There is more to a curated Instagram feed than good photos. Put yourself in your followers’ shoes for a second. Imagine telling a friend that they should follow your account. How would one go about describing your feed? Would they say things like, “You’d love this brand. They post photos of their jewelry but also cool cafes and spots around NYC that I always end up wanting to try myself.” Or, “I’m obsessed with this account. This interior designer posts cool market finds that she picks up on her travels and her feed is so pretty – all white and neutral colors.”
When it comes to curating your social feeds, the key is to establish what you want to be known for. In the words, what is your red sole? Many entrepreneurs think about how to position themselves from a written and vocal standpoint, but then usually stop there. How you visually convey that is just as important.
A Well Curated Instagram Feed
Creating a well curated Instagram feed and cohesive aesthetic can take some soul-searching for both you and your brand. And it all starts with figuring out what your style is.
When I first started my e-commerce business, I thought I could skip this step. I knew how to use Instagram, take relatively good photos, and I had a strong sense of personal style. So how hard could it be creating a social presence for my brand? It turns out, it wasn’t as obvious as I thought it was going to be. Even after posting all the “right” things as a brand owner — product shots, press mentions, behind-the-scenes photos, travel, etc. — my feed still looked…just okay.
I became increasingly frustrated because I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was amiss. Instagram was FREE marketing for my business and a way to consistently get in front of my customers, especially in those pre-algorithm days. I wanted to get it right and also feel proud of what I was creating. But I wasn’t finding the answer in any of the articles I had read or webinars I had watched – everything was saying to “clean up my feed” or edit my photos a certain way using this and that filters. So I did. And yet I was still never at the point where the aesthetic on my feed reflected the quality of brand I was building.
And then my epiphany came. I was in San Sebastian, Spain, on a hike, taking a photo of the delicious spread we had packed for the trek and were about to devour. The pic came out great but it hit me: why did I want to share this on my brand Instagram account? It had nothing to do with my product or the lifestyle I was trying to build my community around.
I realized I had been approaching this all wrong. Everything I was posting was based on my own personal taste. That was a problem because I liked so many different things. I loved looking at bright, clean imagery but also followed a ton of brands known for their moodier, matte tones. I obsessed over unexpected pops of neon color and yet was really drawn to design that celebrated neutrals. And ultimately, all of those different things were influencing everything I was associating with my brand. Visually, my aesthetic seemed less than cohesive because my tastes and interests were all over the place!
If your goals are to build a trusted, beautiful brand, prospective customers may have trouble knowing what you’re about or what it is that you stand for without a cohesive, recognizable style. People often decide whether or not to follow a new account within seconds of landing on it. But once you are able to establish your style, you can then work out how that fits with your visual stories. These are the emotional touch points that your brand and product exude and also resonates with your customers.
And don’t get me wrong- I still like a million different things. That’s how people stay inspired. It’s a wonderful thing and I recognize this; in fact, it’s one of the first things I tackle when working with my branding clients. But there is an efficient way to navigate this when it comes to building a strong, trusted brand. It can get tricky if you plow ahead without being mindful of this. And speaking from experience, there’s nothing more exhausting to put your time and energy into creating things only to feel like you have to backtrack later down the road.
I also have a little bonus for you guys- I’ve included our free style guide template in this post to get you started. To update, you can use any design program (i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) and overlay your style elements in the appropriate sections. Some (free) design programs to check out are Gimp, Pixlr Editor, Paint.net. If you find this overwhelming (which it can be!), let’s chat more about a deeper dive and strategic approach to finding your style.
- Download our free Style Guide Template here. Even if you already have one for your brand, revisit it – could you use a refresh or update?
- Start creating. Share and post content that ties back to these stories in your style.
- Let me know how you did in the comments below.
Oh, and two more pro tips- I always tell my clients that it’s a good idea to revisit your style guide every 6 months or so to make sure it still reflects and accurately conveys what your brand is about as it is evolves. Also, I usually create a mini-style guide for every campaign I launch or project I’m working on. It’s an easy way to ensure that all of your collateral aligns with one another and ultimately jives with your overall branding.
Let me know how you did in the comments below. Or if you have any questions. I love hearing all of it!