Think Big Picture (the GRID)
Here's a hard Instagram truth: One Photo's Not Nearly As Important as All The Photos
You’ve got to stop thinking about your Instagram feed “one photo at a time.” That is sooooooo Facebook.
See, on Facebook or Twitter, nobody cares (or will even notice) how the photo you post today ties into the one you posted yesterday. On Facebook, people are looking to follow you, not your photos, and they'll go along with pretty much any old thing because they're friends/family or because they're a fan (if we're talking about a Facebook business page).
Instagram is different.
(Unless you're simply using Instagram as a Facebook alternative to provide daily updates on your life, in which case this, this post is probably going to be an eye-roller for you)
But if you're looking to build your followers or have an Instagram account that gets attention, you need to start thinking Big Picture.
You need to start thinking of pictures as a whole.
You need to start looking at your Grid.
What do I mean by that?
Your Instagram grid is the past 6-9 photos on your profile page (more if you have an iPhone Plus!)
Someone's grid is the #1 thing I look at when deciding whether to follow them or not. I don't care about their profile pic. I don't care about their bio. I don't care that their last photo caught my eye. I don't care how many followers they have. I don't even care if I'm normally a big fan of theirs.
I care that they're consistently putting up good content. I want to know that I can count on their Instagram posts. It can be funny, pretty, inspirational, or just sort of "randomly interesting," but a good Instagram game is consistently compelling.
This is where the editing I mention in Volume I comes into play. I see nothing but a hodge-podge of unedited selfies, baby pics, dog pics or your coffee mug, I'm probably going to pass.
Unless ... unless your selfies, baby pics, dog pics or coffee mug are edited and pretty.
Alaina Kaczmarksi (@Alainakaz) is a great example of this. She posts the same "random" content most of us do. Dog pics, travel pics, her TV while watching Friends, her breakfast, and yet you can tell from the below screenshot of her page that her photos are consistently gorgeous.
Compare it to my early days of Instagram where I was posting the same sort of stuff: selfies, dog pics, meals, travel. And yet I'm sure it's not hard to guess which one of us has more followers:
You see the difference, right?! One of us took care to ensure that not only each picture was the best it could be, but that each picture looked good with the picture next to it. The other threw any old photo up there, and the effect is disjointed. Even if I managed to capture someone's interest with one of those photos (doubtful), it would take them all of 2 seconds to see that the rest of my posts were blah.
Compare my old feed to my current feed. Not quite what Alaina's is, but better, yes?
Right? Go me on self-improvement!
Granted, my grid's always changing.
I'm still trying to find my Instagram "voice" as I write this.
But generally speaking, every post is deliberate. I never put up one without thinking about how it fits with the one before it.
HERE ARE A FEW GOOD RULES OF THUMB FOR GRID MAINTENANCE:
(1) When deciding whether to post a photo, look at the photo immediately previous (your last post), and look at three pictures ago. Why? These two photos are your next post's neighbors. Your new photo will sit next to your previous photo and on top of whatever you posted three photos ago. For example, don't post two pictures with a black background together unless all/most of your pictures have a black background, because those two pictures side by side will stand out like a sore thumb. But do consider selecting a pink font for your inspirational quote if the picture preceding it has pink flowers.
(2) Think of your grid in terms of the flow. Not every picture has to be the same background, the same color scheme, but overall they should look like they go together. Think of it like wrapping a present. You know how you don't just pick any old ribbon color to go with any old wrapping paper? It's the same principal. It's as simple as :: do these two things look good together.
(3) Consider posting by "row." If thinking about your grid as a whole just feels like way too much pre-planning and commitment for you, think in threes. Consistently post three photos in a row with the same color scheme, filter or content. The result ensure each row of your grid looks like it goes together, and the result will be a varied, but still-comprehensive grid.