When Instagram first launched, the majority of users were either teenagers or foodies.  Since then, 26% of adult Internet users are using Instagram, giving businesses the opportunity to increase brand awareness and represent their brand’s personality in a fun, creative way. Yet, very few businesses have embraced Instagram and everything it has to offer.

In today’s world, where visual content is crucial, it is important to portray your brand in a unique way so consumers think of you when they see a certain image. Brands like #Oreo, #VirginAmerica, #Nike and even #PBR made Small Business Trends list of the Top 25 Brands you should follow on Instagram. After looking at the list, it’s easy to see why each one made the cut.

Oreo posts projects and recipes that people can make with their products. They post creative images to help them create a call to action in order to increase customer engagement. On the other hand, clothing brands like Nike, post sports related pictures and inspirational quotes. They use different hashtags and re-post pictures they have been tagged in for their followers to connect with them.  Airline Virgin America posts behind the scene pictures of their company’s employees and encourage their followers to tag them in pictures of their own travels.

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 4.40.38 PM Nike Instagram Theme

Virgin AmericaEven though all of these brands have a different target market, they have one thing in common, a theme. All of them were able to display their brand’s voice and personality by combining storytelling with creative images and videos. The company is able to demonstrate their company’s culture, connect with influencers, share company news, and enhance and complement event experiences.

So how can your company keep a uniform theme on Instagram? To start, you should determine your objectives, develop a content strategy, and come up with a content calendar. Every time you post ask yourself, who is my target audience? Does this image and caption portray my brand’s personality?

Here are a few simple pointers from your Visual Marketing gurus at #DoItForTheGram to help you maintain a common theme for your Instagram:

  • Post similar pictures, but in unique ways. Think outside the box, think like one of your consumers.
  • Use the same filter & the same cut. Here are a few apps you can download to help with that
  • Create an Instagram Style Guide. If you have more than one member on your creative team posting to the brand’s Instagram be sure that everyone is on the same creative #gram.

What are some of your favorite brand themes? What are some brands you think are worth following on IG? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to follow us on our own IG account @hashtag4thegram.

How Instagram’s New Account Switching Feature Can Help You Manage Your Brand’s Identity

instagram_acct switching

Instagram pleased the entire marketing world last week when it announced that it would begin letting users switch between accounts without signing out. This long-awaited new feature should bring a tear to the eye of any brand manager on Instagram who has almost posted a personal update on their brand’s page!

ADweekly reports that the company had been testing the feature on both Android and iOS platforms for months, but they officially announced the upgrade on their own company blog last Monday.

Previously, Instagram only allowed users to post from one account at a time, which forced users to create entirely new accounts if they wanted a secondary profile and switch between the two every time they wanted to post something new.

Apps like Twitter and Facebook took care of this problem a while ago, allowing users to connect multiple profiles or handles to the same account, but Instagram lagged behind.

According to TechCrunch, this feature caters well to teenagers and young adults who want to distinguish between the private (and often innapropriate) photos they share with friends and the more polished image they present to the public.

But the same principle applies to businesses. Marketers are figuring out that just as individuals present a certain image based on their posts, so do brands, and it’s important to create a strong identity.

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Friday is for denim. #tgif #loveloft

A post shared by LOFT (@loft) on

For many companies, personal photos have no place on their feed. Women’s clothing store LOFT’s profile shows a clean, professionally shot array of images that feature models wearing their apparel. Their photos are free of filters, text and for the most part, even faces. It’s sleek and non-regional, which works for a large national retailer.

This isn’t the perfect model for all companies; it can feel cold and impersonal. Sometimes more intimate pictures can help a brand’s identity, not hurt it.

Molly’s Cupcakes, a Chicago-area bakery, has incredible variety in the pictures they post on their account. Some are cutely designed text posts announcing specials or store closings. Others are images of their employees having fun on the job (The gram above is a photo of owner John Nicolaides and a famous fan). It’s sweet and advances the brand’s image as a friendly and quirky place to stop by.

So while the new app switching option is a powerful tool for marketers, it’s up to them to decide what to include – and what to leave out – in their brand’s account.

But at the very least, this might save you from posting your latest Friday night selfie to your company’s account! Check out complete instructions on how to add a second account on Instagram’s help center.

Does your company prefer to keep personal shots off Instagram, or are they a part of your story? Tell us in the comments!