Want to create aesthetically pleasing visuals on Instagram?… Wondering how to develop a recognizable Instagram style without needing a design background?
To explore my options on how to improve your design on Instagram, I interviewed Kat Coroy. She is a designer who teaches small business owners to look amazing on Instagram by thier using instagram branding strategy. She creates mini-masterclasses on IGTV. Her course is called Instagram Marketing Makeover.
Ready to improve your branding game? Here, you are going to learn how to discover your unique brand style and translate it to an Instagram profile that reflects or accurately market your brand identity. You’ll also find some dominant tips to improve your Instagram marketing strategies and discover how to take selfies with confidence.
For years, Kat worked as a brander and designer at one of the best agencies in London. She’s worked with clients that run the gamut from dog food to traders to architects, including notable brands such as Nike and Coke. Often, she was called in to do the concept work for brands as well.
After 20 years in that role, she set up her own design agency in Australia. She worked with smaller brands such as organic coffee producers.
Around that time, friends who were aware of Kat’s background in branding and design were asking if she could curate their Instagram feeds for them using her Instagram branding designs. Kat’s approach goes beyond creating a pleasant and attractive aesthetic. She brings her experience with big brands to the table and works to get at the soul of the person or business so others can feel the impact of that soul.
She’s now been teaching about Instagram personal branding for 3 years and has 11K students. Today, she helps entrepreneurs and small businesses discover how to express the essence of their brands visually by teaching them design rules they can follow on their own.
Why Marketers Need to be cautious about Design on Instagram
Design is a dominant factor than many people realize. You only get 3 seconds to capture someone’s attention on Instagram before they scroll to the next thing. Your content needs to be what Kat describes as deep pretty—content that expresses the soul and energy of your business and brand.
High quality designed content makes that expression possible and stops the scroll. And because humans are wired to seek out more of the things that we think are attractive, that scroll-stop often depicts the click-through to your profile.
On your Instagram profile, the elements of your profile picture, your bio, and the first nine images at the top of your feed combine to create a presentation of what your brand is all about. The fonts, words, colors, and images all work together to express an overall brand tone that can deeply impact someone in those precious 3 seconds. If your profile is properly designed and executed, your content will resonate with and magnetically attract the target audience to your account.
It’s similar to the same way people walking through a mall enter a store and look around to decide whether they’ll stay and shop. People choose whether to follow you on Instagram based on the design of your profile and content. They might then go on to message you, share your posts, watch your IGTV videos, and buy your products and services.
Where to Start: Revealing Your Brand’s Purpose
When someone views your profile for the first time, can they understand in 3 seconds what your business is about? What does your brand stand for?
Or do you have a mix of 20 different things that confuse people and leave them wondering why they should pay attention to you at all? For example, are you mixing personal and business posts on the same profile? While that can work for some businesses, Kat suggests qualifying the addition of personal posts by asking yourself if the post fits with and represents the company and the brand message.
You’ll present a clear message when the elements (text, bio, colors, fonts, images, etc.) of your profile quickly denote what your business does and what it believes. Again, this is what Kat calls instagram brand’s purpose and she believes every business has one.
People don’t start businesses for no reason. Most entrepreneurs are passionate about something so they started a business to help a specific group of community to do a specific thing. There’s a deep message behind what they’re doing
If you’re having trouble discovering your brand’s purpose, pretend you’re having a cup of tea with a dear friend. You tell that friend why you started your business—why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Once you’ve defined your brand’s purpose statement, the absolute passion and energy behind what you’re doing, you can put that knowledge into action in everything you do.
One of Kat’s clients who sold mugs on which she placed designs didn’t think she had a brand purpose.. “I’m just selling mugs.” After talking with her for a while, the deeper why surfaced: She wants to take people out of their routine and give them a special, happy moment in the day via the positive designs on her mugs.
Based on that revelation of her brand’s purpose, she made several decisions for her Instagram presence. She chose modern scripts and fonts. She decided to use a lot of white in her photography, knew what kind of photography to use, and which filters would best communicate the feeling she was trying to create.
Kat notes that this exercise works whether you sell physical products or services. In fact, revealing your instagram brand purpose is easier for people who have a service-based business because they want to assist somebody and are typically aware of who that Instagram audience is.
Determining your Brands Color
When choosing the colors for your brand for instagram, take into account the psychology of color. For example, if you’re an empowerment coach for women and use primary colors such as those commonly seen in children’s books, you’re likely creating an unintentional disconnect.
The colors you choose should not only express your Instagram brand identity but also about what you think your customers will like and resonate with. You can incorporate color into your Instagram content without turning your feed into a monochromatic display.
If you are someone who shares quote images, you can incorporate color into your quote images.
Yes, you can also use clothing or props to include those colors in your visuals. One of Kat’s students loves the color yellow. Photos of her are taken against a white background but she’s always wearing something yellow or holding a yellow prop such as a plate.
One of the key considerations when choosing fonts for Instagram target audience is readability.
For example, if you’ve got a lengthy quote image, too much script can be hard to read at once. In which case, Kat suggests pairing the script with a block font and applying the script font to only a few select words. This approach will help you create quote images that appear open and clean.
Kat recommends using only one or two fonts for everything you do for Instagram marketing. She says that the in-app Instagram Type tool can help you enhance your text with loads of cool effects.
Instagram Stories ideas has many inbuilt creative modes that let you select a colored background and add text that makes it really easy to create text graphics (quote graphics). However, that functionality doesn’t extend to creating posts for the Instagram feed.
For creating such types of images for the feed Canva can be a boon for beginners. Not only does Canva offer ready-to-use and customizable templates, it offers lots of font options to design unique, branded quote graphics. Then people will know the images are yours before they even read them; people will recognize the color, font, and design style as your Instagram Brand Identity.
Establishing an Image Style
According to Kat it’s possible to create quality images by adding text overlays to photos, she prefers to keep things simple and pure. Post photos as photos and words as quote graphics. Using these two types of creative separately makes your feed look upright and is a treat to your viewer’s eye.
If you want to use an image of yourself with a text overlay, be sure to stand next to a very plain background. To make sure the image is readable, you may also need to add a semi-transparent layer between the photo and the text overlay. Just make sure everything you create is readable.
Kat also suggests when it comes to using filters, filter every photo just a little bit (just enough to pull the dullness out of the picture) but be very cautious against using filters that will make your image look unrealistic. Instagram content strategy does best when it’s about authenticity, trust and connections.
Tips to Upgrade your Instagram Selfie Game
Most people are self-conscious when photographing themselves. They freeze up and don’t feel confident. The answer is to get a tripod for your phone and use the timer for delayed selfie capture.
You’re on your own so it won’t matter if you look like an idiot doing whatever you’re doing. Laugh and play around, and take as many as you want—take 100 photos if you like—you only need one good one.
The more photos you take, the more relaxed you’ll be, and the easier it will be to get the kind of photos that work for you. Some people look good when they’re in serious, moody shots and others look better in fun, candid shots. Some need to look directly at the lens and others should look slightly off-camera. Experiment and see what works for you.
You’ll also want to find a really good background. Think about your brand essence and think about your colors. Choose a wall in your house or—even better—look around your neighborhood for a doorway or an old wall that has character. Whatever background you choose, you want it to be quite simple and free of clutter.
Should your photos be vertical or horizontal? It depends. Kat typically shoots in horizontal for her feed images and in vertical for her Stories images.
If you plan to use your photo with text overlay or if you simply want to post some photos that feature space to give your feed a feeling of breathing room, remember to make use of the rule of thirds. For example, if you’re by a wall, stand in the first third of the frame.
As you snap your photos, remember to put your hand on your hip or move one leg slightly forward. If that makes you nervous or you don’t know what to do with your hand, search “poses” on Pinterest. Look at all of the models and note their posture and how they’re positioning their limbs.
Finally, remember to have fun. Maybe take a friend with you—someone who makes it easy for you to smile and laugh. That genuine emotion will come across in your photos.
Consistency of high-quality Instagram content strategy
If you’re just starting out or you’re trying to level up your Instagram presence, you need to get 9-15 feed posts up so they fill up the grid for mobile or desktop viewers. Then you can move into a regular posting schedule that works for you.
While there are some business types that can post to Instagram every day in your Instagram marketing checklist, in general, it’s recommended posting three times a week—possibly adding a video once a week.
You don’t want to just push out low-quality content simply for the sake of publishing. Your followers will feel that. It’s much better to post less often and ensure you post something high-quality.
Key Takeaways From This Episode
- Find your brand’s purpose
- Determining your brand’s color
- Choosing Fonts
- Curating and maintaining an image style
- Upgrade your Instagram Selfie Game
- Consistency of high-quality content
Learn more about Instagram Marketing
Want to share your customers’ posts on Instagram? Wondering how to find and use their content without breaking Instagram’s Terms of Service?
In this article, you’ll learn how to encourage people to create user-generated content (UGC), how to find UGC, and how to legally share it.
To learn how to use user-generated content on Instagram, read the article below for an easy-to-follow walkthrough or watch this video:
Why Use User-Generated Content on Instagram?
Before diving into how to take advantage of UGC on Instagram, let’s quickly break down what it is exactly. UGC is simply content created by other people that’s about your product, service, or brand. On Instagram, you may be tagged in, @mentioned in, or sent the content created by somebody else. It’s usually your customers creating the content but it could also be potential customers or your audience in general.
So why should you use UGC? First of all, it’s content you don’t have to create. Someone else does the work and you get to add it to your content calendar. Second, UGC shows your brand from your customer’s perspective, not yours, which can be more validating and trustworthy to your audience.
How do you determine what makes good UGC content for your brand? When the content matches your brand’s tone, style, and colors, it’s a winner. And when the content highlights the benefits of your product or positive aspects of your brand, you definitely want to use it.
Two of my favorite examples of brands that use UGC on Instagram are GoPro and The Love Bomb Co. GoPro uses 100% UGC on their Instagram accounts. They don’t create a single piece of content, and yet their whole Instagram feed is cohesive, on-brand, and speaks to the power of their audience.
The Love Bomb Co. is another favorite because she only has a few products but her audience takes amazing and relevant images that showcase her products in relatable environments that make the products must-haves.
While these are highly visual brands and products, the principles are still largely the same even if you have an info product.
Now that you know why you’d want to use UGC in your Instagram marketing, here’s how to prompt your customers to create it and share it safely to your account.
#1: Encourage Your Instagram Audience to Share UGC
To get people to create UGC for you, you want to encourage them to use your branded hashtag and/or @mention you in Instagram content about your brand.
Footwear company Allbirds includes their branded hashtag #weareallbirds front and center on their Instagram bio to make it more visible to their audience.
In addition to your bio, you could include the hashtag and/or your username on receipts or packaging with a little reminder to your customers to post to Instagram and tag you.
If you have a physical location for your business, use signage or even set up selfie stations to encourage people to take photos and tag you. You can also run contests or giveaways with UGC as an entry requirement to qualify.
#2: Select the Right UGC to Share on Instagram
Once people start sharing UGC on Instagram, you may be wondering where to find it. If you use a branded hashtag, check the hashtag regularly to see what content people are creating about your brand.
If your customers @mention you, you’ll have an immediate notification that someone has created content about your brand. You may also want to use a social listening tool that will source your brand name, mentions, or hashtags across social media to find content that people are creating.
When it comes to choosing what UGC to share, be selective. Choose the right content that works for your brand and conveys the message you’re creating and edit colors or add filters if needed to match your account aesthetic. Don’t share things that aren’t aligned with your brand voice, tone, and style.
Also be wary of sharing posts with children in them, unless your brand is targeting parents of children. Many parents don’t like the idea of their children’s images being shared online publicly.
If the content includes alcohol or any other controlled substance, make sure you have confirmation that everyone in the post is over the legal age of use.
#3: Request Permission to Share UGC on Instagram
Once you’ve decided what UGC you want to share, you’ll need to get written permission before reposting it. If you don’t, you could get sued for any revenue proven to be generated by that post.
For a feed post, you can ask for permission via a comment on their post or send them a direct message (DM). Let them know that you like their post and would like to share it to your Instagram account. Then ask, “Do we have your permission to use it?” Once you have permission, you can post the content to your account but you should still @mention and/or tag the original creator.
Sharing stories is a bit of a gray area but considered safe because it retains the original content in the share so explicit permission isn’t required in the same way. However, I still encourage it.
If you’re in doubt about resharing a certain piece of content on Instagram, you can always DM the original content creator to see if it’s okay. But generally, if people are tagging you in their content, they’re open to it being shared.
#4: Share UGC to the Instagram Feed and Stories
Now let’s talk about some of the tools you can use for sharing UGC in both Instagram stories and the feed.
For the feed, there are a number of free apps for reposting. These apps snag the original post, image, and caption and allow you to post the content to your own Instagram profile. They’ll also add a watermark with the original account’s username.
Using a screen capture for sharing UGC is increasingly common and easier than most reposting tools. This is perfectly acceptable as long as you have permission and still tag the original user.
As for Instagram stories, there’s the built-in sharing feature that allows you to share stories you were tagged in directly to your own stories. If you weren’t tagged in the story, it’s not easy to simply repost that story to your own. Or you’d have to do a screen grab of the photo or video and get explicit permission from that content creator to post it since you’re not using the native in-app sharing tool.
Content creation is hard and can be time-consuming, especially on visual platforms like Instagram. That’s where UGC can help. Sharing content from your customers and prospects can be an amazing way to share valuable content with your audience, showcase customer stories, and connect with your audience.
What do you think? How often do you use UGC on your business’s Instagram account? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
More articles on Instagram marketing:
- Learn how to navigate and use the desktop version of Instagram for your marketing activities.
- Find out how to plan, create, and optimize Instagram content for your business.
- Discover what Instagram Reels is, learn how to create a reel, and discover how to use reels for business.