Long gone are the days where we use Instagram to snap the food we just ate and upload shameless selfies before a big night out.
The candid snaps are still a focal point of Instagram, but when you’re a business – you’ve gotta be more strategic. I see too many strategies on acquiring Instagram followers focused on the numbers. What about the quality of the content?
Let’s break down the numbers
You follow 20 new accounts in hope that these people will check out your account and follow you back:
15 of them check out your account
7 of them interact with you (like or comment on one of your images)
Only 3 decide to follow you back
Now, my goal isn’t to bring more viewers to an Instagram account. My goal is to get more people to turn that blue follow button green. How cool would it be if you followed 20 new accounts, and all 20 accounts followed you back?
This is called increasing your conversion rate. You are converting your visitors into new followers. Your conversion rate doesn’t just apply to your followers number. How many of your followers like your photos? And how many of these interactions turn into a sale? Knowing these numbers and more importantly, knowing how to increase these numbers is your ticket to gaining more Instagram followers.
One sure way of increasing your conversion rate is to post quality images. Beautiful sells. Consistency sticks. And admit it; you’re more likely to follow an Instagram account if you find the photos genuinely pretty? Right?
So here is how we will craft a beautiful and consistent Instagram feed that will get you more followers.
A few tips: If you have someone taking the pictures for you at an event please have them consider the basic photography tips that follow.
Shoot your photos in bright light
Taking your snaps when the sun is out will result in beautiful, bright photos. Light will help to bring out the details in your photos. Not to mention its super flattering!
Photos taken with bad lighting usually results in a loss of detail, graininess or a blurry photo.
Follow Basic Photography Tips
Visuals simply engage users. And when they’re great, they get people to click and engage even more. If you’re not a professional photographer, that’s fine. But you have to learn some of the basics of photography to enhance photos:
Light is your best friend: One of the most challenging parts of photography is lighting. For your Instagram, try to add as much natural light as possible. Don’t use overhead lights because it creates shadows. Light from the side and add plenty of it. Bright images tend to “pop” and ultimately get more engagement.
Put your subject in the center: Your eyes always tend to gravitate to the point of interest in the middle. Make sure you focus your product or model in the center to take better photos. This helps structure the foreground and lead eyes toward the subject.
Think of how it will look on Instagram: Beautiful images use up all the space on a photo. However, you have to think of how images will look on Instagram and in others’ feeds. Work with your “square” and try to implement the rule of threes to make use of your image shape. Simply divide your image into nine smaller squares to see how each section makes up the entire image. Find truly bold colors and defined shapes: This might seem easier said than done, but try to find colors that truly stand out. Bright blues, encapsulating reds, and enticing yellows will make you stand out among the rest. Additionally, look for unique shapes and standout lines to actually shape your image. These three things can make all the difference.
Photo editing tools: We will use editing tools such as Afterlight, Polarr, VSCO and even Instagram’s native platform to make edits.
How we edit your photos
Playing around with the Photo Editing tools in the Instagram app can quickly take your photos from eh to wow.
Brightness – I abuse the brightness function perhaps more than I should. Don’t be afraid to jump your brightness up to give your photos the crisp white look.
Contrast – I increase the contrast slightly to give the colours in an image more pop.
Warmth – Adjusting the warmth down will give your photo a nice minimalist stark white look.
Saturation – I use the saturation tool when posting brightly coloured photos. Saturation helps to bring the colours out even more when used subtly.
Shadows and Highlights – I don’t use these functions very often. However, sometimes when you brighten your picture, you might find that your image loses some detail. Increasing your shadow setting will help darken the edges and corners of your objects again.
Sharpen – When used sparingly, sharpening your photos can result in a crisp and clear finish. I sharpen images when uploading photos of very detailed products (like embroidery or artwork).
Look at your instagram feed as a big picture
To create a consistent feed, you need to view your Instagram as a whole rather than lots of separate images.When we are posting an image, we think about how it will look like next to your other photos. This means that all your photos should have a consistent element or theme to tie them together.
Follow a theme
Settling on a theme or style can help you direct your shoots and look for similar elements. Your theme should be a style or ‘look’ that you love and would like to replicate in your images.
I’ve highlighted a few of my fave Instagrammers and how they use themes to mesh their photos together.
@canarygrey uses a minimalist approach to her photos. There is a lot of white. A lot of bright. Bold edges. And a lot of negative space.
Dark + moody
@ameliemancini achieves beauty in her photos by using dark backdrops and elements to frame her handmade items.
@cestmaria uses bright coloured backgrounds and a minimalist approach as a recurring element in her Instagram.
A pop of pink and blue
@noellekramer uses shades of pink and blue and beautiful sunsets throughout her images. The result? A beautiful, consistent and pretty lookin’ feed.
Your feed can follow any theme you want.The main rule is to stay consistent.
Be strategic in what you post next
Whenever I post a new image to the feed I always think about what it looks like next to:
The previous post and; the third post.
Why do I focus on the first and third photo?
Simply because when you upload, your new image will appear next to the previous photo and above the third photo. I analyze the image to make sure that it fits in and is balanced against the other two images.This helps me hone in my focus to just 3 images. Instead of trying to figure out if my photo is consistent with my entire feed.
Before I hit the upload button, here are some of the factors I consider first:
The colours of the latest post should match or coordinate with the first and third photo. If the first and third post are detail heavy, the newest photo should be clean and simple to balance out any chaos. I regularly conduct an Instagram purge to keep the feed fresh and the new ideas flowing.
Instagrammers with awesome feeds:
MeghanRosette – her feed has a super clean, super bright Instagram theme! All of her photos have a ton of white in the composition, making her feed flow together perfectly! As far as Instagram themes goes, the white theme is one of the most popular!
HappilyGrey – Her feed lives up to her name – like Meghan’s it’s super clean, but she brings the saturation down bringing a grayish hue to her feed.
LaurenConrad -We all know who LaurenConrad is – but did you know that she has an incredible Insta-feed? The photos are all warm toned and have a hazy vibe.
StellaMariaBaer – She is an amazing artist who paints planets and moons and her is heavy in a sandy orange color. Her feed is my all time favorite!
How you can theme your instagram feed:
Choose a few of these different ideas to help you come up with a theme that you love!
Get inspiration from your favorite feeds – what do you like about them? Figure out what it is that draws you to an Instagram feed and go from there. Things to look out for are brightness, saturation, a color scheme, and tints.
When you choose your ideal brightness/saturation/etc. Stick with it!
Crop all of your images the same way – whether that means sticking with the classic square, adding a white border, or making your image narrow or long. When all of your images are the same size and shape, it makes your feed look 100 times better as a whole.
Stick with the same filter – Find your favorite and stick with it. You want all of your pictures to meld well together, and giving them all the same filter will help.
Take pictures of the same subject – this one requires more discipline and restricts you a lot more depending on how narrow of a subject you choose. You can pick anything from flowers, outfits, your dog – anything!
Think about every picture before you post – does it fit your theme? If you love it but it just doesn’t quite go then consider tweeting it, or posting it on Facebook, instead of putting it on Instagram.
Hashtags and Copy
Intro to Hashtags on Instagram
Think of hashtags as a pipeline to the rest of the world. Every tag you use acts a connection with other users. If you use 5, there are 5 outlets that others can use to view your image. If you use 30, now you have 30 outlets. Without these, the only chance of visibility you have is via your current followers and the low odds of being thrown onto the explore page. The latter is pretty difficult to predict, as every user has different photos on their explore page and Instagram won’t disclose how it actually works.
Hashtags are essentially a way to tag your photo and throw into in a chronological pool of other photos/videos that have used the same tag (which can be viewed by clicking on the hashtag itself). This allows other users to find photos of similar interest or in the same niche.
What is the best time of day to post?
5:00 to 6:00 p.m. weekdays and 8:00 p.m. on Mondays with a sweet spot at 6:00 pm.
We suggested Rimi this theme where she is presented as fun and bubbly. The left and right are images using the same tone and color code while the middle section is reserved for quotes in white background, making the center look like a continuous white line, separating the exterior columns.
Posts can be saved as drafts making it easy to create and sustain the theme.
For Madewithapurpose we choose a vintage theme, using the X-pro II filter, placing the products in the middle, while saving the exterior columns for the women stitching and other promotional images from events and how the bags are created.
I hope this guide has been useful. Crafting a beautiful Instagram feed is not hard. You just have to be strategic and keep posting until you find a consistent theme.