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The Art of Storytelling on Instagram

I would bet money that the people who have created your favourite Instagram accounts are great storytellers. Mine certainly are.

When I get emotionally involved in somebody’s life/business/personality and I’m curious about what they’re up to, then they are winning at Instagram.

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One of my favourite accounts that I keep mentioning to all my clients is Andrew O’Brien.

He’s a gardener. Gardening is of very little interest to me. But my goodness Andrew can tell a yarn (and he takes good photos), so I’m in!

He’s chatty, poetic, knowledgeable and descriptive. And his passion oozes from his account.

An instagram post of a garden at sundown.

So how can you apply a bit of Andrew magic to your account?

If it’s a personal account, I’d say try and have a bit of a theme. People like consistency.

If you’re into books and art and music, try and focus your account around those areas.

With Alison Gray her account is purely about her love of books. You know what you’re getting. She always puts them in stylish arty settings and talks about the books she’s reading. I’m into books and I’m into styling, so it’s my kind of account.

Kate Atkinson's book: Transcription.

For whatever your chosen theme is, show your passion – be descriptive and chatty and share your thoughts and opinions on whatever is in your picture. Although enthusiasm can be as wordy or minimal as you like! I love the way Emma from The Plant Shop Manchester often offers one word captions or none at all with her pictures, but her passion for plants, her humour and style shine through on her account.

A mini cactus.

If you’re a business the storytelling process is a slightly different, because you want to think about how to tell the story of your business in an entertaining and inspiring way.

I would strongly advise against just posting pictures of your products and giving your account a catalogue feel. Your audience will respond much better if you share a bit of yourself on your account.

  1. You could share the day to day processes of running a business (you’d be surprised how interesting it is for your audience).
  2. Share your influences and what inspires you in your business – that might be books or something visual. 
  3. Offer tips that relate to your business.  If you’re a florist recommend flowers that are seasonal and how to care for flowers that you buy.
  4. Show them a bit about your personal life (just snippets) – perhaps you have a cute dog that you take for walks, or you love drinking green matcha teas.

Just remember that people come to Instagram to be inspired, entertained and educated.  They don’t want to be bombarded with salesy images and captions – that’s just boring and your audience will unfollow fast.

People buy from people – so allow personality and storytelling to lead your account.  Perhaps sit down with a friend one day and brainstorm about all the interesting aspects of your business / personal life / expertise that you could share on your account so that your customers get a chance to get to know you and your product / service in a fun and inspiring way.

Object Style – a lifestyle and clothing shop in Chorlton are brilliant at this.  You get plenty of shots of products, but Rachael and her husband Alex who run the shop, really bring you into their lives – you get pictures of their holidays, their dog, their home.  It’s just tiny little glimpses of their lives – not oversharing, but it allows us to get to know them, trust them and like them, and want to buy from them.

Rachael Otterwell of Object Style in front of a Christmas tree.

If you’re new to the art of storytelling on Instagram – don’t expect to instantly be able to have the most mesmerising account.  It’s takes a bit of time and practise to find your groove with it.  Start by just trying to be generous with your audience and give them some fun, interesting posts to to enjoy and see how it goes from there.

If you enjoyed this blog post, you might like to read My Most Embarrassing Instagram Mistakes.


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