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How to create an Instagram Strategy - Part 1
By now you have probably heard that using Instagram for any business is essential. This is where people come to discover new people, brands, and to get inspired. If you as an artist haven’t started to see yourself as a brand or business, now is the time to do it, and with that comes taking your marketing through social media seriously. However, understanding how to use all the different social media platforms out there efficiently, can be frustrating and confusing.
That’s why we have created a full guide for establishing your brand on Instagram, and the different strategies you can implement for a more successful Instagram profile. It’s important to use Instagram strategically because you never know what sales and opportunities your account might lead to. With Instagram, you can tell your story, share your inspirations, invite your followers to see your creative process, and more. So with that, let’s dive straight into part 1 of 4 of this Instagram guide.
Create a Visual Content Strategy
Your visual content is the first thing an Instagram user sees when entering your profile. It will only take a user a second to determine if they want to look closer at your profile or hit the “go back” button. So the first impressions of your profile are crucial. This is why the 9 most recent posts on your profile, has to be cohesive and eye-catching as this is the first thing we see when entering a profile. An Instagram theme is a cohesive pattern of images, colors, and content that is visually appealing in a grid on your Instagram profile. So let’s take a look at how we can achieve this.
Know and Use Your Brand Colors
Having a strong brand identity can help your profile being more memorable and recognizable. Your brand identity can be how you differentiate yourself, and basically creating an identity for your brand or your artwork. This can be in the terms of the colors you use in your paintings, the angels you shot your photos, or the tone of voice you use in your captions, (are you funny and loose or strict and serious for example). Many artists have a signature style, use your signature style to your advantage.
So when it comes to establishing a visual identity on your Instagram profile, do so with your brand identity in mind. This is a great way of showing off your brand identity and tone of voice to new followers, and potential customers. A great way of doing this is by using your brand colors. For this (if you don’t already have a color scheme for your brand colors) you will have to determine what your brand colors are. Have a look at your website, what color is dominating the page? What colors do you mostly use in your artworks? Etc.
“But what if I don’t have any brand colors or signature style?” you might think, and don’t worry, there are still plenty of ways you can post your pictures to make it unique and to stand out from the crowd. You just need to get a little creative with it (and as an artist, this shouldn’t be a problem). It can be anything from using a specific frame for all your photos you post to the way you shout your photos.
Here is a great example of the use of colors to tie your Instagram together. The use of blue and white space makes the profile visually pleasing to look at, and it tells a story.
Here is a great example of a profile using different white framing on the pictures, to tie the whole profile together, where it almost looks like a photo diary.
The next piece of the puzzle to create a cohesive look is photo editing. Editing your photos in a certain way, and sticking with that method will make your photos flow together more seamlessly.
There is no need for expensive and complicated programs such as Photoshop or Lightroom. There are so many great photo editing apps now that are inexpensive and so easy to use. There are many apps to choose from, and I recommend trying out a couple of different apps to find the one suitable for you. But for now, we will go through two amazing apps for editing photos.
Depending on your aesthetic, keep your photos light. That’s because bright images perform 24% better than dark images. And of course as an artist you don’t want to over-edit your photos, you still want the photos to show the true colors of your artwork, but a little fine tuning goes a long way.
The first app is called Snapseed. There are so many great features in this app, but for now, we will mainly look at one feature, which is the selective tool. This tool allows you to edit specific parts of your image (but I highly recommend you to play around in the app and see what works best for you).
Snapseed is a great app to color correct your photos if you have very yellow parts in your photo, you can easily use the selective tool, chose saturation and decrease it as much as you need. To find the saturation, simply use the selective tool and tap on the part of your picture where the tones appear to be warm and yellow-ish, then scroll the menu bar down to “saturation” and slide your finger slightly to the left. You will immediately see the yellow disappear and the image will appear more white and crisp, (remember to save when you are happy with the result). Another great idea is to even out harsh shadows and dark corners, this give your photo a more professional look and will look like it was shot in a studio. But be careful not to exaggerate with the brightness tool, so you don’t lose the details in your photos.
The second app is VSCO Cam. This is where you use filters. VSCO Cam have many free filters you can use to create your own unique and cohesive look.
Upload your picture and browse through the library of filters. When you have found your desire filter (let’s say A4), take the filter down to about 20% for a more authentic look. Then the real fun begins. In settings is where you really can bring your images to life. I encourage you to go through all the settings, to see what they do and to get familiar with the editing process. A great place to start is using the features exposure, contrast, sharpen, (slightly up) and saturation (slightly down). But remember to not go overboard, you still want it to look natural.
And most importantly, remember to stick with the same editing style to maintain your visual look and identity.
Create a content bucket
When you are establishing your visual identity and theme, the color we chose is important, but just as important is the content you share on your profile. Your Instagram profile should not be a random album where you upload the latest pictures you captured in a hurry on your iPhone. It should be well thought out and planned in advanced. A great way is to have set parameters around the types of photos you share.
By creating a list of categories (your content bucket) makes it more manageable to create new content, and you are free from wasting time trying to come up with content to post.
A content bucket could look something like this:
- Photo from your studio
- You working on your art (you in action)
- Your art on the wall
- Something not art related
- A cool art wall
- An inspiring quote
You can have more or fewer categories, but I would recommend limiting your content bucket to about 10 categories. A good tip, is sticking to your parameters, so if you chose to do quotes, try sticking to one or two different colors (preferably your brand colors), and same text font and size. This will give your profile that cohesive look.
And that was the end of lesson one. This might be a lot of new information, so don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed. Now you can start by taking a look at your current profile, and see where you can implement all of these tips and guidelines. Try to work out what your colors are, what your signature style is, or how you are different from the rest. Maybe take a look at someone you admire Instagram profile, see what they do, what do you think works well for them, is this something you can implement in your strategy? Remember it takes time, practice, and a lot of patience. So start with these tips until we go further in this guide in part 2, where we look at writing compelling captions.