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5 Proven Ways to Build Your Brand–1 Instagram Post At a Time

Here are a few guiding principles all brands should consider when it comes to building a unique and captivating Instagram presence.

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BY Melissa Thompson - 08 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Spend more than five minutes in any public setting -- city buses, parks, restaurants -- and chances are the majority of the people in the vicinity are looking down at their phones and checking their Instagram feeds.

In fact, the average user under the age of 25 spends more than 32 minutes a day on Instagram, and users over 25 clock in at around 24 minutes a day. The sheer time spent gives brands today an enormous window of opportunity to connect with potential customers and, more importantly, compel them to engage with the brand.

But with so much time spent on the app, there's also a lot of excess noise and it's getting tougher to break through and land on the radars of target customers. To succeed today, brands cannot think of Instagram as an afterthought. Rather, some of the most successful brands are building their stories on and around the app to offer consistent interactions with consumers.

1. Consider your theme and aesthetic.

The first step in understanding how brands build unique, compelling visual aesthetics on Instagram is to make sure you understand the difference between an aesthetic and a theme. It can be tempting to minimize the concept of a strong aesthetic and reduce it to picking a theme like travel, fashion, art, or photography.

As Snapwire rightly notes, "it is best to choose an aesthetic -- or overall mood -- that reflects the intended personality and tone of your brand. An aesthetic allows you to post a variety of pictures that share a common 'vibe' or feeling." Unlike a restrictive theme, an aesthetic is fluid and limited only by the scope of the curator's imagination.

If you're ready to tackle more complex Instagram aesthetics to build your brand, another way to wow potential followers who click on your feed is to use Instagram's grid to create custom layouts. It's true that this approach will take a little more forethought and planning than just going with a similar color theme, editing process, or filter application, but the results are totally worth it.

2. Prioritize the platform.

Instagram can no longer be viewed as an afterthought, especially for retailers. Today, the platform serves as a gateway for many consumers who discover exciting new brands by exploring media published on the application. As it is now the first point of contact for many shoppers, brands have to allot more energy and resources into curating high quality content and telling a cohesive, engaging story.

3. Be consistent.

It's important to be consistent in the implementation of your strategy. Many brands have fallen into the trap of chasing every social media trend only to find that their efforts don't return results. Social fans start to rely on brand content for entertainment and inspiration. While every brand should feel empowered to experiment with trends, it's important to never abandon your core audience's needs.

Relationships with customers start long before the first sale because so many consumers discover organization's first through social media; in many ways, social accounts, especially Instagram, serve as foundations of their customer relationships. Whether it's remodeling a house, finding pet supplies to care for a new pet, or starting a new training regimen by buying new equipment, consumers depend on their social content to inform and encourage their lifestyle goals and interests.

4. Don't forget about captions.

Yes, the images are what bring people to the platform, but in many cases, the captions are what make them stay. Think of the ever-popular account Humans of New York; the photos posted on this account are raw and compelling, but it's the individual stories shared in the captions that make application users take pause, comment, and send posts to their friends and families.

While Instagram is a visual-first platform, it is also a space where multi-dimensional stories can be crafted. To disregard captions is to throw away a major storytelling power source. Plus, the captions are where you can really let your brand's personality shine through. Even if the tone of your images tends to be on the darker or more serious side, captions allow you to bring a bit of levity to the account, which tends to go a long way with Instagram users.

5. Be discerning.

Finally, when it comes to the art of Instagram aesthetics, one of the hardest things to master is exercising restraint. It's tempting to post ten times a day but that won't necessarily result in more valuable fan engagements. Additionally, it's also crucial to leave room for a bit of spontaneity. When a brand's account is overly manicured, it doesn't always feel inclusive to audiences. Today's Instagram users want to see brand personality shine through.

Remember that Instagram is supposed to be a place where you can show off your creativity, personality, and innovation, so don't be afraid to try new things and explore different styles until you find what works -- after all, it's just Instagram!