Article written, visuals created & motion animated

by Hanna Edghill, 27 March 2019

Encouraging engagement 

My main goal in this case study is to encourage followers to interact through motion. Instagram ditched the reverse chronological feed for an algorithm in July 2016, and ever since brands have had to step up their content game to even have their posts seen by their target audience.

 

The algorithm is based on three main factors:

Interest: Your past behaviour on similar content.

Recency: How recently the post was shared.

Relationship: How close you are to the account who shared a post, have you interacted in the past; commenting, liking, tagging, etc.

In short, getting even the smallest bit of engagement out  of your internet fans is key to successful social media content. Only viewing content is not enough, you need those clicks, swipes, likes & comments so that your posts will continue to show up in the users feed. When users engage with your content, they signal to the algorithm that they want to see more of your posts. 

Pick your hero.

Juggling text and image in a layout differs when we talk about social media content from let’s say a website. The format is smaller and the attention span is eons shorter. The mindset of the user is also wildly different: When someone visits a website they are there by choice to find information, but when someone views your brand posts on Instagram, it is rarely a conscious choice. Competition for the users attention is greater, as you are crammed in between amazing pictures of smoothie bowls and sparkly K-beauty gals. Conclusion; there can only be a single focal point at a time.

PRO TIP

Identify what content is your ’Hero’ in the post. Is it the photo? Is it an informative text? Is it a call to action pay-off? Make sure your hero is displayed alone and centered without distractions.

Dynamic pace.

Scrolling content nowadays is an athletic sport,  and we as designers only have a few seconds to catch the users attention. Even if the content we have been given is just a headline and a few images we can make it interesting by adding high pace motion in-between the messages.

PRO TIP

Combine calm and focused sections with high pace intervals. Having the whole video explode into motion will blur the message and give a messy impression, try to separate the message and the transitions. The message should be calm and uninterrupted whereas transitions can be as crazy as the brand allows.

Show off your personality.

The line between professional and personal on Instagram is beginning to blur.  The new generation of consumers, the gen Z, has raised the bar for what is expected of a brand. Especially when it comes to brands on social media; we want realness, authenticity, values and transparency. The brands that we follow need to stand for something, tell a story, deliver content that truly inspires and educates us. For a designer this means making the content visually distinct, aligning with the brand identity. Start with creating a social media style guide that outlines the look and feel of your posts. An overall aesthetic that is easy to spot when scrolling through your feed.

PRO TIP

Leaving thick padding around your Instagram images can create an editorial effect that attracts the eye. Whitespace lets elements in your design breathe: A great way to avoid an overly busy post. It’s also a splendid opportunity to insert your brand color.

Hint to swipe.

We’ve already talked about the importance of engagement from the user, what we need is for them to touch the screen! Motion is a great tool to give the user a Lil’ wink and a whistle, ’hey friend, come this way, look here’. Use motion to hint that there's more to see, catching their eye with a smooth animation. The small format of instagram doesn’t invite you to display all your content in one single still screen, whereas a 3-15 sec video lets you fit a whole lot more. If you have a lot of text, organise the sentences in an easy-to-read format and build up to final delivery of your punchline in the end frame. 

PRO TIP 

If you want to entice the user to interact, match the movement to the desired action: If you want the user to swipe horizontally in a regular post on instagram, make the content move in that direction. If you want the user to swipe up in your stories, well then, let the animations have an upward movement.

Faux user content.

Ever since Facebook obtained Instagram, the amount of ads in our feed has increased drastically. As a user you learn to recognise what posts in your feed that are pure ads, trying to sell you something, and what posts are from friends and influencers you actually follow. As a brand you should try to blend into this feed, make your posts look like ’UGC’ - user generated content. By showing relatable photos and values that connect on a deeper level with the target audience we can tap into the emotions of consumers.

 

PRO TIP 

Don’t have  supers text visible on your first frame. This will stick out as a sore thumb in the feed and the user might just keep scrolling. Refraining from using text at all can also create a feeling of mystery and suspense, making the viewer curious to learn more and inclined the click.

Flexible format.

When creating templates and content for social media, you are always asked to create versioning for square, horizontal and vertical format to suit the different platforms the file will be posted. ’That’s a quick and easy last min thing to fix, right?’… Most of the time this end up being the greatest pain of one's life, since your files are not at all prepared and planned for it. 

PRO TIP 

Start by identifying to most important format, on what platform does the brand have the biggest following? Then the most suitable format for that platform should be prioritised. If all formats are to be made, start by creating the square format and keep thing centered, then simply extend the background to horizontal and vertical.