By Andrea McArthur
Three prolific Instagrammers share their tried and tested tips for growing your brand on Instagram…
I don’t think it’s any secret amongst those who know me that I love Instagram. As a designer, stylist and maker I am definitely a visual person and Instagram is the perfect medium for me to use as a visual diary to capture inspiration and beauty on a daily basis. And if you really look there is beauty everywhere.
My biggest piece of advice to anyone wanting to grow their network on Instagram is to be authentic. I post about the things that speak to me, and share the things I love. I never really set out to build a profile on Instagram, I just wanted to capture the beauty and my following happened quite organically. As a small business owner I found it a place of incredible inspiration, a place where at any time of the day or night I was connecting with like minds and creative souls. And my tribe grew… and grew… and grew.
I don’t really use it as a marketing tool by design. I think that by sharing what I see, and how I see it, it gives people an insight into how I work and my style. I really love my work as a designer so of course I am often sharing my work, or snippets of it. So I guess in that sense my Instagram account is an extension of my portfolio. I think what I’m really doing is taking people on my journey with me, and that resonates.
And I like the interaction with people that Instagram gives me. More than the number of followers what has really been the greatest gift from Instagram are the genuine connections I have made through it. It has led to inspiration, collaboration, PR and most importantly wonderful friendships. I try as much as possible to respond to the comments left on my images. With the amount I sometimes get I don’t always manage to respond to every single one, but I can assure you that I read and appreciate them all.
So find your true voice and share it. People will listen if it comes from your heart.
Tell your story I have always treated instagram as a visual diary and a story-telling tool that has documented my own work and a means of engaging with other likeminded individuals. I really believe that there is a market out there for absolutely anything and everything; you just need to find your people. And you find your people by simply just being yourself. Instagram is a powerful platform for reflecting your style, establishing your unique identity and showing off your creative flair. Everyone has a story that needs to be shared as we all have something to offer and can all learn something from it, so make sure you tell your own story through your visuals.
I started my own hashtag #pocketofmyhome long before anyone was really using them as a means of creating communities or connecting with others. I wanted a place where people could go and celebrate their own homes, not just the ones found in glossy magazines. I wanted to celebrate real homes with personality and create a little space for everyone to go and share their home pictures. Without much promotion at all or having to annoy people with too many competition spam, #pocketofmyhome now boasts close to 25K images from users all over the world! I love hearing that people have connected and become friends through the tag – what a fabulous community!
Be consistent Consistency is the magical, glittery goodness that in my opinion binds everything together and creates a visually stimulating and effective instagram. Consistency can come from using a similar theme/filter or colour way through your imagery, only sharing images from a particular genre (such as travel, interiors, food etc) or working out a mixture of everything but delivered in a consistent way, maybe posting time or your written style.
Consistency gives your followers a feeling of familiarity and builds trust and assures them the style of imagery they will see when they scroll down to your feed. My imagery is all mine, created by myself and our contributors and includes behind the scenes shots, images of my own home and even features my little rescue cat, Peg… as I want to tell my story and part of that is I love cats!
Quality + crediting Instagram is visual so make sure your images are of excellent quality so people actually want to see them and like them. This means no pixelation or blurred images, no selfies in the bathroom or toilet and if you are using apps to edit or reframe your images, pay the extra couple of bucks to have their ads or text removed! I also prefer to share my own work so my followers can get an authentic sense of the work I can create and deliver and who I see whom I collaborate with… In the rare occasion I regram an image, I make sure I credit where credit is due. Make sure you mention the account, not just tag them in (as so many people don’t see the tags) and ensure the credit/mention is in the first line of your message. And don’t forget to credit the photographers, they always get missed out. Just do the right thing and share the love… correctly!
Engage with your followers Lastly, engage with your followers, talk to them, and get to know them, let them get to know you. You’d be surprised whom you meet on instagram and can connect with. I have an amazing amount of support and have spoken with so many gorgeous people all just doing their own thing. Many of my collaborations have come from connections made on instagram so talk to people; you never know where it may lead.
The nature of my interview project Extraordinary Routines has allowed my Instagram network to grow quite quickly. While a complete bonus, it’s helped to have interviewees with large followings share snippets of the interview and praise the project on their profile.
That said, people are discerning and won’t necessarily follow you on Instagram simply because someone has shared your work. You need to capture their attention when they click through to your profile – make it is as easy as possible for them to identify what you are about, and determine if your aesthetic is for them. From the beginning, I tried to keep the overall look of my feed consistent, quirky, and colourful. My profile description and icon clearly communicate my focus on creative’s routines, a topic that seems to create intrigue. Some Instagrammers who do this well include @oakandink, @chiliphilly and @socalitybarbie.
For me, the offline network I have grown through Instagram has been more fulfilling than seeing the number of followers grow. I was recently out to dinner and I looked at the friendly faces at the table and realised I had met them all through Instagram. I’ve made some beautiful friendships, and it’s as simple as telling people you admire their work, and once you have built some rapport, suggest coffee or brunch. I’ve even nabbed some dates that way! But romance aside, my favourite social media tip is to be social!
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Thank you ladies for providing your tried and tested tips for growing your brand on Instagram. Title image by Eclectic Creative (@jess_eclecticcreative) from Instagram.
Andrea McArthur (www.andyjane.com) has a passion for all things visual and works as an Art Director and Freelance Designer based in Brisbane. Design is her true love and she goes weak at the knees over strategic branding. You’ll find her sharing on Instagram @andyjanemc.