With so many social media platform options out there, it can be difficult to know where to spend your time. When it comes to building your personal brand and increasing enagement, Instagram is one place you will want to seriously consider.
Hootsuite reported in 2021, Instagram is the sixth-most visited website and almost 40% of internet users say they also spend time on the platform. Additionally, there are over 1 billion people using Instagram each month and 500 million people using Instagram stories each day.
Depending on your professional career, there might be opportunities for you to use Instagram to sell products, increase your exposure, or get paid for posting.
Most people, however, just use “the Gram” to build up their personal brand.
What is Personal Branding?
In today’s day and age, people are often getting to know you on the internet long before they meet you in person. If you apply for a job or college, chances are the interviewer is going to be pulling up your social profiles to get a better look at who you are. As your career develops, how you present yourself on social media can make or break your ability to network and advance your career.
In the same way companies use branding to define themselves and stand out, professionals can use personal branding to do the same thing. Your personal brand should help you look different from every other applicant. When done well, your personal brand will feel cohesive across all platforms, though the content will vary to some degree based on which platform you are posting to. Understanding platform etiquette and trends are part of nailing your personal brand.
For example, while Twitter is focused on quippy observations, news bytes, and live updates, Instagram posts are far more focused on captivating images and inspirational stories. Pinterest is about images that compel inspiration for specific actions (like crafts, cooking, workout,s and decorating), while LinkedIn is more about professional connections and resumes. To excel at building your brand, you have to understand how your content is going to span the different platforms without becoming disjointed.
How to Build Your Personal Brand on Instagram
Are you ready to start building a more professional look on Instagram? Here are some tips for turning your Instagram profile into a platform that truly reflects your personal brand.
1. Post consistent pictures
Your profile photo and posts should remain consistent to give a steady look to your Instagram feed. Most will try to keep their pictures pretty similar to what they are posting on their website, blog or Facebook profile.
Stories are a little different—when you post to stories, they are often much more spur-of-the-moment or behind-the-scenes. Your stories don’t need to have quite as polished of a look as those that make it to your feed. Some will choose to pick images that look good next to each other when you view the profile as a whole. They might be looking at the subject matter, angle, zoom or coloring to help the grid of their profile look as if it has a natural flow.
2. Tell a story on your feed
Your images (brand) should tell a story. Who are you? What do you like? What perspective can you share with the world?
You don’t have to get too heavy with your Instagram story direction or be a perfectionist to clarify trends in what you want to express. But you can’t keep taking pictures of your morning bagel and dog either. If you want to be interesting, you need to know what it is that you want to communicate to the world through your profile and shoot for a niche target audience. Provide clear insight into your expertise.
Remember, advisors, employers, and future colleagues are going to be looking at this to determine who you are before they choose to work with you.
3. Respond to comments
When someone comments on your caption, respond! Users don’t like to feel like they are left hanging. Part of building up your personal brand should be to encourage people to know you—not stand by aloofly.
Of course, some comments might be obvious spam. If the user is spamming your account, just mark the comment as spam (this may also help boost your rating with Instagram). Spammy comments and lacking replies to real comments will make it look like you neglect your profile.
Watch out for direct messages (DM) that will typically go to your "Requests" folder if you aren't already following the person. Chances are, you will get a lot of spam you can just ignore, trash, or block, but check regularly to make sure you aren't missing important connections.
4. Interact with other users
If you are looking to increase your engagement, you need to get other people to take note. It can be hard to get people’s attention, but one sure-fire way to get a few looks is by liking other users’ posts.
Enter in a hashtag and check out the most recent posts to like images that typically don’t have a lot of engagement. Liking posts with less than 100 likes, for example, will increase the odds that the poster will notice you and check out your profile in return. You should also spend time liking images from your followers and the people you follow.
If you are specifically trying to get into a school or land a job, like the organization’s posts to show you are checking them out and paying attention. It is good to show you take a similar interest in them as they (hopefully) are taking toward you.
5. Upload regularly
Consistency is the key to social media success. In order to get attention and engagement, you need to be posting daily. You should post stories even more frequently.
Regular posting has been said to boost the algorithm and increase post exposure. This helps you get your content in front of people. You may notice that posting at certain times of the day increases the engagement you get. Going days or weeks without posting is likely to hurt your stats on Instagram.
6. Don’t overdo the filters
Originally, Instagram was the platform for all those editing filters—you know, the ones that make the images look flat or “stylized.” Even though the filters weren’t as far-fetched as the Snapchat filters with the puppy dog tongues, flower crowns, and enlarged eyes, they still made things look less real. For a while, the right editing style made the images look a little on the fairytale and fantasy side.
But now few people use those filters (especially not on full opacity) because they are focused on showcasing authenticity. People are going for more of a realistic, but polished look on their feeds. Using heavy Instagram filters will make you look a little bit behind the times. If you really like the heavily edited look, take it a step further and create your own editing style (that is clearly not an IG filter) that you apply to all your images before even pulling them into IG.
7. Learn the platform
You need to spend time on the platform (if you haven’t already) to understand its quirks. Instagram is very big on hashtags, though no one is quite sure how many should be included. HubSpot said the average post had just over 10 hashtags in 2020. You do want to use a blend of highly specific keywords and broadly generic hashtags to increase your odds (and they should all fit your post for relevancy).
You can use your Instagram bio to provide an interesting summary, contact information (email) and any relevant links (like to your website or portfolio).
Make Social Media Work for You
Do you enjoy social media and want to make a career out of helping professionals and brands with their own social presence? A career working in digital marketing or as a social media manager might be right for you.
Want to learn more about earning a degree in Digital Marketing and Social Media through Johnson & Wales University’s College of Online Education? For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].