Ed’s note: This post was written by guest editor Tess Robinson of Smack Bang Designs.
So what exactly does it take to create a killer Instagram feed? Aside from posting consistently, sharing high-quality pics, hashtagging yourself silly and engaging with your audience, it also requires a strategically cohesive look and feel. A consistent, one-of-a-kind feed will allow your audience to feel more connected to your brand message, and thus engage with not just your feed, but your products and services IRL.
So – how do you build an army of loyal DTDTs (Down-To-Double-Tappers)?
Buckle up, buttercup, it’s time to up your Insta game.
1. Know your vibe
The key to creating a cohesive feed is understanding and embodying the aesthetic and feel you’re going for. Your overall image needs to reflect your business positively and accurately.
Whilst curating images that speak to your brand, ensure that the message is crystal clear and 100 per cent consistent. If your concept is visually clear, it helps people to understand and relate to your brand and its story. Even if you just snapped a winning photo of your bambino rocking lipstick she found in your handbag, if it’s completely off-brand, DON’T GRAM IT.
2. Method to the madness
As yo’ mumma used to say, “fail to plan and you plan to fail”. Taking time to plan your Instagram content will save you in the long run and ensure your feed is unified and well executed. Long gone are the days when Instagram was actually ‘instant’; these days, it’s all about Schedugram or Latergram. If you didn’t know about these scheduling programs, I apologise – I’ve probably just done the equivalent of ruining the concept of Santa to some. A lot of successful Instagrammers will dedicate one or two days a week to create and curate their content, scheduling it to post throughout the week. This allows you to spend time crafting a killer feed, making managing your account throughout the week a breeze.
3. Original content is king
It’s a known fact that any man and his dog can rip photos off Pinterest or the internet – well, maybe not any man. The simple act of creating your own content and producing original, unique images will set you apart. Of course, this is not always 100 per cent feasible. Even at Smack Bang, with a team of 14 creatives, a great camera, endless editing skills and an epic studio, we still find it hard to prioritise the time to create enough original content to completely fill our feed. We’re all about finding the balance between found imagery and real-life snaps and always aim for about 70 per cent original content. One thing that’s for sure, though, whether you’re posting original or ’regrammed content, it’s all about quality over quantity.
4. Easy on the eyes
One thing all of the best Instagram accounts have in common is that they have an incredibly cemented aesthetic that weaves through all of their photos. Once you’ve nailed down your brand look and feel, stick to it like liquid nails. It might be hard to resist the urge to post the best freaking photo you’ve ever taken, but if it’s not quite in line with your aesthetic, keep resisting. Consistency is key. Studies have shown that images with plenty of negative space and single dominant colours receive the most likes – it’s no surprise that the absence of chaos helps the viewer to focus and feel relaxed. Clean, crisp images that are in focus and taken in the right light also score well.
5. Talk the talk
Language is a circus of delight, and with your words you can entertain, inform, enlighten or fall flat on your face. Captions are a huge part of how your followers engage with you. A picture may speak a thousand words, but your words and language further illustrate to tell the story. And that’s exactly what your caption should be doing: telling the story. Nailing your brand voice and communicating in a consistent manner to your audience will bring you one step closer to greatness. There are many differing opinions on the subject of caption-length. Some ’gram greats will tell you to use up all 2,000 characters and really give your life story away. I’m not one of those. I’m 100 per cent down with this dude named William Shakespeare who believed, “Brevity is the soul of wit”.
To help you curate Instagram and have your feed flow nicely, you should have a consistent approach to editing your photos. Again, this needs to tie back to your brand aesthetic – does your brand prefer rich, saturated colour? Or grainy, rustic vibes? At Smack Bang, we tend to shift more towards the brighter edits, focusing on whites and fresh lights. Getting into a rhythm of editing your photos consistently, your audience will feel more connected to your feed and get to know your vibe. If it isn’t already, VSCO will be your new editing BFF – it’s superhero capabilities of turning a seriously average photo into a regrammable masterpiece continues to amaze me.
7. Perspective is everything
Every time you post a photo it’s important to consider how that one photo will look as part of your entire Insta feed. Afterall, it’s the little things actually add up to be big things. Regardless of how many killer photos you upload, if they don’t fit together and tell a story, your feed will look cluttered and unprofessional. Take a step back, and look at your Instagram feed as a whole – how do all of your photos sit together?
8. Get Insta-active
If you’re going to be a business on Instagram, then you have got to be a business ON Instagram, pretty darn frequently. I don’t mean in the slutty spam-bot kinda way, I simply mean getting social on social media – crazy, huh? Most people forget that social media is in fact social. Many use it to either shout their name at any passer-by, or just sit creepily behind the curtains and watch the world go by. No-one wants to engage with an account that feels sterile or too cool for school. Find some accounts that you feel aligned with, engage with them and get to know them – I’m the first to admit that I’ve met some pretty amazing real life friends through the old ’gram.