Instagram is the go-to social media platform for Gen Z, but as this tech-savvy generation enters the workforce, the importance of having a kickass social media presence proves itself to be critical to get that dream job. But just changing your profile picture won’t be enough in the competitive digital world.
Time to give Kylie Jenner a run for her money with these personal brand-boosting tips for Instagram.
1. Tell the World Who You are and Own it!
Being clear in your message is step number one when building a show-stopping personal brand. “If your brand is your passion, make sure you communicate that truth,” said founder of Spooky Staten Island and freelance photographer Michael Pelczar. “Passion is infectious and when other like-minded people see your enthusiasm, they will feel it too. Avoid smoke and mirrors–in my opinion, brand is not artifice, it is authenticity.” Use your Instagram bio to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to boast a bit about your academic and professional accomplishments but try to avoid sounding like an infomercial. Bold and attention-grabbing words help clearly map out who you are as a student, professional and person. Be true to who you are and what you know.
2. Aesthetic Please.
Once your brand message is clear, time to bust out every post saved to your Pinterest boards. When building a brand representing you, start with the color and overall aesthetic of your content. Do you have more of a houseplant minimalist vibe or an on-the-go jet setter in Florence feel? Aesthetic creating is by far the most fun step in brand building, but don’t get distracted by colors swatches and graphic logos. “For me, it goes beyond the social space and having a nice website,” said founder of A Dash of Michaela and content specialist Michaela Carter. “Building your brand starts with you figuring out the sole purpose of whatever it is you’re creating. It’s important to ask yourself, ‘What would I like to contribute to the world and why?’ You can have all of the pretty brand colors and nice slogans in the world, but without a clear purpose, your brand will never reach its full potential.” Use your aesthetic to compliment your personal narrative. Got some power words? Use those vibrant colors. But adding too much color or including too little character can distract viewers from your brand’s intended message. Regardless of what aesthetic you decide on, make sure it translates to pro-fes-sion-al.
3. Clean Up Your Act.
You’ve got your message and aesthetic in the bag. Now it’s time to make room for some housekeeping to welcome some new, juicy content. First, if you made your Instagram in middle school and chose an embarrassing name, you might want to start fresh. Also, please delete the mirror selfies. I’m sorry but it must be done. Deleting any outlier possibly conflicting with your newly established professional aesthetic will clear up room (and sanity) for the content you want employers to see. Don’t want to delete? Instagram allows you to archive your posts to save for a later date (or your finsta).
4. Get Down to Business.
Switch your account over to a business account to stalk those stats. With a business profile, you gain the ability to track followers and trends through Instagram Insights. The Insights feature allows you to analyze your personal performance over the course of a week by reporting all changes in followers, profile views, website clicks, email clicks and number of posts promoted. Instagram also provides detailed demographics of your followers including their gender, age, locations and times when they are most active on the app. A literal marketing cheat sheet at your fingertips. A little lesser known perk of the business profile allows you to link your Instagram to your Facebook to save you some time and unwanted hassle.
5. Choose Your Audience.
All the creative blood, sweat and tears you have invested in your brand means nothing if you don’t know your audience. Once you’ve switched over to a business profile, use the data found in Insights to get a better picture of your current audience. If a majority of views consist of your mom and Timothée Chalamet stan accounts, you might want to rethink your method of outreach. Pinpoint your professional goals and figure out what pairs of eyes need to see your content in order to put you on the right path. For example, if you are applying for a job or internship in journalism, home in on professionals or alumni who have a background in press or freelance writing. See what they post and who they follow. You are who you surround yourself with, so be smart and keep the meme pages to a minimum.
6. Spruce Up on Your Content.
Now that you have established your narrative, aesthetic and professionalized the logistics of your Instagram account, post some content. Instagram is limited to how you can edit posts but no worries. Look at editing websites like Canva or PicMonkey to turn a regular-degular post into a show-stopping masterpiece. Use filters and captions to bring your posts to life. Try your hand at incorporating your decided color palette into your Instagram stories too. Perfecting your content allows your newly founded professional self to shine.
7. Timing is Key.
When is the best time to show up to a function? Answer: when it’s in full swing. If you show up to early, you’ll have to suffer through the awkward phase of avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room because your friends aren’t there yet. If you’re too late, then your plans for the night are a flop. Same goes for Instagram posts: Plan to post your content at a time your followers can see it. Most Instagram users tune in three times a day: during their morning commute, mid-day lunch break hours and evenings at home. During these peak hours, you should promote your posts to drive in the most digital traffic possible. If you have more than one account to monitor, sign up for a social media management account like Hootsuite or Buffer. The software allows you to schedule posts a day, week or month in advance so you don’t have to sweat on forgetting to post. It’s a great way to stay organized and make your brand one less thing to stress about.
8. Don’t Be Selfish: Promote Others Too!
Promote someone else on your account to rack up brownie points on Instagram. According to Forbes Magazine, promoting is the easiest (and most beneficial) way to connect with your audience, potential clients and employers. It falls under the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” mentality, only digital. Try interacting with comments or giving a shoutout on your Instagram story to showcase your commitment to your brand and prove you’re not some bot account looking for likes. Once you’ve created a credible presence on Instagram you can finally cash in those brownie points for a collaboration or even your own shoutout.
9. Be Consistent and Committed.
We all procrastinate, but your brand should never be put on the back burner. “From my experience, the most important aspect in creating a successful brand is consistency,” said Nancy DiTunnariello, director of Communication Arts Program at St. John’s University. “You must do your research to see the best time to post content for maximum views, the most optimal amount of postings to keep yourself relevant and recognized.” Your brand is a living product reflecting your professional persona and overall sense of commitment. Building your brand is exciting, but don’t let the excitement distract you from the long-term commitment your brand needs. If you are prone to post motivational Monday quotes, keep at it. Follow back Fridays? Make it routine. Commitment to your content ensures you are always putting your best foot forward.
10. Stay True to You (and Your Brand).
Social media trends enter our lives like an unexpected treat until they are overplayed so much, they become stale and cringey. Remember that Dalonga coffee everyone was making a month ago? Over it. Hopping on the trend hype drives in more viewers to your brand but incorporating too many fleeting fads can weaken your brand. “When it comes to personal branding it’s important for us to get clear on what message we are communicating to the world,” said brand strategist Terri Lomax. “It presents us with a great opportunity to own our narrative and our story. . . And once we get clear on that, we can then create content that speaks to those attributes and that further reiterates our purpose and what we hope to accomplish with our brand.” Be sure that no matter what gets posted, it serves as an accurate reflection of your inner boss.