Do you remember how things used to be? Remember how you used to throw together some breakfast in the morning without caring whether people knew you were sampling colour-explosion acai bowl or some defrosted bread whacked in the toaster and lathered in peanut butter?
Remember when you used to empty the contents of your closet on to the bed and select something of your own volition, rather than via the opinions and recommendations of your dedicated social media following?
Back when a ‘flatlay’ meant that you’d had a mammoth day and being horizontal was the only goal? Back when a ‘hashtag’ simply referred to the button you pressed on your landline to redial a missed call? Back when ‘Throwback Thursday’ wasn’t really designated to Thursday at all, but rather your mum pulling out embarrassing photos of you to show your new romance? Back when someone ‘following you’ was actually more terrifying than it was rewarding? Back when ‘Lol’ was supposedly slang for ‘lollies’, or else an unfortunate typo?
Instagram changed everything in 2010. And now, 7 years later, the party is still going gangbusters. Every man, woman and dog (no, literally) is on the dang app. And this year we were finally graced with the taco emoji – we are truly *blessed*.
More specifically for us in the business world though, the value of Instagram for branding has skyrocketed dramatically. With a community of over 300 million brands and consumers tapped in, businesses have a hungry, active audience right at their fingertips.
These days, having an Instagram account for your business is not only an amazing way to showcase your product or service, humanise your brand and engage one-on-one with your customers, it’s an absolute marketing necessity. Unfortunately though, Instagram-for-biz only works if we do, and it can be a tough platform to tackle. Without a steady stream of eyeballs devouring your posts each day, your feed will slowly become a deserted wasteland where your content goes to die.
So what exactly does it take to create a killer Instagram feed? Aside from posting consistently, sharing high quality pics, hashtagging yourself silly and engaging with your peeps, it also requires a strategically cohesive look and feel of your feed. A consistent, one-of-a-kind feed will allow your audience to feel more connected to your brand message, and thus engage with not just your feed, but your products and services IRL.
So – how do you build an army of loyal DTDTs (Down-To-Double-Tappers)?
Buckle up buttercup, it’s time to up your Insta game.
KNOW YOUR VIBE
The key to creating a cohesive feed is understanding and embodying the aesthetic and feel you’re going for. Your overall image needs to reflect your business positively and accurately.
Whilst curating images that speak to your brand, ensure that the message is kept crystal clear and 100% consistent. If your concept is visually clear, it helps people to understand and relate to your brand and it’s story. Even if you just snapped a winning photo of your bambino rocking lipstick she found in your handbag, if it’s completely off-brand, DON’T GRAM IT.
METHOD TO THE MADNESS
As yo’ mumma used to say, “fail to plan and you plan to fail”. Taking time to plan your Instagram content will save you in the long run and will ensure that your feed is unified and well executed. Long gone are the days when Instagram was actually ‘instant’; these days it’s all about Schedugram or Latergram. If you didn’t know about these scheduling programs, I apologise – I’ve probably just done the equivalent of ruining the concept of Santa to some. A lot of successful Instagrammers will dedicate one or two days a week to create and curate their content, scheduling it to post throughout the week. This allows you to spend time crafting a killer feed and means managing your account throughout the week is a breeze.
ORIGINAL CONTENT IS KING
It’s a known fact that any man and his dog can rip photos off Pinterest or the internet – well, maybe not any man. The simple act of creating your own content and producing original, unique images will set you apart. Of course, this is not always 100% feasible. Even at Smack Bang, with a team of 14 creatives, a great camera, endless editing skills and an epic studio, we still find it hard to prioritise the time to create enough original content to completely fill our feed. We’re all about finding the balance between found imagery and real life snaps and always aim for about 70% original content. One thing that’s for sure though, whether you’re posting original or regrammed content, it’s all about quality over quantity in business, forever and always. Amen.
EASY ON THE EYES
One thing all of the best Instagram accounts have in common is that they have an incredibly cemented aesthetic that weaves through all of their photos. Once you’ve nailed down your brand look and feel, stick to it like liquid nails. It might be hard to resist the urge to post the best freaking photo you’ve ever taken, but if it’s not quite in line with your aesthetic, keep resisting. Consistency is key and is this essential ingredient allows your audience to connect with and trust your brand. Studies have shown that images with plenty of negative space and single dominant colours receive the most likes – it’s no surprise that the absence of chaos helps the viewer to focus and feel relaxed. Clean, crisp images that are in focus and taken in the right light also score well in the ‘Gram rankings. Nothing ruins a potentially cool photo op faster than poor lighting or cluttered subject matter.
TALK THE TALK
Language is a circus of delight, and with your words you can entertain, inform, enlighten or fall flat on your face. Your Instagram captions are a huge part of how your followers engage with you. A picture may speak a thousand words, but your words and language further illustrate to tell the story. And that’s exactly what your caption should be doing: telling the story. Nailing your brand voice and communicating in a consistent manner to your audience will bring you one step closer to Gram greatness. There are many differing opinions on the subject of caption-length. Some Gram greats will tell you to use up all 2,000 characters and really give your life story away. I’m not one of those. I’m 100% down with this dude named William Shakespeare who believed, “Brevity is the soul of wit”.
To help you curate Instagram and have your feed flow nicely, you should have a consistent approach to editing your photos. Again, this needs to tie back to your brand aesthetic – does your brand prefer rich, saturated colour? Or grainy, rustic vibes? At Smack Bang, we tend to shift more towards the brighter edits, focusing on whites and fresh lights. Getting into a rhythm of editing your photos consistently, your audience will feel more connected to your feed and get to know your vibe. If it isn’t already, VSCO will be your new editing BFF – it’s superhero capabilities of turning a seriously average photo into a regrammable masterpiece continues to amaze me.
PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING
Every time you post a photo it’s important to consider how that one photo will look as part of your entire Insta feed. Afterall, it’s the little things actually add up to be big things. Regardless of how many killer photos you upload, if they don’t fit together and tell a story, your feed will look cluttered and unprofessional. Take a step back, and look at your Instagram feed as a whole – how do all of your photos sit together? The best feeds have a complimentary variety of subjects and compositions that are evenly spaced out. Even Kim Kardashian knows not to post two selfies one after the other, and that’s saying something.
Most people find Instagram more addictive than a Games of Thrones couch-marathon and don’t need to hear this piece of advice – so if that’s you, please skip on to the next point and don’t use this as an excuse to get your thumb on the scroll-wagon again. If you’re going to be a business on Instagram, then you have got to be a business ON Instagram, pretty darn frequently. I don’t mean in the slutty spam-bot kinda way, I simply mean getting social on social media – crazy, huh? Most people forget that social media is in fact social. Many use it to either shout their name at any passer-by, or just sit creepily behind the curtains and watch the world go by. No-one wants to engage with an account that feels sterile or too cool for school. Find some accounts that you feel aligned with, engage with them and get to know them – I’m the first to admit that I’ve met some pretty amazing real life friends through the old ‘Gram.
Guest blog by Tess Robinson, Founder + Creative Director of Smack Bang Designs