Instagram is probably my most used social media tool today. As a matter of fact it is my most used social tool since becoming a blogger and influencer. Aside from my usual stalking (because yes, I stalk daily; you could very well be my next victim), I love the art of visual-storytelling. Thus, branding your Instagram is widely important to you and your “career” as a digital influencer AND as a young professional. Get into it.
Branding Your Instagram: The Inside Scope
Tell Your Story
First and foremost, Instagram is very personal. It is not all about getting your next sale or trying to become the next instafamous celebrity; people will only invest into you, people will only listen to you if you are someone they consider trustworthy. And how can one trust you, if they do not know who you are and the things in which you stand for. Transparency is key. You do not have to bare it all, only you can decide how much is “too much”. But, you want to keep your followers engaged and nothing is engaging about someone spamming another’s timeline with constant pictures of detox teas, bodyshapers and whatever else the latest “trend” of get rich quick schemes are. Don’t be selling a dream, pretending you have it all together; because as I’ve said before, we are in an age of transparency. People want the “Ugly Truth”, so give them the Ugly Truth. Instagram is for ordinary everyday people; your audience will consist of ordinary, everyday people. Therefore, your feed should tell a story. YOUR story. It should be relatable.
What story are you telling?
For example, my followers know that I am a mommy. A single mother with a six year old daughter who suffers from kidney failure. In addition to that, they know that I have been engaged (twice), that I’ve been homeless, lost my job, am going through an ugly custody battle, that my car has been repossessed (multiple times) and etc. Professionally, they know that I love to write, hence the blog, that has turned into a full service life and style brand.
They know that I like to sing. That I cannot ride a bike. I have cried to them on my worst days and shown them the strength behind some of my best.
This is where branding yourself comes into play. We ALL have personal brands. Thus, what image are you portraying to your followers?
The 10 Second Rule
Personally, when I stumble across someone’s Instagram page within the first 10 to 15 seconds I have already decided on rather or not I am going to follow that person. This is why aesthetics matter. They matter! Your pictures are going to be the FIRST thing a person sees. Therefore, you need to make sure your feed is aesthetically pleasing to one’s eye. Of course its social media and social media will not tell you everything about a person. However, because visual storytelling is the sole purpose of Instagram make sure your photos are indeed…TELLING A STORY.
Thus again, aesthetics matter.
Prior to blogging, my Instagram feed was a complete mess. It consisted of poorly lit photos, often times had no caption. I reposted things I probably had no business reposting and more. Like it was just a mess. Since then, however, I’ve cleaned up my Instagram and now its streamlined with light and airy photos that are conducive to my brand and who I am as a person.
Major key!, my brand image.
With that being said,
NATURAL LIGHT IS YOUR FRIEND.
I repeat, NATURAL LIGHT IS YOUR FRIEND.
When branding your Instagram, obviously the most important thing is to have visually appealing photos. That is not to say you have to go out and buy an overly expensive DSLR camera in order to take photos specifically for the purpose of uploading to your Instagram feed. No. Now days, using your cellphone camera will give you the same quality photos a Canon or Nikon will. Even though I do own a Canon, I myself am shooting from my phone 99% of the time.
Shameless plug, and if you are not confident in taking your own photos. You can very will hire me.
Still skeptical, check out some of my favorite Instagrammers and how they have successfully branded their Instagram:
When you get to Color Me Courtney’s instafeed you are immediately drawn into her world of color. Each photo is a happy and upbeat photo. Displaying her quirky personality, her incredible sense of style and of course her love for color.
Many people believe that branding Instagram is only for social influencers, celebrities and/or businesses. Not true. Branding your Instagram should be important to you as well, especially as a young professional. We all know that employers are no longer looking at just resumes, they also take into account your social media activity. Thus, be mindful because each social channel you use is an extension of you and your personal brand.
Therefore, you should….
Practice What You Post
Two things I hate to see:
1. An instagram feed flooded with nothing, but quotes and memes
2. Photos without captions.
As I stated above, before I got serious about my social media activity. I posted and reposted whatever it was I wanted to. I had no caption, that now aggravates me. And I hated the use of hashtags. Probably because I underestimated their purpose.
First things first, to practice what you post you must watch what you post! Many of us see these memes, these videos or these quotes and think theres no harm in reposting or sharing these things. Wrong! People attribute that to you as a person and things you support.
Another key, your brand identity.
Secondly, how can one get to know you if all they see is a cluttered feed of tacky memes and random quotes. Put some thought and effort into the photos you post! There are hundreds of thousands of stock libraries out there that will allow you to create and have insta worthy photos.
Canva is bae.
Caption your photos
When posting a photo, please include a caption. Otherwise, people are just seeing a random photo. They have no idea what they are looking at unless you tell them. They don’t know what to feel unless, YOU TELL them. With your words you are capable of making the ugliest of photos beautiful and the most beautiful photo ugly because they understand the emotion behind it.
They are now feeling what you feel.
When you are scrolling through your roll of endless images and you stumble across that one photo you must share. Think to yourself, what am I trying to tell them?
It is NOT all about you. The point of social media is to be SOCIAL. Ask your followers questions. Respond to their comments. Like and comment on their photos. Spark a conversation.
It cannot be all about you and what you THINK you can do for them. Be organic. Build trust. Show that you genuinely care. And trust we all know when someone genuinely cares about us and when they are pretending for the sake of grabbing a sale or a new follow.
When people ask the question on how to organically grow their following? I immediately ask them how often are you engaging? Are you allowing your personality to show or are you cold and fridgit?
At the end of the day the branding of your Instagram, Twitter and etc boils down to YOUR brand. And how well you know your brand and the message you want to convey will transcend through the success of your Instagram and social media follow.