Does this sound familiar? You’re a small business and don’t know where to start with social media. Or maybe you have an Instagram account but don’t know how to make it work for you. You don’t know what to post and don’t have any images or content to post either. Or, you’re regularly posting but getting no engagement and no potential clients contacting you.
Today I am revealing my Top 5 Social Media Tips for Brands to help you make your social media shine! All it takes is a little planning and organization on your part to make your profile stand out and attract the clients you desire.
It’s not just about posting loads of images or trying to attract the most followers. You want to strategize so that your ideal client will find you and hire you for who you are and what you do. You don’t necessarily want the most followers, but the right followers who will find you and hire you. For this post, I’ll be focusing on Instagram but some of the same concepts apply to other social media channels.
One of the biggest mistakes I see on Instagram and social media is when brands do not include information about their company. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell what the business is all about or what they make and what services they provide. It’s as simple as spelling it out in your profile and telling clients exactly what you offer.
In addition, be sure that you list where you are located if you have a storefront or provide a service in a particular area. Could you provide services elsewhere? Yes, but not having a base location may turn away some potential clients since they don’t understand where you are located.
Don’t forget to include your website and email address so that clients can reach you. I can’t tell you how many accounts I’ve gone to that do not have this basic information and there’s no way for me to contact them or hire them for their services. At minimum list your website address where further information is accessible.
Last, be sure to upload a profile image to your account. This image should show you, the owner of the business, or a photo of your store or products so that right away people get an idea what you’re about. If you’re an artist, post an amazing photo of you that shows the person behind the work so people can relate to you. If you are a writer show the cover of your latest book, a cook can show their signature dish.
Potential clients will only contact you if you list this important information and have a complete profile. Let people see who you are and encourage them to further interact with you to make your profile a success!
Having a cohesive profile that really shows your brand is very important in attracting clients. You want everything you post from your words to your images to maintain a clear brand message. Unfortunately, I’ve seen one too many sloppy profiles that post inconsistent imagery and poor text to describe each post. Or worse off, no text at all. Usually if I’m searching for a business from which I’m going to purchase something, an account with inconsistent and poor imagery will quickly have me clicking elsewhere.
When you look at someone’s profile, you want to see consistent posting as well as consistency and quality of imagery as well. It’s not about having the most images, but rich, quality images that show you and what you do. The style of photography should be similar in all of your photos. For example, you don’t want to mix light and dark photos together, or photos from many different sources that have a different quality and feel. This will muddy up your brand and make it appear as if you don’t have a clear style, message or product.
In the examples above, you’ll see what I mean by a good and consistent range and quality of images. In @bridgettlynette‘s Instagram grid, you can see that all the images are very light and airy and include similar colors in most of her posts. You can tell this brand’s style is clean, crisp, with neutral pastels, nature elements and a bit of whimsy in her work. They all flow nicely together and show a clear message about what this brand is about.
The example on the right is the account of @jajajanyc which is a Mexican restaurant in New York City. You can see from their recent posts that they are rich and vibrant, showing their personality in their restaurant space, drinks and food that they serve and other supportive images to show how fun this place is (yellow umbrella & quirky pants). This shows that they won’t be your typical Mexican restaurant, but will provide something a big more eclectic and unique. Further scrolling down their profile reveals a color story, where their images fade from color to color throughout the grid. In addition to photos of their food and drink, they also mix in environmental images of cactus, succulents, beaches and florals to further communicate their message and the feeling of their brand.
Both of these examples are consistent, and each image is on-brand and of similar quality, light and style. There’s not one image that stands out, they all flow together. Imagine if one dark, poor quality image was thrown in here? It would make this business look bad, and some potential clients may not hire them because they see one inconsistent image that doesn’t match the rest. They’ll be wondering, will I get that one bad meal if I go here? Or will my products not look like what I see on their profile? Keeping your imagery consistent will help immensely with selling your client that you are a professional and providing a consistent product or high level of service for all of your customers.
One way to keep things clear and help you figure out what to post is to determine five different subjects or themes of images that you will show. Narrowing down to just five will help you stay on track, making sure you cover all of the themes that your brand is about. It also eliminates the “what should I post today?” question. As long as you’re sticking to one of your five subjects, you know that you’re telling your story.
For example, as you can see above in my grid above my five subjects are: Travel, Branding Photography, Weddings, Inspirational Quotes, Food/Cocktails
I show what kinds of things that I photograph (weddings & branding photography) as well as what I’m interested in (travel, food & cocktails), and what inspires my work (inspirational quotes). Tell people what you are about, both professionally with a bit of personality mixed in so that they can see who you are. If you are a small business, or an artist who works alone you definitely want to tell people about you and let them get to know your personality. You never know if they might love cocktails too or be obsessed with travel and BOOM, they automatically can relate to you and trust you.
This is also where you can infuse a bit more of your personal life into your feed. Don’t forget to post images of YOU, either having fun or doing your job. When people get to know the person behind the business they will understand your story and passion for your work, and therefore value it more. This is why I recommend that all size businesses have branding portraits done of themselves and their employees, as well as showing some behind the scenes imagery of you at work. Research has shown that clients will place a higher value on your work if they see some of the process behind it and how passionate you are.
One way to stand out and make your account unique is to tell a story by designing patterns within your Instagram grid. This is one way to differentiate yourself from other businesses when people view your grid. Immediately they can tell that you are unique and are communicating a clear brand message.
There’s so many ways to do this. Let’s take the two examples above. @culinessa has created a pattern in their grid by alternating horizontal and vertical images that have a white border around them. Right away, each image stands apart from the one beside it and you can see the entire image not just a square. There’s other accounts which design other patterns with their grid, alternating images with more graphic elements or images that span over multiple posts. The design options are limitless and you can really create something that is unique to you and your brand.
In the second example, @pantone has created a grid in which as you scroll down the colors fade and merge into one another. Pantone is a color management system, so right away you understand that they are about all the colors of the rainbow and more. It perfectly fits their brand and shows what they do.
POST UNIQUE CONTENT
I could probably write an entire post about having unique content for your social media posts, so I’ll try to keep this to the basics of what you need to know as a beginner. Why is having unique content so important? In a sea of accounts with over 700 million active monthly users on Instagram alone, you want your account to be different and unique. If you create your own content and imagery, you’re keeping things fresh and tailoring your posts to your overall brand message and therefore attracting your ideal client. Plus, imagine if you posted the same image on your account as a competitor – what would potential clients think if they saw the same thing on two different accounts? It would be confusing for them. Plus, you are not your competitor and should post unique imagery and graphics that are specifically created for your business.
There’s also a somewhat unspoken moral code on Instagram, dealing with the fact that depending on the type of your business you should only post images that show YOUR work, your property or photographs/artwork that was created by YOU. And if not, you should disclose that. Imagine if you are an artist selling paintings. You are inspired by many things in your work, but if you posted another artists painting it would be confusing to your audience. Yes, you might be inspired by it and aspire to their level of artistry but you’re confusing your potential clients by posting work that isn’t yours. Furthermore, they are thinking that this is the artwork that you can create and you are misleading them. Just as I’m a photographer, but I don’t post images that were not taken by me as this would confuse my clients.
Now, if I happen to post a photo of myself that was taken by another photographer I do get permission from them as well as credit them in the image description. If your business is one that did not create or pay for the photographs, but the image shows your work you should always credit the photographer in the description and tag them as well as get permission to post the image. This is a common courtesy. There’s so much more on this subject, but let’s get back to the point at hand.
I’ve posted two examples above of brands that are creating unique content for their accounts. They also aren’t muddying up their feed by posting images from many photographers or other sources. These brands have either hired a photographer to professionally shoot their products/space/store, or they are creating their own unique content in-house.
The first example is a little cafe called @plukamsterdam that is the cutest little place in central Amsterdam that serves coffee, tea, beautiful pastries, a healthy breakfast and lunch menu. They also have a small retail space in the cafe that sells products. Their feed is full of their lovely food and drink as well as all the products that they sell both in-store and online. In addition to all of their in-house created imagery, you will also find that they have a vlog series of videos and are very active creating stories on Instagram on a daily basis. Because they create their own imagery and video, they are very active in keeping their brand message on-point and cohesive with every post, story and blogpost they release.
The second example is the beauty brand @loccitane which also creates their own marketing shoots for their products. You can see how the style and lighting of each image is very similar, and often their products are styled with other beauty tools and the ingredients that make up their products. You can further see their dedication to using quality ingredients by their use of videos in their feed which show flowers dancing out of their perfume bottles, or images of lavender in the French countryside which inspires one of their bath product lines. This shows that if you are in full control of the content and imagery that you produce, your brand message will remain clear and at the forefront of what you post.
DAVID ISHAYA OSU