I’ll bet most of you never thought you’d find yourselves reading an article on how to improve your Instagram. Let me preface this "how-to" by saying that followers and likes and photo quality are no way to quantify real success and happiness. I am not here to teach you how to become insta-famous, but rather, showing you some things you can do to improve your social media presence in order to strengthen your personal brand. You may want to increase your audience to help with your career or even your personal blog. Maybe you just want to better utilize the platform as an artistic outlet, a means to express yourself or challenge yourself creatively. For me, it is a combination of these things.
As a marketing student, I see my ability to develop a strong social media presence as a way to both practice communicating with consumers, and prove my ability to successfully attract and maintain a community, which will be vital in my career. No matter what your profession, the significance of social media is increasing exponentially, meaning that anyone and everyone can find you online and get an impression of you as such. Even if your career has little to do with social media, you want to present yourself professionally, interestingly, and accurately online.
As a content creator for the Odyssey and a Style Guru Intern for CollegeFashionista, I utilize social media, my favorite platform being Instagram, as a means to get my work out to the public. In order to reach as many people as possible, I need to make sure my audience is as large and as connected as possible.
As a person, I am very creative. I take pictures everywhere I go, I love fashion and style, and I even get great satisfaction from maintaining an aesthetically pleasing feed. I use my Instagram as a place to organize and share my life in a creative way. In this aspect, the number of followers is not the most important, but still serves as motivation to keep my content high quality and consistent, allows me to determine my what I do well based on the popularity of each post, and, as each post brings in new likers and followers specific to my content, helps me build a community online with people who enjoy the same things as me.
Whatever your reason for bettering your Instagram, here are the techniques I use to improve the content and community of my profile.
The most important thing to keep in mind when building your brand on Instagram is overall appearance. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, comes back to aesthetic. Your aesthetic is essentially the theme of your profile. An aesthetically pleasing Instagram has photos that are similar in appearance, mainly color. With consistency among posts, not only will your page look appealing, but your followers will be sure of what to expect from you and will, therefore, be more loyal.
Do Not Choose Your Aesthetic, Let Your Aesthetic Choose You.
WOW, that was cheesy, I am sorry. It couldn’t be more true, though. When applying an aesthetic to your Instagram, it should be a reflection of you. You are trying to share yourself with the world, not lie about who you are. When your Instagram doesn’t match your real self, it can take the fun out of the platform and can turn it into a source of negativity that makes you self-conscious about who you truly are. An aesthetic that is organic will be pleasing and simple to employ. If the aesthetic is right for you, your surroundings should already fit into it, making it a breeze to take usable photos. If you find yourself struggling to find places to take photos or if you have to change your environment in a way you do not like in order to fulfil your aesthetic, then it is not right for you. Some people have very colorful Instagrams, some very bright white, some with faded colors, the possibilities are endless. My aesthetic includes many warm to cool browns and beiges. You can make your theme whatever you want, but remember that nothing is a lifetime commitment. You can revamp the look of your page at any time!
How Do You Keep up With Your Aesthetic?
Now that you have determined the look for you, it can be intimidating to stick to it. You may worry that you will have trouble posting quality photos that work well. The truth is, this will be a challenge. I love to express myself through my Instagram and accept the challenge to push myself creatively with open arms. I view my Instagram as a big art project. It will take research, trial and error, attention to detail, and tough decision making. I post everything with purpose, just as I would add everything to an art project with intent. Occasionally, I do take a photo that I simply cannot make work. I just have to be strong and refrain from posting. Other times, I edit a photo to match my aesthetic and worry that I failed to do the photo or my aesthetic justice. With time, however, I strengthened my eye for the right moments to capture and have come to find the editing programs and settings that I like best. I mainly use the app VSCO to edit Instagram photos and have a small handful of filters I gravitate to most.
Do Your Research.
In order to fuel my inspiration for my preferred style of photography, I have done my fair share of research. The “Suggestions for You” section on your favorite Instagrammers’ profiles will be very useful. When you find someone who inspires you, make sure to follow them and also check out people similar to them from the “Suggestions for You” list, which can be accessed by clicking the downward arrow next to the “Follow” button. You may also find some great users on the explore page. My number one favorite thing to do on Instagram is to save every picture that inspires me by clicking the little flag on the bottom right of the photo. When I scroll through my newsfeed or stalk a user who I am loving, I add all of the photos I see which fit into my aesthetic to my “Saved” photos. I refer back to this list when I am editing a photo or looking for inspiration.
When you post a consistent theme and follow many people whose consistent is consistent with yours, you will find yourself becoming a part of an online community. Whenever I find myself going on a “following spree”, I get lots of followers back. A few weeks ago, I followed about seven Boston themed accounts on Instagram because I love Boston and am inspired by these posts. For several days after, and even still on occasion, I have accumulated many more followers with Boston themes or interests than I followed in the first place. This is just one example of a community I have put myself in. Not only do I fit into this community based on my interests, but it also serves to connect me with a whole new audience of users who are bound to like my content based on their interests.
Get Your Content Seen.
Once I have found popular accounts which are consistent with my content, I will often tag them in photos relevant to them. If a particular brand is featured in my post, I tag that company’s account; if the post is connected to my jobs at the Odyssey or CollegeFashionista, I tag them, as well; and so on. This can be very intimidating to do, as people worry about their appearance online when tagging businesses. However, you may find that people do not tend to care what you do, as long as you own it, and this type of tactic will get your content seen by many more people. It is also useful to include hashtags and locations for the same purpose. People will browse all of these tags and are likely to stumble upon your posts, which are exactly what they’re looking for.
It is important to remember that your personal account is your way of making a real connection with your audience. It can be a turn off to make your posts look like a scripted advertisement, as it can make your content appear not to be real or current, and people simply will not care. If you are truly being yourself, then your followers should truly be interested in you. Do not post anything for the sake of posting or to make yourself look interesting, but because you genuinely want to post. If you use Instagram to pretend you’re someone you’re not, then you are using it wrong. Just have fun with it!
I utilize all of these techniques regularly, not with intentions of simply getting more likes and followers, but to better my social media presence as a whole. When you add aesthetic, consistency, community, and personality to your Instagram, the audience will follow naturally. I definitely do not think that I am Instagram famous, but I do have a decent number of followers which is growing constantly. When I am active, that is when I have recently posted or followed people, I gain anywhere around five to twenty followers in that day. By being relatively consistent, I gain followers virtually every day, adding up to at least 10 new followers each week. More importantly, however, I have employed these tactics to develop my Instagram into something I am proud of and that makes me happy.
Oh, and one last thing: don't be afraid of shameless self promotion. Follow me on Instagram @erin_n_sullivan