How to use the power of Instagram to market your brand

Not sure of how to use Instagram to its full potential for your brand? Jacqueline Bourke is here to help.  

It has been reported that articles with images get 94% more total views, so it comes as no surprise that Instagram was among the fastest growing social networks of the last two years. But why is it that images work so well at grabbing our attention, and how can brands utilise this to maximise their visibility?

Blueberry juice splashing from blender

Australian brands fighting for attention on the internet first must be seen in order to be heard. To ensure this is achieved, and to make use of the power of visuals, a strong visual strategy needs to be created. This means much more than having a snazzy logo; it means populating websites and social channels with images that represent the core values of a brand in order to engage and inspire the target audience.

There are many great examples of Australian brands who have successfully enhanced their appeal through Instagram. To narrow it down, both Tourism Australia and Spotify Australia show that even companies from entirely different industries, are able to use imagery to show their brand’s key message in a way that resonates with their target audience.

With their account boasting 1.8 million followers, Tourism Australia is a strong example for other brands looking to leverage this marketing tool. Their account uses appealing imagery, showcasing Australia through the eyes of their local and international followers. Tourism Australia highlights the importance of encouraging user generated content through their popular hashtag #seeaustralia. Their content team is then able to look through the posts to find the best images for each day, allowing their followers to feel a part of the brand experience.

Point of view paragliding over Oludeniz Blue Lagoon. POV.

Another way that brands can use Instagram to reach their audience is through a paid social media campaign. When Spotify Australia launched their first Instagram campaign at the beginning of the year, aimed at 15-to-24-year-olds, the hashtag #spotifysummer was used with five creative posts illustrating carefree moments intended to play with the emotions of the audience. However, it’s not enough for companies just to have a big ad spend, the content still has to be meaningful to ensure it is effective and appreciated.

Interesting, quirky, dynamic women - image credit - MonikaBatich iStock  (1)

Unlike Tourism Australia and Spotify, some brands can often get too product and industry focused, causing them to forget the importance of simply connecting with their target audience. In this situation, more often than not, less is more. At Getty Images, we feel that companies need to understand the tool before they fully immerse themselves in it. Companies need to understand how consumers view and interpret imagery. We have compiled some tips for brands who are looking to become more involved on Instagram.

Painting a picture of your brand

Choosing images to represent your brand is just as important as your key messages or mission statement. First and foremost it’s crucial that the target audience remains central to image selection and the imagery used creates a consistent picture of the brand and its core values. Tourism Australia uses images that showcase Australia through the eyes of a keen traveller, this approach centers strongly with their brand, allowing the images to resonate with their target audience.

Letterbox format in digital design - image credit - danilovi iStock (1)

Keeping imagery current

It’s important for brands to ensure that individuals remain engaged and that the brand is viewed as contemporary, current and dynamic at every interaction.

To do this you can create buzz around calendar events. However, when various brands end up using the exact same generic imagery, they can often become lost amongst the sea of competition. Instead, by assessing key messaging and using eye-catching, professional and original photos, brands can stand out in the crowd.

Brands should look for unique events that their target audience would want to know more about. When Tourism Australia posted around NightFest, the images showcased the best of the light festival, by uploading images of the visually engaging light show.

Importantly, visual design trends are a way for brands to tap into as the changing tastes of the nation, which is vital for them to understand, if they are to create an emotional connection and interactive engagement with the audience.

Getty Images has identified the image trends that dominated 2015 including:

Sensory immersion - image credit - Imgorthand iStock  (1)

Sensory immersion: As technology increasingly influences more aspects of our lives, the desire to be immersed in experiences that stimulate the senses increases.

Text boxes across busy images: The rise of content marketing has increased the need for visual storytelling. As images are getting busier, the usual composition with copy space will give way to tinted and semi-transparent text boxes, allowing visuals to speak in more ways than one.

Super still life: Small screens love big images, especially when it comes to still life imagery. Graphic and dramatic both work well on a phone screen. We can expect to see more creativity and expertise in the representation of inanimate objects, through exquisite photography and skilful arts and crafts work.

Maximising the visibility of your images

We all know that content is king, especially online. However it would be a shame to create eye-catching photos for no one to end up ever actually seeing and appreciating them. Visual content is a great hook for attracting and retaining website traffic, but businesses need to update it regularly, while also making sure all images are consistently of a high quality.  

Monochromatic colour - image credit - Vito_Elefante iStock  (1)

In today’s crowded environment, visibility is vital and using images in a strategic way can enable brands to reach new and existing audiences online. Companies need to make sure that their audiences can immediately understand their messaging and values through the visual content they use, whilst maintaining maximum visibility. By utilising the power of images brands can reach, engage and inspire their audiences.

Jacqueline Bourke is global creative insights and planning manager at Getty Images.


  • Kent Johnson

    Nice advertising for Getty! Strangely uninformative article. Good job on the shares, must remember to dumb-down even further next time.