In this day in age, you need to be prominent on social media if you’re a small business. The problem? Knowing which social network to choose. With social media giants and newbies alike constantly competing for the next top spot in the online marketing industry, it can seem like you need to be everywhere to have a reasonable impact (or make any sort of dent in your online sales goal!) But the truth? It only takes one to really send you to the top.
For us, that’s Instagram. Back in 2010 when they first came on the scene, it was merely a cool place to share photos of the last night out with your friends, cool food pics (um, have you seen all of the toppings on my Sunday Funday Bloody Mary?) and maybe for the smartest of us, an occasional post promoting your up and coming venture. But now, it’s really not a choice but to be on the photo-sharing app.
With over 700 million users, a new Live feature (from parent company, Facebook), Stories (similar to Snapchat) and a new ad algorithm, Instagram has shown that it’s here to stay– and play hard, combining the best of the best features from ideas around the web.
But what do you do when your brand’s Insta isn’t #onfleek? What if you don’t know how to curate your Instagram feed? We have you covered.
Let’s dive right in.
1. Archive Posts That Don’t Match Your Aesthetic
First off, that means that you actually have to have an aesthetic. Unlike the realities that people show on Snapchat and Twitter, Instagram users flock to the platform to see carefully curated content and photos that provide an outlet for the mundanity of the everyday. Not sure where to even begin? We’ll dig deeper into that later.
But for now: Go through your feed and ask yourself, “What photos just for sure won’t work?”
Your first mission is to archive anything with bad lighting, any ‘Grams that are grainy, blurry or otherwise unpleasing to the eye.
Second, (if you already have an aesthetic– say, light and airy, similar to The Balanced Blonde’s) archive photos that don’t belong in your new and improved feed. As an example, if your feed goal is to be light and airy, you’d archive any posts where photos have high contrast or are dimly lit. Although they may be great photos, they no longer match the brand identity you’re trying to create.
To archive, simply follow Instagram’s instructions, which are to:
- Go to your profile
- Tap (iOS) or (Android) above the post you’d like to archive
- Select Archive
Once you’ve archived a post, you can choose to show it on your profile again. The post will return to its original spot on your profile.
To show an archived post on your profile:
- Go to your profile and tap in the top right
- Tap the post you’d like to show on your profile
- Tap (iOS) or (Android) above the post, then select Show on Profile
2. Use Similar Filters and Editing Styles
As mentioned above, having a consistent aesthetic is important for your brand when it comes to how you curate your Instagram feed. Just think of your Instagram aesthetic as an extension of your brand identity– because that’s exactly what it is! For example, your business should already have a brand voice. If your brand voice for your health coaching business is to-the-point with a sweet side of energy, you wouldn’t suddenly start speaking in corporate jargon and go monotone on your IG Stories, would you? Just like if your brand aesthetic was moody with cool tones, you wouldn’t start publishing bright and deep colored photos out of the blue.
The nice part? With all of the technology available online nowadays, you don’t have to be a pro photographer to capture photos that match your ideal aesthetic! Our tip is to keep lighting in photos consistent, and then edit using mainly the same filters and to keep up the editing style.
To make it easy, we personally keep a guide for our clients. If photos are usually shot in medium light, we turn the contrast up to 10, brightness up to 7, shadows up 2 and then tweak from there.
Check out this list of Instagram photo editing Apps and choose your favorite. Apps such as Afterlight, VSCO, and PicMonkey also add to a simple photo editing process! They’re all available for free in the app store, but we highly suggest buying whichever packs speak to you on Afterlight and VSCOcam and purchasing the paid version of PicMonkey because it has been completely worth it.
3. Create a Mood Board on Pinterest
It can take time to come up with an aesthetic idea you like for your brand … after all, our businesses are our babies! Luckily, other SM bigwig, Pinterest, is perfect for that. We suggest curating a private board on your Pinterest account that is dedicated to Mission: #InstaGoals.
Our personal step-by-step process:
- Pin photos that you love. Short + Sweet. What photos draw you in and make you want to look at more? Which photos capture your attention right off of the bat? Which photos are ones that you would triple “heart” if you could on Instagram? Pin ‘em.
- Think Like a Consumer. Think back: Have any businesses really captured your attention on social media lately using visuals? An influencer’s photo of her new pair of Nike Trainers or a chef’s photo of pasta using chickpea noodles in the background? Consider styles that have spoken to you in the past and have influenced you to buy.
- Use That Search. We often type in, “Instagram Aesthetic Ideas” into our Pinterest search and are delivered with photo after photo of pure inspiration. If you’re truly undecided, this could be just what you need to spark which may be the right one for you in your work. Another secret tip? If you search for, “Instagram Aesthetic VSCO” it comes up with various VSCO editing sequences that provide a similar look and feel in each and every photo you’ll edit. Totally cool!
4. Use Planoly
Planoly not only makes it super easy to schedule your Instagram posts, but also is gold for seeing how each and every post will look aligned next to each other. Their easy drag and drop feature allows brands to see which photos will look best next to each other, and in the end, make their feed as gorgeous as it can be. Their other major pros include the fact that they harbor analytics, a commenting platform, the ability to repost other photos on the IG community and more. Not sponsored, we just love it.
5. Plan Ahead of Time
The best way to make sure this perfectly curated feed never happens is to not plan. Make sure you’re taking photos ahead of time and considering the following:
- Will this photo look good once edited?
- Will my consumer find this photo attention-grabbing?
- Can this image tell a story?
- Are there any holidays coming up that I should be sure to recognize?
- How much time will it take to shoot all of these?
You want to give yourself ample time to complete (we prefer a month ahead) and edit.
Image: Author’s Own
Kaley Hart is a San Diego based digital strategist and writes for Jumper Media social media marketing column. She loves working with small businesses, and telling their stories through social media. Kaley is very talented, but her most impressive quality is the ability to identify any dog breed recognized by the American Kennel Club. Go Bruins! You can connect with her on Twitter @kaleyhearts