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YOUR BEST SELF, PRESENTATION ON INSTAGRAM AND HOW TO REACH MORE PEOPLE

Studies show that nowadays, there are over 3.6 billion people actively using social media, one billion of which are active on Instagram, with the average user spending around 144 minutes on those apps per day. These numbers have only increased over recent months, with the global pandemic, all the political, social and cultural events and upheaval that took place over 2020, pushing people, for lack of a better outlet, deeper into social media. The long months of isolation and quarantine led more people to spend more time online; working from home, interacting with friends or loved ones via the internet, or just trying to find something to cure their boredom.

This presents a fantastic opportunity for those one billion active Instagram users to become one billion potential customers. By understanding trends, statistics and demographics, you can create a marketing strategy that sets you up to be most effective and successful.

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SELF-PRESENTATION

The first question you need to ask is how you want to come across. On Instagram, every aspect of your page counts, even down to the way you articulate your ‘bio’ or what kind of profile picture you choose. The way you organise your posts, your overall ‘account aesthetic’, the quality and relatability of your photos, and even the colours that become prominent on your page, all effect how a potential customer views, thinks about and eventually interacts with your Instagram profile and brand.

Instagram is, other than Pinterest, the social media platform that is almost entirely photo based. In fact, it is so photo-based that the verb ‘to instagram’ means to take and share a photo. That’s why it’s crucial to decide upon an ‘overall aesthetic’ before even posting a photo. This will define which photos you choose, what filters, designs, fonts, models, gradients, colours and templates you use. Not only does this help create a coherent, aesthetically pleasing and professional-looking page, it also makes life so much easier for you. If you establish some design standards for your page, you already know what needs to be done, and you already have a plan and a strategy in place.

The aesthetic you choose must fit with your branding. If your logo and your photos clash, you are undermining the quality and professionalism of your brand, which has a direct effect on the efficacy of your social media presence and marketing.

Let’s look at a few examples - Here are the Instagram pages for Nike, Fear of God, and Huf Haus, all pioneers and leaders in their fields.

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All three brands are almost entirely different in products and aesthetics, but all have decided upon an overall look and feel, that best suits their brand and their products or services. For Nike, as a sports brand, the colours chosen are somewhat darker, more sport-like, and they can afford to have a wider range of colours, types of photos and models as it speaks to the diversity, inclusivity and worldliness, not only of their brand, but also of the niche they are targeting. Sport is for everyone, from all backgrounds and abilities, there are endless different sports, all set in different locations, with different equipment and clothing required. Nike’s photos reflect this. In those first six photos, they have many different sports or scenarios depicted; swimming, golf, hockey, football, athletics, long-distance running, and even flamenco dancing; the stories of LGBTQ+ athletes, athletes with prosthetics, those fighting for social justice causes, those defying the limits of age, background and heritage to achieve sporting greatness. All this in just six photos. Because their target, their niche and their audience is so wide, they can afford to be less uniform in their aesthetic. However, you will notice that they all follow a similar pattern: they are people-centred, high-quality, and fit a similar photographic style, but we’ll come back to that later.

For Fear of God, their brand dictates a different photo aesthetic. Their brand is clean, sharp, premium, redefining the boundaries between sportswear, streetwear and fashion. Consequently, their photos reflect this, with uniform, muted, dusty tones, perfectly clean, sharp backgrounds of plain colour, and similar, if not the same models. In the words of Opumo Magazine, ‘Jerry Lorenzo is unashamedly proud of his Californian roots which means that every collection is imbued with a sense of sun-drenched Bohemia in the form of relaxed cuts and dusty colour schemes.’ This is directly reflected in their photos and overall aesthetic. It’s sharp, it’s clean, it’s premium, an accurate and engaging reflection of their brand. The viewer knows what their getting and, by their sales figures, can’t wait to led from their social media pages to their website.

For Huf Haus, the brief is slightly different. As a construction company, they’re not going to be having photos of people, models or studio photography at the forefront. Instead, their going to want to show off their buildings, their architecture and their USP of a lot of glass. And yet, their brand is still reflected in their photos. For Huf, their photos are bright, open, beautiful, classy and clean: and almost word for word reflection of their brand and builds. Just as the buildings are open, airy, bright, full of glass, wood and sunlight, so are their photos.

On Instagram, photos are the first and foremost way in which a customer will engage with your brand. They should be able to tell what you’re about, what they can expect from your company and they can, even, make their decision as to whether or not they want to engage your services or buy your products based on the impression they get from your photos on Instagram.

So, to get this right, here are some one-word, easy to remember strategies to help you choose the best aesthetic and photos to be represent your brand.

QUALITY

One of the most basic, yet important, aspects you have to keep in mind is the quality of your pictures. If they’re poorly shot, poorly framed, low resolution or poorly edited, that immediately undermines the seeming quality of your brand and the professionalism. The questions in the potential customer’s mind may be ‘if their Instagram looks so poor, how can I trust the quality of their brand?’ or ‘if they’re willing to go public with such low-quality photos, how can I trust that their products or services will be any better?’ Some might even go as far as to decide that they don’t want to associated with your brand or your company, because of what it looks like. So much of customer engagement is making the customer want to be a part of what you’re doing, be willing to be associated with your brand, and even be willing to recommend or defend your brand. They will not want to do any of this if your photos aren’t up to scratch. So, put simply: well, shot, well edited, high-resolution photos are the way to go. And hiring a professional photographer and designer to do it all for you is probably the best idea too.

PEOPLE

Looking back at our previous examples of Nike, Fear of God, and Huf Haus, we can see the centrality and prominence of people in their photos. Even Huf, a construction company, incorporate photos of people into their feed, understanding the power of faces in photos.

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Scientifically speaking, its been proven that ‘Most of us pay more attention to faces than we do to anything else, we know experimentally that people respond differently to faces than they do to other object categories.’ Faces grab the attention of the viewer. It instantly makes the photo more relatable, more friendly even. Humans, in a non-creepy way, love looking at other humans. It instantly makes us relate more with something if there’s another human in the frame. Some of us even manage to see faces where there aren’t any. Humans love faces. This bares out on social media too. Face-tracking studies have shown that people’s eyes instantly go to the profile picture, the place where the face is most likely present, before looking anywhere else. For a business, the profile picture is not going to have a face in it, unless that’s your logo, or you’re a one-man-army. Thereby increasing the importance of faces and people in your photos.

The human’s love of faces and the increased relatability of the photos, converts, most often, into likes and comments. Specifically on Instagram, photos with faces in them get 38% more likes and 32% more comments. This increases your exposure, helps you out tremendously with the oftentimes temperamental and fickle Instagram algorithm, and helps to push your brand forward. So, get some people in your photos, no matter what you sell or offer.

COLOURS

As written about in previous articles, colours hold huge weight in how a potential customer deals with and views your brand. They need to harmonise, they need to work together, and they need to communicate what you want them to communicate. If your instagram page is full of a random mismatch of irregular, bright, clashing colours, with nothing to tie them together, it instantly undermines the quality of your page. Clashing colours look bad, simple as that.

As seen with the Fear of God page, harmonised colours work to present yourself as professional, premium and well-established; clashing colours do the opposite. We can also see that colours communicate something almost subconsciously to the viewer. In the case of Fear of God, this was ‘the Californian roots’ of its founder, leading to ‘every collection [being] imbued with a sense of sun-drenched Bohemia in the form of relaxed cuts and dusty colour schemes.’ Jerry Lorenzo presents a location and a lifestyle through the colours he chooses. It’s the same for you. Choose colours that best present your brand, best communicate your ethos and represent you in the best way possible. And, if you want a brief explainer on that, we’ve got an article on that too.

So, armed with these tools, you can go and put together a kick-ass Instagram page that presents yourself and your brand in the best way possible, and should help you grow and interact with all those 1 billion sitting ducks on Instagram. One of the most important point about Instagram is to have fun, express yourself and let your brand and personality breathe through your posts. Keep it high-quality, good-looking and engaging, but don’t crush your ethos, personality and character under the weight of having to be seamless. This isn’t LinkedIn, after all.

All quoted research available on request - studio@stonefern.com