So You Want to be an Instagram Influencer: Part 1, Branding

With an ever-changing Instagram algorithm it can be difficult to predict what move to make, and when to make it. And that’s just if you’re a product or service-based brand on social media. If you’re an influencer (or working on becoming one), there’s a whole other set of rules you need to follow.


This first part of our multi-part blog series on becoming an Instagram influencer is focusing on branding. Here are some topics we’ll be covering in this article:


Branding Your Page


1.FINDING YOUR NICHE

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do I want to inspire?

  • Do I want to go deep?

  • Do I want to have bright colors? Muted colors?

  • What’s my intention with my Instagram?

  • How do I want people to feel when they come on my page?


Answering these questions should help guide you towards what you want to do with your Instagram, the message you want to promote, what you want it to look like, and will also help you stay on brand throughout your journey to becoming an influencer.


STAYING ON BRAND IS SO IMPORTANT! Yes, you can totally evolve your brand if you change your mind, but no matter your brand, stay true to it.


After you establish your goals and whatnot, you’ll be able to label your brand.

I.G: Lifestyle, Foodie, Fitness, Health & Wellness, Self-Care, Beauty, etc.



2. WHAT TYPE OF ACCOUNT YOU NEED

Don’t worry, this is an easy step! There are 3 different types of Instagram accounts: personal, business, and creator.


If you’re reading this, you’ll probably want to have a creator account. Rumor has it, having a creator account is beneficial for people posting, well…more creative content. After all, your goal isn’t sales (like it would be with a business account) - it’s to CREATE!


Keep in mind that with a creator account, you may not be able to use an automatic scheduling system. You’ll have to post manually. But if you plan ahead, it’ll make posting a lot easier!



3. YOUR PROFILE PHOTO

While some of these tips may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many people forget these suggestions!


Your Instagram profile photo is teeny teeny teeny tiny. Therefore, you need to upload a photo of yourself that’s high-quality, super clear and eye-catching. Want to go the extra mile? Use a photo that includes the tones/colors on your Instagram profile (don’t worry, we’ll get into your colors later)!



4. YOUR INSTAGRAM BIO

There are SO many options you can do here, but we’ll provide some suggestions and show you some great bios!


A major tip we recommend? Make use of emojis! Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they help break up the lines in your bio.


Here are some things we recommend including in your bio:

  • Your location (however not always necessary)

  • What you do / why you’re here

  • Who you are

  • A fun fact about yourself

  • Direct people to the link in your bio


Here are some examples of one-liners that tell people a little about yourself!

Are you a:

  • Location-based influencer? Try this: 📍Los Angeles

  • Fashion influencer? Try this: 👛 I shop til I drop

  • Lifestyle influencer (a little bit of everything)? Try this: ✨ FAMILY • FUN • FOOD 💫

  • Fitness influencer? Try this: 🔥 Fueling your day with equipment-free workouts


DON’T FORGET! If you have a link to add in your bio, go for it. If you have multiple links, use linktr.ee to create a single link that holds a bunch of other links! This will especially come in handy when you start getting brand deals and they request that you put in a link in your bio.


Here are some more bios we love:


You only have 150 characters for your Instagram bio so use it wisely.



5. YOUR HIGHLIGHTS

Wow...where to begin?


First, you’ll want to create highlights for things that are important to you. It’s also a good idea to include highlight topics that relate back to your brand. For example, if you’re a travel influencer you may want to create highlights for each of your trips. If you’re a food blogger, you may want to highlight your favorite restaurants/coffee shops/etc.


You should also include highlight topics that express who you are! You can include a highlight for family / friends, concerts, quotes you love, etc.


Second, create your highlight covers! There are tons of templates on Canva if you just want to quickly create & download. Just make sure these colors match your feed aesthetic and brand.


We don’t recommend having TOO many highlights (unless they’re right in front of your eyes, you’ll probably forget about them. So could your audience). 8-10 highlights are a good number to have, unless you really will need more, and will reference back to them somewhat regularly.



6. CREATING YOUR CONTENT

This section is all about your content direction. Explore some other accounts in your niche and see what others are doing, what’s working, and what’s not. It’s difficult to explain this generally, so we’re going to work off of an example.


We recommend shooting content within a consistent color palette.

Example: If you’re an Arizona-based influencer, you’ll probably have access to more of a naturally earthy, warm color palette than someone who lives in New York City.

If you’re an esthetician, maybe you use greens, blues, and purples - calming, cool colors that promote relaxation.


Allow how you want people to feel when they arrive on your page to guide what type of content you produce and post. Each piece of content should also be intentional. The caption should match your content and vice versa, and also relate back to your brand / niche.


Social Light Tip: Gather 30+ days of content all in one photoshoot. Spend a couple hours shooting ALL the content you’ll need, that way you ensure you’re using the similar colors and have a similar look. And you don’t have to worry about it for another 30 days!



7. FINDING YOUR FILTER

You CAN choose to not have a filter. What we mean by filter is, photo-editing to adjust the tones, hues, brightness, etc to achieve a specific aesthetic.


You can try to create your own or purchase some pre-created filters (usually are only compatible with Lightroom) from sites like Etsy.


Here are some apps you can use to filter your photos, but we prefer Lightroom:

  • Lightroom

  • VSCO

  • Lensa

  • Prequel


Here are a few things to consider:

If you’re looking to be a dessert-specific foodie influencer, think about all the different colors of desserts - they can get wild! It’s safe to say that you’ll have a colorful feed. Brands you work with in the future will probably also want you to post their delicious delicacies without using a filter that strays too far from the exact colors of their treats. In this case, use a minimal filter that creates a vibrant, clean feel throughout your feed without veering away from the natural colors of your subject.


Here’s an account that’s a great example: @letmeeatcake


If you’re a fitness influencer that’s more of a “don’t quit until you pass out” kind of enthusiast, you may want to use a filter that’s a little more muted, dark, or grunge. If you’re a fitness influencer that subscribes more to the “take a break if you need to” approach (the one I prefer), you could use a filter that keeps your colors light and bright, but also not too in-your-face.


Here are 2 accounts as examples: @benboulware & @kk_fit_


Keep in mind that as you grow, you can definitely adjust and change out your filter. Creating and establishing your final brand will take time and some trial and error, but if you have patience and ensure the quality of your content as a whole, you’re heading in a great direction!



8. CONTENT RULES

There are certain “rules” that Instagram prefers you abide by. If you do, it rewards you with increasing engagement, followers, etc.


“Instagram is like a pet: as long as you feed it and give it attention, it’ll be happy.”


Here are a few rules for each content area of Instagram.


Instagram Feed

  • Take up the real estate of the page. Post vertical photos that are 4:5 in ratio (1080 x 1350).

  • Within that 4:5 aspect ratio, make sure your content is vertically centered. What we mean is, make sure you haven’t cut off your head when someone is viewing the photo square on your profile grid.

  • Post high-quality photos. Nothing pixelated or grainy.


Reels

Reels are still considered a fairly new feature, so we don’t have concrete rules to share but these are the suggestions we’ve found helpful.

  • Use the audio Instagram provides, not audio outside of Instagram.

  • Hop on trending songs, challenges, etc.

  • Post consistently! We’re hearing now you should be posting Reels 3-5x per week to maintain or increase overall engagement.


Instagram Stories

  • Post on your Instagram story daily, every few hours.

  • Let your Stories “run out” at least once a week. Stories stay up for 24 hours so once your last piece of content has disappeared, don’t post again for another 24 hours. This helps reset your engagement.

  • After your 24 hours of not posting on your Stories, have your first story back include the Question sticker or Poll sticker. This will help provide you with more engagement.


9. MAJOR DON’TS

Here are some tips that Social Light sticks to and recommends to help with your engagement and your overall brand establishment:

  • Don’t keep low quality, underperforming content on your page. It’ll bring down your engagement.

  • Don’t skip out on the captions. Make sure your copy is just as intentional and engaging as your content.

  • Don't just post and let your account run. Engage with your community by asking questions and getting them involved in the comments!


Becoming an influencer - an effective one - is definitely not as easy as it was just 2 years ago! And quite honestly...that's fair!


Subscribe to our blog at the bottom of the page to be notified when Part 2 & Part 3 of our series, "So You Want To Be An Influencer?" drops! We'll be dissecting topics from shooting content & writing copy, to how to get brand deals!


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team@sociallightllc.com