Does hearing that you have to be creating reels, if you want to go on Instagram, fill you with dread?
Do you start to feel stressed out or even just feel disappointed because making videos, particularly reels, just isn't something you're really into. You're not a huge fan of creating video or you find it's a lot of work. So this idea that you have to be cranking out all these reel videos just doesn't sit quite well with you.
Well, if you've been hearing that graphics are dead. That the only way to get any traction is with reels on Instagram. Well in this post I am going to share how I have actually seen MORE growth using graphics than reels.
Focusing on your Strengths to see Growth
I think that creating all types of different media is a lot of fun. I think creating a diverse range of media is really exciting as a business owner. And it's way of stretching your creativity. But I know that not everyone finds video easy, or they find it hard to fit what everyone's telling you. As a graphic designer, creating graphics is my greatest strength, and so it is also the thing I find easiest to create well and consistently.
When it comes to things like reels, it feels like there's a very particular style that's doing well and will bring you followers and growth. Not to say you couldn't find your own style and be successful, but that often takes a lot of consistency to establish. So if the typically popular styles just don't work for your brand. If it feels like the wrong fit, then you've got to feel uncomfortable about that. This is most common with brands using music that just doesn't fit their brand, because they want to use trending sounds that will give them more reach.
It's not going to sit well with you. So you might be wondering, well, does this mean that I just cannot grow anymore? That it's just not possible for me to continue to see growth in followers or engagement on Instagram, because what they're pushing at the moment, just isn't for me?
For much of last year, I wasn't seeing a lot of growth on Instagram. I was rather inconsistent and I had a lot of other things going on. So I, wasn't putting a huge amount of energy into my Instagram. However, this year I got really consistent and started creating a lot more content on there. And it was quite interesting to see the results of that and what actually happened.
Now, everyone's saying that reels are the thing that are going to help you grow. BUT most of the reels that I put up, I found I got fairly average engagement from, and little growth.
That definitely doesn't mean that reels can't bring new growth when you hit on the right thing and you're really consistent with them. They definitely can help bring you growth. zBut if it isn't your thing, you find it hard and it isn't a strong point for you, your focus may be better spent working on the type of content that comes most naturally to you.
Growing on Instagram with Graphics
Video is not the only way. If you struggle with video, I want you to know that you can still grow without having to put everything into reels.
I have recently seen a lot of traction with graphics. I started to see graphics bringing me a huge amounts of followers, a lot more engagement, and it felt like my account was coming back to life, and that there was a lot more people seeing my stuff. After struggling with growth for a long time, I was surprised to see graphics performing so well. (especially in a time when there is so much focus on video)
However I did notice that graphics were performing in a slightly different way from what I've seen in the past.
So I wanted to discuss that and what I learned from this experience.
First of all, what I've already hinted at is that consistency matters. In those times when I wasn't very consistent and wasn't creating content regularly I was finding that my account was pretty much just staying still. It wasn't really growing at all.
And while I would occasionally put out graphics that would hit off a little. It wasn't doing so much because I wasn't keeping going, I wasn't building on that momentum at all. And so I was slowing myself down by not being consistent. So if you want to be able to use something other than reels, just like when people say with reels, you got to be consistent, whatever it is that you put your most focus on, whatever it is that you really want to say, this is the thing that I want to use to grow.
You've got to be consistent. And so graphics can be a way to grow as long as you're consistent with it because not everything you create is going to hit it off. Sometimes you'll get things that will take off and sometimes it will just get pretty average engagement from it. And so the more things that you're creating, the higher, the chance of you're creating things that will actually lead to growth.
And also it keeps up the momentum. So as you start growing, people feel that there's a reason to actually be following this account because they're constantly putting new stuff out there and you're then really engaging with the people that are following you. And so you're building that momentum up by being consistent.
Consistency doesn't mean you have to post several times a day, or even every day. I did find that a few times a week seems to work.
Have a Strategy
The next thing that I found was that you really need strategy behind your graphics. You can't just be random about it with what you put out there. You can't just create random things on the fly. The same kind of call because you just need to keep putting stuff out there and be consistent. You've got to be fairly strategic about it.
You've really got to think about who it is you want to attract. If you want to be able to use these, to build your following you've got to think about that person that you are trying to attract. This is one of the things I actually found that was different with graphics compared to a reel, whenever reels brought me followers and views, they seem very random people. They didn't seem to be so much my ideal audience. It seemed to be just getting in front of random people. Whereas with a a graphic, it seems like as Instagram pushes more of the SEO side of things. While reels go in the reel feed and can be a bit random, graphics that hit it off go on the explore page and are more SEO targeted based on the viewers interests. That means graphics are strategically made to actually attract that right sort of person, and are more likely going to get in front of the right kind of person.
So if you're careful to create something that's going to actually attract and appeal to that person and be the kinds of things that they're looking for, then it's more likely going to end up on their explore page.
Task: Get clear on who you want to attract. Consider things like the person's struggles, their desires, thinking about the kind of graphics you can create that is going to hit on things that is really going to interest this person and pick. So does they're looking at lots of things.
Make it Appealing to your Target Audience
If it ends up on the explore page, they're going to see it and think "Oh, that's something I'm really interested in. That really appeals to me." You've got to grab their attention in some way.
This could be by making it relatable, playing on a struggle or desire they have, appealing to their humour, making it helpful to their needs or creating something they would find inspiring.
Something that can really appeal to people is creating something that's very relatable to that person. So thinking about the industry they're in or things that they're doing and creating something, that's going to feel very relatable to them.
What Type of Graphics Work?
Then when it comes to graphics, that can be still graphics or carousel graphics.
I've seen both perform really well. By creating both types, it will help you be more consistent because carousel posts can take a lot more effort because there's a lot more involved in creating them, so mix it up. Also a single post is great for memes, infographics and relatable posts, while carousels are great for breaking down more information and teaching your audience. So using both types will create more dynamic content.
Dynamic content and variety will bring you the most growth as you will connect with differnt people in your audience and it allows you to experiment with different types of content to increase the chances of having some go viral.
How Graphics are Performing in 2022
In the past the first 24 hours that you put something out were the most critical. If something didn't take off in those first 24 hours, you knew that it hadn't worked out. But now what I have been noticing is that things can take off in a slightly slower manner.
I have seen posts that I would put up and in those first 24 hours, didn't go so well. There is an initial feeling of disappointment, especially if I felt it was the kind of post that had the potential to do really well. Then a few days later, it started to pick up and I noticed it continued to bring in followers, bringing saves and likes and views. I realized that the whole idea of '24 hours only' is sort of dying off with Instagram. You don't have to feel like you've got to create something that just captures people attention quickly in that first 24 hours, the content on Instagram is starting to become a little bit more evergreen, or at least longer lasting.
Sure your posts don't last for months, but it seems to be more a a slow burn that lasts or a few days, and sometimes I have seen things continue to grow for 1-2 weeks. This means it's worth putting more time and effort into creating something really quality, because it' isn't only going to last 24 hours and then fizzle off.
So don't give up if a graphic doesn't get any traction on the first day. It may actually pick up momentum later on, which again links to consistency. If people are finding things days later, and they're going to go check out your account, if there's more and more building up there, and they're seeing that momentum that you're consistent and constantly showing up, then they're probably going to be more likely to follow. It shows that you're consistent and active on the account and they're going to get consistent value from following you.
Why it's exciting to Graphics Performing in the Age of Video
The reason I was excited to see graphics performing so well is because I think there's a lot of people feeling quite disillusioned with the way things are going with reels and video at the moment. While reels and videos can be a lot of fun, the problem is that Instagram is pushing it hard. They really want it to work, but not everyone is actually wanting to consume that. Some people actually prefer things like graphics and photos and looking at your long caption posts and things like that. Not everyone actually likes consuming endless reels. In fact even some celebrities have begun to speak out, saying they just want Instagram to be Instagram again. (read more)
Some people love video and reels, others hate it or have mixed feelings about it. This is why diversity in your content is really important to appeal to different kinds of people. Create what comes most naturally to you, experiment with new types of content, create simple quick content and more time consuming content. Sit in bed on a cold rainy day making graphics, and get dressed up and have fun making reels other days.
This also brings up the question....Should you be doing good work or should you be doing what works? Because Instagram, obviously with their algorithm, the way they work, they want to be pushing reels because it's what they want to do. But what if that's not what your audience actually wants? What if you're just giving into just doing what the algorithm wants all the time? What if it feels awkward? Are you losing touch with your actual audience and your brand? Or are you creating what feels true to you and doing good work personally?
Play to your Strengths
If you want to stay consistent, you need to put the most focus on the content you are strongest at creating. If that's video for you, then go hard on making reels. But if you prefer to make graphics or to write (which you can turn your words into carousel posts), then put your focus on those types of content. You can still do a mix of content, but mostly focus on the thing that you feel most comfortable with and feel the least resistance to creating, and then you will be more consistent.
Do what aligns with your brand as well. If you are creating trending content that doesn't align with your brand, it will feel off and look forced and awkward. That won't do your brand any favours and may even be off putting to some of your audience.
I hope this post has helped you realise that video isn't the only way. That you can find balance and diversity in your content and create things that are going to feel like a good fit for you and not feeling like you just have to create the things that are being demanded of you. That the algorithm isn't running your brand, you are.
If creating graphics, as your main type of content is what feels like the best for for you, you can definitely see growth using them.
Want a Head Start?
If you love the idea of growing your instagram account using mostly graphics, but you still find it time consuming, get stuck for ideas or need a little design help, then I have some resources to help you.
- CANVA TEMPLATE SHOP- My template shop is full of Instagram templates based on my own testing and research and design skill, so they are strategic and will make it easy to create effective Instagram graphics quickly.
- GROWTH GRAPHICS- A short course + templates, where I share the strategy of creating graphics for growth as well as provide you with templates to get started (this goes beyond just Instagram too including all social media and Pinterest graphics)
I'd love to hear from you
Come join me on Instagram to chat more about this! You can comment on a post or send me a DM and let me know your thoughts or ask a question.