If you’ve been keeping up with our Step Out Buffalo Business articles for a while now, you already know that we talk a lot about how service-based businesses can up their social media marketing game.
If not, our marketing section is a good place to start!
But one of the most common things that we still see service-based businesses struggling with is coming up with creative content ideas for social media, specifically Instagram.
As a (partially) service-based business ourselves, we totally get it. You know that Instagram is super important when it comes to marketing and spreading the word about your business, but what are you supposed to post when you don’t necessarily have eye-catching products— or anything, really— to stage photoshoots with?
Fear not, business owners. Here are 8 creative content ideas you can use to help generate some inspo for your business’s Instagram feed, regardless of what industry you’re in:
1) Helpful Information
ICYMI – Instagram recently indicated that saves and shares are the most heavily weighted engagement metrics in the eyes of the algorithm, not likes and comments. (Though those certainly have their place, too!) One of the best ways to get your audience to save and share your content organically? Creating content that is genuinely useful and valuable. Think helpful tips and tricks, how-to guides, need-to-know information, local announcements, that sort of thing.
Local Example: NFTA Metro
Here in Western New York, @nftametro does a great job sharing information that is pertinent to Buffalonians that rely on public transportation day in and day out. From promoting mask wearing to warning the community about severe weather conditions that could affect the morning commute, NFTA Metro is always posting with the intention of providing value.
Jumping off of that, sharing infographics is a quick and easy way to share the helpful content you create for your audience in a way that plays well to Instagram’s focus on attractive visuals. They’re also great for breaking up long stretches of photos on your grid, or just mixing things up in general with a bit of text.
Even if you’ve never created an infographic of any kind before, you can whip them up in a flash with free tools like Canva or Venngage. Pro Tip: Try to keep the overall color palette and vibe of your feed in mind when putting your infographics together for a more cohesive look.
Local Example: Recycle Buffalo
It’s tough to create engaging content about recycling, but The City of Buffalo’s recycling initiative, @recyclebuffalo, seems to do it effortlessly. Their infographics in particular help boil down a ton of helpful tips into single posts— posts that users can easily save and refer back to in the future.
3) Client Photos, Stories & Testimonials
Looking to spice up your grid with a bit of personality? Try sharing customer testimonials, or maybe even photos of your clients! (With their approval, of course.) This can take form in a ton of different ways, but ultimately goes a long way when it comes to driving up your engagement on social media and building credibility within your local community.
Local Example: The Tool Library
We’ll be honest, we love just about everything @thetoollibrary posts on Instagram (seriously, follow them for more inspiration!). But we especially love the way they shout out their members and show off the awesome DIY projects they build. What’s even better? They list the exact tools their members rented to get the job done in the caption, so not only does their post give their audience DIY inspo, but successfully shows off what their business has to offer.
4) Staff Photos
On a similar note, introducing your team to your audience by sharing staff photos is another simple, but effective way to boost your business’s engagement on Instagram. And don’t think these photos have to be professional headshots by any means— did you have an employee of the month? Did your team do something fun like dress up in Bills gear the Friday before a game? It really can be as simple as that!
Local Example: Arbeit
A contact solutions provider that services B2C clients, @arbeitnerds does a fantastic job sharing employee photos on their grid. Whether it’s a “nerd of the week” employee spotlight with a professional headshot or just a quick, casual snap of their teams working from home, Arbeit shows their audience the humans behind the screen, which is crucial for tech-focused businesses especially.
5) Before and After Shots
Want to showcase your team’s skills? Try experimenting with some before and after shots, especially for projects that you’d either like to do more of or that you’re particularly proud of. If you can, try to lead with the beautifully polished “after” picture, since that will be the photo that your audience will be shown first (and will live on your grid!).
Local Example: Buffalove Development
Looking through @buffalovedevelopment’s Instagram feed, it’s easy to see that this residential & commercial development company puts love into absolutely everything that they do. And because it feels like literally all of their projects turn out incredible, it only makes sense to incorporate them into the business’s social media strategy.
6) Behind the Scenes Shots
Behind the scenes shots are great for businesses in any industry because not only are they relatively easy to create, but they’re also a great way to showcase the people behind the screen that make the magic happen. Businesses that intentionally pull back the curtain to highlight the “human element” in their marketing become instantly more relatable to their audience because it reminds people that you’re a real human with real dreams, goals, and to-do lists to crush.
Local Example: Last Call Laundry
We don’t know how she does it, but somehow LaTasha Bulluck of @l.a.s.t.call_laundry_services makes dropping off laundry look fun! We love the way she posts casually and organically in the moment— whether she’s on the go or at home— and always finds a way to be authentic while simultaneously tapping into her audience’s needs in her captions.
Businesses are slowly starting to realize that when it comes to driving engagement on Instagram, memes are actually pretty powerful. That’s because businesses that are strictly in the sell, sell, sell mindset all the time aren’t actually fun to follow. (Sorry!) If you can keep your audience entertained and excited to keep following you while simultaneously providing value, that’s the sweet spot.
Local Example: Buffalo Real Estate Lady
If you’re not already following @buffalorealestatelady on Instagram, do yourself a favor and do it now. We love how Kim Santana, the Buffalo Real Estate Lady herself, constantly finds the best ways to joke around and make light of the most “fun” (read: bang-your-head-against-the-wall frustrating) parts of being a realtor.
Bonus: Want to learn more about Kim and how she absolutely kills it in the marketing game? Check out our article Business Spotlight: Buffalo Real Estate Lady & Building a Brand on Instagram.
8) Animals. Always Animals.
And when all else fails, turn to cute animal pics. Seriously. It might sound silly, but find a fun way to show off any staff pets, furry friends, or office “helpers,” because simply put: everyone wants their day brightened by an adorable animal on their feed, no matter what industry you work in.
Local Example: Buffalo Car Care
As a local automotive detailing company, taking pictures of flashy cars and sleek, clean interiors is a no-brainer for @buffalocarcare. But when their animal friends make the occasional appearance, they steal the show.
Not only do they drive engagement in the form of comments, likes, and possibly even shares, but they also help give the audience a tiny break from car posts, and make their feed feel even more robust. Plus, what’s cuter than a little pupper in the front seat of a car?