When Instagram was first introduced in 2010, everyone jumped on board eagerly, and we saw a whole new wave of image sharing. From cooking to fitness to design, Instagram is a platform that is made for almost everyone, and as of April 2016 there were more than 400 million active monthly users. This makes it the perfect platform for people to share images with friends and family, but also the perfect platform for brands to share with their customers. Most brands have already realized this, and many are doing a great job of upping their client base through their instagram. If you’re a blogger or business owner and you aren’t thinking about how to use Instagram to your advantage, then you are missing out.
But, unlike a personal Instagram account where users share images immediately as they take them, brand Instagrams requiring planning. People are expecting beautiful, carefully crafted images. Though it does happen, it’s harder to find an Instagram account that has a high following with poor quality images. The best cases of these are celebrities who were famous before Instgram came around, and are using it just as normal people do – to share images of their life. But, if you weren’t famous before Instagram, and are looking to use it to grow, image quality matters.
Furthermore, not just image quality, but images, plural. Your images need to look good together. A great image will capture the eye as someone scrolls through their feed, and maybe they’ll like the image. But once they get to your profile and like the image, the look of your feed as a whole is what will make them follow you. So, how do you do it?
Before you post your first image, or even open up your account, you should have a strategy. Think of the kind of images you want to share.
Is your life interesting and are your photography skills good enough that you can take beautiful images and post them without planning ahead? Maybe so. This works for photographers or travelers who come across interesting share-worthy things daily, and have the skills to take great photos.
But if not, the best option is likely to plan ahead. At the beginning of every month, plan your Instagram feed. Decide what images you will use and what captions you will take. Make sure they all look cohesive, maybe even lay them out in a grid ahead of time so you can see them as a whole. I use inDesign to do this, but there are paid apps available like Planoly.
I’ve had a very lose strategy for the past few months – taking bright, white pictures and trying to only post good quality photos. I would also throw in a design that I made every once in a while when I felt like it. However, a few weeks ago I realized that wasn’t really enough of a strategy. So, I developed one. I decided to alternate between photos and designs. Every other picture would be a design that I have created for a client or for myself and I would explain the design in the caption, and every photo would be an attractive flat lay that I would caption with information about how I’m feeling or things I’m going through in my business. Though I plan my images ahead of time, I usually create the captions when I’m posting them, so that the caption is relevant to my business and what’s going on at the time.
If you take a look at my Instagram feed, you can see where I made the switch, and when I actually started planning my images. Though the images before the switch aren’t bad, the images afterwards are better and go together more cleanly. Below are all the images since I started planning. The image of my watch was before I started planning, but it fits in okay with the new style. But, if you look at my feed, beyond the watch there’s no planning involved, and you can tell.
You’ll see a lot about strategy online, but there are lots of strategies that will work. You can create your own, and all that matters is that it is true to your brand, you are sharing meaningful content in your captions, and that your images look great, both individually and together. When trying to come up with your strategy, thing about the things in your life that are photo worthy.
Me, for example, I have a gorgeous workspace and lots of pretty office supplies, but on the day to day I’m just bumming around and working online all day. I also have some great designs because – of course – I’m a designer. So this meant that I have the material to make good images, but doing it on the fly probably wouldn’t work. So I sat down one day and gathered all the designs I thought were share worthy, and took a tonne of photos of my workspace. Now I have them all stored in a folder and I take from there every time I need to post.
It’s okay to have a life that isn’t glamorous or interesting enough to warrant being photographed every step of the way – this just means you have to plan – and luckily for us, planning is pretty easy.