Instagram seems to be this magical tool that some creatives just “get”. Their images are always on point, and their captions are witty and relatable yet somehow always on topic. You feel like you must be missing something—is there a guidebook or app that you haven’t stumbled upon yet?
If you ever wonder this to yourself, you aren’t alone. As a brand strategist, the number one question I get asked by my clients is, “how do I create a cohesive Instagram feed?” I think they expect a secret filter that makes their content pop, but the reality is that a cohesive Instagram feed has nothing to do with a filter or app. It has way more to do with simple strategy and photography basics that anyone can learn. Keep reading to learn three reasons why your brand isn’t cohesive on Instagram—and how to fix them.
1. You don’t know what to post
It’s Monday morning and everyone is posting incredible content to their Instagram feeds. You keep scrolling, hoping you’ll find a nugget of inspiration, but you’re debating if that picture of your pretty brunch from yesterday would suffice. As a brand strategist, I would like to kindly plead with you to stop posting content for the sake of posting. Your audience doesn’t care how often you’re posting if you’re images are getting lost in the mix. Chances are, they aren’t even aware of your consistent schedule because your content is forgettable. But we can fix that!
Instead of working on how often you post, start working on WHAT you’re posting. Quality over quantity is always a great rule to live by, and Instagram is no exception. I always tell my clients to think about this: What is your audience struggling with, and what problem does your business, product, or service help them solve? How can you provide value to your audience without asking for anything in return? Think about those questions and create a weekly topic schedule that includes tips, quotes, behind-the-scenes content, product shares, and before/afters.
ACTION STEP: Write down the type of content your audience wants to hear from you, and then turn those topics into a weekly schedule. For example, I post Social Saturday Tips whenever I need content to post on a Saturday.
2. Your images don’t flow
I see this issue quite often on Instagram, and it can be caused by a number of mistakes that can easily be tweaked. One common problem that I see is a lot of cluttered images right next to each other (or on top of each other). I recommend breaking up busier images with photos that have a lot of white or negative space in them. This helps keep your feed more clean and flowy, instead of busy and overwhelming.
Another way to make your images flow more is to use a very light editing process with an app like ColorStory and repeat those same editing steps on every image.
A third trick for cohesive images is to use similar colors in each photo. Posting tons of neutral or pastel colors and then posting an image with bold neons will instantly break up your feed.
My fourth tip is to utilize natural light. It’s crucial to taking a good photo! Do you have overhead lights on? Turn them off if possible. Are there sunspots in the scene? Avoid getting them in the shot.
ACTION STEP: Look through your images and find which ones catch your eye in a bad way. Is it due to one of the aforementioned common mistakes? Or maybe a few of them? Make yourself aware of these mistakes, and avoid them when posting new content in the future.
3. You’re posting content on your feed that should be “buried”
This tip is easily one of my favorite Instagram “hacks”, and it can be executed in a number of ways. One of my recent Photo Styling Workshop attendees asked me why I don’t post more video content to my feed, and I admitted that I didn’t like how it looked. You can’t choose an IG video thumbnail, so the paused version of my video could be a blurry or less-than-ideal shot that stands out on my Instagram page. So instead of posting video content directly to my feed, I “bury” the off-brand content in my Instagram stories. This means my content that is on-topic but not aesthetically pleasing can still be shared with my audience.
Looking for another hack? Take images or videos that are visually off-brand and “bury” them under a multiple-image post. Have the first image be a pretty photo, post additional images underneath it, and encourage your audience to swipe over to see all of the images.
ACTION STEP: Start brainstorming what type of content you want to share that isn’t always “pretty” or on-brand. Personally, I love posting behind-the-scenes content on my IG stories and burying image outtakes in a multi-image post.
Now that you know these three common mistakes on Instagram—and how to fix them—get out there and grab some gram-worthy shots.
Did you ever make any of these mistakes? Let us know in the comments!