For the average Instagram user, we are satisfied with the daily scroll, stalk, like and repeat. However, it’s becoming more important than ever for businesses, small and large, to be present on the ever-growing social platform. Like most, the method of posting content on Instagram consists of either: A. a selfie, because you’re looking pretty good that day; B. a ‘bird’s eye’ shot consisting of what you’re eating or drinking, (yes, we have all awkwardly stretched the arms up high enough just to capture what is on our plates); C. a #tbt photo because we don’t want to be stuck in the office anymore that week, or D. all of the above.
Although all of the listed options are valid, necessary and something I am definitely guilty of, when it comes to being a strategic business, having a strong visual identity that is consistent is vital to remaining both competitive and relevant.
So, how do we remain both competitive and relevant on Instagram? First, we need to remember that Instagram is a platform designed for the visual creatures of the world, taking this as your first strategic cue is imperative.
Secondly, as if you were an artist, curating quality content takes time, pre-planning and a vision. For your Instagram account, having the same ethos can help ensure you have a firm strategy of what your feed should visually look like, who you are wanting to target with this look and feel and what tone of voice best works with that identity.
With those points in mind, the following steps can help you put a strategy in place that will build the foundations of what should be a constantly evolving blueprint for your account.
1. I want what they’re having.
If you are like me, you have a whole community of Instagrammers who you love stalking on a daily basis. They generally post quality content that has you stumped as to how they make it look so damn good?
As well as these Instagram professionals, there is also the industry leaders, those who operate within the same circles as you but have a consistent feed and the followers to match.
If you have a few accounts like this, take the time to note the commonalities between these accounts: what are they doing consistently in each photo? are they posting certain content on particular days? what is their tone of voice? And, most importantly, what filters or image treatment are they consistently using throughout the feed?
Once you have spent the time researching/justifiably stalking these accounts, write it all down and assess how some of these elements could translate into your account’s strategy.
2. Moodboards are life.
If you are constantly in a Pinterest haze, where sometimes you are unsure where the hours (or day) have gone, then step two should be a breeze. Moodboards are a great tool for nutting out, visually, what best represents your brand. When I say ‘brand’, that can encompass: A. You — You may personally be the brand you are trying to promote; or, B. The promotion of a business. Regardless, both should follow these steps.
You’ve now gained some inspiration after having a look at what other Instagram accounts/competitors are doing, it’s now time to put together a moodboard that visually demonstrates what you would like the look and feel of your account to translate into. This should include and not be limited to:
Photography style — filters, lighting, image treatment etc.
Type — You should try and stick to one or two fonts if they are being used within your photos. Choose fonts that are easy to read.
Colour — If you are wanting to have a certain colourway to visually represent your brand, how will you use this colour in your feed? will it be the primary colour used and how often will you use it?
Once you have put this together, use this guide as a reference when putting together your content. This ‘Style Guide’ is not set in stone, just like any business, your strategy will evolve as your business grows, so reassessing your guide will ensure that you are remaining relevant to both the platform and your audience.
3. Let’s get curating.
Now that you’ve made all the tough, creative decisions of what filters you want to use, your preferred colour and photography choices, as well as your tone of voice, it’s time to start preparing your content for the week/month ahead (yep, no more snap and post, people).
By now, you have put your photos together, now you need to consider how they will sit alongside one another. A third-party app is a great tool to ensure you get this step right — my preferred tool is UNUM, this allows your to move your pending posts around a faux-grid to pre-empt what your feed could potentially look like, as well as culling any dud photo’s you had suspected were not going to look right anyway.
Please remember, this form of pre-planning doesn’t mean you can’t remain reactive to your audience on a daily basis, this is merely a roadmap of what you want your brand to achieve visually over your set amount of days.
4. Tone of voice.
You’ve followed your style guide, chosen your content and you’ve arranged it into a sexy-looking feed that visually flows, but I hate to break it to you, the job isn’t finished yet. It’s important now to prepare your copy for each photo so you’re not trying to be witty at the last minute before post-time.
Just like your photo’s you’ve carefully chosen/created, your brand’s tone of voice needs to be just as consistent and relevant. To ensure this is the case, you need to make sure you prepare your copy in advance and check over it.
Be sure to take the time to get this right, over time, you will develop certain copy that your audience will identify to so be sure to note particular posts that are getting high engagement rates or reach and see what it is they are reacting too.
So congratulations, you have now undergone the four-step process of creating a consistent and potentially swoon-worthy Instagram account. Be sure to always reassess and react to your audience and industry. If you find that any particular elements aren’t working within your feed or strategy, change it — we can be cut-throat like that. So now you’ve got the knowledge, let’s get stalking, moodboarding, curating and enjoying our new favourite word of the day: consistency, #like.
Ashlee Campbell is the resident Social Media Expert at IT'S THE NOW and the creative director behind We are now Design - an online platform musing inspiration on food, design, fashion and travel. With a background in fashion visual merchandising and retail for the past fifteen years, 2017 sees Ashlee moving into the creative industries where she will specialise in the fields of graphic design & social media at a freelance capacity. Follow Ashlee's creative journey via her Instagram account @wearenowdesign.