Ok, so maybe you’re not an aspiring internet celebrity working to build your personal brand and leverage your influence for capital gain -- but if you’re pretty good at posting content that is earning you a following, you may be able to cash in on the talent in more ways than one.
Platforms like Popular Pay are taking “textbook word-of-mouth marketing” and “peer-to-peer endorsement delivered in an authentic way” to an entirely new level, allowing businesses to pay average Instagram Joe's -- with a minimum of 500 followers or more, that is -- for sharing their products and services with their Instagram network. As more and more businesses look to the power of micro-influencers to build their brand, it might just be worth your time to start honing your posting skills and gain more followers.
If you’re ready to start cashing in on a carefully curated Instagram feed, take notes and model the example set by popular brands or individual feeds you admire. Here are 3 aesthetic cues to get you started:
1. Focus on storytelling.
If you want to catch the attention of your audience and gain followers, you have to focus on storytelling first and foremost. Not only should each photo you post tell a story, your feed itself should reflect a story as well. Think of how brands use storytelling to display sponsored content without directly featuring it.
Audiences are less interested in seeing images and videos that highlight product features, but don’t present the impact products can have in the context of daily life. Think about it: would you rather see a clean image of a beautiful handbag? Or, would you find it more interesting to see images and videos build a narrative around the role that handbag plays throughout every facet of a woman’s daily life?
Remember that Instagram’s platform is visual in nature; it’s steeped in aesthetically pleasing photography, and that’s what users (your potential followers) want to see. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure the photos you’re sharing on social media are more elevated than a stream of selfies and not-the-good-kind-of-candid shots. Focus on telling a story to your audience.
2. Offer value.
If you’re not sure what story it is you’re supposed to be telling with your Instagram posts and feed, the first step to figuring it out is determining what value you’re going to offer your followers. As a direct-to-consumer shoe retailer, Taft is always focused on delivering value to consumers--whether it is in the form of high-quality and stylish men’s footwear, or inspirational social content.
In a Medium post, Kory Stevens, founder and CEO of Taft, explains that his approach to Instagram is “making sure that we are delivering something of value to our followers... Do people have a reason to follow you, or are you just posting to post? Are your followers going to get anything out of following you?”
Don’t worry -- unless you’re actually aiming to sell something, you don’t need to have a product, service, or pitch to “deliver value” to your followers. Instead, focus on what makes you a person people want to spend time with in real life. Are you always the one cracking jokes? Do people look to you for encouragement or motivation?
Are you knowledgeable about something others don’t know much about? Whatever it is you do that draws others to you, bring it with you to Instagram. Once you figure out what value you bring and start telling your story using visually pleasing Instagram posts, you’ll naturally start gaining momentum.
3. Quality and consistency.
Did we mention Instagram is a visual platform that’s all about aesthetics? We did? Well, it’s still worth repeating -- you need strong, visually striking content to appeal to Instagram users. Even if they’re the same crowd that follows you on Facebook, they’ve taken the time to sign up for your posts on another platform because they want to see a different part of your life -- the visually stimulating part. It all starts with having a unique, eye-catching product. From there, it’s all about taking high quality photos/video and keeping the branding consistent.
Just as important as posting quality content is posting it consistently, as this will help you to tell your story and offer value to your audience. Not only do you want consistency in the frequency with which you post, you also want consistency in the look and feel of your images and your overall feed. Look at your Instagram feed as a grid; there are nearly endless possibilities for playing with the overall 3x3 layout.
Whether you’re looking to pad your pocketbook with some extra influencer cash or just wanting to offer more value to the followers you already have, learning to curate your Instagram feed into an aesthetically pleasing work of art is an opportunity for a little expression. Whatever your initial motivation for investing time and energy into your posts, there is a lot of potential for real-world translation of these social media skills.