02 Aug Take Your Brand’s Instagram Style From “Random” to “Fandom”
You know those Instagram accounts that look ridiculously put together? Don’t worry – they aren’t too far out of your reach.Coming out of BlogHer ’13, there was one session that truly stood out in my mind – Morgan Shanahan of the818.com’s “Find Your Instagram Style.” Below, I’ve combined Shanahan’s tips along with my own experiences to create a true Instagram style for your brand – not just a collection of random photos.
Do Not Use The In-App Camera
Taking photos in the Instagram app is basically the equivalent of heating up your leftovers in the Styrofoam container. Sure, it’ll still taste okay, but if you’d just taken the time to put it on a plate your food would be a lot less stale.By using your phone’s native camera, you have more cropping options and you’ll be able to shoot your subject more precisely. You can crop your shot directly from your iPhone photo gallery. Do it here, so that you can see how your shot will look before you get it into one of the editing apps mentioned below.
Use An Editing App That Isn’t Instagram
Look, Instagram, we love you, but sometimes we need a little something more. Shanahan recommended several apps for editing your photos:
Shanahan doesn’t upload a single photo without putting it through Snapseed first. Snapseed is a more advanced editing software that’s intuitive and easy to use. It runs $4.99 in your app store.
My personal favorite, Phoster lets you put text on an image in a creative, beautiful way. If your brand wants to add text on an image, this is the most attractive way to do it on your phone. If you have a brand that travels a lot, I love the idea of creating a city image with the name of the city on top of the image. This way, when looking at the grid, you can see where the images are without clicking through to the text. It’s also inexpensive at $1.99.
If you want to add bokeh to a photo (bokeh: those little sun flare circles – or hearts or stars! – on your photos), this is the app to have. It has more than 100 effects, textures and frames and also allows you to layer multiple filters in-app. It runs $1.99.
Look At The Big Picture
Visualize the grid as an ensemble, not photos singularly. You would never put together an outfit one item at a time with no consideration as to how it will all come together. You’d look like a mess. In her presentation, Shanahan said something that I think will really resonate for brands, “If you can find an aesthetic that’s all your own, then your Instagram is going to say your name for anyone who sees it.”
When you are looking at your Instagram photos as a whole, ask yourself, “Could these photos be put up on a wall and look like part of a collection?” By creating a cohesive grid, you’re branding your Instagram without being obvious. Colors and filters work better on Instagram than obvious brand logos on every photo. The goal of Instagram is to stay organic – not push your product on followers.
Think In Themes
Shanahan is a bit of an overachiever in this aspect. Each season, she focuses around a different color theme, so that when people look at her grid, they get the feeling of her brand. Right now, summer is revolving around purple (it does help that her hair is currently dyed this color!). This approach might not be possible for your brand, but keeping an eye on the tones in your photos can make your images appear more cohesive in the long run.
Learn From Personal Instagrams
What do people like on personal Instagrams? They like natural, lively photos that invoke emotion. That cute dog wearing a sweatshirt? Going to get some likes. The well-dressed woman hailing a cab? Also going to get some likes. Try to create imagery that doesn’t scream “BRANDED,” and evolve into a trusting relationship with your viewers. Because let’s be honest, none of us want to like a photo that is clearly trying to sell us something.
Got a question about your brand’s Instagram? Know an app we should use? Let us know in the comments.