Love it or hate it, Instagram is not going anywhere—at least until the next social media sensation emerges from Silicon Valley. (Who knows how long that will take?)
But for now, businesses worldwide—including apparel brands—will continue to use Instagram to raise awareness for their products and services. “90% of Instagram users follow at least one business,” according to the platform itself.
Instagram is far from perfect, but we’d say that the benefits of using it outweigh the costs (if you use the platform strategically, of course). You can get ahead of the curve by staying up-to-date on the latest Instagram trends and strategies.
But whatever you do, DO NOT get stuck on the algorithm hack hamster wheel. There are self-proclaimed “social media gurus” out there who will try to convince you that you can cheat your way to better engagement, more followers, and increased sales—but that could not be further from the truth.
While the algorithm does prioritize short-form video content, it’s important to remember that the algorithm’s goal is to show Instagram users content that engages them enough to spend more time on the platform.
More time spent on Instagram = more money for Instagram. It’s that simple.
So, instead of posting for the algorithm, you should create content that provides value to your target audience. Whether you’re entertaining them with a meme or sharing an informative video, your goal should always be to keep your audience interested.
With that goal in mind, let’s look at 12 strategies for creating #instaworthy content to promote your custom apparel:
1. Make short-form video your primary content format.
As you’ve probably heard, Instagram Reels are all the rage—and it’s because they cater to people’s declining attention spans.
Here’s a crazy statistic to ponder: Instagram videos get over 2 times more engagement than Instagram photos.
(When Adam Mosseri said Instagram is “no longer just a square photo-sharing app,” he really meant it!)
Just like TikTok, it’s too easy to get lost in an endless scroll of content on the Reels interface.
Some brands shy away from Reels, but that’s good news for you because it gives you the opportunity to capitalize on the short-form video trend for your own custom apparel.
But how on Earth are you going to make a video with the stack of t-shirts sitting in front of you? It’s not like they’re going to grow legs and start dancing, right?
Just kidding. We have a few video ideas to inspire you:
Source: @realisrare_apparel on Instagram
Talk about your products.
This idea is underrated. Your audience would be so interested to hear about the inspiration behind your apparel designs (and they’d also love to see your smiling face!)
Source: @illgoodx on Instagram
Show the process of creating your artwork.
It’s inspiring to see how much effort and skill designers use when creating their artwork. Give your audience a sneak peek!
Source: @wearlocalclothing on Instagram
Feature your retailers.
Using this strategy, you’ll show customers exactly where they can buy your products.
2. Post lifestyle content that features your products.
A straightforward shot of your product might show your customers exactly what the design looks like, but it won’t give your custom apparel any context.
Who is the person wearing your t-shirt?
What are they doing while they’re wearing it?
What is their day-to-day life like?
You should try to answer the three questions above with your lifestyle content. The goal is to show your audience how your custom apparel fits into their own lives.
If your audience desires the lifestyle you portray in the content you share, they will be more likely to purchase your custom apparel.
Of course, we want to emphasize the importance of staying true to your brand. This strategy isn’t about deception. It’s about attracting customers who are a cultural fit for your brand and products.
Don’t know where to start? You could try shooting a flat-lay image like the example below to capture the vibe of your custom apparel:
3. Share content that shows how people wear your custom apparel.
#OOTD isn’t just for fashion bloggers—you can use it for your custom apparel, too!
As we all know, there are countless ways to wear a t-shirt. In your content, try to show all the different ways your audience could wear your custom apparel.
And when it comes to shooting the content, more organic = better. Photos that look too much like ads don’t perform as well as candid shots.
For example, the t-shirt in the photo below is clearly visible, but the photo still looks natural:
Source: @dallassmith11 on Instagram
4. Create posts that are highly shareable.
Yes, we know you have a custom apparel brand, but guess what? Not every single Instagram post has to feature your products. (Shocker!)
Many brands weave in filler posts that consist of funny quotes, infographics, or other content that is highly shareable.
This strategy works because it allows brands to expand their reach when their posts go viral from receiving a lot of shares.
Before you run off and create a generic “Dream Big” graphic to post on your feed, you should know that your shareable content must be on-brand. You want to attract the right people to your page, after all!
Take your time and think of quotes or graphics that align with your brand and provide value to your target audience. Then, start creating!
5. Implement a system for repurposing content.
Let’s be real—you spend so much time creating content. It would be a sin not to repurpose it.
We bet you’re not making the most of your short-form video content (even if you think you are).
Are you posting your videos in all five of these places?
- Instagram Reels
- Facebook Reels
- Pinterest—as an Idea Pin
- YouTube Shorts
If not, you should consider leveraging other platforms to host your videos in addition to your primary platforms.
But before we get off-topic, let’s refocus on Instagram.
There are so many ways to repurpose content that it would take all day for us to list them all. So, we’ll just share five ideas to get you started:
- Download your TikTok videos and republish them as Instagram Reels.
- Screenshot your best tweets and post them on Instagram.
- Pull the main points out of a blog post and create an Instagram carousel out of them.
- Create short video teasers to promote longer videos.
- Read your old Instagram captions and turn the punchy lines into quote graphics of their own
The point is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you create content. You could take a single idea and turn it into 10 pieces of content to save time, resources, and brainpower!
6. Use engaging story stickers and pin your products to your story highlights.
Instagram story stickers are your friends. They will help you present your brand creatively and boost engagement with your audience.
Here are several stickers we like:
- Questions: can be used to ask for feedback or host a Q&A session with your audience
- Poll: ask for your followers’ opinions on something. Instagram just updated the poll sticker to include up to four options instead of just two!
- Music: used to add tunes, obviously
- Countdown: allows followers to turn on notifications for a launch or special event
- Quiz: can be used to test the knowledge of your followers
However, our all-time favorite is the link sticker (for selfish reasons). It allows accounts of any size to link to any URL from an Instagram story.
Previously, only accounts with 10,000 followers or more could link to URLs from stories—via a swipe-up feature that is now outdated.
Want to know how to use the link sticker to pin your products to your Instagram profile so your followers can easily see them?
All you need to do is create a series of Instagram stories to feature your custom apparel, and place the corresponding link stickers on each one.
Then, you’ll create an Instagram highlight (a.k.a. one of those circles that appear on Instagram profiles, right above the main feed).
Add all your product feature stories to your new highlight, and there you have it! A gawww-geous catalog of custom apparel for your followers to peruse.
7. Go live for all big announcements.
Whether you’re launching a new product or announcing a big collab, going live is a great way to create hype for whatever you’re promoting.
We recommend promoting your live stream in advance using the countdown story sticker we just mentioned.
Source: @everlane on Instagram
8. Create guides to showcase your products.
Instagram Guides are essentially a microblogging feature that allows you to compile lists of posts, places, or products to share with your followers. You can add a cover image, title, introduction, and descriptions for the items in your guide.
Guides have their own sections on Instagram profiles. Although they cannot be promoted in the main feed, they can be shared to stories.
When the holidays roll around again, we recommend creating gift guides that feature your products so you can direct customers to the items that would best suit their gift-giving needs.
9. Launch an influencer campaign and repurpose the content from it.
Here’s a trick that a lot of business owners don’t know:
You can ask for content rights in your influencer contracts.
If you can secure rights to the finished content produced by the influencers you hire, you’ll be able to use the photos and videos for your own social media content, digital ads, website, email campaigns… and the list goes on!
If you don’t acquire content rights from the influencers, the posts from the campaign will have a 48-hour lifespan and then get buried underneath the newer content.
However, if your brand has the right to repurpose or republish the content from the campaign, you could use it for years to come.
You don’t need an expensive content shoot to acquire amazing content for your brand. Influencers can produce high-res photo and video content on their own—so, plan your campaign and make use of the content your partners create!
10. Encourage and repost user-generated content.
If someone loves your brand enough to post about it, you have a wonderful opportunity to make that person feel appreciated and welcomed into your online community.
We recommend reposting user-generated content about your brand. You can simply share it to your Instagram story, or you can publish an in-feed post that features the content. Just make sure you tag the creator to show your admiration!
11. Run a giveaway to encourage people to post about your brand.
One thing will never change—people love free stuff.
Whether your prize is a t-shirt or a Starbucks gift card, social media users will quickly pounce on the opportunity to enter your giveaway.
You can create any rules you want (as long as they are legally compliant, of course).
If your goal is to increase user-generated content, you could ask your audience to publish a photo wearing your custom apparel to enter.
Alternatively, you could simply ask them to share the giveaway to their stories and tag your brand.
Either way, you will get more eyes on your Instagram page and hopefully attract people who will be interested in purchasing your custom apparel.
12. Host a contest to make your customers a part of the brand-building experience.
If you want to try an out-of-the-box strategy, you could host a t-shirt design contest for your creative followers.
The winning t-shirt would get printed, and the artist would receive a prize in exchange for their work.
Any strategy that makes your audience feel like they’re a part of your brand will help to build community and customer loyalty.
If you’re serious about your Instagram game, you’ll need products that are #instaworthy.
That’s where we come in. At Scrappy Apparel, we use the highest-quality materials and the brightest inks. Your custom apparel will stand out both on camera and in-person.
If you want to learn more about our custom apparel services, we invite you to request a quote. No pressure involved. Ever.