How to create the Perfect Instagram Post & Account
Instagram is a social media platform I take very seriously. In addition to being a lover of beautiful images, I love creating and curating a space of my own. I find the entire process, from conceptualizing a photo to posting and engaging with the community a creative and therapeutic process. Apart from my personal Instagram account, which I use to engage with the blogging community and compliment and promote my own blog, I also use Instagram for my nine to five job. I work in marketing for a company, where I am in charge of managing all social media accounts to drive consumers . So today I’d like to impart my knowledge and Instagram tips, be it for a personal Instagram account, or if you’re interested in gaining some skills to promote a brand, or your blog.
I don’t care who you are, or how serious you take your Instagram, if you are on social media, you have a brand. I am a firm believer that our online presence has become an extension of ourselves, our personality and who we are. Even if you just take simple, unedited photos of your cocktails in a dimly lit bar, that is your brand. Whether you recognize it, or not, when someone visits your social presence online, they glean from that who you are and what you’re about. Our social media accounts are the new “first impression” and everyone is checking them out, your tinder date, your potential employer, or your friends of friends. It’s come to a point in time that everyone has a brand, not just companies, or people selling their own services. This is the new age and how things are happening from now on.
I like to keep my bio short and simple. I used to have a bunch of emojis and random facts about myself. Now I focus on my location & upcoming destination, as I do a bit of travel blogging, my contact information with a small envelop emoji, a small bit of information about what I do and a link to my most recent blog post and what it’s about.
Your theme is a huge part of your brand. Not only will having a theme keep your main page looking consistent and attractive, but it will keep you on brand. It will help to prevent you from posting something that doesn’t fit and may alienate your followers and cause them to be put off and unfollow you. I like a light and airy theme, focusing on white, pink and blue. My content keeps within theme as well, including flowers, outfit posts and beauty primarily. I’ll go further into detail on how to stay on theme later.
Above all else, your content is the highest priority when it comes to building a loyal social media following. Yes, posting regularly and on-time is ideal. BUT- it’s better to delay a post, or skip a day if what your posting isn’t perfect. I will definitely unfollow if I find someone is getting sloppy, or not staying on theme and on-brand. If their content isn’t consistent with what I want to see in my feed, I am cut-throat about unfollowing.
Your photos should be consistent and high-quality. Most phones nowadays take perfectly suitable photos for posting. I have a very fancy camera which I use for my blog, but most of my photos are taken on my iPhone X. As far as what you’re posting, profile is better than landscape, or square, as it fills up more of the frame. If you can, try and take photos without too much background noise, or edit it out with an app later.
Your captions should be on the long side and engaging. Try asking questions to start a conversation with your followers. The more comments you get, and the sooner you get them, the better your content will fare with the current Instagram algorithm and the more likely your content is to reach new users.
I do not do any editing in the Instagram app itself, save for my caption. Some people like to use an outside app to schedule their posts. Personally, I like to post myself directly from Instagram. For one, I’ve heard the algorithm prefers this, second of all, I like to post my hashtags in a comment right after I post, instead of in the comment directly. This also means, I will be available to reply to comments right after I post and the more comments you get the sooner after you post, the better your photo will do with the algorithm.
I use Facetune 2 for two purposes. First, you can paint over areas of your photo. I do this for anything I want to turn white, or grey, or even to take a coloured caste out of white areas in my photo which may look more red, or blue, to get a true white colour. Second, I will use it to defocus anything I don’t want in my photo. This is a great option if you are in a crowded place and can’t get a photo without other people for example. Just be careful with this one, because it can look sloppy. I’ve seen photos on Insta where people missed spots, or it’s clear they just went in with their big clumsy finger and defocused something which wouldn’t be defocused based on the photo.
Light Room CC
Lightroom is an Adobe product and it’s my favourite app for editing photos. You can make any adjustments to lighting, colour and detail in here and for a free product, it’s the best one I’ve found. It is super easy to use and helps me keep all my photos on theme by adjusting colours to fit with the rest of my photos.
PLANN is an app where you can predetermine where your photos will fall within your feed to make sure everything looks cohesive and you’re not placing too many photos with similar features beside, or on top of each other. For example I bought some peonies recently and took a bunch of photos of them. I want to space them out though in my feed so I’m not overwhelming my followers with content that is too similar. I usually continue to play with my photos as I add them in, so I plan but that plan is malleable and continues to adjust each day I take more photos.
I typically try and do my own research on relevant hashtags by seeing what people I follow tend to tag, however if I’m stuck on a certain topic I will search similar and relevant hashtags with this app. With Focalmark, you input a category relevant to your picture (ie. Lifestyle), the city you’re in and the kind of camera you used (ie. iPhone). I tend to just use the tags relevant to the category and city. Be cautious of hashtags. They are a great way to reach people on Instagram and other social platforms, however if you’re not using relevant ones which reach the right audience, you will not gain lasting followers who are interested in your content. Avoid generic hashtags and never use something like #follow4follow, that’s tacky. The great thing about social platforms is finding an audience and community to connect with who have similar interests, 10,000 followers who don’t engage with your content are not as valuable as 500 genuine followers who love what you post.
This is my latest discovery and I’m obsessed with it. Unfold is where you can build attractive and well-designed stories. You can save them for upcoming posts, either as a single post, or a full story. There are many templates to choose from with nice font (much better than what Instagram offers) and borders etc.
Canva is a great space for design. I use Canva on my MacBook to create resumés and media kits, however you can also use it to add a bit of design to photos. I like using it to add some borders to my stories to make them more attractive and interesting.
To finish off, I’m going to share a few extra Instagram tips for what I do once I’ve actually posted my picture.
As I have discussed previously, I like posting my hashtags in the comment section. I research relevant hashtags for common things I post (ie. fashion, brunch, flowers, etc.) and save these in the notes section of my phone for quick and easy use to paste into the comments. You can use a maximum of thirty hashtags in a post, I always use the maximum amount to try and reach as many people as possible. I also like to switch up a few on each picture for specific situations and to keep them fresh.
In addition to hashtags, always tag your location, so people searching for that location can fid your post. I always check out location tags before travelling, or going to a new restaurant, etc.
Finally, you can tag up to twenty other accounts in your photo, so I always take advantage of this. I will tag any designers I’m wearing, or restaurants I’m at, as well as accounts that share relevant material, like fashion, or travel accounts who might like to share your photo and get it out there to people who don’t yet follow your account.
Stories are a place where you can post things you want to share with your audience, but don’t want to stay around forever. They are a great option to post photos which may not be “on-theme”. That being said, I still believe you should consider what you are posting an whether, or not it still speaks to your audience. It’s a great place to let your viewers know about a new photo you’ve posted (as they are not always seen by your audience due to the new algorithm). I also like to let my viewers know about a new blog post here.
I spend about ten minutes a day engaging with other accounts on Instagram. I always comment on any picture I like and try to leave an engaging and thoughtful comment. I also like and reply to all the comments left on my photos, save for spam. This is a good practice to show your followers that you are interested in their engagement and appreciate them. Whenever I find a new account to follow, I leave them at least three comments and likes before hitting the follow button.
I hope these tips help you, whether you’re looking to grow your following, or just interested in creating beautiful content for your page. Let me know what apps you like to use as I’m always interested in ways to create more interesting content! Don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram @silehelennineill!