Hello again! By now you have read my first post in this series called “So You Wanna Instagram?”
You are filled with excitement and can’t wait to start building your brand. You have some photo shoots envisioned, and you know the people and products you want to collaborate with.
Enthusiasm is great, but now you need to start building your brand. Whether you have started and feel “stuck,” are plateauing at 3,000 followers, want to pivot with a new direction, or are brand-new, you need to start at the beginning.
Here are the 5 things to master first when building your Instagram account:
- To build a brand, you need an identity.
Every brand is unique, with it’s own look and feel. Starting from the logo, and the colors and fonts that you select, your entire brand needs to be cohesive. It needs to make sense. You need to stand for something, and you need to know exactly what your brand represents.
What are the 3-5 things you feature? Who are you? Why are you unique? Why are people going to take time out of their busy day and like your picture? Or better yet, hopefully co
mment (in three words or more)! I believe that each and every person is unique and interesting. What are the stand out things about YOU? No one else matters right now. All that matters is finding YOUR OWN VOICE.
Until you have this defined, it is very hard to grow your brand. If I am going to the store to select a La Croix water, what is going to make it stand apart from other sparkling beverages, waters, cold-pressed juices, etc?
I know it can be hard to think of YOURSELF as a brand. But you are. If you make a product, that is a brand, and you yourself are a brand as well. They do not have to be the same.
My Club Momme brand was inclusive, open, supportive, welcoming, sweet and really appealed to the modern mom. It was a community that was more eco-conscious and only supported products that were tried and tested.
My personal brand is opinionated (just read this post!), loves fashion and beauty (things we almost never discussed, because they are exclusive and not inclusive), trends towards healthy and wellness but loves donuts and coffee. I love to travel, twinning with my daughter, and I am all about collaborating and community.
- What is your voice?
What do you focus on? Do you support certain issues? People should be able to figure this out just from looking at your pictures. Some casual selfies or pictures of just yourself or your child in every picture are not telling a story.
Just as your words can tell a story, so should your pictures.
I currently focus on: fashion (especially twinning), travel, mom life, fitness / wellness and motivation / being a girl boss. I throw in some must have products (that fall into mom life) and I am starting to do more beauty.
You do not stray from your voice. I even think I focus on too many things, but I am still in a transitory period, shifting from one place to another. I DO like a lot of things I don’t focus on, such a cooking (my favorite hobby), event planning, consulting with businesses and start-ups. But I don’t need to share everything!
- What’s your communication style?
Are you casual? More proper? Are you wordy? Inspirational? Use only emojis? Some combination? For instance, what do you call your audience? Mamas? Moms? Girls? You guys? This matters. People may be drawn to your pictures, but turned off by your speech and what you say.
As mentioned above, people mostly like shorter posts. But as you can tell, I am not succinct. So 1-2x a week I do a LONG post and that’s okay, it’s my style. Not everyone will read it, and that’s okay. But I had something to say that day.
- What story is your picture telling?
Pictures are not afterthoughts on Instagram, they are the most important thing. Your picture is your story, it’s your post, it’s the reason people choose to tap like, read what you say, and then follow you.
And remember, one picture doesn’t garner a like. I always check out someone’s feed before I choose to follow them. We all have an occasional home run. I like to follow people who regularly hit them.
Instagrammers are not casually snapping pics on their phone and then just posting them. They have a strategy. I know exactly what I want to capture in the photo, the best angles to take it from. I have a plan in place to take the photos I want for the week (or sometimes month, if I am feeling super organized).
If you are over 25, your pictures should not be a series of selfies or pictures of just yourself, unless you are a fashion blogger. Then they should be really good, editorial-style photos in various settings focused on your clothes.
For me, I rotate my kids, pictures of me, pictures of me and my kids, a gorgeous piece of wall art, landscape, etc in with whatever it is I am promoting. What? You don’t know I am promoting things? That’s exactly the way I want it.
My voice is organic and authentic, so even if I am at an event, I am thinking about how to get the right picture to tell the story I want to share. I know my brand, and I know how to capture it in various settings. Over time, you will know this as well. But it takes time to learn what it is. And you NEED to find your brand and your voice. Just posting pics randomly is not telling a story.
- Editing Your Photo
Once I have my picture, I run them through a series of apps to get the exact look I want. One of the big trends right now is VSCO Camera, an editing app that gives a very specific look. These pictures tend to have a high white balance, trend towards the oranges, yellows and greens, and feel very earthy.
They are GORGEOUS. Some of my favorite Instagrammers feature this look. But it is just not me. I live my life in color. I have a ton of energy and I love to be bright and colorful.
VSCO is just not for me (unless I have a very specific photo I need to edit, so I keep it on my phone). That’s okay, because I have to do me. VSCO never really felt natural, it was always forced.
- Post When You Have Something to Share or Say
Do you ever go to post, and not know what to say? Or are you struggling to find a picture you want to share? This is your clue to step away from your phone. Do not post. People can tell when you aren’t being real, just like they can if you are talking to someone and don’t really want to be there. People are not dummies, and they can feel it.
You can skip a day or two as this becomes more natural for you. I feel like Instagram is like cooking. For me, if I take the time to figure out what I want to cook in the morning, or once a week when I am meal-planning or shopping, cooking is easy. I think about what I need to do all day. When it is time to cook, I go, on auto-pilot. Cooking for me has always been relaxing (until I had kids 🙂
But if you go into something with a plan, it makes it immensely easier than seeing that it is 8 pm and time to post, and rushing to figure something out. Think about it during the day. Gather your thoughts. What are you feeling? What do you want to share?
Okay we have to stop here, as I just wrote a mini-novel. Can’t wait to share more next week!