Welcome to our three part series about using Instagram to successfully grow your creative business. In order to use Instagram to increase sales, there are three things that you must consider: Community, Style, and Voice. Need to catch up? Part One: Community is available here. Stay tuned next week for Part Three: Voice.
Do your Instagram photos lack consistency? Do you use filters willy-nilly? Do people wonder what it is that you actually sell? Do you freak out about whether or not you should post that photo of your half-eaten jelly donut because the lighting is bad, but oh well, at least it is something to post?
Instagram is a fun place to hang out, but your book will be judged by its cover. Put down your camera phone and think about who your customers are and what they want to see.
1. Make a style guide. :: Nobody likes being confused. There should be some kind of visual consistency throughout your photographs. Consistency can be achieved with a unifying color palette, background, mood, subject, or even the amount of negative space you use. That doesn’t mean you should only post things that are pink, blue, and purple. However, if your branding graphics are pink, blue, and purple, then those colors should pop up with some regularity.
2. No filters. :: There are some good filters on VSCO, but most Instagram filters should be treated like Comic Sans. That is, never to be used again.
3. Edit. Edit. Edit. :: Use the editing tools that Instagram provides you with or a third party app, like VSCO. Bad lighting is the kiss of death on Instagram. Your photos should be easy on the eyes. If your ‘brightness’ setting is too high, your audience will strain their eyes in order to see what is going on. Use natural lighting when possible. Indoor lighting can create a yellowish tint to your photos. Your Instagram account is for your biz, so it should look as professional as possible. Not perfect, but professional. Your photos will improve with time, so don’t let a fear of imperfection stop you from posting.
3. Style your products. :: It is essential that you post photos of your products onto your Instagram. While you must include product pics with a simple white background on your website, you need to incorporate some props into your photos for Instagram. What props to use? The sky is the limit. Use props that your audience connects with and is in keeping with your brand. Is your target market young, single, fashion-forward, college grads focused on building their career? Use a stylish day planner, coffee, laptop, etc. Maybe you make cute beanies for kids? Use school supplies, toys, children’s books. Remember to focus on your customer. Don’t use your personal favorite children’s book as a prop. Instead, use one that your customer will connect with.
4. Plan ahead. :: Creating a content calendar will help your biz have a consistent style. When planning your weekly posts, make sure to include product pics. Sometimes you may see a really cool leaf on your morning walk to the coffee place. Don’t post it! Unless, of course, your audience is really into nature and you have a weekly leaf series. Just because you take a beautiful photograph does not mean it belongs on your Instagram. I know it is hard, because sometimes you may see a really cool rainbow. If it has nothing to do with your brand, then you need to save that photo for your personal accounts. Keeping a content calendar will keep you on track.
This three part series is inspired by Susannah Brinkley’s series on building a personal Instagram following.