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Marissa Baurys
Posted by Marissa BaurysFebruary 10, 2017 12:28 PM

iStock_000045999164_Full-204003-edited.jpgWith Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we’re seeing “heart shapes” everywhere we turn. Specifically, our team of social media experts is focused on that little red heart below the photos you see on Instagram. What is it about that photo that made you want to click that little “heart” button? What did you love about it? How can we make more content like this to invite you to engage again?

We’ve done the testing and studied the results. Now, we’re sharing what we know to be the components of a great Instagram photo.

A great photo has a focus

Instagram photos are small. Their icons when viewed on a profile are even smaller. Visually crowded photos lack that one thing that makes your eyes widen and your fingers double-tap. A great Instagram photo keeps it simple and gives the star of the photo room to breathe. Have a clear point of interest that draws the viewer directly to what you want to show them. By doing so, you get to control what you communicate and guide what your brand gets out of the impression.


A great photo is the right size

When scrolling through an Instagram feed, few things are more off-putting than a blurry, over-stretched photo. A great photo is optimized for the platform and is clear when expanded or cropped to the correct size. Instagram allows uploads of multiple shapes, but the most versatile and practical shape is a square with the dimensions of 1080 pixels by 1080 pixels.  Not only will this size fit well in a user’s feed, but it will fit uncropped on your profile, where Instagram automatically displays all your photos in the square format. A tip from our team of experts: if you’re taking a photo on your phone, try using the “Square” mode. It will automatically optimize your photo to fit the platform perfectly.



After all that holiday indulgence, let's get outside and have breakfast today!

A photo posted by Crunch Pak (@crunchpak) on


A great photo contributes to an overarching theme

The unspoken rule of Instagram: don’t post a photo just to post a photo. When you post on Instagram, your photo should fit in to the rest of the photos on your profile. A good photo clearly communicates your brand identity and influences brand perception. If any one single photo veers away from your central theme, you take away from this brand perception you’ve worked so hard to shape. Start by defining the “feeling” for your brand with a few descriptive adjectives (clean, fresh, moody, whimsical, etc.). Then, choose a background and a specific kind of filter that exude this feeling. Fact: 60% of the top brands on Instagram use a consistent filter- so define your feeling, choose your filter, and work within those parameters.



We love creating new smoothie recipes! Tell us your favorite smoothie tips and tricks. 👇🏻

A photo posted by Cut 'N Clean Greens (@cutncleangreens) on


A great photo doesn’t appear heavily edited or staged

We’ve driven this home again and again. Authenticity matters, even when it comes to your photos. A good photo, even when staged, looks natural. Think about it for a second. What purpose does Instagram serve? What value does it bring to its users? It’s all about capturing genuine, important moments and sharing them with the people who are most interested. It’s informal and raw because life doesn’t always have a Valencia filter. Yes, Instagram is a visual platform, and yes, your photos have to be high quality, but don’t let the photo transform so much that it feels fake. Photos that are minimally edited and informal in nature feel far more genuine to the viewer.



A dollop of @peanutbutterco + a drizzle of honey = snacking PERFECTION.

A photo posted by Dandy Fresh Produce (@dandyfreshproduce) on


Understanding the anatomy of a great Instagram photo will help guide the way you create your visual content. Just be sure to keep in mind- a “great” photo will be different for each and every brand. A great Instagram photo, above all, communicates what makes your brand unique and tells your brand’s story. It’s your brand’s voice conveyed in a picture to those who think visually. If you’re looking for more guidance on creating visual content for your social media, we’d love to share options for a social media assessment.

Topics: Social & Mobile Media

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