The ‘gram’, that’s the net weight of your social media presence. Instagram is where one billion active social media users from all corners of the world connect, out of which at least 63% log onto Instagram every day. Statistics say that an average user spends 28 minutes a day on Instagram. It is also the most popular image sharing social media platform among the millennials. To tell a story with a picture is quick, effective and lasts long, leaving an impression on your mind.
If you are a business, it is the best way to reach a targeted audience. If you are an influencer, brands are looking to work with you here. Everything being visual it is also important to brand yourself accordingly in this medium. There are some time tested and structured strategies on how to create a brand on Instagram.
We begin by breaking down the elements of your Instagram page and decoding them to best suit audience engagement and impressions. Five steps are all one needs to break the most guarded Instagram algorithm and make your audience double tap and heart you!
1. THE INSTAGRAM BIO
This is your 150 character pitch about your page and who you are on Insta. Make each space worth it. There are numerous ways to spruce up one’s bio but why is it so important? When someone lands on your page the Bio is the only readable content on it. Everything else is visual. Even the best of photographs make a sustained connection owing to the story behind them. This is your story but you have a very limited space.
Use niche keywords to state who you are. For example, artist, lifestyle blogger or entrepreneur. If you are a business, use keywords that exactly describe your products: sustainable lifestyle, organic skincare or pure cotton muslin. If you have a business, then link it to your Instagram page using the tag @xxyy and it becomes a clickable link. Emoji can be an effective eye-grab but be warned they account for 2-3 character spaces. You can use a targeted #, for example my page uses #happymomlifestyle for all my branded posts. Including this in the bio makes it easy for brands to search your work.
Do not make the bio all about yourself.
As contradictory as this may sound, the truth is audience are vary of too much self-praise. Tell them precisely what you have to offer them before you go ahead describing yourself.
Alignment is super important to appear pleasing, aesthetic and to make the maximum impact. Use a web browser to edit the BIO rather than your phone. Definitely leave a call for action with your email id and link to your blog page. This is a great way for brands/buyers to contact you and leaving a blog link helps them read about you in more detail.
2. EYE SPY A POWERFUL PHOTOGRAPH
With a hundred thousand users uploading images on social media, the only way to catch someone’s scrolling attention is through a powerful photograph. Your capture needn’t be picture perfect; on the contrary raw images work better on Insta. If you notice the ratio of instagram’s captures are a unique 1:1 so it doesn’t matter if you have the sharpest images but what matters are the elements in it. Let me break this to you more easily.
The composition of a photograph is king, second comes the lighting and third the colour.
Composition is basically the distribution of elements in a photo frame. Plan the colours that go in a click and keep them to a major of one or two family of shades and not more. White and Green are a great hit when accentuated with gold elements. Blue is better paired with earthy browns. Spaces in your photography are very important to make your grid look aesthetic finally. Leave conscious and controlled spaces in your captures.
There are many android and iphone apps available to enhance your photograph in terms of colour and light, the most popular are Snapseed, Adobe Lightroom and VSCO. Grid planning apps like Planoly, Later and Preview and Instagram’s own latest release Creator Studio also help immensely.
3. EMOTION MAPPING YOUR GRID
No successful brand has reached their current position by just selling their product or services to an audience. They offer a cohesive experience ranging from ambience to design and forming genuine human connections and go one step ahead and offer added benefits for following them and being loyal on the page.
Being ‘nice’ is the new cool.
Behind many exceptional Social media pages sits a carefully architected audience emotional map, which acts as visual representation of the experience your audience has with your brand.
An easy exercise to break this down would be to sit and meditate on what are the top 5 emotions that come to your mind when you think of your Instagram page as a brand. For example, for my page ‘happymomlifestyle’ I would pen down: happiness, bold, feministic, gentle and vulnerable. As a theme your posts should run through one emotion in each post. The result is an interesting grid which resonates with real emotions.
There are many means to successfully engage a wide variety of audience on your page and putting it down as points makes it easy for you to conceptualize this. What is real need not be too hard to work on. Keep it real on your page, your brand communications honest and see the audience flock to you eagerly.
4. POWER OF WORDS
Instagram offers you 2200 character spaces to write and though that seems moderately sufficient, the truth is you only have the first 140 characters to capture your audience. When a post shows up on the wall the key impressions points apart from an amazing capture are the few words in the caption before the ‘read more’. This is your pitch! They must not just be a click bait but also relevant to the rest of the emotions in your caption.
The caption itself must flow in small paragraphs through different emotions depending on your content but always end in a strong emotion provoking statement.
This end statement should include a call for action by either commenting something on the post or sharing it. For example a post on fashion can end with ‘what colour dress did you buy for this birthday.’ You are invoking a happy memory of a celebration and also asking a very simple question such that the audience wants to comment on.
Use your emojis to make pointers on your caption, draw attention to important points and to express emotions. This is the easiest hack to draw attention to an otherwise black and white caption and also to connect with a young audience.
5. ORGANIC ENGAGEMENT
There is a golden rule of growth on Instagram, it is called #communityovercompetition. The simplest way to drive engagement to your posts is to engage on others’ posts. It may sound like insane advice to sit and spend time going through hundreds of posts and liking and commenting each day but there is method to this madness.
Identify your niche hashtags, they work like search keywords on Instagram.
For example, a niche keyword like #happinessisachoice may roll out millions of post but #happymomlife only rolls out a few thousands. Prefer the later and head to the recent posts section and engage on the first 10 posts you see here every day. They will be completely new profiles who have never heard of you. Take time to like and comment sincerely on the posts as this is their first impression they form of you. I recommend this exercise with at least three niche specific hashtags and it has given me good results in the last two years.
The key to brand yourself successfully is to have a well thought out plan in advance. The clearer your vision for your page, the easier it becomes and the advantages are numerous once the brand is an established household name. Being sensitive to your audience demands is the key and content remains King!