The popularity of Instagram grows every year and it is pretty easy to see why. It gives users an opportunity to creatively express themselves through images. Whether you’re looking to gain followers on your personal account or increase your brand recognition, it is important that your Instagram feed stands out from the crowd.
The following rules will help you master this social media platform and take your feed from just average to outstanding:
1) Think Of The BIG PictureThink about the overall image of your feed. What message are you looking to send? Do you like dark and brooding photos or are you more of a light and airy sort? Soft edges or crisp lines? Your entire feed does not need to be the same, but it should feel the same. When someone views your grid, it should represent you or at least the image you are hoping to convey.
2) Create a visual chainBefore you post your photo, think about the last photo you posted, and the third to last photo you posted. These two will appear beside, and below, your new post in the Instagram grid. Using the same filter or similar colors is one way to link these images but it is not the only way. The real goal here is to make sure they look pleasing together, whatever that means for your feed as a whole. To create this visual chain requires planning and mapping your posts but it will produce a beautiful grid and will improve the overall flow of your feed.
3) Only Upload The Best Images
A well curated Instagram feed is the key to standing out from the crowd. If you are posting photos of poor quality, or posting dozens at a time, you are muddying your feed and not giving your audience a reason to follow. If you are posting travel photos, for example, upload only the best ones. Think about that big picture again, what is the message you want to send with your feed? If you aren’t trying to market yourself or a product, this isn’t a critical step but following it will definitely get you more attention. If every one of your photos is something special, your followers and anyone else who finds your feed will feel rewarded.
4) Go Easy On The FiltersSometimes, your photo is just fine on its own. The way you have lit and framed the photo may need no help at all. The built in Instagram filters are great and can be useful but don’t apply them just because you feel like you have to. In fact, you are likely to create a more powerful image if you make your own edits using a dedicated app. If you don’t want to use a separate app and prefer the available filters, pick two or three and stick with them. By limiting your filters, you will create a visual thread that runs through your entire feed.
5) Be Smart With Your CaptionsDon’t just describe the photo. People already know what they are looking at, give them something more. Wasting this space is wasting an opportunity to engage with people. No matter how many followers you have, you can use the caption to get some attention. Pose a question, share an educational piece, or add something that inspires or evokes emotion.
Using hashtags is a great way to get your image in front of more people and increase your followers. But try to avoid filling the space with hashtags that don’t fit. Keep your captions looking clean. To maximize your hashtags, check out what is trending and if you find something that fits your image and your message, use it. If you have your heart set on several hashtags, use the most relevant ones in the caption and write comment on your photo with the rest of them.
6) Use Instagram StoriesInstagram stories are a great way to give people a different look. Stories give a unique insight into what is going on in your world. And because the photos and/or videos disappear after 24 hours, you don’t have to be as concerned about their look with regards to the rest of your feed. If your Instagram feed promotes your brand or service, you’ll want to stay on point but this is the perfect place to showcase your personality. You can add text, stickers, and filters to make the post stand out. Any content you post in stories is shared from oldest to newest so there is a real opportunity to share a sequence of events and, well, tell a story.
7) Choose A ThemeChoosing a theme is a great way to build a specific set of followers. Themes are particularly impactful for developing your brand. If you have an image you’d like to craft, you can do it through a theme. Whatever you choose will run through each post in your feed, tying it all together. Themes create trust between you and potential followers because it gives them an idea of what to expect from your account. Establishing a theme early gives it a chance to grow into something bigger. Pick a theme, use your caption space to engage, create a hashtag, and you could be trending before you know it.
8) Change The ApproachJust because you have a theme, it doesn’t mean you have to the take the same photo over and over again. Don’t be afraid to alter your subject or take a different approach to a photo. Change the angle or try playing with elements in the foreground for a different sort of visual. These small changes can add some very interesting elements to your photos.
9) Employ the Giant SquareUsing a third-party app can really boost your feed. The Giant Square app, available on both iOS and Android, takes a single photo and breaks it up into a 3, 6, or 9 square grid. Each section of the grid is posted on its own and when viewed together, it creates the larger, original image. This works best with landscapes photos or geometric shapes. Remember, each section needs to stand on its own so it is less effective with portraits or selfies.
With over 800 million users, Instagram continues to grow in popularity. And it isn’t hard to see why. Scrolling through thousands of images is actually quite pleasing. But as the platform grows, it becomes easier to get lost in the crowd. Try one, or all, of these tips and set yourself up as an account that is truly worth following.