How to Use Instagram to Tell Your Story Online
My favourite Instagram accounts are those that take me with them on their journey. They create a narrative. Not just with their photographs but also with their words. Their growth comes in time. Maybe not as quickly as some other accounts. But their audience is engaged; cheering them on or consoling as appropriate. In other words, their audience is invested in them and their feed.
Many people new to Instagram want to grow an audience as quickly as possible. There are lots of tips and tricks you can do in order to create a gorgeous curated feed and grow followers. But if you want to grow an engaged audience and know they're out there listening then I've got five tips for you.
Only share your best photographs.
This is the most important thing because instagram is visual. No-one is going to be invested in your story if you produce badly taken photographs. So, think about your composition. What is your subject matter? Use your phone's grid lines to help you with the rule of thirds. Learn how to use your phone's camera features. Use natural light. Think about the background. Is the picture clear and crisp? Or is there too much going on? What is the point of interest in the photograph? Why are you taking this photo? Why are you sharing this photo? How does it make you feel? Are you managing to capture that in the shot?
What is your story?
What are you trying to convey? In my feed I'm trying to show my creative journey - a journey that has taken lots of twists, turns and false starts. I'm exploring my creativity and I'm very honest and open about my writing and my career path. I used to be SO scared about sharing my creative story online. But when I did, and admitted how scared I was, many other people could relate.
Think about the novels you like to read, the films you like to watch. What makes them so fascinating? You become invested in the main character. A character that starts the book or film from one point, but as you read and watch, you see the character develop and change. To grow and learn.
A popular and engaged feed also shows these things.
Develop a theme.
You might have a clear idea for a theme from the start. Or this might be something that evolves over time. The theme might centre around the subject matter. Or it might be around a particular (life)style. Or it might be a colour or recurring motifs.
Many of my pictures are looking down at my writing notebooks. I started by showing my writing, then added some chicken drawings. Then I experimented with drawings of trees and adding in petals or leaves. My audience knows what sort of things to expect from me but I also like to think it's evolving. Writing, in one shape or another, is always at its heart.
Tell us more in the caption.
There's a story behind every photograph. If it's a landscape tell us where it is and what you're doing there. Or if it's a building why does it fascinate you so much? What do you love about it? This is your chance to really create an impact with your audience. We want to know your thoughts. We are hungry for details. How does it smell, taste, what sounds can you hear?
Never take your audience for granted.
Yes, there will be times when you cannot spend as much time as you like on the app. People get that. But on the whole you must engage with others. Instagram is a community. How will people know about you and become invested in you unless you 'introduce' yourself first and seek out other feeds and become invested in their stories.
You are a teller of stories. But you're also part of other people's audience, too.