The Key to Instagram-Perfection May Just Be Authenticity

Never-ending news of Facebook’s egregious policies on privacy not-withstanding it’s never really been a place for the fashion set to pose and preen. Ostensibly that’s why they bought Instagram. And if you are a design, beauty, food, lifestyle, fashion, etc business, you consider it a linchpin of your marketing efforts. Which is the continued problem with the platform…just as you master the color blocking algorithms fail you and the new kids disrupt your peonies.

Is the Work Worth it?

While we are writing this friends are spending hours curating their feed, ensuring a rainbow of lush colors, perfect product shots; pattern blocking and tag-perfecting. And they still get only a few likes with not one attributable purchase from that great post.  In part it’s business (less chance of an organic boost…most pressure to pay up) and in part it’s because a new generation has taken over.

From an article in The Atlantic earlier this year (‘The Instagram Aesthetic is Over‘)…

While Millennial influencers hauled DSLR cameras to the beach and mastered photo editing to get the perfect shot, the generation younger than they are largely post directly from their mobile phones. “Previously influencers used to say, ‘Oh, that’s not on brand,’ or only post things shot in a certain light or with a commonality,” says Lynsey Eaton, a co-founder of the influencer-marketing agency Estate Five. “For the younger generation, those rules don’t apply at all.”

Stepping Back to Brand With Instagram

For second, let’s forget it all. Regardless of whether it’s the right platform, a good platform, or there are changes that make it harder or easier to be seen, there is no accounting for not communicating your brand in only the way YOU can.  We often see clients who are too focused on what they think ‘works’ on a platform such as Instagram; completely overlooking the fact that you need to communicate your brand right no matter the channel.

Get the brand communications and personality right and you can figure out how to leverage a platform’s base and even take advantage of its paid opportunities down the line.

List of What Works

personality is the key to authenticity

Regardless of whether you sell shirts, pants or fancy widgets, you need to identify with your brand’s personality on Instagram. For many of our clients, they started their business because of a personal passion. But then they resist infusing this point of distinction or personality this into their external communications.

Are you funny? Do your clients or customers love to see your travel or parenting adventure? Are you committed to giving back? Do you have a compelling belief or story? Even if the answer is no, no, no. A platform such as Instagram is voyeuristic and what users love is seeing real people and real stories. So don’t hold back from being you (and this is why we loved talking to Donna Ida recently about her social media work). Just because everyone else is posting in a certain way, it doesn’t mean it works. What do you like to see? Use that to start rethinking what authenticity means to you.

Too much curation

The pain of color blocking or weaving themes or images in an artistic way is taking up way TOO much of your time. If we can’t convince you that it doesn’t matter, then consider how Instagram stories has made Instagram ‘messy’ – out the door is curation and in now is spontaneity and immediacy. Even if you don’t feel as comfortable with this new way of thinking about the platform, it’s unavoidably altering the landscape.

No cadence

If you look at your favorite accounts there is a rhythm, a bit about product, yourself, your life. It’s measured and balanced. Too much product and it’s boring, too much of ‘you’ and it’s too personal. Take a look at your favorite accounts and see how they balance the mix. This doesn’t mean contrived, it’s just about keeping things interesting.

Find the right hashtags

Hashtags, tagging, it should all fall naturally into the rhythm of what you say. Mention someone… add their account. Think there is relevance… add a hashtag. Add a lot. But make sure they make sense. The most effective hashtags are not those where you see large numbers after the tag, but instead the ones that are smaller and more targeted. Try it and you’ll see how effective having the right conversation can be.

Don’t Worry about Followers – Find Real Fans

And finally, forget obsessing over followers and likes (p.s. Instagram may scrap likes anyway). There is more to be said about social media advertising (and we’ll come back to you on that), but the above holds true even when you are paying for ads. The important thing is to be bold and consistent and know what your brand is about. From there it doesn’t matter the application, it’s about what you have to say and how that captures the true authenticity that is you.