instagram tips – how to improve the look & function of your profile

when i first signed up for an instagram account, i was 18 and blatantly didn't care about anything i posted (i'll probably leave those photos up forever as a testament to that). the "amaro" and "rise" filters were my lifeblood as were photos of coffee, half-eaten meals, and ugly selfies. 

what i failed to recognize until just recently is that instagram is a branding tool. within seconds, it communicates what you do, who you care about, and what you love. whether you're trying to build a following for your business or simply as a means of sharing your life, instagram can be a powerful tool to communicate your personal brand and gain influence among your followers.

 

1. CREATE A CONSISTENT VISUAL IDENTITY

i. edit your photos the same way to create consistency
when i edit my photos, i go for bright and natural light, moderate to high contrast, and will always increase my sharpness slightly. i edit in afterlight and vsco, rarely using instagram's presets. ALSO – if you want bright, clean, super white whites, lower the temperature of your photos (usually via a little thermometer icon in your photo editor). a blue tint makes whites look whiter than a yellow one would. that's why your fabric softener is never yellow, but almost always blue!

WARM PHOTO

WARM PHOTO

COLD PHOTO

COLD PHOTO

ii. stick to a color palette
if you take a look at my profile, it's a bit obvious when i made the decision to create a consistent visual identity. it's taken a while to figure out and i'm still very much in the process, but my first major step was deciding what colors i wanted featured the most throughout my profile. blacks, whites, and greens became my main focus. i don't follow that palette religiously, but still try to incorporate those colors often enough to create some consistency when looking at my profile as a whole. editing your photos the same way will help aid the consistency where your color palette isn't being used.

iii. photo composition – fill up your frame, rule of thirds, capture head-on
fill your frame, use natural light ALWAYS: one thing that got me consistently taking better photos was filling up the frame with the subject of the photo. negative space can be difficult to get right, so i'd start with focusing on filling your frame. using the crop tool when editing your photos will help this a lot!

rule of thirds: the rule of thirds is a basic photography technique most of us learned in our high school photography classes – but seriously, it works. using the rule of thirds is the most simple way of executing some form of the golden ratio, which looks like this:

 
GOLDEN RATIO / RULE OF THIRDS

GOLDEN RATIO / RULE OF THIRDS

 

the golden ratio can be found everywhere – in nature, interior design, even product design. it's something that we're innately drawn to – a sort of order that can be found in almost everything. we may not have a golden ratio grid preset into our phone camera (although some apps offer it!), but the rule of thirds helps get us close to it in an easy way to execute.

capture head-on: have you ever noticed that in high school photography class, almost all of us at some early stage of our learning used these crazy weird extreme angles for our photos (of railroad tracks, probably). one of the fastest ways i learned to make my photos look more sophisticated is to photograph the subject head-on. there are some cases where this isn't possible, but i've found that my favorite photos on my feed were not taken at an angle, but completely parallel to the subject.

use natural light: i cannot stress this enough. always always always use natural light. anything you're photographing will look better in natural light (unless you're using a flash like a pro and going for an edgy Justin Timberlake look. which, let's face it, most of us aren't). natural light brings out the subject's best features and is much more appealing for your audience to look at.

 

2. CREATE A SCHEDULE - AND STICK TO IT!

when someone follows you, it's usually because they enjoy your content. if, however, you only post once every few weeks, the value your audience receives drops and suddenly, you're not worth sharing. social media is all about sharing, so the more often you post quality content, the easier it will be for people to talk about your account.

the easiest way i've found to post consistently is to create a schedule. okay, let's be real, it's still really hard to remember to stick to that schedule. but if you're setting up reminders in your phone and even creating content several days in advance, it's harder to ignore. i found that i'd have a hard time remembering to post content during the day, so when the evening came around, i didn't have any good naturally-lit photos to post. on those days, it was more worth it for me to skip a post than to post a photo i didn't love. now, i capture multiple subjects i love throughout my days and oftentimes come back to them later. i may post a photo today of something i captured last week – but your audience will never know the difference!

 

3. SPEAK YOUR AUDIENCE'S LANGUAGE

this is something i'm still learning and is probably the hardest part of social media. social media is all about connection. people may follow you for your great images at first, but at the end of the day, they are following you. being yourself and having a personality on social media is what creates retention of your followers – they want to know about your life!

also (and this is very important and so hard for me to remember) respond to your comments. I am horrible about this but it is so critical to connecting with your audience.

finally, it's important to say things the way your audience needs to hear them. invite them into the conversation. make them feel like they're part of your photos!

 

 

i hope these tips help you connect with even more people! be patient and don't forget to be authentic!

 

JW
jen wagner