What if I told you that every company could speak volumes to the thousands about their brand? As cliché as it sounds, they say a photo is worth a 1,000 words for a reason. And on Instagram, that doesn’t even include the caption.
Every brand should take advantage of Instagram as the go-to platform to reach millennials. Instagram has over 500 million monthly users which surpasses Twitter and makes expanding a brand’s reach that much easier! Brands have the power of social media influencers promoting their products to speak to their thousands of followers, not to mention collaborations with other brands, sponsored posts, instant connection with fans, and enforcing a call-to-action. 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.
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 gain 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. That can tell a lot about a person and from a business perspective, your IG feed makes a statement about your products, reputation, customer service, 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 your business: post once a day. This not only begins building your brand, 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’ll come to 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 and knowing your target market. 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 and make it sincere! Posting positive vibes goes a long way in promoting your brand and giving them something to look forward to.
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 audiences evolve. I had people following me from all over the world- Indonesia, China, the EU, not just the States anymore. Sprout Social will analyze where in the world your followers are from, if they're male or female, and what times your posts reach the most people. I for-see an auto-posting tool for Sprout in the near future, especially since FB has bought out IG and has all the appropriate data now.
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 at all mean posting the same pictures every day, however it does mean picking a topic. For building a brand on Instagram, this is easy. Your IG feed should be all about your brand: behind the scenes, fun holidays, promos, company ethics, all presented creatively! Content is the most essential factor to keep fresh and consistent. Why?
Social media is in a way like finding friends in real life. Everyone naturally gravitates to those they have common interests with… you like them, so you continue to hang out with them. On Instagram people find accounts of companies they like to buy from, so they follow you and as long as your brand continues to identify with their interests, they’ll continue following and, if you’re doing it right, you’ll hear more and more from them as they grow more attached and involved with your brand.
Setting your tone of voice goes along with choosing your content which is where your personality should come through. When writing 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. This helps brands get to know their 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 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 of your brand. The tone of your feed says something about your brand’s 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 this tone 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 that does wildlife photography with dark tones! I love her feed.” You could see it as if your favorite brand, let's 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 have a few apps that are my go-tos for editing 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 that even when I go through all 70+ filters in VSCO (a photo editing app) I will 95% of the time choose 1 of 3 filters. 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. Following this natural instinct leads to a consistent feed that is athletically pleasing and identifies with your brand.
These elements when fused together creates an equation that builds brands at it’s core: building customer relationships and keeping them coming back by incorporating their interests and trends.
This post was also featured on Stone Ward's blog during my summer internship.