Instagram is constantly reinventing itself. The newest features offer a lot of opportunities for creativity and individuality, and have brought Instagram back into competition with social media giants like Snapchat.
But after years of only using Instagram to upload a single photo at a time, it’s hard for many users to adapt. How do you make a slideshow? Why do you make a Boomerang? How are Instagram stories different from Snapchat stories?
With so many new features available on the Instagram app, there are more ways than ever for your account to stand out. These 10 creative options are some great ways to get started.
1. Use Slideshows for “Before and After” Reveals
As of last month, users are no longer limited to a single photo per post. Now, using Instagram’s slideshow feature, you can add up to ten photos, videos, or boomerangs to a post at one time!/
Slideshows are a fantastic way to showcase impressive before and after photos to get full shock value. This strategy is effective for new haircuts, repairs, weight loss transformations, sunsets, makeovers, and redecorating. For a truly dramatic before and after effect, take both photos from the same angle and use the same editing tools on both images.
2. Tell a Story Using Multiple Accounts
Instagram stories now let you tag other users with a link that goes directly to their accounts. Many Instagram users use this feature to give shout-outs to their favorite accounts.
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Watch EPISODE 2 now on @igorhiller! . YOU RUINED THE PARTY: A 10-part comedy mystery . Directed by @allisonraskin Written by @igorhiller & @allisonraskin . CAST Shannon: @rachelsafety Lisa: @gabyroad Steve: @kunal_d Molly: @rachelretha Rob: @hipablo Patrick: @mj_nelson Bob: @eliolsberg . CREW DP: @dougfrerichs 1st AD/Set Dec: @emmkazz Editor: @jrdnstn Sound: @dominoparker Grip/PA: @eyeswideshutup
But some users are making it worth viewers’ while to click on that link. The video above shows a duo who used their respective audiences to build each other’s follower count. Over the course of five days, they shared a short film in ten parts, alternating between each other’s stories. Each part ended on a dramatic cliffhanger, forcing viewers to go to the other’s account if they wanted to see the conclusion.
Even if you don’t have the motivation to make a full short film, try linking up your Instagram story with a friend. You both build your follower count while providing two different perspectives of the same event — a great method of storytelling.
3. Use Visual Chaining to Keep Your Feed Attractive
When you look at some people’s Instagram profiles, they look impossibly perfect. Somehow, every single image seems to coordinate perfectly.
If you want your entire Instagram profile to fit a certain aesthetic or theme, you may want to try something called a “visual chain.” This approach depends on you planning out your photos more than usual, but the overall effect is worth the extra effort!
Every time you post a new photo, think about how it will look next to your previous post and the three before that.
Visual chains allow you to get creative with how your profile looks overall. For really impressive effects, try arranging photos by color, content, or photo orientation (as in the example above by @rvstapleton).
4. Use Boomerang to Boost Interest
Boomerang seems ridiculous at first glance, but a well-done loop can draw viewers in to your post!
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Sixteen-year-old Dyllon Wolf (@dyllonwolf) coaxed his younger brothers to pop the biggest water balloon of their bunch in our #BoomerangOfTheWeek. “I thought it would remind everyone who saw it of the freedom and joy of being a kid,” Dyllon says. (And he was right.) Follow @boomerangfrominstagram to see more mind-blowing loops from our community. #Boomerang by @dyllonwolf
The perfect Boomerangs are actions with a distinct beginning and end that look cool when rewound. Some classic Boomerangs are jumping into water, a cool athletic move, traffic, dancing, or a selfie with an exaggerated facial expression.
No matter what you pick, try to keep your phone steady for the best shot!
You can access the Boomerang feature by downloading the Boomerang app. Or if you press the camera icon in the top left of your screen (typically used to add to your story), you can create a Boomerang without downloading the app.
Select the Boomerang option at the bottom of the screen, create your video, then save it to your camera roll instead of sending it to your story. Then, you can upload it to your feed just like you would any other photo or video.
5. Give a Look Behind the Scenes With Slideshow
Instagram user @slinkachu_official creates incredible miniature works of art. However, you don’t truly understand the size or purpose of the artwork until you see a shot of the objects from far away.
The slideshow feature allows viewers to see the “behind the scenes” portions of a finished photo. This approach can add to the story of how you did something, what led up to the photo, or any other details you think they may find interesting. You can even use videos within a slideshow to add a voice-over explanation of your art or experience.
6. Think Bigger With Giant Square
You can do a lot with Instagram’s native apps, but some third-party apps for Instagram can truly elevate your profile to the next level.
Try using an app like Giant Square (iOS and Android), which breaks a single photo into a three-, six-, or nine-square grid. Each photo still needs to be posted individually to Instagram. So this is option works best with landscape photos, where each individual photo will still look nice on its own.
Selfies, on the other hand, will result in a single photo of your nose being posted inexplicably (especially now that Instagram feeds are algorithm-based instead of chronological). Used correctly, however, this strategy can result in a beautiful and unique Instagram profile (like @photosbywillemthach, seen above).
7. Use Stickers to Make Your Story Stand Out
Instagram introduced stickers for their story feature in December 2016. These stickers initially seem gimmicky, but can actually add a lot of fun to your stories without looking silly.
For example, try adding a thought bubble sticker with custom text. Use several stories in a row to create a real-life comic strip.
Or use the selfie sticker option (pull up stickers after taking your photo or video and then choose the image of your Instagram profile picture). This will let you insert a sticker of your face — great for adding visual commentary to a photo of something else.
You can even use stickers to create your own filters. This lets you show off your location or the weather, give people fake accessories, or celebrate holidays. Any emoji you can think of is fair game. Your imagination can truly run wild with this feature.
8. Theme Your Instagram
If you want a solid base of followers, consider giving your Instagram profile a consistent theme. Now that Instagram supports multiple accounts, it’s easy to separate your personal posts from your professional or public profile.
Themed Instagrams are far more likely to attract followers, because followers know what types of posts to expect. A well-curated profile allows you to create an established brand and create beautiful profiles with less effort.
Take @muradosmann, for example, who is now world-famous for his Instagram account. His account primarily features photos of his girlfriend leading him around the world — and thousands of global users now hashtag #FollowMe.
9. Give Detailed Tutorials Using Every Post Type Possible
Until the introduction of slideshow, Instagram really couldn’t be used for anything content-heavy. But now that multiple images can be added to a single post, complex posts could become the new normal.
For example, try putting together a detailed tutorial using a combination of still images, collages (use Instagram’s Layout app for easy access), video, and text. Simple steps can be a single photo, while more complex steps can have video instructions included. Similarly, use text images for specific instructions or a collage to show a final product comparison.
Tutorials are a great option for Instagram profiles dedicated to cooking, home renovations, makeup routines, or fashion.
10. Still Need Inspiration? Try an Instagram Challenge
If you still feel like you’re struggling to use Instagram creatively, take it back to basics and look at the photos and videos you post. Are you editing your photos carefully? Sometimes third-party photo editing apps do a better job than Instagram’s native filters and commands.
Next, are your photos interesting and engaging? If you’re having trouble with content, try an Instagram challenge. There are many available online with different goals and lengths depending on your interests.
Some people follow #365Project and post a photo every day of the year. Others participate in smaller challenges (related to yoga, food, the outdoors, or anything you can imagine) led by community leaders from other forms of social media.
You can get involved in challenges by watching the hashtags people you admire use, searching online, or starting your own! Challenges can be a great way to get your creative juices flowing in the middle of a slump and to interact with other users on Instagram.
What Will Instagram Come Up With Next?
It’s wild to look at all of the new additions to Instagram over the past few years. The app is now a far cry from the simple photo uploader it once was, but it’s also a lot more interesting than it’s been in a long time.
With all of the new changes, there are so many opportunities to use Instagram in creative and innovative ways. Individual users and brands are just beginning to take advantage of the platform’s full creative power, and the results are already incredible!
To stand out even more, take a look at Instagram verification.
What are your favorite ways to use Instagram’s new features? Let me know in the comments below!