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Brands On Instagram: Lessons From StarbucksEvery brand has a story, and every social media platform is different. So how do you tell that story and tailor it to a channel like Instagram?

To find the answer, Ebyline turned to the one of the most successful brands on Instagram, Starbucks. With 2.5 million followers, they’re the second most popular brand on Instagram, and Starbucks has a true knack for telling its story on the visually appealing social media site (for those wondering who’s in first, Nike holds the top spot, according to Nitrogram, a company that tracks the top 150 brands on the Instagram).

We asked Starbucks to share a few of its storytelling tips to help us navigate the Instagram landscape.

Don’t limit your media to product shots

Every photo should represent your brand. What kinds of images share your story? Think beyond the literal sense. For instance, Starbucks doesn’t just coat its Instagram feed with pictures of coffee cups; they try to establish a bond with their patrons.

Starbucks - More Than Products

Posts shouldn’t just focus on products. Use them to frame a lifestyle.

“Our presence on Instagram allows us to build our brand in a way that captures our passion for coffee, the emotion of our store experiences, and customer love,” says Maggie Jantzen, a spokesperson for Starbucks.

The coffee giant’s Instagram account showcases pictures of customers, interior shots of various shops, and encouraging quotes that encompass what the brand represents, not just the product it sells. Take the picture on the right, for example. This shot doesn’t have anything to do with coffee, but it does showcase the kind of lifestyle that Starbucks represents.

To tell your brand’s story visually, try to identify what parts of your company appeal to your customers in addition to your physical product, like Starbucks does. Many brands aim to represent a certain lifestyle, which can be easy to promote on a visual feed like Instagram.

Find your inner artist

Boring pictures won’t cut it on Instagram. As with many modes of marketing, you only have a few seconds to capture the attention of your audience, so make it count. That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours composing the perfect shot; a cell phone picture can be just as compelling as a professional photo if you treat it with the right editing tools. Take a look at the image below, which Starbucks made with the MirrorGram app.

Starbucks Gets Artsy With Photos

Use apps to boost the artistic appeal of your Instagram posts.

Here’s a quick list of apps that can improve your shots:

  • Photoshop Express: This classic photo-editing tool allows you to crop your pictures and fine tune them by adjusting exposure, color, tint, saturation, and contrast levels. You can also choose to add a color filter.
  • ColorSplash: This app lets you select one part of your photo to keep in color while converting the rest to black and white.
  • LensLight: This app helps you manipulate the amount and shape of the light that’s in your photo.
  • Pixlr-o-matic. This app is great for fun and funky effects like watermarks and neon lights.
Starbucks People

Starbucks sets the stage for what to expect in its stores with posts like this one.

Include pictures with people

You’ll find plenty of artsy still-life shots of coffee on the Starbucks Instagram page, but you’ll also find plenty of images with customers in them. Pictures of customers help tell your story in a more captivating way than a static picture can. Take the picture on the left, for example, it’s a great shot of customers enjoying their coffee in a comfy Starbucks shop. It’s a piece of the Starbucks story. The brand has not only created famous coffee, but also a relaxing environment to enjoy it in.

Regram your customers’ pictures

If you don’t have a large collection of photos to choose from, borrow a page out of Starbucks’ playbook and reshare, or as it’s called in the Instagram world “regram,” your followers’ photos.

“Regramming images from our customers allows us to recognize and appreciate the creativity of our customers and their affinity for our brand,” Jantzen says.

Starbucks Cover Art

Starbucks liked this customer’s Instagram post so much they used it as cover art.

In one instance, a Starbucks fan posted a picture and the coffee giant not only reshared it, but also asked to use it as the main cover art.

Posting relevant and meaningful images on a consistent basis while interacting with your followers not only tells your brand’s story, but also captivate your audience, Jantzen says.

Got another storytelling tip that’s specific to Instagram? Share it in the comment section below.