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Instagram application on Apple iPhone 5S

Are Instagram Captions the New Blog?

You can spend hours putting together the perfect company blog post – researching, writing, editing and navigating through all those review cycles. But what good is any of that if no one is reading it? While there are company blogs that have become go-to sources for industry news and analysis, and we’d like to think InkHouse falls into that category, it’s no secret that most companies struggle to drive traffic to their blog.

So why not put your content where your audience already is? On average, Instagram users share 70 million photos per day and its per-follower engagement is 58 times higher than Facebook and 120 times higher than Twitter. And I’m not just talking about pictures, I’m talking about converting your blog content into long-form Instagram captions.

In November, New York Magazine wrote a piece about lifestyle bloggers and celebrities like Dwayne Johnson who use Instagram as a blogging platform, taking advantage of the app’s personal and artistic feel to express themselves through captions. Traditional media outlets are jumping on the bandwagon too. WIRED Magazine recently posted an 11-part feature story exclusively on Instagram – becoming the first major publication to do so.

This opens an opportunity for brands to share the content they care about and in a place where people will actually read it. Here’s what to keep in mind.

Keep ‘em coming back for more: Creating engaging content is a priority for every blog, but it becomes even more important when you’re competing on Instagram. A long-form Instagram caption poses a unique challenge because it has to make sense on its own, while leaving followers curious for what happens next in the story. With 4.4 million followers, the Humans of New York Instagram handle knows how to do just that. Its current series shares multi-post stories about Syrian refugees, and it has captivated an audience around the world.

Make it visual (duh!): Once you have a story to tell, you need a picture to match. Instagram is a lifestyle platform built to celebrate great photography, not stock photos or stylized quotes. This can be a challenge, especially for B2B or deep tech companies, but General Electric is a great example of a company that has mastered the use of Instagram. This holiday season, it even created a winter wonderland photo collage that sprinkles in some of its technology in the images.

Be neutral: Ultimately, your Instagram content should tie back to your business goals, whether that be education, maintaining a certain brand image, or driving web traffic. But no one wants to see a salesman on their personal social media feeds. What they want is a story, and if done correctly that story will inspire action that impacts your bottom line. For example, Expedia sells airline tickets, but it doesn’t post photos of an airline seat. It posts pictures of the destinations where that airplane ticket will take you, and I’d wager that Expedia would be even more successful if it used photo captions to share a story, not just a description.

This isn’t something you can just dive into tomorrow. An effective Instagram strategy requires time, strategy and talented photographers and storytellers. But given Instagram’s resounding user engagement rates, it’s worth the investment in 2016.

Read more from Darah Patton