrez simplement les rideaux de ce charmant appartement parisien. Inutile d'affronter la foule, ni même de mettre un pantalon pour admirer chaque détail de ce monument iconique. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Grab a cup of coffee and throw back the curtains of this charming Parisian home’s window to get a private viewing of the Eiffel Tower. You won’t have to fight a crowd, but more importantly, you won’t even have to put on pants to take in every detail of the iconic tower. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Photo: @travelwander.lust
British musician FKA twigs
FKA twigs has started what she has dubbed an Instagram zine; a magazine that is entirely hosted within an Instagram gallery post.
While the images have high production values, including custom graphics and fully styled photo shoots, the technique is a fantastic way to access a large audeince who would not usually purchase a fashion or music magazine in hard copy format.
This content is fantastic for engaging FKA twigs’ fans outside of her music, and positions her as a much more thoughtful and interesting artist than those not producing custom content for Instagram. This builds a stronger relationship between the artist and her fans.
Sports and lifestyle brand Nike
Nike’s multi-image gallery posts with long-read captions allow the brand to showcase more than one ambassador in a single post, tapping into both male and female fan bases and introducing their fans to new sports icons, right in their daily Instagram feeds.
These long-read posts breaden the relevance of a single post to multiple sports fan audiences, as well as positioning Nike as a non-discriminatory sports brand that is promoting male and female sports stars alongside each other.
Keen to learn more about how to embrace new Instagram trends? Check out this article aboutSocial Media Trends In 2018 To Start Incorporating Now.
Still taking baby steps in the Instagram world? You’ll love these tips to nailing your brand’s Instagram presence.
While we all know and love Instagram as an image-first platform, lately long-form Instagram captions have been rising to the top of our feeds. These easy tips will help you grow your business using Instagram by tapping into this new trend.