Ahh Instagram. It’s so much more than selfies and pictures of food. The photography-based platform has become an extremely useful tool for strategic marketing and personal branding. I recently started incorporating my business into my Instagram feed, listening to my own advice that I give some of my clients. Prior to that, I had never fully committed to making it my personal brand. Walking the walk on my o wn has taught me a lot about the platform already. I’ve doubled my following in two months just taking a few steps toward a more strategic feed. I’m still working to find balance in my content, but I thought I’d share what I’ve done so far to build a more refined personal brand on Instagram.
So, how do you build a loyal following all while staying true to your brand identity?
I know I’ve said in the past you can “Automate Your Twitter Marketing,” but Instagram is not a channel I would automate. Try to think “big picture” when you think about your personal brand on Instagram. As we all know, first impressions matter. Let’s start with the bio.
Step One: Write an Irresistible Bio
Crafting a succinct, relatable and informative bio is key. Think of it as your elevator pitch. It should state your name and what you do. You should also include a way to contact you whether that’s via your Snapchat username, email or website.
BRANDING TIP – The first statement in your bio should explain why someone should follow you.
Remember – people follow you for their own reasons just like they purchase your products or services for their own reasons. They don’t really care that you run marathons and love Taylor Swift unless you offer discounted concert tickets or inspirational tips for running marathons. When you write your bio, make it easy for your followers to know what you’re all about and why they should click that “follow” button.
Step Two: Create a Consistent Feed
It’s important to firmly understand your brand identity and stick to it as you build a consistent look and feel for your feed. Instagram users are hip analyzers and quick to say the least. A recent study by Entrepreneur states that an online visitor creates an impression about your brand in two-tenths of a second. Two-tenths of a second! Meaning, you have a significantly small window to create an impactful, lasting impression with potential followers and brand evangelists in your Instagram marketing. Also, consider how easy your username is to find.
Establishing a theme for your personal brand on Instagram is crucial to building consistency. Figure out what it is that you want to go after. Is it minimalism? Is it colorful photos? Is it a pop of color? Is it plants or greenery? Is it homemade food? Is it rustic-chic decor? Is it fashionable outfits? Once you determine what your theme is, it will be easier to think strategically about the types of photos that you want to post. There are many filters to choose from in Instagram, but other apps like VSCO cam or Afterlight help you get different effects.
BRANDING TIP: Use the Snug App to visualize how your photos will look before actually posting them to your feed.
One example of a consistent feed is Lauren Conrad (@laurenconrad). Lauren Conrad’s feed features a soft, blush-pink effect with a rustic-chic vibe including lots of florals and handmade cakes, candles or bags. This aligns with her brand The Little Market @thelittlemarket, which consists of fair trade, handmade goods from around the world. Therefore, Lauren uses her Instagram feed as a way to subtly promote her business while also promoting her personal brand– as a crafty, hip individual with a worldly sense of style.
Another example is The Hess Twins (@thehesstwins). The Hess Twins’ Instagram feed is full of sharp, clean and edgy images geared towards streetwear and fashion. The two sisters are constantly posting pictures galavanting around Boston, or really wherever, but always manage to keep up with their feed. Neutrals with a splash of color is the name of the game here and it reflects their fashion-forward, trendy personalities. Their bio is exceptionally clever: “ashley + kat Twins sharing genes and jeans since 1992” so right away you get a sense that they are interested in clothing. Plus, they provide their email and link to their fashion blog.
Naturally, if you tend to post bright images, your overall feed will look consistently radiant and fresh. Contrarily, if you are going for a vintage look, black and white or faded out images may be your thing.
BRANDING TIP: Focus on photos in groups of threes when you’re planning your posts. It’s a good way to keep consistency on the brain. People’s eyes also look at things in diagonals.
But building a personal brand on Instagram is only half the battle. The question still remains, how will your target audience find you even if you have the most beautiful images? Here’s my small tip – leverage your Explore Page!
Stay tuned for part two where I cover how to get noticed and grow your audience on Instagram.
What have you done to build your personal brand on Instagram? Leave your tips in the comments below!