Everyone knows someone who just loves Instagram. It's their natural habitat, they love posting selfies in different locations. It's all about looking and being fabulous. They live for the likes and comments. I avoided Instagram for a very long time because I thought that you have to be this kind of person to use the platform effectively. The irony of being a photographer and avoiding Instagram wasn't lost on me, but I hated the thought of self-promotion. I saw it as a form of boasting, and I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I still wouldn't mind going back to a time when relationships were built outside of an online space, but I have to accept that it's not 1996 anymore.
I'd been thinking about this when I had lunch with a fellow photographer a few months ago. His work is very good, yet at that stage he only posted personal projects. We discussed his reasoning, and I reminded him that no one will know what he offers clients if he doesn't post client work. And then it hit me - no one knows what I offer either, because my stubborn refusal to join the modern age has rendered me invisible to potential clients.
The thought of starting a regular Instagram habit was daunting. My work is a little disparate, so it was hard for me to get my head around how I would come across. Up to that point I'd posted occassionally (think once every six months), and my timeline was messy.
These are some of the tips I used to stop the navel-gazing and to get posting:
1. Be you:
You don't have to be Kim K to use the 'Gram successfully, (and you don't even have to call it the 'Gram). You also don't have to copy influencers and the way they do things. If you do, you'll quickly realise that faking it is exhausting, and being yourself is the only way you'll be able to sustain an Instagram habit. Who are you? What do you want the world to know about you? The disparate nature of my work made this difficult for me, but there were a few things I knew for sure: I didn't want to post selfies, so I don't. I wanted my timeline to reflect the work I do, whether it be photography, writing, or storytelling. When you view my timeline, you'll see all three, and my timeline is a good summary of who I am as a person and as a professional. Humans are multi-faceted, and your timeline can be a representation of that, as long as it's well-thought-out.
2. Plan ahead:
I use an app called Preview to plan my timeline. It's been the single biggest factor in removing the stress of posting regularly. Preview is an app to plan, design and manage your Instagram. You can plan your Instagram feed, rearrange the order of your posts, edit your photos, schedule, find trending hashtags, test your hashtags, and check your analytics. It's super handy. If you set aside two hours every once in a while to plan ahead, you will know exactly what your timeline is going to look like, and what to post next. It's helpful because you can immediately see whether your timeline is visually pleasing, and it's easy to swap photos around if you need to.
3. Use quotes to link to blog articles:
I use a grid formula, as you'll see in this photo. The centre grid is a white line of quotes interspersed with product photos taken on a white background. It creates a cohesive visual style. I use the quote section to refer to a blog article, with a link to that article in my bio. It's an excellent way of driving traffic to my blog while highlighting that I don't just do photography, but writing too.
There are various grid formulas you can use. Many of the Instagrammers I follow alternate between posting quotes and photos. One quote, one photo. Some choose a colour palette and create a cohesive look that way. The best way to do it is to do what works for you, not what you think people expect you to do.
4. Choose a posting schedule you're comfortable with and be consistent:
If you're comfortable posting once a day, do that. If you feel that it's not manageable, post twice a week. Whatever you choose, make sure that it is a pace that you can maintain and that you're comfortable with. There's no sense in posting once every second month or once every six months. When you do that your followers might not even remember who you are. At the moment I'm averaging twice a day, although I'm expecting it to slow down a bit once I have a decent library of posts.
5. Pretty on the timeline, real life in Stories:
Your Instagram timeline is where you post beautiful photos or quotes. Instagram is a visual platform, and a good looking timeline is what will keep your followers engaged and attract new followers. If you want to post cellphone photos of yourself at an event or what you're up to on a weekend, and it's more about the moment than a beautiful image, use Stories. Stories stay available for viewing for 24 hours, and after that, they disappear. They don't influence the look of your timeline, and that's the perfect spot to feature photos that tell the story of your life and what you're up to. This way your followers can get an all round picture of who you are, or what your business represents.
There is a caveat here - you can choose your best Stories and use them as highlights on your profile. This is perfect for directing attention to your business' services or what you're about, similar to what you would do on your website.
I can't believe it's taken me this long to fall in love with Instagram! It helps that I've got a strategy, and I'm posting with a purpose. If you would like me to help you with your Instagram or social media strategy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow me on Instagram - www.instagram.com/heatwaveagency
Until next time,