To improve your brand’s Instagram feed is to enhance the experience of your feed through the eyes of your audience. You’re essentially curating an experience for your viewers defined by the images and the words you choose.
It is, therefore, essential to look at the big picture. View your Instagram as a whole, not as individual posts, to create a cohesive feed—or rather, cohesive experience—which plays a large part in defining your brand.
Keep these tips in mind for all things Instagram success. . . .
1. Choose a Visual Theme
Creating an appealing feed starts with choosing a unified theme, which means you’ve used one or more visual elements across all of your Instagram content—and it’s obvious what that element is when looking at your grid.
Such visual elements can include color, borders, similar photo styles, patterns, or even quotes in your feed.
Some of you might be wondering whether an Instagram theme is absolutely necessary. Do you really need your content to be a perfect marriage of posts that fit the overall aesthetic and tone? Can’t you just post images and captions without considering how one post relates to the others?
Sure, you can, but your page won’t stand out against the competition without visual consistency. Producing an aesthetically cohesive stream of content is critical to the success of your page because it makes you stand out from the rest.
Just think, there are roughly two billion active users on Instagram per month, making it the most popular social network worldwide. That’s a lot of users—i.e., competition.
If you’ve got a beautifully tailored, cohesive theme, your page will look more professional and visually pleasing to the eye.
Because of your unified aesthetic, users will be able to recognize your posts when they encounter them on their feed, helping to boost your reputation. The familiarity of your brand will drive a deeper connection with your viewers, who will be more inclined to engage with your posts.
You can keep your theme going in Instagram Stories and Reels for an even stronger theme and brand identity.
2. Select a Grid Layout
A grid layout is how your images are positioned on your feed. Establishing a layout helps you organize your images on your page and makes it easier to maintain a consistent theme.
There are several types of layouts you can choose from:
- Simple square grid layout: This is an obvious first choice. You don’t need to worry about your layout, as long as you stick to the same color combinations and filters to tie in a consistent theme.
- Diagonal grid layout: This is a good way to make your Instagram theme look consistent. Simply choose a style of photo and color, then arrange them diagonally across your feed.
- Row grid layout: This is where visually consistent images are organized in rows. Our eyes naturally travel from left to right, making the row grid layout easy on the eyes.
- Rainbow feed: This is when your posts change color every three to six images as you scroll down the page. This requires more planning, but produces heightened visual impact.
There are countless other grid styles out there. For more inspiration, head on over to our more detailed write-up on grid layouts:
3. Pick a Color Story
Your theme should also include a color story. A color story is essentially a collection of images/videos that consist of a specific color palette.
Picking a color story means utilizing color as a visual tool to create a connection between all of the images and videos within the collection. It also adds some personality to your feed.
You don’t always have to stick to the same colors. Opting for vivid primary colors is a nice option. Or perhaps you prefer muted washed-out shades and neutrals, or images in black and white.
Whether you prefer dark, moody, and mysterious colors or bright, happy, and colorful shades, the colors you choose should be consistent in several posts.
It’s also helpful to post images that share similar colors in groups.
For example, if you have a series of images that feature the color yellow, then transition into a neighboring color on the color wheel, such as orange or green.
Organizing colors this way on your feed helps make the transition of color easier on the eye, thus your feed looks organized.
You can also go for a more subtle color story by batch editing your images by applying the same preset settings to your posts. Copying the settings you want is a convenient way to apply the same edits to a series of images.
Preset settings will give your images a more uniform and consistent look instead of editing each and every photo one-by-one, which can yield varying settings and a disjointed look to your image set.
4. Find the Perfect Instagram Profile Picture
When someone looks at your feed, your profile image is going to be the first thing that tells your visitor who you are and what your brand is about. Your profile picture is also what sets you apart in the Instagram Stories feed.
So, while choosing a profile picture might seem like a fairly straightforward decision, you want to ensure you choose wisely so your profile image reflects your brand.
For example, if you’re a business on Instagram, you might want to consider using your business logo as your profile picture. This will help with long-term branding recognition and will quickly introduce new visitors to your logo and branding.
Alternatively, if you’re a photographer, you might want to consider using your professional headshot as your profile image.
Why? Because you’re also selling yourself—the person behind the lens—and featuring yourself in your profile picture is the quickest way to introduce yourself to your potential new followers.
Ensuring you have a cohesive Instagram feed doesn’t stop at the photos and captions you post. Your profile picture should also be a reflection of your brand and overall aesthetic. If you’re sticking with a specific color palette, for example, use the presets for your profile picture, too.
A timeless image is also a must when selecting an Instagram profile picture. Choosing a picture of a Christmas tree, for example, will no longer be timely in six months’ time. New followers might even think your account isn’t active.
It’s always better to upload an evergreen image that won’t expire.
5. Introduce Yourself in Your Bio
While Instagram themes are mostly dictated by the images you post, you shouldn’t forget to update your Instagram bio to reflect your brand, too.
A solid bio can give your audience further context to your theme, establishing who you are and what your page is about.
For example, if you’re a street photographer, your posts will likely revolve around photos of people and places on the street. A quick intro in your Instagram bio will explain why you take the photos you do. It also provides your contact details, which is critical for any business.
Your bio’s tone is another chance to reflect your theme. If your brand is serious, your bio (and captions) should also reflect a more serious tone.
Similarly, if your theme is lighthearted, your bio (and captions) can also reflect a lighthearted feel.
The more time a visitor spends reading your captions and engaging with your post, the better your post will rank in the elusive Instagram algorithm.
Captions are also a powerful tool that encourages viewers to like and comment. Your post might even land a spot on Instagram’s Explore page if the engagement is high enough.
To drive more engagement to your posts and reach new audiences, writing good Instagram captions that drive engagement is a smart strategy.
So, what makes a good Instagram caption? Ultimately, a caption that provides context, personality, and inspires action is a nice place to start. Start your caption with a super-engaging, attention-grabbing first line for maximum impact.
But, make sure the punchy sentence ends before the caption is truncated. That way, the most compelling part of the caption is visible without having to click on “more.”
Another good tactic to drive engagement is to include a call-to-action. For example, “double-tap if you agree,” or ask a question to encourage your audience to respond in the comments on your post.
Another great call-to-action is to ask your followers to tag a friend in the comments.
You can also use call-to-actions to divert traffic to your website. One way to do this is to encourage your followers to click on the link in your bio, which leads directly to your website.
There are countless other strategies for writing compelling captions to enhance your feed. Whichever strategies you decide to use, the voice of your captions must reflect your brand’s voice.
An authentic and honest brand narrative is fundamental to your success.
7. Plan Your Photos
To produce a curated grid, it’s essential to plan out your photos. Seeing what your images look like together before you publish means you won’t have any surprises once it goes live.
Fortunately, there are several platforms out there that enable you to upload your images to a grid format.
VSCO is a terrific platform for planning out your images and seeing what appeals most to your eye. If you want to move a post, simply tap and hold the image, then drag it to swap places with another image.
Other platforms like Planoly and Later mean we can plan ahead and schedule our content for a later date on Instagram, including captions and hashtags.
Auto-publishing also means you’re more likely to plan and maintain a steady publishing schedule, helping to improve the consistency of your new posts. Whether you choose to post once a day or three times a week is up to you.
What’s most important is that you show up for your audience. When you commit to posting and regularly interacting on your feed, it teaches your audience what to expect from you.
Instagram has everything to do with community. So, while we can rely on the visual cohesiveness of your page to appeal to visitors to some extent, there’s no substitute for engaging with your audience.
Acknowledging or interacting with your followers in the comments can make them feel like they’re part of a community, helping to forge closer relationships. Your followers are more likely to see your content and less likely to unfollow your page.
It’s also important to consider when you post to boost engagement further. Studies suggest 4 a.m. (local time) is the most optimal time to post—particularly on Sundays—which happens to experience the highest average engagement on posts.
So, if you’re striving for a larger, more engaged audience, interact with your visitors and post on your feed when your followers are most engaged.
An easy place to start? Shutterstock Create! Jump into the tool and start drafting up your best branded designs for Instagram posts, Stories, Highlight covers, carousel ads, and so much more!
(PS: Don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it.)
License this cover image via Kit8.net.