You might know by now that Instagram is taking social media by storm. It's generating 50% more engagement than Facebook, it's growing rapidly and is now being linked to driving sales

The trick to taking advantage of the network is to know how to make it work for you. My goal in this post is to give you a bit of inspiration and to show you that mastering Instagram can be easy, straightforward and fun. 

First thing is first though. We have to talk about good social media content. At its core, good social media content is the kind of content that helps people build a relationship with you. It has to give them what they need to begin to know, trust and like you (and of course, take action). Every good content strategist intentionally creates this kind of content for themselves and their clients. Don't be surprised if after reading this blog post, you start seeing this pattern everywhere! 

First Example: A Non Profit Organization Called Charity Water

Charity Water is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring clean and safe water to developing nations. They do a phenomenal job of giving their followers (and prospects) what they need to clearly understand what they do, trust the organization, and feel compelled to support. They do this by following the simple pattern of creating "get to know you" content, "get to trust you" content and "get to like you content". This is then followed up by calls to action to donate and support the organization. 

Know You Content

"Know You" content is the kind of content that helps your followers understand what it is that you do. What your mission is, what your business or non profit stands for, who you are in the world. In this example, Charity Water's content piece gets straight to the point, it's an image of someone in a developing nation who is holding a glass of water. You'll notice that their account is full of these kinds of images. You might think this is redundant but in fact, this is exactly what people want to see. They want you to show them what you do, and they want you to do it consistently. When thinking about your own business, consider if your current content communicates who you are and what you do (need some more help on this? Scroll to the bottom and read about ways I can help you figure this out!). 

One of many kids in India who now has clean water thanks to @charitywater supporters like you. Photo: @jeremysnell

A photo posted by charity: water (@charitywater) on

Trust You Content

"Trust You" content is all about proof. Proof that you are good at what you do, proof that your product, service, not for profit is having a positive impact in the world. In this example, Charity Water is posting about the impact they have had in the world. In your own business, can you show your happy customers? Before and Afters? Can you provide your followers with the information they need to believe that you might be the right fit for them because clearly, you can do the work/provide the result, generate a positive outcome. 

Like You Content

You've likely heard the saying that "People don't buy from businesses, they buy from people". Well, that's very true. And for a Non Profit, creating this familial connection can be the difference between someone choosing to support your organization versus another organization, as well as influencing retention. This kind of connection can be made through behind the scenes peeks, candid anecdotes and being transparent. Think of ways you can humanize what you do if you sell a product or service, and if you're a non profit, think of engaging ways to introduce your team to the people who are supporters. 

Call to Action Content

The strategist in me likes real results, and this is where your calls to action come in. In this post, Charity Water is inviting followers to take action and join their email list. If you scroll through their feed, you'll also see them call for financial support. These kinds of posts are completely OK on Instagram, but they need to be surrounded by "Know, Like, and Trust" content and they shouldn't take up more than 1/3 of your content calendar. 

Example Two: A Retail Store That Sells Products

Know You Content

As we covered in the first example, "Know You" content is a way of declaring who you are in the world as a business so that you can attract the kind of people who will be interested in what you offer. In this example, the store called Marmalade is posting images of the items they have recently received. Note the clever caption that places the product in context, which basically means that they are helping the follower to see opportunities in their own life for using the wraps... on their "spring trip". If I'm someone who shares their sense of style, I'll eat this up because I now know what they offer as they are offering it. 

Like You Content

This great example of "Like You" content combines an adorable dog/mascot with the arrival of new product. The dog becomes part of the behind the scenes brand and followers will start to look forward to pictures of the beloved pet. Of course, pets aren't the only way to build relationships. Seeing snaps of you preparing for an upcoming event, writing thank you cards or mailing out product will also work. The key is for followers to feel like they got to see something genuine, so get creative! 

Trust You Content

As a retail space, part of building trust is pictures of the store. Your followers may find and buy from you completely online, but seeing the physical space, seeing the owners, seeing happy customers shopping, all of these things can build trust. Don't have a physical space? That's completely fine, images of you, your brand new shiny stock that just came in or re-gramming photos of customers wearing your product (always done with their consent) can also achieve the desired result. Need more inspiration? Check out Brass Clothing, a completely online clothing store, for some fantastic examples of how to build trust online Brass Clothing Instagram

All dolled up and ready for you!!! @shopmarmalade #shopsmall

A photo posted by Marmalade (@shopmarmalade) on

Call to Action Content

This is a phenomenal example of how to drive sales on Instagram. Experiment with posts that offer exclusive sales for Instagram followers and see what reaction you get. And whatever you do, be sure to provide a clickable link in your BIO so that followers can click right through to the exact sales/display page that you are promoting. If this feels a little intimidating, don't worry, a lot of the accounts who are doing this are actually quite simple and bootstrappy in the way they go about it. Check out Fox and Fawn for reference.

Happening today!! Stay tuned!

A photo posted by Marmalade (@shopmarmalade) on

Example Three: A Service Based Business

Know You Content

Creating content for a service based business can seem really hard at first. What do you post without any products to feature? But actually, things can be a little easier for a service because what people want is your know-how, your expertise, your advice. All of these kinds of content can be captured in text based posts, quotes or what's called "micro-blogging" where you post an image and then share your thoughts, similar to blogging but in the body of the post. This example from Marie Forleo is great. It's in-line with what she does (motivation/business coaching products) and it also helps followers understand who she is as a person and business, her beliefs and what she stands for. Remember, people buy from people, so getting your point of view can be a really compelling message.

Like You Content

Here Marie shares a behind the scenes look at her pet and her significant other. Again, these kinds of images work really well on Instagram and help followers create connections with you. 

My two favorite fellas cuddlin'. #cutiepatooties #latenightprepfor MarieTVshoot #gratefulforlove

A photo posted by Marie Forleo (@marieforleo) on

Trust You Content

Here Marie shows an image of the book she wrote that has been translated into French. While not all of us will have written a book, we can show pictures of our proposal covers, testimonials, before and afters, and other proof pieces of our work.  

Call To Action Content

This is a great post that is both a "behind the scenes" and a sales post. Marie teases that her new course is going to be available soon and then prompts followers to visit the website for more information. 

See? Creating compelling content that builds relationships and encourages action doesn't need to be complicated. Now go make some awesome content!

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