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4 Tips for Engaging Instagram Content [Examples]


As a marketer, you might have noticed how traditional advertising is less effective. Even mobile ads are disliked by 70% of users. What can you do to effectively connect your products to your audience?

Instagram is a good answer. Its audience has grown rapidly, totaling over 800 million (increasing 200 million between July and September 2017 alone). And, according to Social Media Today, referrals from Instagram “spend the longest time on e-commerce sites with an average duration of 192 seconds, which is almost double Facebook and triple Pinterest.”

Referrals from @Instagram spend longest time on e-commerce sites w/ ave duration of 192 sec. @socialmedia2day Click To Tweet

Which types of Instagram content work best? Consider these opportunities and be inspired by the examples.

TIP: The first step in a successful Instagram strategy is to know your audience members so you can create relevant content for them.

1. Leverage user-generated content

One of the best ways to achieve maximum reach and engagement is creating content that encourages your viewers to create their user-generated posts featuring your product or message.

One successful example of this approach is the Instagram campaign conducted by Australia-based beauty brand Frank Body to promote its coffee ground-based body scrub. It hired a team of influencers with highly engaged audiences to showcase the product in creative ways. Each post included “#Let’sBeFrank” or “#TheFrankEffect.” The bold content encouraged users to post their own images of the coffee scrub using those hashtags.

25K+ Instagram users generated dirty images & promoted @frank_bod’s coffee-based scrub. @shane_barker Click To Tweet

The results? Over 25,000 user-generated images posted to Instagram and 350,000 followers in 12 months.

frank body coffee scrub

2. Create a contest

Running a contest to give away some products always attracts users’ interest. It’s even more powerful when you incorporate user-generated content into the contest. Use a hashtag that encapsulates your message or captures the viewer’s attention enough to make them want to create content and promote the giveaway.

The Body Shop created an incredibly catchy hashtag – #HealthyMoment – to promote its new Fuji Green Tea products. It urged people to create content showing their “healthy moments” throughout the day and to participate in the giveaway.

Do @Instagram hashtag contest that means more than your product like @TheBodyShop #HealthyMoment. @shane_barker Click To Tweet


The results? The brand received over 50,000 “likes” and saw a 200% increase in engagement. It reached 225,000 people through this single giveaway.

3. Show the application of your product

To create engaging content on Instagram, show users how to use your products in their life. Consumers like to get ideas and see what products fit with yours so keep your content as actionable as possible.

To create engaging #content on @Instagram, show users how to use your products in their life. @shane_barker Click To Tweet

It’s been popular in the fashion industry, as retailers show a clothing item within the context of an outfit, a certain look, or a striking combination. One example is ASOS, which posts seasonally relevant outfits to Instagram. In this image, ASOS shows a back-to-school outfit using the hashtag #OOTD (outfit of the day).


The results? ASOS received over 32,200 “likes” and 248 comments for this single post.

A good example of an influencer showing products in use is grey_acuna, who often posts images of several products in the same scenario. Here, he showcases a bag from Lo & Sons, an outfit from Lululemon, and sunglasses from Ray-Ban. His post has received over 700 “likes.” 


Food is a popular category on Instagram. And if your products are related to food at all, consider creating dishes and posting recipes. This gives a twist to the show-your-product tip because you (or the poster) make something.

One great example is from the influencer daisybeet who promoted Siggi’s, a natural yogurt brand. She put together a delicious breakfast of yummy grapefruit, blueberries, oats, and a bunch of other super-healthy foods that I can’t pronounce.


The results? Her post received 2,965 “likes” and reached a new audience for Siggi’s that it didn’t have access to.

4. Tell a story

Creating a story with your product engages consumers and creates a compelling reason for them to click on your site and start shopping.

This strategy works for pretty much any product category.

For example, charity: water uses storytelling to describe the communities benefiting from its clean water initiatives around the world. This Instagram post shows a community in Malawi that now has clean water because of the nonprofit’s project.


Being open and telling your brand story is a good way to build your online community. Posting images reflecting your behind-the-scenes work helps illustrate your values. Most importantly, it provides a way for consumers to better understand your company and to connect with your product.

Being open & telling your brand story is a good way to build an online community, says @shane_barker. Click To Tweet

Apolis is a socially motivated lifestyle brand that creates products from natural ingredients and gives back to native communities around the world. It even posts to Instagram an image of the executive team discussing its next initiative. Note that it uses the text to explain how the viewer can further engage and connect with the members of that team.


Grace & Lace, a clothing retailer that appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, has built a community of 61,000 followers on Instagram.

How does the brand get those followers engaged? The secret is every post tells a story. They use models and other people instead of mannequins. They share stories about their family and take viewers behind the scenes.

If you make your content relatable and tell stories, then users will connect with your brand and have a positive experience before they ever see your site.



Instagram offers a great opportunity to make your brand stand out – if you use it well and:

  • Leverage user-generated content.
  • Create a giveaway contest.
  • Show the application of your product; create a recipe or composition.
  • Tell your story.

Each one of these strategies is a powerful way to maximize your reach, engagement, and conversions on Instagram.

Don’t limit yourself to a single type of post or the same type of content. Try different ones to see what works best for your audience and your brand.

Do you have any questions or Instagram marketing tips to add? Please share them in the comments.

Let’s meet IRL and share the Content Marketing World fun on Instagram. Join us Sept. 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio, for the world’s largest content marketing event. Register today and use code BLOG100 to save $100. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute