Instagram for Business, Part One: Brand

Hashtags. Selfies. Throwback Thursdays. If you like to participate in the social realm of the internet, you’ve most likely heard of one or more of these terms. Instagram is to blame…or thank.

Since Instagram’s launch in 2010, the social photo app has accumulated 200 million monthly active users.[1] It’s no surprise that Facebook spent big bucks to purchase Instagram (715 million, if you’re wondering).[2] As many social media platforms have experienced, Instagram’s users are people aged under 35 with that number slowly rising. There was an overall 25% growth between December 2013 – May 2014, and it’s only getting better.[3]

So what does this little photo community mean for your business? Like Facebook and Twitter, you can use Instagram as a (free) tool to promote and market your business. Instagram works for all kinds of businesses, even those which are not your usual candidate for a social photo app. First, we will talk about one of the most important aspects of your Instagram account – how you should present your business visually.

Consistency, design & tone.

You’re only as good as your feed, especially when it comes to enticing people to click “follow”! Before you start your account, consider what colours and styles reminds you of your business. Are you simple, clean and minimalistic? Are you earthy and inspirational? Are you fun, bubbly and colourful? Once you decide on your vision, keep it at the top of your mind whenever you take an Instagram photo. If you have decided your business is youthful, colourful and vibrant, reconsider posting that blurry night photos of your last event. Opt for bright daytime shots with colourful focal points.

The same is said about consistency when resizing your photos. Instagram photos must be square, but if you have a rectangle photo you can use an app (Whitagram, or similar) to add borders around your photo so that it fits within the Instagram requirements. Try to be consistent on what you choose to do. If you always post perfectly square photos (with no borders), then adding a random photo with white borders around it might look out of place.

Filters have the potential of making a drab photo striking, so choose carefully and take the time to browse options. Some sources suggest that businesses should change their filter up from time to time, but I disagree. Feeds that stick to one consistent filter are more visually appealing and are therefore more likely to be followed. Opt for a filter app instead of the filters that come with the Instagram. Choosing a less common/recognizable filter will help you to stand out from the crowd. TryAfterlight or VSCOcam when trying to find the perfect filter for your account. In both of these apps, you can customize your filter and add other effects such as light leaks, contrast, highlights, and much more. When you find the perfect filter and photo process, write it down so that you can duplicate it (and adjust it, depending on the photo) each time.

Take a look at local business Shelmerdine’s Instagram page,@shelmerdinestyle. You can see how the photos are seamless from one another and balanced. They tend to use black, white and pastels. Simply stunning, and one of my favourite local feeds!