Visual Planning for Instagram
Is Instagram the right platform for your business?
Step back and think about why you want to set up your account.
1. Does your business or brand lend itself to appealing images or interesting stories?
If your business is not product-driven, consider highlighting your company’s culture and showcasing your internal talent/team. Highlight experiences.
If you are serious about building a following you will need to post regularly, at the very minimum 1 photo a day though ideally you probably want to post 2 photos. Can your business sustain that pace of posting and if not, what kind of photos could you use to meet the shortfall – inspirational quotes, dreamy horizons, etc.
2. Are you aiming to drive traffic to your website?
Currently Instagram only allows you to drive traffic to a URL via your bio link, so the platform is much more about raising brand awareness and engaging with your followers, clients, stakeholders (internal and external) than it is about driving traffic.
3. Who are your trying to reach?
According to Pew Research Center, 59% of Instagram users are between the age of 18 and 29. How is your customer base aligned with this demographic? And keeping this in mind, how will you speak to and interact with them?
Putting yourself in the shoes of your target audience will help you decide on the content theme:
- What do they like most about your brand?
- How could you translate that in daily photos?
- How will you get them to engage with your photos and videos?
- What will get them talking about your feed/brand and help you reach more followers?
Decide on your visual themes
Instagram allows you to showcase creativity through beautiful visuals, but it’s important to maintain visual continuity throughout your feed and with other media.
Color and filter themes:
Anticipate the kind of photos you’re going to post and select a color theme that will help you showcase your product or service in interesting ways. For example, you could choose a minimalist white backdrop, particularly if the products are very colorful, or contrast products against lots of pastels or bold colors. Black and white photography can also help you tie lots of different photos together and it creates an emotional tone too.
Instagram filters can be a lot of fun, but it’s best to decide on a couple (on top of normal) and stick to those. This will also help you achieve consistency in term of tint throughout your feed. According to a 2016 study by Canva, Clarendon (which brighten photos) tops the list of most used Instagram filters followed by Juno (gives it rich tone to make reds and oranges pop), Valencia and Sierra. Personally, I primarily use Juno and Ludwig, along with normal (not all photos need to be enhanced), because I love bright colors.
Another way to present a well-curated consistent feed is to ensure that all your photos are cropped the same way. Some accounts like to use the full width of the frame, while other like to give some white framing around theirs. I favor the former; big, large photos that draws you in when you click.
Build your photo library
Before going public with your launch, build up a library of photos you plan to use.
Make sure your photos are clear and well framed – no blurry, grainy photos.
If you don’t have enough of your own photos you can complement by using stock photos, many are free. I recommend:
- pixabay.com – beautiful and colorful imagery of landscapes and animals
- kaboompics.com - allows you to sort photos by themes and color palette
- foodiesfeed.com (for food images)
- nos.twnsnd.co (Vintage photos from the public archives generally free of known copyright restrictions)
- makerbook.net/stock-photos/ - for photos of technology and evocative shoots of start ups
Start Thinking 3, 6, 9
Once you have built a library of photos you plan to use, try to organize them so you curate a collection of visual story lines.
Think in terms of lines, 3 in a row to tell your story, and then think in term of a large rectangle (6 photos) and a big square (9 photos).
You can switch theme but should provide some minimal continuity of at least 9 photos.
The pattern you create could be based on a color theme, or a content one. If you don’t have a lot of photo you could create your grid by using regular quotes.
To help you with the consistency, plan that grid ahead, visualizing what the photos will look like next to each other (Instagram scheduling tool like Planoly or UNUM will help you with that important visualization or you can use a dummy account to test what they will look like)