The Art Of Instagram: 5 Tips To Build A Powerful Brand And Following

A picture was once worth a thousand words, but now it may be worth a thousand followers, thanks to the photo-sharing app Instagram, which Facebook acquired for $1 billion.

The social media platform allows users to archive their photos to the effect of digital storyboards that others can engage with through likes, comments, and follows.

According to The Independent“followers represent social capital, which has an influence on monetary capital.” In other words, having a popular Instagram account can translate into status and cash.

But with over 500 million monthly active users on Instagram, how are you supposed to stand out?

 If you’re like most and have been trying to gain followers with no success (the average account has 150 followers), here to help is Instagram consultant Crystal Schreiner, a brand mentor with and founder of the company Beauty Everywhere, which teaches people “how to become a walking media company.”

Schreiner shares her recipe for impact on Instagram on this week’s episode of Unconventional Life, “Instagram 101: How To Build A Profitable Profile.”

Schreiner’s expertise stems from her work with Hollywood music video directors and New York runway photographers.

She landed her first internship shooting for a former Vogue editor while studying advertising in college. “I knew I wanted to go to New York, so I emailed hundreds of fashion editors. Vogue’s former editor replied, and I asked to shoot at fashion week… She said yes,” Schreiner recalls.

In Hollywood, Schreiner learned how stars were created on camera by “creating a storyline through visual elements in the videos.” The experience would prove invaluable for her Instagram career later on, where imagery and video are the building blocks of a personal brand.

“Every brand needs a personality — a brand is human, is a person,” Schreiner says. “I teach people how to break down their story into pictures like a visual story board. Every single picture tells part of a story and the story creates a personality that’s entertaining.”

It’s through the tactful weaving of aesthetics, design, vision, and story, that Schreiner is able to create profiles that stand out… and cash in.

When an Instagram account has a significant amount of followers, it can become a powerful source of revenue. Some of the most common ways to monetize an account include obtaining sponsorships with advertising companies, selling top-liked photos, and referring traffic to your personal brand.

Below, Schreiner shares her best tips for building a successful Instagram account, whether you’re starting from scratch or are improving on an existing profile.

1. Showcase your signature style.Having a unique look that allows others to recognize you is essential. Your visual appearance is the first aspect of your profile that others notice, so what do you want your outfit, your stance, and your attitude to say about you? It’s important to construct a style that reflects your personality and develop it through each of your photos. If you’re feeling stuck, finding inspiration from others you admire is a great place to start.

2. Tell your story. Your story is the personal element of your profile that tells your followers who you are and what you stand for. You’ll want to be real and relatable, because that’s what people connect to most. Plus-sized model Iskra Lawrence is a particularly great example of this: she shares her story candidly and openly to her 2.3 million followers.  Schreiner says, “you can think of Instagram like a narrative as if you’re writing the story of your life… think about how each picture adds to the last.

3. Engage with your followers. Connect to your followers by responding to their comments, thanking them, and leaving notes on their photos. If someone is particularly active on your page, you might consider following them back. It can be difficult to keep up with so many notifications, but making an effort to engage with at least a few people each day makes a massive difference and makes your followers feel like they know you and you care.

4. Market yourself. Identify who your target audience is and find out how you can connect with them. Searching hashtags related to your niche is a great way to find users who might be interested in your content. Find out who these users follow, and consider reaching out to them if they’re on the same mission as you — collaboration can help you cross-promote and get more exposure. Finally, caption your photos with popular hashtags to help people in your community find you.

5. Be consistent. “If you want momentum, you have to post every single day. You need to be seen and be putting yourself out there,” Schreiner advises. You should be posting to Instagram at least once daily, and posting three times a day can help you grow even faster.

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