From the overall look of your feed, to when you're posting, or what type of hashtags you use, I could go on and on about how to build the ideal Instagram feed and gain followers. For this reason, I'll be writing a series of blog posts about Instagram tips useful for aspiring photographers and social media gurus.
A brief history: I went from a little over 3,000 followers on Instagram to 37,000+ followers in the span of 6 months. That was two years ago and to catch you up to date I've lost 11K because I don't pour time into Instagram like I used to. Social media is like havng another job if you take it seriously, which I have to with my major being Public Relations.
So what does it take to build a killer feed with a mass audience?
I'll narrow it down to the most important element: Consistency.
Consistency is such a simple word but truly one of the most complicated when applied to Instagram.
The Elements of Consistency
I know it's a harsh reality, but you're probably not just going to wake up and gain 10,000 followers overnight. But there's a way to do it! Being consistent and developing an engaged audience means that overtime, you'll find that you have a group of followers that feel somewhat connected to you. That's the power of social media, and particularly on Instagram, you could have never even met a person but still know their hobbies, their significant other, and anything else they wish to tell you about themselves. They say a photo is worth a 1,000 words and currently I have over 600 posts on Instagram alone. That can tell a lot about a person and from a business perspective, your IG feed makes a statement about your products and builds relationships with your customers.
Element 1: Post Consistently
Consistency means your followers will eventually expect and even look forward to seeing your posts each day. So make a rule for yourself: post 1 time a day. This not only builds your photography skills, but is a fun challenge that keeps your audience engaged. A couple years ago when I took a break from Instagram, people would comment and ask how I was doing. Once you build an audience, you literally have a community on Instagram that will notice when you're gone. Amongst all the feeds they follow, they know, remember, and care about you.
Element 2: Know your audience
Consistency over Instagram takes more than just posting once a day. It comes down to knowing your audience. This means analyzing your content. Find when your followers are most active on Instagram and more likely to see your post. If you know that most of your audience scrolls through IG when they wake up, post at 9AM each day with a good morning post.
When I started gaining thousands of followers, the typical 'wake up post' and 'go to bed post' on Instagram didn't cut it anymore. Why? Because my audience had evolved. I had people following me from all over the world- Indonesia, China, the EU, not just the States anymore. How do I know this?
Instagrammers, meet Iconosquare. Formerly known as Statigram, this website (if you're into Instagram) will change your life. It's like Google Analytics but for Instagram. You can see where your followers are from, who's following back, who unfollowed you, what times your posts reach the most people... Needless to say, it's awesome.
Element 3: Set a tone
Setting a consistent tone on Instagram takes these three things into account: content, tone of voice, and editing.
Setting a tone in your content doesn't mean posting the same pictures every day, but it does mean that you pick a topic. It doesn't have to be super specific. For me I love adventuring and hiking so when my Instagram took off, I gained a lot of outdoorsy followers that love coffee like I do. :) Social media is in a way like finding friends in real life, you find people that you have common interests with, you like them, so you continue to hang out with them. On Instagram you find people that like to do the things you like to do so you follow them, and, as long as you continue to identify with them, you keep following them.
The simplest way to do this on Instagram is take pictures of things you like, hope that they like it, and if they do then keep posting the same type of content- consistently. If it ain't broke- don't fix it!
Setting your tone of voice goes along with choosing your content which is where your personality should come through. When making your captions, tell something interesting about your photo and what you did, but here's the trick: keep it brief and then ask a question. This goes back to the importance of engagement and community that I mentioned earlier. It also helps you get to know your audience more, build ties, and keep them coming back because they like talking to you! Setting your tone of voice also means commenting on other people's photos in the same way showing that you care about engaging with them as much as you love them engaging with you.
Setting a tone in your photo editing takes not only time but self-discovery. You may be rolling your eyes right now, but seriously, the tone of your feed says something about yourself and your personality. Now that I've mentioned this, go on your favorite igers (short for Instagrammers) feed and take note of how each one is very different from the other. Notice some people's galleries flow more than others. Creating a feed that has a general tone creates uniformity, which makes your feed flow.
Think of it as your signature that people expect to see. Consistent editing creates an expectation in people's minds where they would say, "Oh she's that girl with the feed that does wildlife photography with dark tones! I love her feed." You could see it as if your favorite brand, lets say Target for example changed their logo from red and white to black and white or even changed their logo all together. You would probably have a mind-trip if you saw this happen. Why? Because you don't identify with it anymore. Now your IG feed isn't near as serious as changing a logo of course but the same concept still applies. I'll have a post about my favorite photography editing apps for the iPhone in a later post but what you need to know is the most basic step to setting your tone...
Stick with the same set of filters while editing. The first thought of this may make you go "Blah." But let me have a chance to sway your feelings... When editing photos I can honestly say without any bias that even when I go through all 40+ filters in VSCO (a photo editing app) I will 95% of the time choose the same one of three that I always choose unintentionally Despite how many times I've done this I am always surprised that I continually pick the same one! My point is that your eye and sense of style naturally gravitate to the same look subconsciously hence me choosing the same filters most every time that I edit a photo.
This post hopefully broke down the basics and importance of consistency on Instagram. I'll be having posts in the next couple months with more tips!
Until next time!
Questions? Anything you want me to cover next time? Comment below!