Creating compelling visual stories: Using Instagram and Pinterest

visual storytelling on social media

Visual storytelling is a powerful tool on social media that requires a calculated strategy. Compelling visual stories engage your audience, convey your brand mission, and offer a canvas for your creativity to shine. They build authentic relationships and inspire action, particularly on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, where aesthetically pleasing content soars above the rest.

Starting visual storytelling on social media may seem daunting, but with the right resources, it’s a journey you can embark on with confidence. So, where do you start? How can you leverage the benefits of Pinterest and Instagram with visual storytelling, and what type of content should you focus on? 

Creating compelling content takes work but doesn’t have to be as stressful as you think. Once you know what your audience is looking for, creating more content your audience will likely engage with becomes much easier. In this article, we’ll discuss how to create a compelling visual story and tricks for creating a large amount of content for your brand. 

Types of visual stories 

Brands can tell a story through social media content in so many ways. Varying the types of content you post on Instagram and Pinterest keeps your audience entertained and looking forward to your content. 

Types of visual storytelling you can use on Pinterest and Instagram include: 

  • Video pins/stories
  • Reels
  • Photos
  • Infographics
  • Carousel posts
  • Memes
  • GIFs

While brands need to use a variety of visual storytelling, short-form videos and stunning photos tend to perform the best with audiences in most niches. On Instagram, in particular, carousels have proven to be incredibly positive for engagement. The platform recently announced that it is experimenting with even broader carousel posts, including up to 15 photos! That’s a lot of opportunity to tell a story. 

Text visual storytelling

What if your brand is more text-based than image-based? Can you still participate in social media storytelling? Absolutely. You can integrate text on top of high-quality photos in a way that draws people into your caption or inspires them to click through to your website for more. Get creative with your text, but ensure it’s still aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t use text. Remember, you want it to look beautiful for Instagram and Pinterest. Not spam-like. 

Use a brand style guide

Visual storytelling starts from the first impression a user gets from your page. When creating different types of content, you want to create a cohesive style and color palette that ties in with your brand. This trick is to make your accounts look uniform and attractive and help users recognize your content outside your main page. Developing a brand style guide will help your social media team stay on brand and create a unified approach to your marketing strategy. 

Profile photos and thumbnails 

Your profile photo and thumbnails should match your predetermined style guide—don’t ignore them. Profile photos are the first to appear when users search for your brand. They’re the star of your story and the first to draw in your audience. Thumbnails serve as cover photos for your page and give it the overall aesthetic. 

For videos, choosing a photo to match your style guide is important. If you don’t manually add a thumbnail, the first frame of your video will become the thumbnail, and it may not be the most flattering.

Aspect ratios 

Nothing breaks a visual story like a blurry or misaligned piece of content. No matter how aesthetically pleasing your content is, if your aspect ratio is off, your content will not hit the same and look unprofessional. Here are some aspect ratios you need to know:

Instagram aspect ratios 

  • Aspect ratio: Square (1:1) Vertical (4:5) Horizontal (16:9) Stories (9:16) Reels (9:16)
  • File type: Photos (JPEG, PNG) Video (.MP4, .MOV)
  • File size: Photos (30MB), Stories/Reels/Videos feed (4GB)
  • Time limit: Stories (15 seconds) Reels (60 seconds) 

Pinterest aspect ratios

  • Aspect ratio: (2:3) or (9:16) vertical
  • File type: .MP4, .MOV or .M4V 
  • File Size: up to 2GB
  • Time: 4 seconds to 15 minutes 

Many brands may be aware of the benefits of Reels on Instagram, but did you know Pinterest allows videos, too? In this article, we discuss how to make a successful Pinterest video and how to make it stand out.

Repurposing content

One of the tricks to creating compelling visual stories is to work smarter, not harder. You want to create more content you know works. When you find types of content that perform well, make more. 

Brands can use Pinterest and Instagram analytics to find well-performing content or a social media management tool to dive even deeper. For instance, in True Anthem’s dashboard, you can analyze multiple accounts in the same place to see which types of content are performing across all your platforms. These tools can help boost your recirculation game and get the most out of your popular content. 

Consistency promotes visual storytelling 

In addition to creating compelling content for visual storytelling on social media, you have to post consistently. Maintaining a consistent content schedule maximizes your reach, optimizes your content’s viability, and increases your chance of authentic engagement. Instagram and Pinterest are especially supportive of consistent account activity. The more consistent your strategy is, the better your chance of reaching your desired audience. 

Staying consistent with posting is a lot easier than it used to be, especially with many tools that allow you to schedule weeks, even months ahead. True Anthem can manage and schedule content on multiple accounts in the same place, cutting back on the time it takes to log in to multiple platforms. It also offers bonus tips for optimizing your content.

Request a demo to see how we can help, or contact us with questions about how we can help with your visual storytelling strategy.

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